Glacial Lakes Energy Joins Carbon Capture Project

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Glacial Lakes Energy (GLE) of South Dakota has joined the partnership with Summit Carbon Solutions to make a clean energy source even more environmentally friendly.

Last week, Summit announced a carbon capture project that will result in an annual reduction of 10 million tons of carbon dioxide or the carbon footprint equivalent of 2 million autos. Glacial Lakes Energy has signed an offtake agreement with Summit to supply the carbon dioxide at its plants located in Huron, Aberdeen, Mina, and Watertown. This partnership will allow over 1.6 million tons of carbon dioxide to be captured, transported, and deposited deep underground through Summit’s transportation and storage platform which originates in Iowa and concludes in North Dakota. Capturing and storing carbon dioxide is viewed as a necessity toward lowering greenhouse gases and fighting climate change.

Glacial Lakes Energy four ethanol biorefineries in Watertown, Huron, Aberdeen, and Mina.

carbon capture, Ethanol, Ethanol News

Secretary Vilsack Back at USDA

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Former Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack became current secretary under the Biden Administration this week, returning to the job he held for eight years under President Obama. Secretary Vilsack was confirmed by the Senate on Tuesday, sworn in virtually by Vice President Harris on Wednesday, and held his first press call with reporters Thursday morning.

The first issue Vilsack addressed was the priority of the Biden Administration to beat COVID-19, which is taking a higher toll on rural areas. He announced that USDA is investing $42.3 million to help rural residents gain access to health care and educational opportunities. The investments include $24 million provided through the CARES Act and will benefit five million rural residents.

“Rural areas are seeing higher infection and death rates related to COVID-19 due to several factors, including a much higher percentage of underlying conditions, difficulty accessing medical care, and lack of health insurance,” said Vilsack. “With health care and education increasingly moving to online platforms, the time is now to make historic investments in rural America to improve quality of life for decades to come.”

Vilsack said it is a different USDA that he will be leading, compared to the department he left in 2016, mainly due to COVID. He is still in Iowa and says most others in the department will continue to work remotely for now with only about 350 people at work in the building in Washington DC.

USDA Secretary Vilsack press call 42:33

Audio, USDA

Frigid Weather Takes Toll on Ethanol Production

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Ethanol production took a dive last week along with the temperatures as the polar vortex that hit most of the country led to electricity outages, major disruptions in the natural gas market, and transportation issues.

According to EIA data analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association, ethanol production plummeted 27.8%, or 253,000 barrels per day (b/d), to 658,000 b/d—equivalent to 27.64 million gallons daily and the lowest output since May 8, 2020. This was the largest week-over-week drop on record. Production remained 37.6% below the same week last year. The four-week average ethanol production rate fell 7.4% to 860,000 b/d, equivalent to an annualized rate of 13.18 billion gallons (bg).

Ethanol stocks sank 6.2% to an 11-week low of 22.8 million barrels, which was 7.8% below a year-ago. Inventories drew down across all regions, including a sizable decrease (down 1.05 million barrels) in the Midwest (PADD 2).

As the National Ethanol Conference got underway last Tuesday, RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper had already heard from ethanol producers who were being impacted by the weather who ultimately had to reduce output rates by 40% or fully idle. “With much warmer weather this week, the natural gas and electricity mess is beginning to untangle itself, but it may be another week or so before the industry returns to pre-vortex operations.”

Listen to Cooper’s comments on how the weather was impacting plants last week.
RFA CEO Geoff Cooper - cold weather impact on ethanol production 1:31

Ethanol, Ethanol News, National Ethanol Conference, Renewable Fuels Association, RFA, Weather

Renewable Fuels Nebraska Names Interim Director

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The board of Renewable Fuels Nebraska (RFN) has named Pam Miller interim executive director, effective earlier this month.

Pam has been involved in the ethanol industry since 2004. At that time, she was an elected official, serving as a county commissioner in Northeast Nebraska. As such, she created the Dakota County Economic Development Committee. A thorough SWOT analysis of the county led to the genesis of Siouxland Ethanol as an economic development project. Pam became one of the original founders of Siouxland Ethanol, wrote the business plan for the company, and became passionate about the value-added benefits of this clean source of octane. Siouxland Ethanol began as a 50 million gallon dry mill ethanol plant in Jackson, Neb., in 2007 and has expanded to producing more than 90 million gallons of ethanol a year.

Miller has also served on the boards of the Renewable Fuels Association, American Coalition for Ethanol, and Renewable Fuels Nebraska. As interim executive director for RFN, Miller replaces Troy Bredenkamp, who recently joined the RFA as Senior Vice President for Government and Public Affairs in Washington DC.

ACE, Ethanol, Ethanol News, Renewable Fuels Association, RFA

LCFS and RFS – Conflict or Complement?

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Do Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) policies conflict or complement the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS)? That was the question Dr. Jarrett Whistance with the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute at the University of Missouri was called on to answer at last week’s National Ethanol Conference.

Whistance, who is Program Lead for Biofuel Market and Policy Analysis at FAPRI-MU, said he believes a national LCFS could provide an avenue to expand ethanol use through higher blends, but there are many questions to be answered. “How would ethanol be treated versus electricity and renewable diesel…and what would the vehicle markets look like in the future?” said Whistance. “The role of electrification is probably the elephant in the room and is going to be a big uncertainty as we look forward.”

Listen to his presentation here.
2021 NEC presentation - Jarrett Whistance, FAPRI-MU 25:54

Did you miss the live National Ethanol Conference last week? Not to worry! All of the info-packed sessions, discussions, industry outlooks and more are available on-demand for those that register by March 5, 2021.

Audio, Ethanol, Ethanol News, Low Carbon Fuel Standard, National Ethanol Conference, RFA, RFS

EPA Supports 10th Circuit Decision

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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced support for last year’s U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit decision and interpretation of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) small-refinery exemption provisions.

This conclusion, prompted by a detailed review following the Supreme Court’s grant of certiorari in the case, represents a change from EPA’s position before the Tenth Circuit. The change reflects the Agency’s considered assessment that the Tenth Circuit’s reasoning better reflects the statutory text and structure, as well as Congress’s intent in establishing the RFS program.

EPA now agrees with the Tenth Circuit that an exemption must exist for EPA to be able to “extend” it. EPA also agrees with the court that the exemption was intended to operate as a temporary measure and, “consistent with that Congressional purpose, the plain meaning of the word “extension” refers to continuing the status of an exemption that is already in existence.”

A joint statement from the coalition that brought the case (Renewable Fuels Association, National Corn Growers Association, American Coalition for Ethanol and National Farmers Union) calls the EPA decision “fantastic news for America’s biofuel producers, farmers, and consumers.”

“Our nation’s biofuel producers and farmers appreciate EPA’s careful review of the Tenth Circuit Court’s decision, and we are pleased the agency’s new leadership is reversing the previous administration’s flawed position on small refinery exemptions. This announcement marks a major step forward by the Biden administration to restore the integrity of the Renewable Fuel Standard and honor the intent of Congress. We wholeheartedly agree with EPA’s conclusion that the small refinery exemption was intended to be a temporary measure and we are pleased to see the agency confirming that only previously existing exemptions may be extended.”

ACE, Biodiesel, corn, Ethanol, Ethanol News, NCGA, NFU, RFA, RFS

Summit Agricultural Group Announces Major Carbon Project

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Summit Agricultural Group has announced the creation of Summit Carbon Solutions, expected to be the world’s largest carbon capture and storage project.

The goal of Summit Carbon Solutions is to accelerate the transition toward sustainable, renewable energy by dramatically lowering the carbon footprint of biorefineries and other carbon dioxide emission sources throughout the Midwestern region of the United States.

When fully developed, Summit Carbon Solutions will have an infrastructure network capable of capturing and permanently storing more than 10 million tons of carbon dioxide annually, which is equivalent to taking 2 million cars off the road per year. In addition to the project’s positive environmental impact, it will enhance the economic sustainability of the biofuels and agriculture industries, while providing tremendous benefits to communities across the Midwest in the form of significant private investment and job creation.

Summit Carbon Solutions has partnered with a select group of leading biorefiners located in Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota, and North Dakota to execute the first phase of the project, which will put them on the path of ultimately delivering a net-zero-carbon fuel. In addition to biorefiners, Summit Carbon Solutions will partner with other industries throughout the Midwest that have carbon reduction goals to help them capture and store their carbon emissions.

American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) CEO Brian Jennings said they are looking forward to supporting members companies who participate in this endeavor “to increase the value of their ethanol by improving their carbon footprint, supporting their rural communities, and helping the nation reach net-zero carbon emissions by mid-century.”

Summit Carbon Solutions, which will permanently store carbon dioxide in underground saline geologic formations, is expected to be operational in 2024.

ACE, Environment, Ethanol, Ethanol News, Sustainability

Biofuels Caucus Introduces RFS Integrity Act

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U.S. Representatives Angie Craig (D-MN) and Dusty Johnson (R-SD) led the Congressional Biofuels Caucus in introducing bipartisan legislation last week to ensure transparency and predictability to the Environmental Protection Agency’s small refinery exemption (SRE) process.

The Renewable Fuel Standard Integrity Act would require small refineries to submit a petition for a Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) hardship exemption by June 1st of each year, allowing EPA to properly account for exempted gallons in the annual Renewable Volume Obligations set each November. The bill would also increase transparency by mandating the public disclosure of data surrounding SREs – a process that has previously been carried out behind closed doors with little to no congressional oversight.

American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) CEO Brian Jennings thanked Reps. Johnson and Craig for reintroducing this bipartisan legislation. “This legislation is necessary because under President Trump, EPA brazenly granted nearly 90 waivers for small refineries, erasing over 4 billion gallons from the RFS volumes established by Congress. As of today, 66 additional refinery waivers are pending,” said Jennings.

Craig and Johnson were joined in introducing the RFS Integrity Act by Reps. Cindy Axne (D-IA), Rodney Davis (R-IL), Mark Pocan (D-WI) and Adrian Smith (R-NE). Rep. Craig’s recent appointment to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce will allow her to play a key role in fighting for its passage this year.

ACE, Biodiesel, Ethanol, Ethanol News

Ethanol Report 2-19-21

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This edition of the Ethanol Report features highlights from the 26th annual National Ethanol Conference (NEC).

First, we hear some of Renewable Fuels Association president and CEO Geoff Cooper’s annual State of the Industry address focusing on ethanol as essential energy. Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-IL) discusses her Next Generation Fuels Act, and former House Ag Committee Chair Collin Peterson comments on receiving the RFA Industry Award, and RFA Director of Market Development Cassie Mullen shares insight from her panel on tapping new markets for higher blends.

All of the content from the National Ethanol Conference is still available on-demand and registration will be open until March 5 for anyone who would like to experience every minute of the digital event.

Ethanol Report 2-19-21 (19:10)

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

Audio, Ethanol, Ethanol News, Ethanol Report, National Ethanol Conference, Renewable Fuels Association, RFA

Biofuels Groups Oppose General RFS Waivers

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Biofuels organizations filed comments this week opposing requests from refiners, several state governors, and an environmental organization that the Environmental Protection Agency waive 2019 and 2020 Renewable Fuel Standard volumes.

“None of the petitions provides the required evidence that the RFS itself is causing economic or environmental harm. In fact, the requests point to the continuing coronavirus emergency as the cause of economic harm, rather than the RFS,” National Biodiesel Board (NBB) Vice President of Federal Affairs Kurt Kovarik said. “The petitions discount the economic harm that small biodiesel producers experience when the RFS program is delayed and destabilized. EPA should reject the petitions.”

American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) CEO Brian Jennings noted that the RFS itself must be proven to be the cause of “severe economic harm” to justify a waiver, not outside factors such as the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, the primary argument made by the parties. “The pandemic-related shutdowns caused comparable economic harm to ethanol producers and virtually every other sector of the U.S. economy,” said Jennings.

“These waiver requests, which were rushed out the door by EPA one day before President Joe Biden was sworn in, never should have seen the light of day,” said Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Geoff Cooper. “They do not satisfy any of the criteria established by the statute and they do not comply with past EPA guidance.”

ACE, Audio, Biodiesel, biofuels, EPA, Ethanol, Ethanol News, NBB, Renewable Fuels Association, RFA