Experts Present Case for Ethanol vs Gasoline

ethanol-plant-rfaLeading experts in the field of lifecycle greenhouse gas (GHG) analysis and agricultural land use today responded to claims that corn ethanol and other biofuels are somehow worse for the climate than petroleum.

A panel of scientists and economists refuted the suggestion by anti-biofuel advocates that carbon accounting schemes should not credit bioenergy feedstocks for CO2 absorption based on the notion that the feedstock would have absorbed CO2 even if it wasn’t being used for biofuel. Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) Senior Vice President Geoff Cooper, who moderated the panel, called the assertion “illogical” and said “it’s a bit like saying the wind was going to blow anyway, so wind energy shouldn’t be counted as carbon neutral; or the sun was going to shine anyway, so we shouldn’t assume that solar panels are harnessing ‘free’ energy from the sun.”

California-based Life Cycle Associates (LCA) just released a new report on how biofuels have helped reduce GHG emissions in the United States since 2008 under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2). “The lifecycle approach is the best metric for greenhouse gas emissions for biofuels because it takes into account the fact that this is short cycle carbon that was recently removed from the air,” said LCA Senior Partner Stefan Unnasch. “The alternative system means that you have to have global accounting of all agriculture… that’s simply impossible and the opportunities for fraud are present everywhere.” Even if such a carbon flow approach was possible, if done correctly it would show that bioenergy reduces GHG emissions compared to petroleum.

LCA scientist Susan Boland explains that their recent study actually found greater GHG emissions reductions from biofuels than expected. “We found that the RFS2 has resulted in significant GHG reductions, with cumulative CO2 savings of 353 million metric tonnes over the period of implementation. These emissions savings occurred even though cellulosic biofuels have not met the RFS2 production targets,” said Boland.

University of Illinois-Chicago economist Steffen Mueller noted that much is made about land going into biofuels production. “But that land area is really relatively small,” he said. “There’s a lot of other land available that we can use to optimize sequestration potential.” Commenting on the latest Department of Energy analysis, Mueller said “…ethanol produced from corn grain and corn stover provides substantial greenhouse gas benefits over gasoline.” The latest version of GREET shows life cycle emissions for corn ethanol in the range of 63.5‒66.4 gCO2e/MJ, which is over 30% less than the 94 gCO2e/MJ for gasoline.

Meanwhile, Purdue University economist Dr. Wally Tyner takes issue with the assumption land used for biofuel feedstock production would have grown the same feedstock for some other purpose or reverted to a natural state in the absence of biofuels demand. “If we hadn’t have had biofuels in the United States, we might still be paying farmers not to grow as we were before biofuels came along,” said Tyner. “So the assumption that all of this would have happened anyway I think is absurd.”

Listen to the call here: RFA GHG conference call

Analysis Shows RFS2 has Reduced GHG Emissions

rfalogo1A new analysis shows implementation of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2) has resulted in a reduction of U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 354 million metric tons of CO2-equivalent since 2008.

Findings of the analysis, conducted by California-based Life Cycle Associates, have important implications for both the pending final rule for 2014–2016 RFS volumes and upcoming global climate talks in Paris, according to the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), which sponsored the study.

According to the report, “The RFS2 has resulted in significant GHG reductions, with cumulative CO2 savings of 354 million metric tonnes over the period of implementation. The GHG reductions are attributed to greater than expected savings from ethanol and other biofuels.”

Specifically, the authors ascribe the larger-than-anticipated GHG emissions reductions to: technology improvements in grain ethanol production, increased consumption of low-carbon advanced biofuels, and the steadily rising carbon intensity of petroleum fuels. The study found that conventional corn ethanol reduced emissions by an average of 29 percent when compared to the petroleum actually used in 2008, with that reduction growing to 39 percent by 2015. Importantly, these estimates include the best available estimates of prospective “indirect land use change” emissions from Argonne National Laboratory.

“This report, which uses globally accepted GHG accounting methods, demonstrates that the RFS has been tremendously successful in reducing the carbon intensity of our transportation fuels. In fact, the study found the RFS has actually exceeded expectations in terms of GHG reduction,” said RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen.

Read more here.

Pacific Ethanol CEO on Bobby Likis Car Clinic

likis-koehlerPacific Ethanol CEO Neil Koehler will be a guest on “Bobby Likis Car Clinic” tomorrow, November 21, at 11:40 am Eastern time.

Koehler will brief Car Clinic listeners and viewers on the actions required to make strides in energy independence, including the importance of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalizing the rule for the renewable volume obligations of the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS), set for November 30.

“It’s my job as consumers’ go-to source for truth-based automotive information to deliver the facts to you, so you can make best-of-decisions,” said Likis. “Neil Koehler will tell it like it is regarding the RFS.”

Pacific Ethanol is the leading producer and marketer of low-carbon renewable fuels in the Western United States. With the addition of four Midwestern ethanol plants in July 2015, Pacific Ethanol more than doubled the scale of its operations, entered new markets, and expanded its mission to be the industry leader in the production and marketing of low carbon renewable fuels.

To view Koehler’s interview in its entirety, visit on Saturday, November 21, at 11:41a ET.

#Ethanol Leaders Discuss RFS with OMB

rfalogo1Ethanol organization representatives met Wednesday with with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to discuss the forthcoming rule from the Environmental Protection Agency regarding volume obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) president Bob Dinneen and Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis delivered the message that the RFS is working and that there is no reason for EPA to set the Renewable Volume Obligations (RVOs) for undifferentiated renewable fuel (primarily corn ethanol) below the levels specified in the statute.

growth-energy-logo1Dinneen said data show the U.S. ethanol industry would have no problem meeting the 15 billion gallon blending level specified by the statute. “The latest data from the Energy Information Administration show that gasoline consumption projections for 2016 have increased. In fact, EIA expects 2016 gasoline demand to achieve a nine-year high,” said Dinneen. “Our calculations show that because of the uptick in gasoline demand alone, EPA must increase the 2016 RVO by 270 million gallons.”

Dinneen added that the EPA significantly understated the use of E85 and non-ethanol conventional renewable fuels, including non-advanced renewable diesel and biodiesel, in its proposal. “We provided OMB with data showing that EPA has understated the likely market for E85 and non-ethanol conventional biofuels in 2016 by at least 440 million gallons,” said Dinneen. “All of this suggests there will be at least 14.7 billion gallons of undifferentiated renewable fuel blended next year.”

“This meeting was really our closing argument before the administration makes its final decision. We impressed upon OMB that the oil industry’s ‘blend wall’ narrative is simply not true,” Buis added. “The data is there to prove the value of the program and it shows the RFS is doing exactly what it was intended to do. The president needs to uphold the statute.”

EPA is expected to issue the final RFS rule for 2014-2016 on or before November 30.

RFA Updates

e85-pricesThe Renewable Fuels Association has unveiled a redesigned version of its popular fuel market website

According to RFA Vice President of Industry Relations Robert White, the layout of the site has been updated for easier navigation and redesigned with a modern interface for a cleaner presentation. “The all new website and mobile app make it easier than ever to locate E85 stations, search for the best prices for ethanol blends, and post your personal pricing experiences,” said White. “Both the website and the app are optimized for use on any device and allow easier interaction than ever before. It is our hope that these upgrades will lead to increased usage and reporting.”

nafb15-rfa-whiteDuring an interview at the National Association of Farm Broadcasting last week, White said they have been working on the upgrade since they acquired earlier this year. “We think this will allow consumers and fleet operators a better ability to find E85 stations to use the fuel and find the best deal they can on E85,” White said, noting that 85 percent ethanol is approved for use only in Flex Fuel vehicles, of which there are now over 19 million on the road in the nation. is now better integrated with Google for optimal search results that link back to the website. In addition, the mobile app also includes an updated interface that makes it easier for users to share the latest prices for the fuel in their areas.

ethanol-report-adIn this edition of the Ethanol Report, White talks about the update, as well as the increasing number of flex fuel vehicles on the road, the growing number of stations offering E85, and other topics related to higher ethanol blends in the marketplace.

Listen to this edition of the Ethanol Report here: Ethanol Report on Updated

Broin Resumes Role as POET CEO

poet-broinPOET founder Jeff Broin announced last week that he has resumed his role as the company’s CEO after serving as Executive Chairman for over three years.

“A few years ago, I wanted to slow down a bit, be less involved in the affairs of POET and have time to do other things and spend more time with my family,” Broin said. “In the last few years I have been able to work on broader industry and ag issues, get our new foundation – Seeds of Change – up and running and support several third-world causes. However, I also found myself continuing to work regularly on company issues. The fact is, my passion and love for this company, our industry, agriculture and the people I work with is just too great. I guess you could say my heart has always been in this company. We have so many great opportunities in front of us to change the world, and I think I can be of most value moving forward by serving as CEO,”

Jeff Lautt has been CEO and will continue to manage the day-to-day operations of POET as President and Chief Operating Officer. “No one is more passionate about this company and industry than Jeff Broin. This business is in his blood,” said Lautt.

Ethanol Report on the RFS and COP21

ethanol-report-adThe Renewable Fuels Association sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry this week urging him to highlight the role of the Renewable Fuel Standard in reducing global greenhouse gas emissions as he prepares to head to the international climate conference COP21 in Paris.

nafb-rfa-cooperAt the National Association of Farm Broadcasting, RFA Senior Vice President Geoff Cooper talked about the importance of the United States promoting biofuels as a means of reducing greenhouse gas emissions at the conference, how successful the RFS has been, the U.S. corn crop, and much more.

Listen to this edition of the Ethanol Report here: Ethanol Report on the RFS and COP21

Florida Station Promotes Higher #Ethanol Blends

protec-citgo-signThe prices for higher ethanol blends at the Citgo Gas Station on John Young Parkway in Kissimmee are low normally, but Friday they were even lower as the retailer continued to celebrate the ability to offer lower cost fuel to consumers.

Motorists who might have been in town for a weekend at the theme parks were able to fill up Friday for an additional discount on the E15 ethanol blend fuel of $.15, OR for $.85 off E85 Flex-Fuel, a fuel for Flex-Fuel gasoline engines.

Station owner Paul Przychocki of Mid-State Energy has worked to offer higher ethanol blends at his retail outlets because he is a big believer in the fuel. “I personally use it in my vehicle,” he said, noting that he drives a 2011 model that can use E15. “It’s put Americans back to work and (helped us) get away from foreign oil that unfortunately we have to supply in America.”

Przychocki partnered with Protec Fuel to install the new pumps at the Kissimmee station with the help of USDA Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership funding. Here’s an interview with Przychocki when the partnership was announced. Interview with Paul Przychocki, Mid-State Energy

Ethanol Exports Bounce Back in September

growth-exportsU.S. ethanol exports rebounded in September after a drop in August, with shipments expanding 20% to 60.3 million gallons (mg), according to Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) analysis of government data released this week.

RFA Research Analyst Ann Lewis reports that Canada remained the top market for U.S. ethanol, with 44% of expors. “Meanwhile, India imported 14.3 mg (24%), its highest level of imports since February,” said Lewis. Other top importers included South Korea (8.5 mg), Peru (4.3 mg), Mexico (2.7 mg) and the Philippines (2.7 mg). Tunisia backed away from purchases in September after accounting for a quarter of the market last month, while exports to Brazil were close to zero. Total year-to-date U.S. ethanol exports are almost 625 million gallons – which is up six percent from this time last year and already greater than total exports in 2013.

The California LCFS “ethanol shuffle” reappeared in September, as U.S. imports hit a 16-month high. The United States imported 24.9 mg of ethanol, almost 60% higher than August and the largest volume imported since May 2014. All of the 24.2 mg of undenatured ethanol imports originated from Brazil. The U.S. also imported 689,365 gallons of denatured ethanol in September, with 96% shipped from Spain and the remainder coming from South Africa and Canada. Year-to-date U.S. imports of ethanol now total 57.7 mg–quickly catching up to last year’s cumulative volume at this point. In September, the United States realized its 25th straight month as a net exporter, albeit at a significantly reduced margin.

Meanwhile, exports of U.S. distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) were lower in September with decreasing shipments to China, which still remains by far the number one destination for DDGS exports. Four countries account for most of the 1,108,582 metric tons of U.S. DDGS exports: China (484,535 mt), Mexico (140,338 mt), Viet Nam (101,335 mt) and South Korea (96,503 mt). China had been importing about 750,000 mt per month and making up about 64% of our DDGS export market. However, DDGS exports to China dropped 30% in August and another 26% in September, settling at a volume equal to just half of the June record high.

Santorum Visits Quad County Cellulosic Ethanol Plant

qccp-santorumRepublican presidential candidate and former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum visited the site of the first commercial cellulosic ethanol production in the state of Iowa at Quad County Corn Processors (QCCP) Friday.

“One of the things that’s helped rural small towns and farmers, particularly in Iowa, is the Renewable Fuel Standard,” said Santorum, who met with met with plant representatives, including QCCP CEO Delayne Johnson, who share how they recently passed the two-million gallon milestone for cellulosic ethanol production using Syngenta’s Cellerate™ process technology.

“We are excited to have achieved our goal of producing 2 million gallons per year of cellulosic ethanol, and are on target to continue, or increase, this production level going forward,” Johnson said. “We’re now focusing on growing alliances and relationships within the industry.”

During 2014, QCCP achieved EPA certification to generate D3 Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) for cellulosic ethanol. According to Johnson, the generation of D3 RINs helps fulfill advanced and cellulosic requirements set forth by the RFS. QCCP is among the first companies to issue D3 RINs, which has also enabled the company to expand sales into racing and advanced biofuels markets.

Santorum met with Johnson and others at the plant to discuss renewable fuels policy and see first-hand the innovative process technology that has enabled QCCP to become a leader in cellulosic ethanol production. Sen. Santorum also called for investment in flex fuel infrastructure to increase access to biofuels – which he believes would provide consumers with increased access to the fuel marketplace and allow greater market competition.