Clinton Voices Support for Renewable Energy

clinton-iowaWith a John Deere tractor as a backdrop, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton voiced her strong support for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), solar and wind energy during a visit to Iowa this week.

“We need to capitalize on rural America’s strength as a producer of clean, renewable energy,” said Mrs. Clinton during a speech in Ankeny, adding that she has two main goals in that area. “Half a billion solar panels within four years and enough energy production from renewables to power every home in America within 10 years.”

Noting that Iowa produces a third of its total energy from renewables, especially wind and biofuels. “If Iowa can do it…so can the rest of America,” she said.

“We need to strengthen the Renewable Fuel Standard,” Mrs. Clinton continued to applause. “So that it drives the development of advanced biofuels and expand the overall contribution that renewable fuels make to our overall fuel supply.”

Introduced by former Iowa governor and current Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Clinton discussed her plan to support rural America which includes investments in rural areas and rural transportation, making the production of agricultural products more profitable for farmers, and promoting the use of clean energy and renewable energy sources.

Listen to Vilsack’s introduction and Clinton’s speech here: Hillary Clinton on Ag in Iowa

#ACE15 President’s and Media Awards

ace15-presidentsAmerican Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) president Ron Alverson of Dakota Energy surprised his friend Steve Roe with Little Sioux Corn Processors in Marcus, Iowa with this year’s President’s Award. This honor is awarded to individuals or organizations who display principled dedication and support to ACE and to the U.S. ethanol industry.

Little Sioux is a grassroots ethanol plant started in 2003 with local community investors. The company has grown to include over 800 investors and is currently undertaking its third expansion which will bring its capacity to over 135 million gallons per year.

ace15-riterACE Director of Communications Chuck Beck awarded the Excellence in Media award this year to Tom Riter of WNAX in Yankton, SD.

Riter is a veteran farm broadcaster and a native of Rock Rapids, Iowa. He is a regular contributor to the National Association of Farm Broadcasting news service on issues pertaining to the ethanol industry.

2015 ACE Annual Meeting Photos

First Power by People Award at #ACE15

ace15-power-awardIn honor of its successful photo campaign featuring the people of the ethanol industry, the American Coalition for Ethanol awarded its first “Power by People” award at last week’s annual meeting.

The award was presented to Husker Ag of Plainview, Nebraska for the plant’s continued efforts to provide consumers access to higher ethanol blends. The new award was created to recognize a plant or an individual who has gone the extra mile to help get ethanol’s message out to the public.

“Everyone is very proud to have worked together to receive this prestigious award,” said Seth Harder, Husker Ag general manager. “We are proud to be members of Husker Ag.”

ACE Executive Director Brian Jennings said Husker Ag’s recent response to a Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) public hearing made them a perfect fit for the inaugural Power by People Award. According to Jennings, when the RFS hearing was announced, Harder and his team immediately stepped forward with a group of employees, shareholders, investors and a fuel retailer to testify in Kansas City despite short notice.

In addition to addressing policy issues, Husker Ag provides support for flex fuel infrastructure throughout northeast Nebraska. In 2012, Husker Ag passed a resolution to promote higher ethanol fuel blends at the retail level. Since then, the Plainview ethanol plant has provided grant money and ethanol for several retail locations including Creighton, Crofton, Hartington, Osmond, and Pierce at two locations. Plainview and Norfolk locations are in various stages of flex fuel pump installation, and equipment is ready for installation at possibly four more locations.

2015 ACE Annual Meeting Photos

MO Lawmakers Support RFS

During a visit to the Missouri State Fair last week, two members of the state’s Congressional delegation were asked their opinions on the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed volume obligations for biofuels under the Renewable Fuel Standard.

msf-15-72-editedSen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) hopes EPA will listen to the concerns of the industry. “I think it’s important that we become as energy self-sufficient as we can and renewables are an important part of that,” said Blunt during an interview at the fair. “We have great potential in more American energy of all kinds and the potential of how much we can add to that in renewables and what that does to the ag economy and production agriculture generally in terms of that product being available not just for fuel but for food is important.”

Sen. Blunt also comments on EPA’s Clean Water Rule and other issues in this interview: Interview with Senator Roy Blunt

msf-15-101-editedRep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) says EPA tried to come up with a compromise with the proposed rule. “It was better than we hoped in some ways, but it was worse than we had hoped,” said Hartzler. “I think they should have just followed the law and continued on allowing a greater percentage of our fuel to come through renewables. I’m hopeful that we’ll somehow be able to increase that level.”

In this interview, Hartzler also comments on other issues important to farmers in her state. Interview with Congresswomen Vicky Hartzler

E15 Approved for 2016 Fiat Chrysler Models

2016-jeep Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) had approved the use of E15 (15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline) in its model year 2016 Chrysler/Fiat, Jeep, Dodge and Ram vehicles.

According to the new owners manuals for the vehicles, “Non-Flex Fuel Vehicles (FFV) are compatible with gasoline containing up to 15% ethanol (E15).” The decision means that FCA joins General Motors and Ford in covering E15 in its warranty statements. GM started covering E15 with its MY 2012 vehicles, while Ford joined a year later with its MY 2013 vehicles. More than 12 percent of the vehicles sold so far in the United States in 2015 have been FCA vehicles.

“FCA’s decision to join GM and Ford provides clear evidence that the tide on E15 has turned,” said Renewable Fuels Association president and CEO Bob Dinneen. “FCA customers will be afforded a benefit that will likely lower their weekly motor fuel bill: the freedom to choose what fuel to put into their vehicles.”

RFA has been concerned about FCA’s reluctance to embrace E15 for the past three years, and Dinneen specifically called on Chrysler to approve E15 during his State of the Industry address at this year’s National Ethanol Conference.

Producer Panel at #ACE15

The theme of this year’s American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) convention was “Quiet Ingenuity, Bold Advance” and one of the last sessions of the event featured three ethanol producers who embody that slogan.

ace-15-delayneDelayne Johnson of Quad County Corn Processors has the distinction of being CEO of the plant to produce the country’s very first gallons of commercial cellulosic ethanol just last year. The plant has produced about two million gallons of the fuel in the past year.

Johnson gave an update on what’s new with the 15 year old company and how they are innovating to stay profitable. Delayne Johnson, Quad County

ace15-oestmannJeff Oestmann with East Kansas Agri-Energy is excited about their renewable diesel project under construction.

“Product diversity is key,” said Oestmann. “One of the nice things about renewable diesel is that it can run on its own. Obviously we’re building the plant to run on corn oil, but it can run on any kind of oil, animal fat, or greases.”

Listen to Oestmann give his update here: Jeff Oestmann, East Kansas Agri-Energy

ace15-rayRay Defenbaugh of Big River Resources talked a lot about the future of the industry, both for agriculture and ethanol.

“What I’m really concerned about is saving the family farm,” said Defenbaugh. “What we’re doing here is an important job.”

Defenbaugh is involved in many organizations, from ACE to RFA to the U.S. Grains Council and more – and he encouraged everyone to get involved as well. Ray Defenbaugh, Big River Resources

2015 ACE Annual Meeting Photos

Study Shows Biofuel Use Saves Carbon Emissions

bio-logoA new study from the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) shows that use of biofuels over the past decade has saved nearly 590 million tons of carbon emissions.

According to the study, the requirement under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) over the past 10 years to substitute biofuels for fossil fuels has displaced nearly 1.9 billion barrels of foreign oil and reduced U.S. transportation-related carbon emissions by 589.33 million metric tons.

“The Renewable Fuel Standard was signed into law ten years ago this month by President George W. Bush. The law’s purpose was to end America’s addiction to oil, reduce reliance on foreign oil and lower carbon emissions from the transportation sector,” said Brent Erickson, executive vice president of BIO’s Industrial & Environmental Section. “The RFS program has demonstrably achieved those goals. The total reduction in carbon emissions achieved under the program is equal to removing more than 124 million cars from the road over the decade.”

The study also finds that EPA’s recent proposed rules for the RFS would cut short achievable future carbon emission reductions. In 2015 alone, the proposal would add 19.6 million tons of CO2e for the year, equal to putting 7.3 million cars back on the road, compared with achievable levels of biofuel use.

“It is unfortunate that the Environmental Protection Agency has delayed issuing new rules for the program and is now proposing to halt growth in the biofuel market,” said Erikson. “The agency’s delay will continue to allow fossil fuels to be used when cleaner, lower carbon biofuels are available, reversing some of the progress made in the past ten years.”
Read the study here.

NCGA CEO at #ACE15

ace15-novakThe still new CEO of the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) addressed the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) annual meeting last week with strong message that they stand behind the industry all the way.

Chris Novak, who took over as NCGA CEO in October of last year, told the ACE members that the state corn grower organizations recently solidified their vision going forward and part of it includes the idea that the ethanol industry is part of feeding the world. “Because the by-products, the DDGS, that are coming through your plants contribute tremendous value and gains to the livestock industry,” he said. “So, not only are you fueling America, you’re also feeding America.”

Novak talked about the latest crop production forecast from USDA for this year’s corn crop, calling for the third largest crop in history, and how that makes the EPA’s decision on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) more important than ever. “Our primary challenge is the size of the corn crop and what we are going to do about that,” he said. “We look at the EPA’s decision with respect to the RVO (Renewable Volume Obligations) basically taking away about 1.5 billion bushels of demand over the next three years.”

Depending on what EPA makes as a final decision in November, Novak says NCGA is already considering legal options. “Our board has … recognized that EPA violated the law, the statute is clear in terms of what the renewable fuel levels should be, and we think the methodology that the EPA chose is wrong – and so we are looking at what legal options we may have to continue to challenge that rule,” said Novak.

Listen to Novak’s address to ACE and an interview with him summarizing those remarks below –

NCGA CEO Chris Novak at ACE Interview with NCGA CEO Chris Novak

2015 ACE Annual Meeting Photos

#ACE15 Honors America’s Renewable Future

L-R: Absolute Energy CEO Rick Schwark, ARF co-chair Bill Couser, ARF coordinator Eric Branstad, and ACE EVP Brian Jennings

L-R: Absolute Energy CEO Rick Schwark, ARF co-chair Bill Couser, ARF coordinator Eric Branstad, and ACE EVP Brian Jennings

America’s Renewable Future (ARF) is less than one year old, but what the coalition has accomplished in that short time has been so impressive that the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) recognized them with the organization’s policy and legislative leadership award this year. The coalition was established in January of this year for the sole purpose of educating 2016 presidential candidates about agriculture, biofuels and the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

Accepting the award at the ACE annual meeting in Omaha this week were two Iowa ethanol advocates – Rick Schwark of Absolute Energy and Bill Couser with Couser Cattle Company who serves as ARF co-chair, as well as the son of Iowa’s governor who was instrumental in the formation of the coalition.

Eric Branstad says right now they are focused on the Iowa caucuses in February. “We are building a team of pledged supporters…pledging to come and caucus for an RFS supporting candidate,” he said. “Right now we have surpassed 25,000 caucus goers and our goal by November 1 is to have 50,000.”

ARF has been very busy this past week at the Iowa State Fair talking to visiting candidates, including Republican front runner Donald Trump. “We had a 40 minute, one-on-one meeting with him,” said Branstad, who added that Trump’s knowledge about ethanol going into the meeting was negligible. By the end of the meeting, after getting a short course on the history and advancements of the industry, Branstad felt they had made an impression. “He said ‘I want to invest!’ so I guess that’s the best compliment we could get from Mr. Trump,” said Branstad.

Listen to my interview with Eric Branstad here: Interview with Eric Branstad, America's Renewable Future

I also talked with ARF co-chair Bill Couser about the organization’s first eight months. “I think one thing we’ve been able to bring out in these candidates is ‘who are you really?’,” said Couser. “You talk about their wives and their kids – we want to know that here in the Midwest.”

Couser says he still wants to get Hillary Clinton out to his operation near Nevada, Iowa. “To get her out on our farms and ranches and actually show her about corn production and show her where ethanol’s made and show her what that’s done for our schools and our roads and how important that is for our country,” he said.

In this interview, Couser also talks about his testimony at the EPA hearing on the Renewable Fuel Standard, his unique perspective as a cattle producer and ethanol advocate, and why he is so involved with the American Coalition for Ethanol: Interview with Bill Couser, America's Renewable Future

2015 ACE Annual Meeting Photos

Grains Council Chairman at #ACE15

ace15-tiemannNebraska farmer Alan Tiemann was recently elected chairman of the U.S. Grains Council and he is excited about the work they are doing to expand exports of ethanol and the co-product Distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS) used for livestock feed.

“For this coming year, my theme is ‘Excellence in Exports,'” said Tiemann during an interview after his address to the American Coalition for Ethanol conference this week in Omaha. “That’s what we’re going to focus on, excellence in exports – in ethanol, in distillers grains, in all the co-products, in sorghum and barley.”

During his address at ACE, Tiemann talked about the great success in exports of DDGS around the world and the potential for increasing ethanol exports to markets like Asia. “We look at Beijing and the smog issues they have there, the opportunities for a clean burning fuel like ethanol should be a no-brainer,” he said. Right now the largest export markets for U.S. ethanol are Canada and Brazil.

Listen to my interview with Tiemann here: Interview with Alan Tiemann, US Grains Council chairman

Listen to Tiemann’s full presentation at ACE here: USGC chair Alan Tiemann address to ACE

2015 ACE Annual Meeting Photos