RFA Launches #FlexMyChoice Campaign

nec16-flexThe Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) launched a new campaign today at the National Ethanol Conference (NEC) designed to help the industry voice support for flex-fuel vehicles (FFVs).

The “Flex My Choice” effort is aimed directly at automakers, auto dealerships, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) due to the fact that automakers have begun to limit FFV models as the government phases out CAFE credits for producing FFVs.

“The auto companies claim there has not been meaningful consumer demand for these vehicles and the incremental cost, albeit trivial, cannot be justified in the absence of a more balanced CAFE regime,” said RFA CEO Bob Dinneen during his state of the industry address. “The ethanol industry needs to demonstrate the continued enthusiasm for FFVs. We want to raise our voices so that E85 and other mid-level ethanol fuels remain viable options for consumers.”

As part of the campaign, RFA intends to distribute 75,000 postcard pamphlets to targeted parties across the country in the hopes of changing the conversation on the future of FFV production. The postcard pamphlets will contain five panels: the first panel is a brief introduction to the issues; panels 2 through 4 are individual postcards to General Motors, Ford Motor Company, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (the “Detroit Three”); and the fifth panel contains a pledge that consumers can drop off at their local auto dealership. Additionally, the campaign launched two petitions on www.Change.org directed at the automakers and the EPA respectively.

RFA vice president of industry relations Robert White says the campaign intends to ensure that consumers have choices when it comes to buying and fueling their vehicles. “Thanks to USDA, the ethanol industry, and agriculture, 2016 will mark the largest expansion of E85 stations in history; it is not the time to stop the momentum,” said White. “This campaign will send a clear signal to the automakers, their auto dealerships, and the EPA that there is a real demand on the part of consumers for more vehicle choices, more choices at the pump and increased access to higher ethanol blends.”

White explains more about the need for the campaign and how to participate in this interview: Interview with Robert White, RFA

2016 National Ethanol Conference Photo Album

Former Oil Company President at #RFANEC

The former president of a big oil company was very critical of the oil industry during his keynote address at the 2016 National Ethanol Conference in New Orleans Tuesday.

nec16-hofmeisterJohn Hofmeister was president of Shell Oil Company for three years, but after he left the company in 2008 he founded Citizens for Affordable Energy and wrote a book called “Why We Hate the Oil Companies: Straight Talk from an energy insider.” Straight talk was definitely what Hofmeister shared with attendees at the NEC.

“Oil is a contrived market,” Hofmeister began, talking about the current state of low oil prices and how Iran and Russia are impacting the situation with Saudi Arabia. “This is a contrived situation that has been created because of geopolitical considerations…and which can’t last very much longer.”

“What does this have to do with ethanol?” he asked. “I think it has everything to do with the United States’ absolute requirement to become fully energy independent to not be the victim of a contrived oil market.”

Hofmeister questioned why the United States imports seven million barrels of oil a day instead of developing “the alternative fuels we have in this country that can dismiss any dependency on foreign oil forever.”

Listen to Hofmeister’s insights here: John Hofmeister NEC16 Keynote Address

2016 National Ethanol Conference Photo Album

EPA Chief Defends #RFS Decisions

house-mccarthyDuring a hearing on Wednesday, House Agriculture Committee members questioned EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, on many agency actions, including decisions made regarding the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

In her opening statement, McCarthy defended the volume obligation requirements under that RFS that EPA set last year, “The final requirements boost renewable fuel production and provide for robust, achievable growth of the biofuels industry,” McCarthy said. “The EPA took steps to improve the administration of the RFS program and continues to approve new agricultural feedstocks, increasing the number of pathways that biofuel producers may use to qualify their biofuel under the program.”

McCarthy was questioned heavily by Rep. Steve King (R-IA) about various aspects of the RFS decision making process, including whether EPA has the authority to abolish the blend wall. “These numbers actually push through the blend wall,” McCarthy answered. King then began to question her about approval to sell E15 year round, which McCarthy said it had, but she backed off when King noted the vapor pressure requirements that keep E15 from being sold in many markets during the summer months.

Listen to McCarthy’s testimony and some of the questioning by committee members here: House Ag Hearing with EPA Chief

#RFS is a Top Issue for Ag Equipment Makers

nfms16-aem-panelThe Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) hosted an Ag Executive Outlook panel during the opening day of the 2016 National Farm Machinery Show in Louisville this week and one of the top issues for the organization is maintaining the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

AEM’s Senior Vice President for Government Affairs Nick Yaksich says building demand is vital for the agriculture economy right now and that is why the RFS is important. “There’s great opportunities with corn ethanol and beyond,” he said. “There is a push from the oil industry to fight back and repeal that. So, top of our list is to maintain what the government has put into law.”

Industry executives on the panel with Yaksich included Todd Sutcke with Kubota, Leif Magnusson of CLAAS Global Sales Americas, Jim Walker with Case IH NAFTA, and Great Plains Manufacturing president Linda Salem who each gave their perspectives on industry issues including the RFS, government regulations and trade.

AEM stresses industry involvement in policy issues with the I Make America campaign, which is dedicated to advocating for policies that strengthen their industry and economic vitality. “The key is grassroots involvement by voting members,” said Yaksich. “We started the I Make America campaign to reach beyond the corporate CEOs.” The campaign is in its fourth year and is equipped with a mobile marketing tour featuring a video game component to reach different groups within companies.

Learn more in this interview: Interview with Nick Yaksich, AEM

ICM, Inc Names New VP of Technology

icm-hartigICM, Inc. has named Steve Hartig vice president of technology development.

ICM, Inc. CEO Dave VanderGriend says Hartig brings 35 years of experience leading global businesses with much of his career spent working in biofuels, coatings, resins, biomedical materials and polymers. “We strive to build the best team in the industry … and we feel confident Steve will be a key factor in our continued growth,” said VanderGriend.

“Our company continues to use our know-how to improve processes and efficiencies across the entire renewable energy sector,” added company president Chris Mitchell. “Steve’s substantial track record of driving growth and building productive teams should only accelerate our desire to continue to be the technology company of choice.”

Hartig recently served on the advisory boards of the Department of Energy Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center and the University of Illinois Integrated Bioprocessing Research Laboratory.

Energy in the Budget Proposal

2017-budgetAs promised, energy was a focus of President Obama’s 2017 budget proposal, officially unveiled on Tuesday, with a promise to “move our economy away from energy sources that fuel climate change.”

The budget provides for $7.7 billion in discretionary funding for clean energy research and development across 12 agencies, including $106 million for USDA to “support development of biobased energy sources that range from sustainable and economical forest systems and farm products to increased production of biofuels.”

According to USDA, the budget proposal includes a $25 million increase in competitive research funding to support development of biobased energy sources and earmarks $450 million for the Rural Energy for America Program to assist agricultural producers and rural small businesses in developing renewable energy systems, energy efficiency improvements, and renewable energy development through loans and grants.
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Budget Expected to Double Clean Energy Funding

The president’s budget to be released today would double funding for clean energy research and development by 2020, according to President Obama’s weekly address made on Saturday.

obama-address-2-6“This will include new investments to help the private sector create more jobs faster, lower the cost of clean energy faster, and help clean, renewable power outcompete dirty fuels in every state,” said Obama. “And while Republicans in Congress are still considering their position on climate change, many of them realize that clean energy is an incredible source of good-paying jobs for their constituents. That’s why we were able to boost clean energy research and development in last year’s budget agreement. And I hope they support my plan to double that kind of investment.”

The president also plans on proposing a $10-a-barrel tax on oil to fund clean energy initiatives.

McConnell Urges Senate to Move Energy Bill

mcconnellSenate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell took to the Senate floor on Monday to urge his colleagues to move the bipartisan Energy Policy Modernization Act forward after Democrats blocked the bill and the amendment process last week over an impasse on including aid to address the Flint, Michigan water crisis.

“The Energy Policy Modernization Act is the product of a year’s worth of constructive and collaborative work,” said McConnell. “In the Energy Committee, it passed overwhelmingly with the support of both parties…(and) more than 30 amendments from both Democrats and Republicans have been adopted already.”

McConnell encouraged Democrats to reconsider actions taken last week. “The Energy Policy Modernization Act is broad, bipartisan legislation designed to help Americans produce more energy, pay less for energy, and save energy — all while helping strengthen our long-term national security,” he said. “I’m asking colleagues to take ‘yes’ for an answer and allow the open amendment process to continue — so we can pass it, which is so important to helping our country prepare for the energy demands of today and the energy opportunities of tomorrow.”

Novozymes Organization Restructuring

Novozymes_logoNovozymes has announced changes in the company’s organizational structure and executive leadership team with the formation of three distinct divisions – Household Care & Technical Industries, Agriculture & Bioenergy and Food & Beverages. The aim of the organizational change is to enhance Novozymes’ ability to deliver more innovation to customers with more speed and commercial impact.

To lead the three divisions, Novozymes has appointed former Vice President of Sales Tina Sejersgård Fanø as Executive Vice President, and former Vice President of Sales Anders Lund to head the Agriculture and Bioenergy division.

The three divisions will be supported by one central Research, Innovation & Supply organization headed by COO & EVP Thomas Videbæk and Corporate Functions headed by CFO & EVP Benny D. Loft. Peder Holk Nielsen will continue as CEO & President.

Phibro Animal Health on Ethanol and FSMA

PhibroEthanol performance and animal health go hand in hand at Phibro Animal Health Corporation, which is why the revised FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) regulations are an important focus for the company right now.

Phibo Animal Health Senior Vice President for scientific and regulatory affairs Richard Coulter says many ethanol producers are concerned about what impact the new regulations have on their plants and the distillers grains by-products they produce that are used for animal feed. “We see a lot of confusion at the moment in producers looking to adopt FSMA regarding the FDA’s approach to antimicrobial use for controlling bacterial contamination in ethanol production,” said Coulter in an interview with Domestic Fuel. “The reason that confusion is arising is that the FDA simultaneously has another initiative, Guidance 209, involving veterinary medicine and the use of antibiotics in food animals.”

phibro-coulterGuidance 209 requires that no antimicrobials may be used after the end of 2016 in food animals without the specific authorization of a veterinarian. “So a number of ethanol producers have thought that since they’re making ethanol, and since they’re making distillers grains, and distillers grain is an animal’s feed, that they may need a veterinarian to write them a prescription or a veterinary feed directive to allow them to use antimicrobial products in ethanol, but that’s not true,” says Coulter, explaining that Guidance 209 relates only to veterinary drugs.

Ethanol plants use antimicrobials such as the Phibro Ethanol Performance group product Lactrol to reduce bacterial contamination during alcohol fermentation and Coulter says regulations are very clear that the use of most antimicrobials in ethanol production are still authorized as safe under the new FSMA regulations.

“Lactrol has a GRAS (generally recognized as safe) designation, so it may be used in ethanol, and when its used in accordance with the label it is GRAS and the distillers grain that arises from that ethanol production may be used in animals with no impact from FSMA,” Coulter explained. “The issue that many producers are concerned about is that if Lactrol is used in ethanol production to control bacterial contamination, would there be unacceptable residues or unhealthy or harmful dangerous resides of Lactrol that would persist into the distillers grains that would cause a hazard to animals or food that they would produce, and the answer is no.”

Learn more in this interview: Interview with Richard Coulter, Phibro Animal Health