NFU Concerned E15 Waiver Will Impact Higher Blends

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National Farmers Union (NFU) is concerned EPA’s proposed rule allowing year-round use of E15 gasoline will make it harder for retailers to sell higher level blends of ethanol.

In a letter to EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, NFU President Roger Johnson urged EPA to rewrite a provision contained within the rule that could amount to a cap on ethanol. It is viewed within the farm community as yet another barrier to family farmers and ranchers being able to sell farm products for biofuel production.

“Farmers Union is eager for EPA to follow through on its promises to get an E15 waiver out of the door by June 1,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “But we are concerned that certain provisions within EPA’s rulemaking unnecessarily work against expanded use of higher level blends of ethanol.”

NFU’s concerns stem from EPA’s interpretation of the “substantially similar” clause of the Clean Air Act, which prohibits the sale of any fuel or fuel additive that is “not substantially similar” to fuels or fuel additives used in the certification of new vehicles. EPA has limited its “substantially similar” interpretation to only an E15 blend, making the prospects of using higher level blends of ethanol harder to achieve. “For that reason, we respectfully request that EPA clarify that the Clean Air Act’s “substantially similar” provisions for gasoline do not cap ethanol at 15 percent,” said Johnson.

E15, EPA, Ethanol, Ethanol News, NFU

Teaching Biofuels in Schools

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Growth Energy, in partnership with the National Association of Agricultural Educators (NAAE), has just released a new curriculum aimed at educating high school students about biofuels. The curriculum is the first industry-supported biofuels curriculum that provides students a guided in-classroom experience and will offer ag educators the tools needed to provide students with an array of technical skills and historical knowledge in biofuels.

“Our one-of-a-kind curriculum offers students a glimpse into the innovative world of biofuels,” said Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor. “Every day, the biofuels industry is working alongside the ag community to provide cleaner fuels and products for American drivers and consumers. We are excited for high school students to experience first-hand the role STEM education plays in our nation’s agriculture and energy and learn through our curriculum how the next generation of biofuels are moving rural America into the future. We are proud to offer this curriculum to our nation’s ag educators and help to foster a new generation of biofuels advocates among the leaders of tomorrow.”

Dr. Wm. Jay Jackman, NAAE executive director, said, “NAAE’s Curriculum for Agricultural Science Education (CASE) team was pleased to partner with Growth Energy to develop these instructional resources to teach students, and teachers, the important role of biofuels in meeting energy demands for the twenty-first century.”

The curriculum offers agricultural educators a two-week long course with six activities that allow students to produce their own biofuel and measure its energy content and emissions, and help them understand why science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) activities and biofuels are so important to agricultural innovation.

The curriculum is available for download on Growth Energy’s website.

Biodiesel, biofuels, Education, Energy, Ethanol

Iowa Says No to More SREs

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Iowa Agriculture Secretary Mike Naig and Iowa Renewable Fuels Association Executive Director Monte Shaw held a press conference Wednesday to discuss how EPA granting more pending small-refinery exemptions (SRE) would irreversibly undermine the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

Speaking at Southwest Iowa Renewable Energy near Council Bluffs, Shaw pointed out that in recent weeks refineries could have complied with their obligation by purchasing compliance credits, known as RINs, for as little as eight cents.

“Given the current circumstances, granting any of the 2018 small-refinery exemptions would fundamentally undermine the RFS and break President Trump’s promise to protect the 15-billion-gallon RFS,” Shaw said. “At a time when you can avoid blending a $1.30 gallon of ethanol by instead buying a RIN for eight cents – a price even Texas Senator Ted Cruz found acceptable – how can there be disproportionate economic harm?”

SREs granted under the Trump Administration have already accounted for over 2.5 billion gallons of RFS demand destruction.

Ethanol, Ethanol News

39 Reasons for EPA to Just Say No to More SREs

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With the Environmental Protection Agency considering 39 pending petitions for 2018 Small Refinery Exemptions (SREs), the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) has helpfully provided the agency with 39 reasons to turn them all down.

The list starts with 53 – The number of refinery waivers EPA granted for the 2016 and 2017 compliance years since early 2018, and ends with 1 – The number of days it takes EPA to reverse course and stop granting waivers.

Read them all here.

corn, EPA, Ethanol, NCGA

SW Iowa Renewable Energy Sows Seeds for Monarchs

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Southwest Iowa Renewable Energy (SIRE) is one step closer to providing monarch butterflies with a new place to fill up on their cross-country journey. The ethanol plant seeded their Monarch Fueling Station this week with the help of local farmer Rick Frost.

Habitat Establishment Coordinator Kevin Reynolds helped SIRE established the Monarch Fueling Station last year. “The first year there are a few species of plants that will sprout rapidly,” he said. “However, the majority will spend this first growing season developing strong roots.”

“This is an exciting next step for our Monarch Fueling Station,” said SIRE CEO Mike Jerke. “We can’t wait to see green sprouts in this field and watch it flourish over time to provide much-needed habitat for Iowa’s monarch butterflies.”

The Monarch Fueling Station Project was established by the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) in partnership with the Iowa Monarch Conservation Consortium in December 2017.

Biodiesel, biofuels, Ethanol, Ethanol News, Iowa RFA

EPA Revisits Proposal to Publish Refinery Waiver Info

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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is seeking comment on the current process for issuing Small Refinery Exemptions (SREs) that would allowing names of refineries who have applied for and received waivers to be made public in an effort to expand transparency.

EPA has reopened the comment period for 15 days on one aspect of a 2016 proposal “that basic information related to EPA actions on petitions for Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) small refinery and small refiner exemptions may not be claimed as confidential business information (CBI).”

National Biodiesel Board (NBB) Vice President of Federal Affairs Kurt Kovarik called the move a step in the right direction. “The agency should make this information public when the petition is submitted, not just when it is granted,” said Kovarik. “NBB will continue to aggressively advocate for a solution to the demand destruction resulting from retroactive small refinery exemptions.”

Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor challenged EPA to go even further. “Any move by EPA to increase transparency is long overdue but always welcome by this industry,” said Skor. “For years, we’ve been trying to navigate these exemptions in the dark, all while over 2.6 billion gallons of ethanol demand has been lost. It is imperative that EPA and the Department of Energy reveal the methodology behind granting these exemptions, and for EPA to fully recognize that every time they grant an exemption, they are taking away critical demand from our already struggling rural economy.”

Learn more about the proposed rule from EPA.

Biodiesel, biofuels, EPA, Ethanol, Growth Energy, NBB

Grassley Questions DOE on SRE Review Process

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Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) sent a letter to Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Rick Perry this week asking for clarity about the department’s review process concerning Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) Small Refinery Exemption (SRE) requests.

“EPA has granted an unprecedented number of small refinery hardship exemptions for 2016 and 2017 and even more small refineries are seeking exemptions from the RFS for 2018,” Grassley wrote. “With Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) at multi-year lows, it’s hard to comprehend the alleged disproportionate economic hardship that any refinery could face.”

Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Geoff Cooper said they are grateful to Senator Grassley for raising the issue with DOE. “The simple fact is that the criteria for evaluating small refinery exemptions hasn’t changed, but the number of exemptions granted has skyrocketed. The situation demands transparency. Senator Grassley is right to ask DOE for these details and he continues to be a tireless and effective advocate for renewable fuels.”

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler told Reuters this week that the agency may be granted less waivers now because RIN prices are lower but that “final decisions on the petitions were to be made after receiving the DOE input.” There are currently about 40 waiver petitions pending.

Ethanol, Ethanol News

Retailers in Mexico Oil Country Learn About Ethanol

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American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) Senior Vice President Ron Lamberty was back in Mexico teaching retailers about ethanol this week, this time in Tuxtla Gutiérrez, the capital and largest city of the southeast Mexico state of Chiapas.

This is the third time Lamberty has traveled to Mexico so far this year to speak at ethanol technical information forums for Mexican petroleum equipment installers and retailers, a joint effort of the U.S. Grains Council and the Mexican Association of Service Station Suppliers (AMPES), to inform Mexican petroleum marketers about opportunities in sourcing, marketing, and retailing ethanol-blended gasoline, as Mexico’s transportation fuel sector evolves.

“Chiapas shares a border with Guatemala to the east, the northwest part of the state touches Mexico’s largest oil fields, and Tuxtla Gutiérrez is only a few hours from PEMEX’s headquarters. For all practical purposes, it’s oil country,” Lamberty said. “It’s also an area of amazing natural beauty, and we’re helping these marketers understand ethanol can help make gasoline cleaner and more friendly to their environment while also making it more affordable.”

Lamberty has presented at 10 events in Mexico since the fall of 2017 to share his experience as an ethanol splash blender and retailer and demonstrate how marketers can make money as distributors of ethanol. Fuel equipment companies in Mexico report increased interest from retailers and prospective wholesale distributors of ethanol since the workshop series began.

ACE, Ethanol

RFA Earns Seventh Straight TRANSCAER® Award

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For the seventh consecutive year, the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) has received a TRANSCAER® National Achievement Award for its industry-leading ethanol safety program. RFA hosted numerous ethanol safety training events in 2018, giving more than 1,800 emergency responders the tools and information they need to effectively respond to any incidents involving fuel ethanol.

The TRANSCAER® National Achievement Award is given in recognition of extraordinary achievement by an individual person, company, organization or a team in support of the TRANSCAER® initiative.

In 2018, RFA held 32 ethanol safety seminars in 13 locations, four Train-the-Trainer webinars and an online ethanol safety training initiative, which trained emergency responders on how to properly respond to an ethanol incident. Collectively, these events trained more than 1,800 individuals last year.

So far this year, RFA has held 20 ethanol safety seminars and two Train-the-Trainer events, with more planned throughout the year.

For more information on ethanol safety events, visit EthanolResponse.com or contact Missy Ruff at RFA.

Ethanol, Ethanol News, RFA, safety

Ethanol Not to Blame for Higher Gas Prices

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Gas prices are up, but ethanol is not to blame, according to an analysis by the Renewable Fuels Association.

Gas prices at the pump have been steadily increasing since the end of January, and some have speculated that it is due to ethanol transportation issues following the Midwest floods in March. But RFA found that it is mainly because of a surge in crude oil prices since the start of the year, combined with normal seasonal gasoline pricing, as well as refinery maintenance and unplanned outages.

Ethanol prices are at a steep discount to gasoline prices (and to other sources of octane), and inventories have recently been at record levels. While transportation challenges caused issues with delivery to isolated locations in the immediate aftermath of the floods, production was not significantly affected. In the vast majority of the country, ethanol has been helping to hold down gasoline prices for consumers.
Read the analysis.

Ethanol, Ethanol News, RFA