This month, we spotlight Minneapolis-based Barr-Engineering which provides engineering and environmental consulting services to Midwest, national and global clients.
We recently interviewed Chandler Taylor, senior environment consultant at Barr on the firm’s services, involvement in the ethanol industry as well as his views on the industry.
Q. Please tell us a bit about Barr Engineering
A. Barr provides engineering and environmental management and consulting services to help our clients solve complex problems related to the development, protection, and restoration of natural resources. Headquartered in Minneapolis, we are an employee-owned firm with more than 700 engineers, scientists, and technical support staff working with clients in the fuels, power, mining, and manufacturing industries, as well as with attorneys and municipal, state, and federal agencies.
We pride ourselves on solving our clients’ problems as if they were our own. Our employees share an enthusiasm for our work and a passion for working on some of the most complex and interesting environmental and engineering projects around. Our employee-retention rate far exceeds the industry average, in part because of the opportunities our clients provide for us to challenge ourselves and grow. We show our gratitude through dedication to their success.
Q. Please tell us your company’s history with the ethanol industry and why your company is committed to the development of ethanol in Minnesota?
A. Barr has been providing permitting and compliance support to ethanol plants since 2006. We support the top five producer plants and cooperatives. We regularly provide services at about 25 plants in seven states, including five plants in Minnesota. Those services include:
- environmental permitting and compliance for air, water, waste, tanks
- preparation of RFS2 alternative pathway petitions
- pre-acquisition due diligence
- post-acquisition alignment
- on-site environmental staffing
- stack testing
- spill prevention and response planning
- wetlands planning and design
- tank inspections
- environmental audits
- groundwater monitoring
- noise monitoring
The regulatory environment for ethanol producers is complex at both state and federal level. With the industry’s opportunities and long-term success come obligations related to permitting, compliance and environmental performance. We are committed to helping our clients in the industry navigate those obligations in a way that maximizes operational flexibility and manages compliance risk. We want to help the innovators in this industry to be successful and support them in pursuing opportunities to develop their technologies and facilities.
Q. How did your personal career path lead you to where you are now?
A. I have been consulting on environmental issues for about 25 years. The first half of my career I focused on soil and groundwater investigations and cleanups. Since then, I have focused more on air quality permitting and compliance. In 2005, I had my first opportunity to work with an ethanol plant (an MBA member plant) on environmental planning, permitting and compliance projects. Since coming to Barr seven years ago, I have been working almost exclusively with corn ethanol and waste-to-fuels clients.
Q. From your perspective, what would you like consumers to know about the ethanol industry?
A. We have enjoyed the opportunity to work with the ethanol industry in Minnesota because we find that the plant owners, managers and operators are passionate about their plants and their industry, and they are committed to the goals of revitalizing the rural economy, protecting the environment, and enhancing fuel security. We also like that they are innovators, always looking for opportunities to increase production and energy efficiency, and seeking out market opportunities for new technologies and the next generation of biofuel production.
Q. What does your company see for the future of ethanol and biofuels?
A. We expect that the ethanol and biofuels industry in Minnesota will remain strong as we respond together to changing political and regulatory landscapes that continue to be more complex and more demanding of plant resources. This is compounded by the fact that agencies are unfamiliar with developing technologies and feedstocks in the industry, and those advancements will not fit cleanly into existing environmental permits and regulations. As the industry continues to evolve, it will be important for owners and operators to help shape, plan for, and be responsive to, new regulatory requirements. We will need to find creative solutions to sluggish regulatory processes that don’t keep pace with the development and cycle of business opportunities.
We appreciate the opportunity to be an MBA member, to develop relationships and find ways to work together with other members, and look forward to continuing to support the growth and development of the Minnesota biofuels industry.