ARF Challenges Confirmed Candidates

ARF-LogoThe America’s Renewable Future campaign is challenging the two confirmed Republican presidential candidates to take a stand for renewable fuels.

In a letter to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who has been forthcoming about his opposition to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), ARF questioned his recent reported comment that the oil industry “doesn’t get subsidized.” The letter, with the message that “Oil Subsidies Are Real,” details $165 billion in subsidies and tax breaks the oil industry is poised to receive over the next ten years.

With Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) officially declaring his candidacy this week, ARF recognized his introduction of the Fuel Choice and Deregulation Act as “a step in the right direction” but urged him to commit to supporting the Renewable Fuel Standard. “Sen. Paul has an opportunity to stand up for a commonsense, bipartisan policy that provides access to the marketplace for a clean, domestic alternative to foreign oil and we hope that he will,” said the campaign in a statement.

Another potential presidential candidate, Donald Trump, was in Iowa on Wednesday and took the time to meet with ARF co-chair Annette Sweeney “to discuss the importance of the ‪#‎RFS‬ to America and our rural communities.”

America’s Renewable Future is an Iowa-based coalition formed with the goal of educating presidential candidates about the RFS and urging their support.

Can Rand Paul Pass the RFS Test?

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul officially threw his hat in the ring for the Republican presidential nomination Tuesday, just a week after co-sponsoring the Fuel Choice and Deregulation Act of 2015 with Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley. The legislation would allow 15% ethanol blends to be sold year round by requiring EPA to grant a Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) volatility waiver for E15 in the summer months.

paul-energy“The EPA’s onerous regulation of fuels is artificially limiting options for consumers and producers and preventing the adoption of new fuel options that could benefit our environment, our economy, and our energy security,” said Sen. Paul in a press release about the Act. “Through competition and consumer choice, my bill will free fuel producers and automobile manufacturers to innovate and bring new products to market that can lower costs to consumers, increase domestic energy production, and benefit the environment.”

The official candidate’s new campaign website says nothing specific about biofuels in the Energy section beyond “encouraging energy freedom, new technologies, and discoveries” but does mention support for the Keystone XL pipeline.

Sen. Paul did not participate in the recent Iowa Ag Summit where potential candidates were asked specifically about their stance on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) but an aide last week confirmed that he is opposed to “the government telling consumers or businesses what type of fuel they must use or sell.”

“Sen. Paul supports removing regulatory barriers to the use of ethanol and other renewable fuels, which would likely have the effect of growing the use of these environmentally friendly fuels,” said the aide quoted in the National Journal.

Ethanol industry leaders have applauded Sen. Paul for his co-sponsorship of the E15 bill, but all say that support of the RFS is what they really want to see in a presidential candidate.

Louisiana REG Plant Update

reg-laDamage to the Renewable Energy Group (REG) Geismar, Louisiana biorefinery from an April 2 fire will take 2-4 months to repair, according to the company.

“While preliminary damage assessments are still ongoing, the damage appears to be contained to a limited area of the production facility,” REG reports in an update this week. “The Company plans to incorporate a one-month maintenance shutdown that was previously scheduled for this summer to bring filtration and other upgrades online during the restoration time period.”

Our highest concern is the continuing recovery of the two employees who were injured last Thursday. We also appreciate the cooperation and understanding of our customers, vendors and service providers during this time.

REG expects to be able to resume loadout operations for Renewable Hydrocarbon Diesel in inventory later this week.

Nebraska Ethanol Producer Helps Retailers

NEB logoA northeast Nebraska ethanol producer has been working with retailers in that area to provide additional fuel choice for consumers.

According to the Nebraska Ethanol Board
, Husker Ag LLC in Plainview has provided grant money and ethanol for several retail locations in northeast Nebraska including Creighton, Crofton, Hartington, Osmond, Pierce at two locations, and Valentine.

“Many Nebraska ethanol producers work directly with retailers to expand availability of American Ethanol blends like E15 and E85,” said Todd Sneller, Nebraska Ethanol Board administrator. “This strategic partnership provides consumers with additional choices at the pump, and makes clear to consumers the value of choosing fuels produced locally from renewable sources.”

husker-ag“We are very excited to see the works of many coming together to expand ethanol usage in Nebraska – the second largest producer of ethanol,” said Seth Harder, Husker Ag general manager. “Partnerships are key to moving the needle on ethanol fuel usage.”

The flex fuel pumps were also paid for in part by the Nebraska Corn Board’s flex fuel infrastructure grant program on behalf of Nebraska’s 23,000 corn producers through their checkoff program.

CARB Holds LCFS Workshop Update

carb-14-2The California Air Resources Board (ARB) held a public workshop on Friday to discuss updates to the recently modified Greenhouse Gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy Use in Transportation (CA-GREET 2.0) Model under the Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS). Stakeholder input was received at the workshop on the new model which made some changes to the Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC) component.

RFA-logo-13Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) Vice President Geoff Cooper said that while they are pleased that CARB made some updates to the CA-GREET model that were recommended by stakeholders, certain elements remain problematic, such as the model’s handling of emissions related to denaturant. “Our larger concern, however, continues to be CARB’s gross overestimation of indirect land use change (ILUC) emissions,” said Cooper. “While CARB is proposing to lower ILUC emissions somewhat, the Agency’s newest estimates are still far above the estimates coming from the rest of the scientific community. Further, CARB continues to rely on speculative and hypothetical scenarios to derive ILUC penalties, rather than using real-world land use data to inform the program. Empirical data from the past 10 years clearly show that farmers have responded to higher crop prices by using existing cropland more efficiently, not by converting non-agricultural lands to cropland. We will continue to encourage CARB to consider the most recent data and best available science on ILUC.”

unica1On the other hand, the Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA) is pleased with the ILUC changes but has other concerns. “CARB’s revision of indirect land-use change (ILUC) modeling resulted in reduced penalties for Brazilian sugarcane ethanol and the lowest overall number in the LCFS, confirming it as the lowest-carbon biofuel available at commercial scale today,” said UNICA’s North American Representative Leticia Phillips.

However, Phillips says the environmental benefits of sugarcane ethanol in the LCFS would be even more significant if CARB included the emissions benefits of electricity co-generation in sugarcane mills using leftover plant material. “We are disappointed CARB has chosen to apply a U.S.-style average electricity mix to Brazil rather than crediting sugarcane biofuel producers for this marginal displacement of fossil energy.”

CARB will be considering re-adoption of the California LCFS at its July 2015 hearing,

RFA Reports February Ethanol Export Record

The Renewable Fuels Association reports that U.S. ethanol exports reached a new record in February, based on an analysis of the latest government data.

RFANewlogoAccording to RFA Research Analyst Ann Lewis, U.S. exports of denatured and undenatured ethanol in February totaled 85.2 million gallons, up 24% from January, the highest February export volume on record. Year-to-date exports at 153.9 million gallons are in line with exports during the same period last year.

The biggest customer for U.S. ethanol remains Brazil, which received about one quarter (28%) of total U.S. ethanol exports in February, followed by India (20%), Canada (17%), and the United Arab Emirates (12%). The Philippines, South Korea, the Netherlands and Peru were other key destinations in February.

In addition, exports of the ethanol co-product distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) rose 13% to the highest monthly level in 5 months, as the Chinese market continues to recover. “However, exports to China remain at about half the level enjoyed prior to the market collapse,” said Lewis.

Fire Shuts REG Louisiana Refinery

reg-logoA Geismer, Louisiana renewable hydrocarbon diesel (RHD) refinery owned by Iowa-based Renewable Energy Group (REG) is closed after a fire on April 2 which injured two people, according to the company.

REG reports that the fire was contained within a few hours and the two injured employees were in fair condition. “An assessment and investigation into the cause of the fire and the damage to the facility is ongoing,” said a company statement. “The biorefinery will remain shut down until such assessment is complete and repairs can be made.”

REG just held a ribbon cutting in November for the facility which produces RHD using a process which converts a wide range of feedstocks, such as animal fat, inedible corn oil, used cooking oil and vegetable oils, into renewable fuel.

President Obama Announces Solar Efforts

obama-solarIn Utah on Friday, President Obama announced new growth efforts for the solar industry and support for veterans.

At Hill Air Force Base, Obama announced several actions, including a “Solar Ready Vets Program” to be launched by the Department of Energy in partnership with the Department of Defense (DOD), at 10 military bases across the country, including at Hill Air Force Base in Utah, which has already taken leadership by installing solar panels onsite.

The Solar Ready Vets program will train transitioning military service personnel to enter the solar workforce by joining with SunShot’s Solar Instructor Training Network and leveraging the DOD’s Skillbridge transition authority authorized by Congress in 2012.

In addition, the Department of Veterans Affairs is committing to working with DOE and State Approving Agencies to achieve approval for GI Bill funding for DOE’s Solar Ready Vets initiative. And the Department of Labor (DOL), will work with DOD to ensure that transitioning service members are made aware of solar workforce training programs available to them in their last months of military service.

Read more from the White House.

Think Tank Ponders Cellulosic Ethanol Link

3rd-wayA new report from centrist think tank Third Way ponders the quest for cellulosic biofuels and concludes that the pathway is via corn ethanol.

This report confirms what the biofuels industry has been saying for some time now – that you cannot have cellulosic ethanol without the continued production and support of grain-based ethanol,” said Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis.

One of the takeaways from the Third Way report is that, “proposals to reform the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) would discourage engagement from the corn ethanol industry” and thus delay commercialization of cellulosic ethanol and steer investment overseas.

Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) president Bob Dinneen says the report highlights the importance of consistent policy for the continued evolution of biofuels. “Legislative efforts to undermine either will set the nation’s energy and economic future back generations,” said Dinneen. “Third Way should be commended for adding a thoughtful component to this ongoing discussion and I can only hope that it is read with interest by Senators Feinstein and Toomey.

“(T)he biggest point, coming from a thought leader in the space like Third Way, is that Congressional intervention on the RFS would be highly detrimental to the deployment of cellulosic biofuel,” said Brooke Coleman of the Advanced Ethanol Council.

“The success of the conventional ethanol industry has driven serious investment in the cellulosic industry and there is an important linkage between them,” says Adam Monroe, President Americas for Novozymes which produces enzymes used for cellulosic ethanol production. “Tinkering with the corn portion of the RFS now will only hurt both industries.”

The report also concludes that “companies with an extensive background in the corn ethanol industry are cracking the cellulosic code,” and continued investment from these companies in facilities and innovation is critical to growing U.S. cellulosic capacity.”

Editorial from Orrie Swayze

orrie-headshotPioneer ethanol advocate Orrie Swayze of South Dakota had the following op-ed published last week in the Sioux Falls Argus Leader:

Like with lead, petroleum’s web of lies continues gaining permission from the masses to poison their children. Author Dresden James explains why: “When a well-packaged web of lies has been sold gradually to the masses … the truth will seem utterly preposterous and its speaker, a raving lunatic.”

Too many Americans passively accepted oil industry lies like “lead octane is a gift from God.” And “E30’s octane ruins engines” These lies blocked ethanol’s octane market participation guaranteeing gasoline distributed lead poisoned our children and annually increased our medical costs plus oil industry profits many billions of dollars.

Oil’s lies again block ethanol octane’s meaningful market participation — guaranteeing gasoline distributed benzene octanes’ known human carcinogenic emissions (identical to those in cigarette smoke) daily poison our children: The annual associated billions of dollars in medical costs still make gasoline planet earth’s most subsidized commodity.

Do you own your thoughts or automatically think these truths are preposterous?
1. “Standard autos are flex fuel to auto manufactures’ endorsed premium E30.”
2. “Like E85 marketers historically, E30 marketers can safely use standard gasoline pumps.”
3. “Thousands of standard auto owners daily use blender pump’s cheaper, premium E30 to travel millions of trouble free miles annually without any legitimate warrantee denials.”
4. “They typically report “more power “and “can’t tell any mileage difference.”
5. “Increasing corn ethanol production sequesters carbon, lowers soybean prices, and enables E30’s market penetration to reduce benzene related octane emissions plus billions of dollars of medical costs 50 to 80 percent.”
6. Remarkably, corn/acre produces 450 gallons of ethanol plus the protein/meal/oil food equivalents (pounds) soybeans produce/acre.

Utterly preposterous, shout too many whose intellectual curiosity surrendered to oil’s propaganda long ago: Including too many corn and ethanol advocates, nearly all Americans, EPA officials, politicians, news media wise talking heads, etc. Little wonder oil’s basically gasoline monopoly poisons our children and destroys free enterprise’s role in liquid fuels markets.