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Updated: 32 weeks 2 days ago

AFBF Economist Sees Challenges for Ethanol Industry

Fri, 02/05/2021 - 06:28

The ethanol industry is continuing to feel the impact of COVID-19 as the pandemic enters a second year of global disruption.

American Farm Bureau Federation chief economist John Newton, speaking Thursday at the virtual 57th annual Crop Insurance and Reinsurance Bureau Annual meeting, said ethanol production has taken a major hit in the last year. “From the beginning of 2020 through the last few weeks, we’re now two billion gallons less of ethanol production compared to prior year levels,” said Newton. “As of last week we probably still had 10 or 12 ethanol facilities around the country that are idle.”

Asked if the push for green energy under the Biden Administration might help ethanol, Newton said there will be challenges competing with electric vehicles. “We’re not going to go to electric vehicles overnight, so there’s a role for ethanol and biofuels to play there,” said Newton. “But, certainly on the long horizon I do see some challenges on the biofuels front.”

Listen to Newton’s comments here:
2021 CIRB presentation - John Newton, AFBF 3:28

2021 CIRB Annual Meeting Photo Album

Senators Reintroduce Adopt GREET Act

Thu, 02/04/2021 - 07:53

Sens. John Thune (R-SD) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) this week reintroduced the Adopt GREET Act which would require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to update its greenhouse gas modeling for ethanol and biodiesel.

Specifically, the bill would require EPA to adopt the Argonne National Lab’s Greenhouse Gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy Use in Transportation (GREET) Model for both fuels. EPA would then be required to update its modeling every five years or report to Congress to affirm its modeling is current or otherwise explain why no updates were made.

American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) CEO Brian Jennings says the legislation would more accurately account for corn ethanol’s carbon intensity when establishing regulations which could impact ethanol use in the future. “The U.S. Department of Energy GREET model, which is widely-recognized as the gold standard tool for determining the lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions of transportation fuels, indicates that corn ethanol reduces greenhouse gases by 50 percent compared to gasoline,” said Jennings. “Unfortunately, EPA has disregarded this latest lifecycle science and continues to cling to a flawed and outdated model which shows corn ethanol is only 20 percent cleaner than gasoline.”

The Adopt GREET Act was cosponsored by Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), and Mike Rounds (R-SD).

RFA’s Young Professionals Network Growing Fast

Thu, 02/04/2021 - 07:40

The Renewable Fuels Association Young Professionals Network is only six months old, but it has already hit 100 members.

The YPN was formed last summer to bring together innovative and dedicated young professionals from across the country who are 39 years old and younger and employed full time by a company in the U.S. ethanol industry. Since its inception, the YPN has hosted multiple virtual networking events and learning opportunities, including a webinar last November that featured leaders from the fuel retail sector.

In addition to a full calendar of events, the YPN also gained a principal sponsor when Lallemand Biofuels & Distilled Spirits signed on to support the Network’s initiatives as part of their company’s mission to educate the next generation of ethanol industry leaders. Some of the members of the YPN have also formed a working group that is dedicated to assisting the industry in recruiting and retaining top-notch talent and plans to host projects that will provide resources to companies across the industry in assisting their employee recruitment efforts.

Those who wish to learn more about the Young Professionals Network can go to for more information.

Listen to an interview with RFA’s Manager of Member Relations, Jackie Pohlman, who is leading the initiative.
Interview with Jackie Pohlman, RFA

EPA Administrator Nominee Says RFS is Priority

Thu, 02/04/2021 - 07:02

The nominee for Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency says the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) will be a priority for the new administration.

“You have my commitment that we will look at the RFS program and we will introduce some transparency into that program,” nominee Michael Regan said Wednesday at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. “We will let science lead us and we will follow the letter of the law as it was intended for that program.”

Senators also asked about small refinery exemptions (SREs) and the Supreme Court case regarding those waivers and Regan said he will need to consult with staff and legal counsel, if he is confirmed, to see what actions the EPA will take.

Listen to Sens. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Joni Ernst (R-IA) question Regan about biofuels issues.
Regan hearing - Sen. Duckworth 1:51

Regan hearing - Sen. Ernst 5:38

SIRE Board Elects New Director Kevin Ross

Wed, 02/03/2021 - 06:30

Kevin Ross speaks at SIRE during President Trump visit in June 2019

Southwest Iowa Renewable Energy (SIRE) has elected Kevin Ross as a member of the plant’s board of directors, effective last Friday.

Following the resignation of The Honorable Hubert M. Houser from the Board in December 2020, the Board’s Nominating Committee invited SIRE unit holders to suggest persons to fill Mr. Houser’s Board vacancy for the remainder of his term, through the 2022 annual meeting of the Company. Since that invitation, the Nominating Committee received a number of member suggestions, had discussions with a selection of the most qualified suggestions, and interviewed final candidates. Following the recommendation of the Nominating Committee, on January 29th, 2021 the Board appointed Kevin Ross to the Board vacancy to serve through the 2022 annual meeting of the Company.

Ross is a farmer from Minden, Iowa who currently serves as chairman of the National Corn Growers Association. Ross served for more than 16 years as a founding board member and executive committee member of Western Iowa Energy, LLC—a biodiesel plant in Wall Lake, Iowa.

Karol King, Chairman of SIRE’s Board of Directors said: “Kevin Ross has significant leadership experience in the ethanol, biodiesel and corn grower industries, and is an effective advocate for these industries at the state and federal level. His background will be very valuable to SIRE as we navigate challenging times for ethanol and rapidly evolving new technologies and markets for ethanol plant co-products.”

Vilsack Addresses Plans for Biofuels

Tue, 02/02/2021 - 11:37

As Secretary of Agriculture during the entire Obama Administration, Tom Vilsack from Iowa was known to be a champion of biofuels. During his confirmation hearing before the Senate Agriculture Committee Tuesday, the former secretary pledged to continue his support of the industry – and make small refinery exemptions rare again.

“The waiver system was designed for small refineries that were having trouble, it was not designed for large scale refineries owned by Exxon and Chevron,” said Vilsack in response to a question from Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN). “I would hope and will strongly urge EPA to go back to a day when those waivers are very, very infrequently granted.”

Vilsack hearing - biofuels (1:37)

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) asked Vilsack how he will support biofuels in the White House when the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) is up for re-authorization in 2022 amidst a strong push for electric vehicles. “The reality is that we’re going to need both (biofuels and EV),” said Vilsack. “I don’t think I’m going to have to be too persuasive in that Oval Office to have the president, who committed to the RFS during the course of the campaign, to follow through on that.”

Vilsack hearing - EVs (3:05)

U.S. Ethanol Wins Appeal in Peru Tariff Case

Tue, 02/02/2021 - 09:14

The U.S. government has won an appeal on a countervailing duty case brought against U.S. ethanol in Peru, reversing a previous decision that applied a 15-cent per gallon duty and resulted in loss of market access in the country.

The Renewable Fuels Association, U.S. Grains Council and Growth Energy participated extensively in this case, arguing at hearings in both the initial investigation and the appeal in Peru on behalf of the U.S. ethanol industry. The following is a joint statement on the decision from Geoff Cooper, President and CEO, RFA; Ryan LeGrand, President and CEO, U.S. Grains Council; and Emily Skor, CEO, Growth Energy.

“We appreciate the thoroughness of the Competition Tribunal’s analysis, and the careful review process followed in Peru. This is a welcome development for our U.S. ethanol producers and our valued customers in Peru.

“We are pleased that Peruvian authorities reached the right result, and we look forward to continuing our close work with Peru to further enhance our mutually beneficial trade relationship development efforts, including urging them to increase their blend rate beyond 7.8 percent. Doing so would also help Peru to meet its Paris Agreement commitments and lead to opening more global trade of ethanol.

“The U.S. ethanol industry remains focused on expanding the global use of low-carbon ethanol, reducing barriers to trade, and elevating the energy discussion, and we favor continued collaboration and cooperation with Peru and other nations that share the vision of a free and open global ethanol market.”

California Ethanol+Power Seeking Sugarcane Growers

Mon, 02/01/2021 - 07:10

California Ethanol + Power (CE+P) has announced a new sugarcane production program for Imperial Valley farmers to produce feedstock for a planned low-carbon ethanol production and biomass energy campus set to begin construction this year.

CE+P will engage with the local farming communities to secure formal commitments to grow the first 20,000 acres of sugarcane feedstock for Sugar Valley Energy, a 160-acre project designed to produce 68 million gallons of low-carbon sugarcane ethanol annually, which will be the first facility of its kind to be built in the United States of America.

Dave Rubenstein, CEO of California Ethanol & Power, said the program will eventually allow opportunities for up to 60 local farmers to produce an estimated 48,000 acres of sugarcane crop, and growing agreements will be completed in a phased approach during the 2-3 year engineering and construction process for the new campus. The agreements are long-term and provide assurances for stabilized revenues for growers from the Sugar Valley Energy team, he added.

Sugar Valley Energy’s low-carbon fuel and energy products will assist the state of California in meeting its low-carbon fuel standards and carbon reduction initiatives. The campus represents the first in-state production facility for low-carbon ethanol. The ethanol products will be marketed under the new Essential EthanolTM brand, used as a gasoline additive and numerous other industrial and household applications. The campus will also generate needed electrical power and bio-methane gas, while providing a new wastewater treatment facility to support regional infrastructure.

Ethanol Report 1-28-21

Thu, 01/28/2021 - 06:54

In this edition of the Ethanol Report, we hear from three Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) staff members about the organization’s efforts in advocacy, safety, and education.

Troy Bredenkamp is RFA’s brand new Senior Vice President for Government & Public Affairs in the Washington D.C. office and he could not be coming on board at a more critical time for the industry with a new administration and a new Congress. He discusses what RFA will be doing to work with the new leadership.

Missy Ruff is RFA’s Director of Safety and Technical Programs and also serves as chair of TRANSCAER®, a voluntary national outreach effort that focuses on providing assistance to local communities to help prepare for and to respond to possible hazardous material transportation incidents. She talks about RFA’s decade of leadership in ethanol safety training and what is new for 2021.

Finally, we hear from RFA Vice President of Industry Relations Robert White about one of the organization’s very successful outreach and education programs – the Crappie Masters Tournament Trail, which just kicked off with RFA and National Corn Growers Association as co-title sponsors for the fifth year in a row.

Ethanol Report 1-28-21 (24:11)

The Ethanol Report is a podcast about the latest news and information in the ethanol industry that has been sponsored by the Renewable Fuels Association since 2008.

Choose an option to subscribe

EPA Directed to Report on 2017 Court Order

Thu, 01/28/2021 - 06:22

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit is directing the Environmental Protection Agency to submit a status report every 60 days “on its progress in complying with the court’s remand” stemming from the July 2017 ruling in a case regarding the improper waiver of 500 million gallons of 2016 renewable fuel blending requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard.

Wednesday’s order was in response to a motion filed late last year by biofuel and farm organizations asking the court to enforce its 2017 decision by requiring EPA to fully restore the 500 million gallons. The court denied that motion but the coalition, which includes the Renewable Fuels Association, Growth Energy, National Biodiesel Board, American Coalition for Ethanol, National Corn Growers Association, National Farmers Union, and National Sorghum Producers, is pleased to see some action being taken.

“While we are disappointed by the court’s order on our motion, we are glad to see that the court is holding EPA accountable by requiring it to submit a report every 60 days on the status of the court’s remand on the improper waiver. This time of transition provides EPA the opportunity to move boldly and address prior missteps when it comes to the need for a low-carbon future for our nation’s fuel supply; adjusting quickly for the court-ordered remand would do just that. America’s biofuel producers, rural communities and farm families look forward to working with EPA and the Biden administration to make progress on restoring integrity and growth to the RFS.”