Biodiesel Supports to Testify at EPA Hearing

In addition to corn farmers and ethanol producers, EPA officials will also hear from the biodiesel industry at the public hearing Thursday on the agency’s latest proposal establishing volumes under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

nBBAccording to the National Biodiesel Board, about two dozen biodiesel representatives from across the country are slated to testify at the hearing to thank the EPA for increasing volumes in the latest proposal while calling for further growth in the final rule set to be released in November.

Bob Morton, co-owner of Newport Biodiesel in Rhode Island and a member of the National Biodiesel Board’s governing board, planned to highlight biodiesel’s success as an Advanced Biofuel under the RFS and to emphasize biodiesel’s potential for significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions under the RFS.

“We appreciate that EPA has improved the numbers and that the volumes increase with time; however, the volumes remain well below what the industry can produce and they are far from an aggressive approach to expanding biodiesel production and thereby significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” Morton says in his prepared testimony. “There is little we can do regarding 2014 and 2015, but we can take a more aggressive stance in 2016 and 2017.”

NBB Vice Chairman Ron Marr, director of government affairs at Minnesota Soybean Processors, planned to emphasize the industry’s strong potential for growth with the right policy.

“Our message to EPA is simple,” Marr says in his prepared testimony. “The biodiesel industry has, can and will deliver on the goals of the RFS, particularly those for Advanced Biofuels. We are poised to expand production and continue building this industry with the right policy signals, but we need stronger biodiesel and Advanced Biofuels volumes in the final rule to make that happen.”

Brazilian Tariff on Imported Ethanol Increases

The Brazilian government this week increased the tariff on imported ethanol from 9.25 percent to 11.75 percent, effective immediately.

unicaThe Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA) issued a statement regarding the changes to Brazil’s tax policy signed into law by Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff Monday.

Ethanol produced in Brazil is subject to a range of federal taxes with revenue allocated to social security, including the social participation program (PIS) and social security financing contribution (COFINS) on domestic production. Today’s action by President Rousseff will level the playing field between Brazilian sugarcane ethanol and imported biofuels by subjecting foreign renewable fuels to comparable taxation and should not be confused with an importation tariff.

It is important to note the PIS and COFINS paid on ethanol imports will turn into a credit for the importer, which may then be used to pay other tax debts or be reimbursed by the Brazilian government, having the effect of anticipated taxes that would already be collected.

“Brazilian sugarcane producers have long been strong advocates of removing trade barriers and creating tax parity for renewable fuels,” said Elizabeth Farina, UNICA President. “Working together, the United States and Brazil have built a thriving global biofuels trade benefiting both countries, and we look forward to continued progress toward shared environmental and economic goals.”

Iowa RFA President at American Ethanol 200

Iowa RFA president Brian Cahill (right) interviewed by KMA radio at American Ethanol 200

Iowa RFA president Brian Cahill (right) interviewed by KMA radio at American Ethanol 200

Iowa Renewable Fuels Association president Brian Cahill of Southwest Iowa Renewable Energy was at the NASCAR American Ethanol 200 presented by Enogen last Friday to support ethanol and this week he will be in Kansas City, Kansas to do the same.

Iowa RFA members will be among those testifying at a public hearing on Thursday to explain what is wrong with EPA’s latest proposal to set volume obligations for biofuels under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). “We’ll be testifying to show the benefits that ethanol provides to the whole country and also get the message across that EPA just can’t change the law,” said Cahill, who says that having the hearing in the Midwest will allow many RFS supporters to attend. “There’s more than just ethanol involved in this so hopefully we’ll see a good show of support for the biofuels industry in Kansas City.”

In this interview from the race on Friday, Cahill also talks about why growers who supply corn for his plant grow Syngenta Enogen, a corn trait designed specifically for ethanol production. Interview with Iowa RFA president Brian Cahill

2015 American Ethanol 200 Presented by Enogen Photo Album

Coverage of the American Ethanol 200 sponsored by Enogen
Coverage of the American Ethanol 200 is sponsored by Enogen

Building Markets for Ethanol Exports

RFA's Kelly Davis on ethanol trade mission to Mexico

RFA’s Kelly Davis on ethanol trade mission to Mexico

Expanding export markets for U.S. ethanol was the focus last month as a group of industry representatives to Mexico and Japan on trade missions coordinated through a partnership between the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), U.S. Grains Council and Growth Energy.

RFA Director of Regulatory Affairs Kelly Davis says they saw exceptional opportunities in Mexico. “I left very excited about a potential market beginning in 2016-17 for some corn ethanol exports,” said Davis.

The group met with PEMEX, the Mexican state-owned petroleum company, which Davis says has traditionally been against the idea of using corn ethanol for fuel but that may be changing. “Mexico has enacted an energy reform bill which opens their energy sector to competition,” said Davis. “We think this opens the market up to ethanol because it’s more price competitive compared to the oxygenate they now use which is MTBE.”

Davis says Japan currently has an E3 limit and most ethanol is blended into the supply as ETBE, “so technically they already use ethanol but they use ethanol as a feedstock to make ETBE and then use that as their blending agent.” There is some optimism that the market share of biofuels in Japan will continue to increase through the use of E10.

Learn more in this interview: Interview with RFA's Kelly Davis on ethanol trade mission trip

Senate Committee Grills EPA Official on RFS

hearing-mccabeEnvironmental Protection Agency Acting Assistant Administrator Janet McCabe was the lone witness in a Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing Thursday on “Re-examining EPA’s Management of the Renewable Fuel Standard Program.”

Committee chairman James Lankford (R-OK), who favors repealing the RFS, grilled McCabe over the “aspirational” goal of breaching the blend wall and the potential that volumes of cellulosic ethanol targets under law will have to be “reset” by the EPA because not enough is being produced.

Committee Ranking Member Heidi Heitkamp, who is a strong supporter of the RFS, was more concerned that the volume obligations for biofuels proposed by EPA “ignore Congressional intent and reduces Congressionally-mandated blend volumes, citing availability of distribution capacity.”

McCabe continued to defend the EPA’s recently proposed volume obligations for 2014, 2015 and 2016 as “ambitious but responsible” in the face of criticism from both sides of the issue.

Ethanol Report from Washington DC

dinneen-officeDomestic Fuel stopped by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) office in Washington DC Wednesday to visit with president and CEO Bob Dinneen and discuss the latest with the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) and expectations for next week’s EPA hearing in Kansas City.

Following his appearance on a Fuels America press call, Dinneen addressed yet another bill introduced this week to repeal the RFS and renewed charges by RFS opponents that the law is increasing food prices.

ethanol-report-adRegarding the June 25 public hearing on EPA’s proposed volume obligations under the RFS, Dinneen says the agency has already received about 250 requests to testify and he is encouraging everyone possible to turnout. “I want chaos, I want farmers that care about what this proposal would mean for their bottom line, I want consumers that care about the fact that gasoline prices will increase if this proposal is finalized, I want ethanol producers there, I want biodiesel producers there, I want anybody that cares about our nation’s energy, economic and environmental future to show up in Kansas City and throw a hissy fit,” said Dinneen.

Listen to or download the Ethanol Report here: Ethanol Report from Washington DC

Novozymes Increases Ethanol Plant Sustainability

few15-novozymes-jackNovozymes sees a tremendous potential to increase performance at ethanol plants. Jack Rogers, biofuels global marketing manager for Novozymes highlighted several of these projects during the Fuel Ethanol Workshop. He said they have a number of products in the pipeline that target specific areas of the ethanol production process.

One area of focus is in improving ethanol conversion yields. Rogers said that several of their forthcoming projects will address this area and take Novozymes beyond where they are today. He also said they have products being developed that will reduce energy and chemical use. “So there are a lot of ways we see us being able to help add value to the ethanol plant.”

Novozymes is focused on helping the biofuels industry become even more sustainable. Rogers said they are committed to helping the industry reduce inputs and improve the carbon intensity of the industry. He said they feel really good about the contributions they can make to the industry and their efforts to keep improving biofuel production.

Interview with Jack Rogers, Novozymes

2015 Fuel Ethanol Workshop Photo Album

Coverage of the Fuel Ethanol Conference is sponsored by
Coverage of the Fuel Ethanol Conference is sponsored by Novozymes

Biodiesel Producers on Capitol Hill

nbb-dc-15Nearly 120 biodiesel industry leaders from California to Florida are in Washington DC this week calling on lawmakers to push for a strong Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) during the comment period for the recently released proposal from EPA.

“We want to show Congress that the RFS is working and that thousands of jobs are at stake in this pending EPA rule,” said Anne Steckel, National Biodiesel Board vice president of federal affairs. “We want lawmakers to see first-hand how these issues are playing out in their states and districts. The RFS is not some political football. It’s a successful policy that’s driving innovation, creating jobs and building competition in the fuels markets.”

The EPA recently released its draft RFS proposal that provides modest growth for biodiesel over several years. The proposal would increase the Biomass-based Diesel sector of the RFS by about 100 million gallons per year to 1.9 billion gallons in 2017.

“The proposal is a step in the right direction, and we appreciate the Administration’s efforts to strengthen and grow the RFS,” Steckel said. “However, there is plenty of room for improvement before it is finalized in November. We intend to make sure policy makers in Washington understand biodiesel’s full potential to help grow the economy and strengthen our energy security while sharply reducing pollution.”

Nebraska Governor Visits Novozymes

Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts wrapped up his first agricultural trade mission this week with a visit to Novozymes world headquarters in Denmark, where a company tour showcased the production of unique enzymes and microbial products used in the animal nutrition, agriculture, and biofuels industries.

Novozymes CEO Peder Holk Nielsen welcomes Nebraska Gov. Ricketts

Novozymes CEO Peder Holk Nielsen welcomes Nebraska Gov. Ricketts

While at Novozymes, Gov. Ricketts and the United States Ambassador to Denmark hosted a roundtable on renewable fuels and bio-products where Nebraska delegates “showcased the dynamic interaction between the corn, cattle, and ethanol sectors and their important roles in Nebraska’s success in agriculture.”

Industry representatives presented U.S. market trends and regulations to the group, with a focus on co-products, revenue opportunities, and biorefinery developments. In addition to the governor, Nebraska roundtable participants included Department of Economic Development Director Brenda Hicks-Sorensen, KAAPA President and Nebraska Ethanol Board representative Paul Kenny, Green Plains Energy COO Jeff Briggs and Bret Wyant with American Laboratories. European company executives included representatives from Novozymes, Dong Energy, Leifmark, Renew Energy, DuPont, and the U.S. Embassy.

The Governor and mission members also met with Novozymes CEO Peder Holk Nielsen and Executive Vice Presidents of Business Development and Supply Operations Thomas Videbaek and Thomas Nagy to discuss business development and international expansion. Ricketts says the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) was a concern as they discussed expansion plans in the United States. “With the EPA changing the rule, pulling the rug out from under our ethanol producers, by changing the RFS they’ve created uncertainty,” said Ricketts. “That uncertainty is impacting Novozymes as it’s impacting the rest of the industry.”

Novozymes opened its newest advanced manufacturing plant in Blair, Nebraska to make enzymes for biofuels production in 2012 in part because of strong policies like the RFS.

Listen to the governor’s summary of the trade trip here:Neb. Gov Pete Ricketts on trade trip wrap up

USDA Taking Apps for Biofuels Infrastructure Funding

USDA logoUSDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) is now accepting applications in 50 states, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C. for up to $100 million in grants under the Biofuels Infrastructure Partnership (BIP). The funding is to support the infrastructure needed to make more renewable fuel options available to American consumers. The Farm Service Agency will administer BIP.

Through BIP, USDA will award competitive grants, matched by states, to expand the infrastructure for distribution of higher blends of renewable fuel. These competitive grants are available to assist states, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C. with infrastructure funding. States that offer funding equal to or greater than that provided by the federal government will receive higher consideration for grant funds. States may work with private entities to enhance their offer.

CCC funds must be used to pay a portion of the costs related to the installation of fuel pumps and related infrastructure dedicated to the distribution of higher ethanol blends, for example E15 and E85, at vehicle fueling locations. The matching contributions may be used for these items or for related costs such as additional infrastructure to support pumps, marketing, education, data collection, program evaluation and administrative costs.

This new investment seeks to double the number of fuel pumps capable of supplying higher blends of renewable fuel to consumers. This will expand markets for farmers, support rural economic growth and the jobs that come with it, and ultimately give consumers more choices at the pump.