MON AM News: Fifty-two ‘gap-filing’ exemptions the latest in biofuels debate; Foxconn launches Industrial AI Institute

— The EPA Small Refinery Exemptions update in mid-June shows the agency was considering 52 exemption petitions for Renewable Fuel Standard compliance in a big chunk of the 2010s — actions that could hurt a Wisconsin ethanol industry just beginning to come back from a pandemic-induced hit. 

Wisconsin is front and center on these discussions with nine ethanol plants producing 583 million gallons a year and more than 200 sites selling E15, including Kwik Trip.

Neal Kemmet is the president and general manager of Ace Ethanol in Stanley and Fox River Valley Ethanol in Oshkosh. He said he’s wary about the exemptions’ potential impact on the industry after such a tough run with the pandemic.

Chris Bliley, senior vice president of regulatory affairs with Growth Energy said this is an effort on the oil refineries’ part to circumvent the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit’s January ruling. The Tenth Circuit ruled in favor of The Biofuels Coalition to overturn and reconsider three ethanol exemptions for refineries, writing that the EPA wrongfully granted the petitions.

The Renewable Fuel Standard requires oil refiners and gasoline and diesel importers to mix biofuel volumes based on a percentage of its petroleum product sales or buy credits from those that do. In order to be exempt from volume obligations or purchasing credits, the refineries have to demonstrate disproportionate economic hardship. 

Bliley argued that the court’s decision clearly showed the EPA had misused its authority in granting the petitions. 

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— Foxconn has launched the Industrial AI (iAI) Institute, an initiative focused on training employees and sharing industrial artificial intelligence knowledge across industrie­s. 

The institute is offering various packages of introductory online iAI courses that can be taken at any time to meet different business or individual needs. Participants are awarded a certificate upon completion that can be used in their respective professional settings that recognizes their course completion.

“The iAI Institute’s vision is to transform skill sets that will share the workplace and redefine the skills required in the global competition for jobs,” said Dr. Keyi Sun, who is currently leading the institute.

While the global pandemic has caused constraints for many industries ranging from market demands to supply chain disruptions, Dr. Jay Lee, vice chairman of Foxconn Technology Group said “Foxconn has seen the value of optimized factories that reduce downtime throughout the manufacturing process and by having a trained workforce that understands Industrial AI as a ‘new must’.”

iAI also plans to offer in-person bootcamp and onsite training when the pandemic subsides. 

“By harnessing the power of Industrial AI, decision-makers, engineers, data scientists and assembly line operators can optimize value within their organizations across a broad spectrum of subject matter from manufacturing efficiency, quality of product output, and energy management.”

Visit the iAI Institute here:

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— The state reported a new daily COVID-19 case record on Saturday with 926 cases. Sunday brought 769 new cases. 

The seven-day average for daily cases is 695, also a new record and still on the rise.

The percentage of positive tests per total tests Sunday was 10.1 percent. The percentage has been increasing since its spike last weekend at 10.8 percent. 

The new cases bring the cumulative case count to 36,448 and active cases to 6,848.

The number of recovered patients number 28,318 or 78 percent, while 2.2 percent of patients have died. Active cases are defined as those still in a 30-day waiting period of symptom onset or diagnosis and account for 20 percent of the confirmed cases — a growing percentage as daily new cases rise. 

Sunday the state received 7,617 total tests; Wisconsin has a capacity for 24,362 tests per day — up from 19,032 on Friday.

— Wisconsin’s COVID-19 death toll is at 820, up six since Friday. 

Counties reporting deaths include: Milwaukee (398), Racine (65), Kenosha (46), Brown (44), Waukesha (40), Dane (33), Rock (24), Washington (19), Walworth (18), Ozaukee (16), Grant (13), Waupaca (13), Winnebago (13), Outagamie (9), Clark (7), Fond du Lac (6), Dodge (5), Jefferson (4), Richland (4) and Sheboygan (4).

Door, Forest, Marinette and Sauk counties report three deaths each. Adams, Buffalo, Calumet, Polk and St. Croix counties report two deaths each.

Barron, Bayfield, Burnett, Columbia, Eau Claire, Green, Iron, Jackson, Juneau, Kewaunee, Langlade, Manitowoc, Marathon, Marquette, Monroe, Rusk and Wood counties report one death each.

Click here for more coronavirus resources and updates.


# Wisconsin Republicans Warn Of Anarchy, Socialism At Annual State Convention

# Covid-19 restrictions on gatherings, businesses must last a bit longer to help schools open in fall, experts say



– Forward Latino in Franklin among groups filing complaint against meatpacking industry giants 

– Wisconsin Farmers Union Ignites Talk On Redistricting 


– Here’s what schools are planning for the 2020-21 year 


– EPA will get to take a second look at southeastern Wisconsin ozone standards 


– How many jobs has PPP saved? SBA didn’t require borrowers to say. 

– Lenders started Round 2 of the PPP with a backlog of applications. Here’s what happened in Wisconsin. 


– Eric Conley assumes role as president of Froedtert Hospital 

– Drug giants create fund to bolster struggling antibiotic startups 


– Record early-stage investments in Wisconsin in 2019 ahead of uncertain 2020 


– COVID-19 edges out workforce shortage as biggest concern among Wisconsin businesses, survey finds 


– Uncertain future for Briggs & Stratton with potential bankruptcy, analysts say 


– Wisconsin Republicans tout Trump, signal a defense against ‘left mobs’ at in-person state convention 

– Postal Service: Hundreds of absentee ballots in Wisconsin’s April primary never made it to voters 


– With new leadership structure, Mandel Group eyeing future growth 

– Bayshore owners proposing 316 new residential units 

– State unveils new strategy for awarding coveted affordable housing tax credits 

– Bayshore redevelopment adds 316 apartments to plans for new Target, Total Wine stores 


– Grohmann Museum reopens to the public with safety protocols 


– Bridging Rural Wisconsin’s Digital Divide 


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