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Updated: 1 week 3 days ago

Iowa RFA Sends Message to EPA Administrator

Thu, 02/08/2018 - 06:07

The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) has a message for EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to answer the question of how to reduce RIN prices associated with the Renewable Fuel Standard – grant E15 the same RVP treatment as all other ethanol-blended fuels.

On January 30th, while Administrator Pruitt was testifying before the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit attendees were signing a letter and a poster to the administrator asking him to grant E15 RVP parity. A copy of the letter summit attendees signed, and a photo of the signed poster was sent to Pruitt’s office Wednesday.

“From Harvard professors to Iowa retailers, the experts agree E15 RVP parity is the fastest way to lower RIN prices,” said IRFA Executive Director Monte Shaw. “It is simple supply and demand. Allowing retailers to blend E15 all year round would flood the market with RINs and reduce the price.”

During the Senate committee hearing, Pruitt said EPA is in the process of determining if the agency will provide E15 RVP parity “and we are working to get an answer as soon as we can.”

Senators Speak Out to Approve Northey Nomination

Thu, 02/08/2018 - 06:01

After nearly four months of having the nomination of Iowa’s Bill Northey to the U.S. Department of Agriculture held up by Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) brought it up on the Senate floor Wednesday and called on other colleagues to back him up.

Northey was nominated to be USDA Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation in September and quickly confirmed by the Agriculture Committee, but Sen. Cruz put a hold on the nomination in October over the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and has refused to budge unless all stakeholders can meet together to agree on a “win-win” situation for both refiners and ethanol producers that would lower prices for Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs).

“Mr. Northey would have been confirmed long ago had the lobbyists for the ethanol industry been willing to come to the table and reach a commonsense solution,” said Sen. Cruz.

That struck a chord with Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) President and CEO Bob Dinneen. “Mr. Cruz is also being callously misleading in suggesting representatives of the ethanol industry (including the RFA) have refused to meet to discuss the issue,” said Dinneen. “We have received no invitation to talk, only media reports of his cynical proposed solution to cap the price of RINs.”

Both Dinneen and Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor point out that there is a very simple solution to lower the price of RINs – allow E15 to be sold year round. “Sen. Ted Cruz has held Mr. Northey hostage as a means to drag out his so-called ‘negotiation’ to lower RIN prices, when all this time there has been a solution staring us in the face – RVP relief,” said Skor.

RVP relief is one of two offers Sen. Grassley has made to appease Sen. Cruz. The other is transparency for the RINs market.

Listen to good friends Sens. Grassley and Cruz disagree with one another on this issue.
Sens. Cruz and Grassley comments

Listen to Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) support Bill Northey.
Sens. Stabenow, Ernst and Klobuchar comments

Perdue Discusses State of Rural Economy

Wed, 02/07/2018 - 07:19

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue briefed members of the House Agriculture Committee Tuesday on the current state of the rural economy and USDA’s farm bill priorities.

“We’re in a very different situation than when you last contemplated a farm bill,” said Perdue in his opening remarks. “The state of the rural economy is fragile.”

Secretary Perdue was asked about a number of issues impacting different areas of the nation, including sorghum, nutrition programs, dairy, specialty crops, trade, FMD vaccine, getting undersecretaries approved by Congress, labor and immigration, broadband access, precision ag, citrus greening, renewable fuels, cotton, and lots more.

Listen to part of the hearing here: Sec. Perdue State of Rural Economy

Harvard Professor Says RVP Parity Will Lower RIN Prices

Wed, 02/07/2018 - 07:02

A professor of economics at Harvard University claims that providing RVP parity for E15 would be the most direct way to lower RIN prices.

A recent paper from economist Professor James H. Stock argues that providing RVP parity for E15 would facilitate increased ethanol blending, which in turn would drive increased generation and availability of RIN credits and ultimately lower RIN prices.

“Extending the RVP waiver to E15 (and higher blends) would facilitate additional corn kernel ethanol being blended into the fuel supply, as some E10 sales are converted to E15 sales,” Stock wrote, noting that current EPA regulations effectively prevent E15 from being sold year-round in most of the country. “This additionally blended ethanol would make it easier to comply with the RFS obligation for blending conventional fuels, because more D6 RINS [from conventional ethanol] would become available for compliance. …[T]hese additional RINs would exert downward pressure on RIN prices. Additional sales of E15, along with the continued expansion of total gasoline demand, would tend to stabilize RIN prices at a lower value, all else equal.”

Stock will be speaking at the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) National Ethanol Conference next week in San Antonio on a panel entitled “For Your RINformation: An Update on RIN Markets.” The impact of RVP parity for E15 on RIN prices will be among the topics discussed, along with other concepts.

Click here to read Prof. Stock’s paper

Grassley Disputes Negative Impacts of RFS on Refineries

Wed, 02/07/2018 - 06:44

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) is challenging claims that the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) was responsible in part for the recent bankruptcy filing of Philadelphia Energy Solutions (PES).

Grassley released an internal memo produced by his energy policy staff who analyzed the situation and found that the biofuels blending requirement and the cost of Renewable Identification Number credits (RINs) “have little to do with the success of refineries and were not significant factors in the PES bankruptcy.”

“I’m concerned any time an American’s job could be lost,” Grassley said. “After I heard that the Renewable Fuel Standard was being blamed for the financial troubles of some refineries, I wanted to know more. So I asked my staff to get to the bottom of the situation. After reviewing the facts, I’m confident that the Renewable Fuel Standard isn’t harming refineries, that other factors are at work, and that the RFS law is working as Congress intended.”

In addition, Grassley notes that the University of Pennsylvania’s Kleinman Center for Energy Policy has published a blog series on the real story behind why the refinery was led to declare bankruptcy.

American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) CEO Brian Jennings says Senator Grassley’s analysis is spot on. “As more light is shone on the decisions PES management made between 2012 and today, it has become clear that they sacrificed RFS compliance for other investments which went bad…It would be outrageous for Congress or EPA to reform the RFS based on the mismanagement of one east coast refiner.”

Summit Agricultural Group to expand FS Bioenergia

Wed, 02/07/2018 - 06:03

Summit Agricultural Group has announced a $100 million expansion of FS Bioenergia, its corn ethanol production facility in Brazil. The expansion of the plant is forecast for completion in the first quarter of 2019 and will more than double annual corn ethanol production from 60 million gallons to 140 million gallons.

With this expansion, FS Bioenergia will annually process over 50 million bushels of corn and produce more than 14,000 tons of corn oil and 400,000 tons of valuable feed rations for Brazil’s growing livestock industry.

“This is a significant step for FS Bioenergia, but it’s even more important for the growth of corn ethanol production in Brazil,” said Bruce Rastetter, founder and CEO of Summit Agricultural Group. “When we began this project several years ago, we were confident of the opportunities in Brazilian renewables. Today, we’re more convinced than ever of the potential for corn ethanol in Mato Grosso.”

The FS Bioenergia expansion will utilize process technologies from ICM, Inc. of Colwich, Kansas, as it did for the original plant.

Pruitt Open to Ethanol as Octane Enhancer

Tue, 02/06/2018 - 07:00

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt appeared before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee last week for an oversight hearing that touched on a variety of issues, including ethanol.

Pruitt was questioned by Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS) about the advanced biofuel pathway for distillers sorghum oil and the comment period that just closed on that January 26, and Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) asked about a nationwide RVP waiver for 15% ethanol. “As you know, (the RVP waiver) is not really a policy issue, it truly is a determination about the legal authority on whether it can be granted nationally,” said Pruitt.
Audio file: Sen. Ernst and EPA Admin. Pruitt

Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD) asked about the use of corn ethanol as an octane enhancer. “I think the agency has long has not considered the fuel side of the ledger to achieve better outcomes…as we go through the CAFE process we are looking at those kinds of issues,” said Pruitt. “We’re agnostic about the source, it’s just a high octane approach generally.”
Audio file: Sen. Rounds and EPA Admin. Pruitt

American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) CEO Brian Jennings says they were encouraged by Pruitt’s comments. “Administrator Pruitt is to be commended for inviting comment on the role high-octane fuels can play in helping meet future vehicle fuel economy and emission standards,” said Jennings. “It is well-documented that blends in the range of E25-40 deliver meaningful efficiency and emission benefits at a low pump price. We continue to work with other stakeholders to make sure high-octane fuel containing ethanol becomes a reality.”

Eight Ethanol Safety Seminars in Kentucky

Tue, 02/06/2018 - 05:25

The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) and TRANSCAER® are jointly hosting eight ethanol safety seminars in Kentucky during the month of February.

The ethanol safety seminars are funded through a Federal Railroad Administration/ TRANSCAER® grant, in partnership with the Paducah & Louisville Railway. Registration is free and lunch will be provided. Registration is limited and Certificates of Completion will be awarded to attendees at the completion of the course. The seminars are designed for individuals who respond to ethanol-related emergencies, as well as emergency planning committees and safety managers.

The seminars will be held in Owensville, Bowling Green, and Louisville, and will focus on numerous important areas of ethanol safety including an introduction to ethanol and ethanol-blended fuels, chemical and physical characteristics of ethanol and hydrocarbon fuels, transportation and transfer, storage and dispensing locations, firefighting foam principles, general health and safety considerations and storage and pre-planning considerations.

Click here for dates, times, and registration information.

Novozymes Adds Yeast to Bioenergy Business

Tue, 02/06/2018 - 05:05

Novozymes has introduced a new yeast platform for starch-based ethanol with its first product, Innova Drive. According to the company, this new yeast strain can reduce fermentation time by up to two hours compared to current yeasts.

“The first product from our yeast platform, Innova Drive is a completely new ride for the ethanol industry. It puts plant operators in the driver’s seat to run fermentations the way they need to,” says Brian Brazeau, Novozymes’ Vice President for Biofuels Commercial. “Yeast is a major bottleneck that requires constant care and attention. Innova Drive is a response to the needs of the ethanol industry, and resets expectations for how tough a yeast can be.”

The new yeast is also able to ferment in adverse conditions such as higher organic acids and temperatures which increases ethanol output and reduces operational costs.

Learn more details from Novozymes.

Over 30 States Broke Blend Wall in 2016

Mon, 02/05/2018 - 05:52

The latest data from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) shows that gasoline consumed in 30 states and the District of Columbia in 2016 contained more than 10 percent ethanol on average, breaking through the so-called E10 Blend Wall. That compares to 2015 when the national average ethanol content was 9.91 percent and 25 states (plus the District of Columbia) were above 10 percent on average. The 2016 data is the latest available for individual states.

The national average ethanol blend rate in 2016 was 10.02 percent, clearing the 9.7 percent that gasoline marketers claim is the highest the market can tolerate. Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) President and CEO Bob Dinneen said the numbers show the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) is working as intended to drive increased use of ethanol and other biofuels. “Increased consumption of E15, mid-level blends like E20-E30, and ethanol flex fuels like E85 has reduced the so-called blend wall to a pile of rubble. Today, more than 4,000 stations nationwide sell flex fuels and approximately 1,300 stations sell E15,” Dinneen said.

The data show that ethanol comprised 12.4 percent of the gasoline pool in Minnesota in 2016. Not coincidentally, ethanol flex fuels like E85 are available at roughly one out of every eight stations in the Gopher State. In Iowa, gasoline contained an average of 11.4 percent ethanol in 2016, consistent with 2015 and up from just 9.5 percent in 2013. The 2016 data is the latest available for individual states, with 2017 state-level data likely not available until late 2018.

For the first time, ethanol also exceeded 10.0 percent of gasoline consumption in 2016 in mountain states like Colorado, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. Texas also saw its average blend rate rise above 10.0 percent for the first time. The lowest blend rate among the contiguous states in 2016 was 9.43 percent.

RFA has released a fact sheet with more details on state-level ethanol blend rates.

New Report Highlights Biodiesel Sustainability

Mon, 01/29/2018 - 11:10

A new study on biodiesel’s lifecycle energy and greenhouse gas (GHG) emission effects updates and reaffirms the long-understood benefits of using the renewable fuel. Results confirm that biodiesel compared to petroleum diesel reduces GHG emissions by 72 percent and fossil fuel use by 80 percent.

The study, which was released as the National Biodiesel Conference kicked off last week, is the latest to conclusively quantify biodiesel’s widespread benefits. As a collaboration between Argonne National Laboratory, Purdue University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the study represents the most up-to-date and comprehensive lifecycle analysis of biodiesel ever produced.

“It’s encouraging to see the commitment to data and quality analysis brought together in this study,” said Don Scott, sustainability director for the National Biodiesel Board. “It’s not news that biodiesel is good for the environment. Where credible results are needed for sound policies, it serves us well to look at transparent, reliable science.”

This study represents the first time Argonne National Laboratory has published a lifecycle assessment of biodiesel including indirect land use change (ILUC). The improved model reduces ILUC emissions by more than 30 percent relative to the score adopted by CARB in 2015.

“Biodiesel’s emission-reduction benefits are so great that you can overapply penalties aligned with the most conservative models and biodiesel is still the cleanest alternative for today’s diesel engines and the heavy-duty transportation of tomorrow,” said Scott.

The study was a topic of a breakout at the biodiesel conference and you can learn more about it in this interview. Interview with Don Scott, NBB

2018 National Biodiesel Conference

RFA Cites Small Refiner Exemption Concerns

Mon, 01/29/2018 - 09:43

Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) president and CEO Bob Dinneen sent a letter last week to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt expressing concern about a troubling “lack of transparency” in EPA’s management of the Renewable Fuel Standard’s (RFS) small refinery exemption provisions that could “destabilize the market for renewable fuels and undermine Congress’s goals for the RFS program.”

EPA has the ability to exempt small refineries with crude oil throughput of no more than 75,000 barrels of crude per day from RFS obligations if they demonstrate that the program would lead to “disproportionate economic hardship.” In the past, EPA has generally exercised restraint and judiciousness in issuing exemptions for small refiners, but recent reports suggest EPA has received requests for exemptions from dozens of small refiners, and RFA believes the public has a right to better understand EPA’s decision-making process for granting or denying exemption requests.

Read more from RFA

The small refiner issue was brought up several times on a panel last week at the National Biodiesel Conference featuring petroleum industry representatives.

American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers CEO Chet Thompson, SIGMA CEO Ryan McNutt, and Rob Underwood with the Petroleum Marketers of America Association all joined NBB CEO Donnell Rehagen to talk through the RFS issues.

Listen to the conversation here: Petroleum Industry panel

2018 National Biodiesel Conference

Driving Ethanol Policy Priorities

Mon, 01/29/2018 - 06:00

As attacks on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) have gotten more creative, the need for all segments of the industry to work together has become critical to maintaining the law as Congress intended.

We met up Growth Energy Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Chris Bliley for this episode of the Driving Ethanol podcast after he appeared on a panel at the National Biodiesel Conference to talk about how they worked together last year to fight back against the attempt to change the Point of Obligation and the Notice of Data Availability that threatened volumes of biodiesel and advanced biofuels.

The challenges continue in 2018 and Bliley talks about policy priorities including RVP parity and trade barriers. Listen to the podcast here: Growth Energy Podcast 1-29-17

Subscribe to the Driving Ethanol podcast

RFA Develops ‘Ethanol in the Classroom’ Program

Fri, 01/26/2018 - 07:19

The Renewable Fuels Association has developed a new on-line educational program designed to help tomorrow’s consumers get to know ethanol.

The new “Ethanol in the Classroom” course provides a fun and interactive way for students to learn about the renewable fuel. The e-Learning program is broken down into different grade levels and after selecting the appropriate level, students choose a vehicle that runs on ethanol and navigate through four stops: what is ethanol; ethanol’s environmental benefits; ethanol’s economic impact; and the overall use of ethanol. At each stop, students learn about ethanol and complete activities to see how much they have learned. Students earn badges after completing each stop.

“We wanted to create a fun platform for children and young adults to learn about ethanol’s numerous benefits,” said RFA Vice President of Industry Relations Robert White. “They are tomorrow’s drivers. Education is key and we want to make sure everyone, young and old, knows about the environmental, economic and energy security benefits of this renewable fuel.”

To view this new training program, visit: http://www.ethanolrfa.org/ethanol-in-the-classroom/.

ZimmCast 572 – Biodiesel and More

Thu, 01/25/2018 - 08:33

This week has been about all things biodiesel in Ft. Worth at the National Biodiesel Conference. It marks the 13th year we have produced the biodiesel conference blog and the 25th anniversary of the National Biodiesel Board, so our ZimmCast this week celebrates all things biodiesel. We start with an interview on biodiesel with Willie Nelson in 2006, and also includes interviews from this week with USDA Deputy Secretary Steve Censky, National Biodiesel Board CEO Donnell Rehagen, and former NBB CEO Kenlon Johannes.

We also hear from Chuck at the John Deere Developers conference this week and the Soil Health Summit last week.

Listen to the ZimmCast here: ZimmCast 572 on Biodiesel and More

Subscribe to the ZimmCast podcast here. Use this url in iTunes or your favorite news reader program/app.

The ZimmCast

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Locally owned, globally strong.

RFA Sponsors Crappie Masters for 2nd Year

Wed, 01/24/2018 - 15:02

The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) is back on as a co-title sponsor of the Crappie Masters Tournament for the second consecutive year. The first of 18 tournaments for the 2018 trail begins Friday, Jan. 26 in Deland, Fla., between Daytona and Orlando, at St. Johns River.

“We look forward to the continued education of the tournament Anglers, along with the general public, with an aggressive approach utilizing national television, social media, print, and grassroots face-to-face conversations,” said Crappie Masters President Mike Vallentine. “E10 is safe to use in outboards, as highlighted that in the past three years, every Crappie Masters tournament winning team has safely used E10 fuel with no reported engine issues.”

Listen to an interview with Mike from one of last year’s tournaments to learn more about his support of ethanol and farmers. Interview with Mike Vallentine, Crappie Masters

RFA Vice President of Industry Relations Robert White says last year’s sponsorship really helped boost public awareness of ethanol use in marine engines. “For nearly 30 years, 10 percent ethanol has been used in all types of marine engines and the fuel blend is approved for use by all major marine engine manufacturers, helping to clean the air and water,” he said. Additional funding for the sponsorship came from the National Corn Growers Association.

Crappie Masters Television will also highlight each tournament on a weekly show that can be viewed on the Pursuit Channel, which is on DIRECTV 604, Dish Network 393, Verizon, CenturyLink and Roku. The next Crappie Masters Tournament Trail event is Feb. 2-3 at Lake Talquin in Gadsden County, Fla.

The 2018 Crappie Masters Tournament Trail season runs through Oct. 20.

Censky Receives Biodiesel Pioneer Award

Wed, 01/24/2018 - 11:35

LtoR: NBB CEO Donnell Rehagen, Steve Censky, Kurt Kovarik and Doug Whitehead of NBB

USDA Deputy Secretary Steve Censky was presented with the Eye on Biodiesel Pioneer award at the 2018 National Biodiesel Conference Wednesday.

As the long-time CEO of the American Soybean Association, Censky was instrumental in the growth and advancement of biodiesel over the years. ASA’s primary focus as an organization is policy development and implementation of soybean farmer issues, including biodiesel. The organization, under Censky’s guidance as CEO from 1996 to 2017, played a critical role in passing the biodiesel tax incentive in 2005, and the inclusion of biodiesel in the revised Renewable Fuel Standard through their national network of farmer leaders and extensive grassroots advocacy power. As USDA Deputy Secretary, Censky continues to provide critical leadership on agricultural policies as he has done throughout his career. He has also served at USDA in the administrations of Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, including as administrator of the Foreign Agricultural Service.

Listen to Censky’s remarks here – Steve Censky award remarks

Steve had time for a few questions from reporters – Steve Censky press remarks

2018 National Biodiesel Conference

Eye on Biodiesel Initiative Award

Wed, 01/24/2018 - 08:11

This year’s Eye on Biodiesel Initiative award was presented to HERO BX founder Samuel P. “Pat” Black, III.

With a vision to help revitalize Erie, Pennsylvania with a return to a booming manufacturing sector, Black founded Lake Erie Biofuels dba HERO BX in 2005. HERO BX is the largest biodiesel plant in the Northeastern United States, and they operate a production facility in Moundville, Alabama, and a blending and distribution terminal in North Hampton, New Hampshire. This year, Black combined his philanthropic mindset with his passion for biodiesel and commissioned a book, “The Biodiesel Solution,” to help bring the biodiesel story to a mainstream audience and to capture the early history and numerous achievements of the industry as a collective.

Listen to the award presentation and Pat’s comments here: Pat Black award

2018 National Biodiesel Conference

Eye on Biodiesel Impact Award

Wed, 01/24/2018 - 08:07

Minnesota has been a leader in the biodiesel industry for decades and Mike Youngerberg has been working since 1986 to advance soybean industry priorities as a member of the Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council and the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association staff. Mike’s dedication earned him the Eye on Biodiesel Impact award this year.

Mike currently serves as the Executive Director of the Minnesota Biodiesel Council which represents the biodiesel producers and feedstock providers and has served in a critical role in one of the most proactive biodiesel states in the country. In 2002, Minnesota passed landmark legislation requiring that diesel fuel sold in the state contain at least two percent biodiesel. The law was implemented on September 29, 2005, becoming the first state to require biodiesel blends. The program increased to B5 in May 2009, to B10 for the summer months in July 2014, and is scheduled to move to B20 on May 1, 2018.

Listen to the award presentation and Mike’s remarks: Mike Youngerberg award

Learn more about Mike in this interview: Mike Youngerberg interview

2018 National Biodiesel Conference

Welcome to #NBB18

Tue, 01/23/2018 - 11:21

The National Biodiesel Conference & Expo opened today at the Fort Worth Convention Center with the theme of “Driven” to celebrate to 25th anniversary of the National Biodiesel Board.

“For the visionaries who launched what would become the National Biodiesel Board in 1992, we want to say ‘thank you,’” said NBB CEO Donnell Rehagan. “We look forward to taking this opportunity to reflect on those first 25 years, but we are also excited to launch into the next era of growth for America’s Advanced Biofuel.”

Following a University of Missouri study that demonstrated biodiesel had potential as a diesel fuel replacement, the Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council created the National SoyDiesel Development Board in 1992. Sensing the opportunity to utilize the vast surplus of soybean oil collected each year, while also expanding energy security and environmental benefits, other state soybean associations quickly joined the effort. The new association changed its name to the National Biodiesel Board in 1994 to reflect the diversity of fats and oils that can be made into biodiesel.

“Biodiesel is an American success story,” said Rehagen. “We have overcome countless challenges, and we will undoubtedly face many more as we continue to grow the industry. But for everyone who has pulled together for the past 25 years to make our success a reality, this conference is a great time to celebrate.”

Rehagen took to the Mainstage at Conference Central to welcome attendees and kick off the conference by talking about Biodiesel’s Bright Lights and Big Opportunities.

Listen here: NBB CEO Donnell Rehagen opens #NBB18

2018 National Biodiesel Conference