Long-Term Biodiesel Tax Incentive Bill Introduced

U.S. Representatives Kristi Noem (R-SD) and Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) have introduced legislation to extend the biodiesel tax incentive through 2019 and modify the program to become a domestic production credit. The $1-per-gallon biodiesel tax credit has been lapsed and reinstated multiple times. It is scheduled to expire yet again on December 31, 2016. This bill would extend the incentive three years while also changing its focus to support domestically produced biodiesel.

National-Biodiesel-Board-Logo“While oil tax breaks remain permanently written into the tax code, the biodiesel tax incentive is yet again set to expire in less than eight months,” said National Biodiesel Board (NBB) Vice President of Federal Affairs Anne Steckel in response to the introduction of the bill. “This is no way to do business. Biodiesel producers need stable, predictable tax policy to continue to grow and hire. We want to thank Reps. Noem and Pascrell for taking the lead on this issue to create that stability and spur economic activity.”

According to NBB, foreign biodiesel imported to the U.S. and then blended with petroleum diesel is eligible for the tax incentive. As a result, more foreign biodiesel producers are taking advantage of the tax credit by shipping their biodiesel to the states. Today imported biodiesel makes up nearly a third of the U.S. market, around 670 million gallons.

“In addition to extending the incentive, this bill includes an important reform ensuring that this tax incentive is directed toward domestically produced biodiesel,” added Steckel. “This would not only reduce the cost of the tax incentive to the Treasury, but it would level the playing field for American producers who are now competing against predatory imports that are getting subsidies in their country of origin only to be shipped to the U.S. to receive another incentive from American taxpayers. Incentivizing foreign biodiesel production was never the intent of this incentive, and Congress should reform it immediately.”

ASA-logoThe American Soybean Association (ASA) also commended Reps Noem and Pascrell for the introduction of the legislation. Also calling out the need for long-term policy to keep the industry strong, President and Delaware farmer Richard Wilkins also noted that uncertainty not only negatively affects industry investment, but hurts farmers.

“In a farm economy that is dealing with low crop prices, that uncertainty and added stress are things that farmers don’t need. In the challenging political environment of an election year, it may be easier for lawmakers to pull back from working together, even on common-sense legislation like this, which is what makes the leadership shown by Representatives Noem and Pascrell so commendable.” Wilkens concluded, “We appreciate their work on this issue and we urge Congress to support the extension and restructuring of the biodiesel tax credit.”

Cassie Mullen Joins RFA Team

cassieCassie Mullen has joined Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) as the director of market development. She will focus on working with the supply chain to facilitate expansion of infrastructure capable of offering higher level ethanol blends to consumers. Prior to joining the RFA team Mullen worked as an executive for Seneca Companies, managing a 17-state territory of retailer accounts.

“Cassie brings a wealth of fuel equipment and fuel marketing experience to the RFA,” said RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen. “Cassie’s expertise will prove to be invaluable as the U.S. ethanol industry works with downstream partners to offer greater access to higher level ethanol blends such as E15, E85, and future ethanol-based high octane fuels. Infrastructure is critically important for future growth of the ethanol industry. Between USDA’s Biofuels Infrastructure Partnership Program and the industry’s Prime the Pump initiative, Cassie’s unique background and knowledge will be in high demand. She will be a welcome addition to the RFA team, already known for its unrivaled technical and regulatory expertise. Cassie knows the players in the retail market and she knows the business case for higher ethanol blends. Her impact will be felt immediately.”

She has been working with fuel retailers for more than two decades, conducting station equipment evaluations, providing equipment recommendations and helping them build new stations. She is well versed in environmental compliance, EMV and major oil branding and marketing agreements, and has even owned retail stations during her career.

“I am thrilled to be joining RFA and look forward to working with their technical and marketing staff to help support the market’s transition to higher-level ethanol blends,” said Mullen. “My background working with fuel retailers and owning stations gives me a unique perspective, and I plan to use that knowledge to help boost consumer access to higher ethanol blends. Retailers are increasingly interested in offering a broader array of fuel choices, and I plan to help them understand and pursue the value proposition associated with higher level ethanol blends.”

Research Develops Ultra Productive Biomass Crops

The University of Illinois and the University of Florida have been awarded a third round of ARPA-E funding (U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy) to continue research work on the Plants Engineered To Replace Oil in Sugarcane and Sweet Sorghum (PETROSS) project. The funding is for projects that are focused on developing ultra-productive biomass crops for use in biofuels.

PETROSS_Sugarcane“Our research project is on a trajectory to produce sugarcane that could give the U.S. an inexhaustible and environmentally friendly oil supply that could satisfy one quarter of the nation’s fuel and provide a renewable source of jet fuel,” said Project Director Stephen Long, Gutgsell Endowed Professor of Crop Sciences and Plant Biology at Illinois. “These crops could be grown in areas of the Southeast that can no longer produce food crops, giving the region a much needed economic boost.”

PETROSS is engineering sugarcane and sorghum to produce 20 percent oil, which equates to 13 times more biodiesel (and six time more profit) per acre than an acre of soybeans. Naturally these crops produce just 0.05 percent oil, which is not enough to convert to biodiesel. PETROSS has now produced a cane that accumulates 13 percent oil by dry weight. With just 5 percent oil that can be turned into biodiesel, PETROSS sugarcane is 4.5 times more profitable than soybeans per acre.

The research team is continuing to work on yield increases as well as improving cold tolerance to expand the growing region of sugarcane in the U.S.  To increase yields, PETROSS is focusing on photosynthesis, which turns the sun’s energy into biomass for biofuel production. An improvement in photosynthesis directly correlates with an increase in yield. PETROSS has developed a plant that is 20 percent more efficient (producing 20 percent more biomass) under normal conditions. Under cooler conditions, PETROSS cane is nearly 50 percent more efficient.

RFA Wins TRANSCAER Award for Ethanol Safety

For the fourth time, the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), has won the TRANSCAER National Achievement Award for hosting its series of ethanol safety seminars last year for first and emergency responders. The award is given in recognition of great achievement in rfalogo1support of the TRANSCAER initiative, a volunteer coalition that works to ensure the safety of emergency responsders, in this instance how to prepare and handle hazardous material incidents. In 2015, RFA held 15 ethanol safety seminars and two Train the Trainer events, which trained 541 emergency responders on how to properly respond to an ethanol incident.

Additionally, RFA Technical Services Manager Missy Ruff received a TRANSCAER Individual Achievement Award for her work last year in planning the ethanol safety events.

“We are honored to receive this award for the fourth year in a row, and for Missy’s outstanding work in coordinating these essential events,” said RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen. “Safety is the ethanol industry’s top priority, and while recent data shows ethanol has been delivered 99.999 percent of the time without incident, we know accidents can happen. We want first responders to be prepared in the rare instance a release occurs.”

Since December 2010, RFA has held 167 ethanol safety seminars spanning 29 states, training more than 5,000 emergency responders.

5 Surprising Sources of Renewable Energy

*This is a special feature to DomesticFuel from Rebecca Paredes with Green Future.

Weird renewable energy sourcesAccording to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Earth’s average temperature has risen by 1.5°F over the past century — and as long as we continue to burn fossil fuels, that number “is projected to rise another 0.5 to 8.6°F over the next hundred years.”

Human activities have released large amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution. The majority of greenhouse gases come from burning fossil fuels to produce energy, and one of the prime offenders is coal — a resource that some estimate will last no more than another 250 years at today’s consumption rate.

So, not only are we increasing the planet’s overall atmospheric temperature, but we’re also steadily running out of the energy source that powers places like the Gibson generating station in southwestern Indiana, which churns out “more than 3,000 megawatts of electric power, 50 percent more than Hoover Dam,” writes Tim Appenzeller.

Fortunately, promising developments in the renewable energy sector have created greater opportunities for widespread change. For instance, the city of San Francisco recently became the first major US city to require the installation of solar panels on new buildings. This unanimous decision came as part of San Francisco’s goal to meet 100 percent of the city’s electricity demand with renewable energy.

Unexpected Sources Of Renewable Energy

At the same time, solar isn’t our planet’s only promising source of renewable energy; wind and hydroelectric power have also demonstrated that it’s possible to power large-scale electric grids. But some sources of renewable energy are distinctly out of the ordinary — and in some cases, they’re downright weird.

#IE02016 Projects Strong Renewable Energy Growth

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) has released its International Energy Outlook 2016 (IEO2016) with updated projections for world energy markets through 2040. During this timeframe, world energy consumption is projected to increase more than 48 percent led by strong increases in Asia as well as China and India.

IEO_2016webimage“Developing Asia accounts for more than half of the projected increase in global energy use through 2040,” said EIA Administrator Adam Sieminski. “This increase will have a profound effect on the development of world energy markets.”

The report finds that clean energy technologies play an important role in the outlook, with renewables expected to be the fastest-growing energy source. IEO2016 projects renewables as the fastest-growing global energy source increasing 2.6 percent each year through 2040. However, fossil fuels will still supply more than three quarters of world energy use, albeit falling.

By 2040, coal, natural gas, and renewable energy sources provide roughly equal shares (28%-29%) of world electricity generation. This is a major change from 2012 when coal provided 40 percent of all power generation. Going forward, wind and hydropower are predicted to be the two largest contributors with an estimated two-thirds increase.

Interestingly, if the forecasts prove accurate the move away from fossil-fuel based electricity will not be enough to stave off carbon increases. IEO2016 finds worldwide energy-related carbon dioxide emissions will rise from 32 billion metric tons in 2012 to 36 billion metric tons in 2020 and then to 43 billion metric tons in 2040, a 34 percent increase from 2012 to 2040.

Montreal-Trudeau Airport for Biojet Pilot Program

The next step in Canada’s Biojet Supply Chain Initiative (CBSCI) has been determined. Air Canada has announced the three-year collaborative project will take place at the Montréal-Trudeau Airport. The goal of the program, that includes 14 stakeholders, is to use 400,000 litres of aviation biojet (biofuel) into a shared fuel system.

Air Canada's first biojet fueled flightAviation fuel is not new to Air Canada. The airline has flown with biojet fuel but the biofuel was segregated from traditional jet fuel and loaded separately into the aircraft via a tanker truck. However, this program aims to integrate the two fuels together and create the ability for a multi-user, co-mingled airport fuel supply system. One goal of the project is to identify and help solve supply logistic barriers that arise when aviation biofuels are introduced at major Canadian airports.

“We are pleased that this important initiative will be held at Montréal-Trudeau Airport,” said Teresa Ehman, director – Environmental Affairs at Air Canada. “Air Canada has invested billions of dollars in fleet renewal to reduce our fuel consumption and meet our current emission reduction goals. Biojet holds the potential to be an important part of our strategy for achieving our longer-term industry goals of carbon neutral growth from 2020 and a 50 per cent reduction in emissions by 2050, relative to 2005 levels. The CBSCI project will contribute significantly to advancing a biojet supply chain in Canada by facilitating the logistics involved in the introduction of biojet to an airport’s shared fuel system.”

This is the first of its kind project in Canada and one step in getting the aviation industry closer to creating a sustainable supply chain of renewable feedstocks for use in biojet fuel. The bioject used in the CBSCI project will be sourced from commercially available, certifiably sustainable Canadian oleochemical feedstocks using the Hydroprocessed Esters and a Fatty Acids (HEFA) conversion process. The biojet will be blended with petroleum jet fuel to meet all technical quality specifications before being introduced into a shared fuel tank at Montreal-Trudeau Airport.

“This initiative is consistent with Aéroports de Montréal’s (ADM) efforts to reduce GHG emissions. We are proud that Air Canada has chosen Montréal–Trudeau for this project. Let’s hope that this will be just the start of a strong short- and medium-term partnership to ensure the project’s success,” added ADM President and Chief Executive Officer James Cherry.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDF1A new initiative has been launched as part of the U.S. DOE’s Sunshot program – Orange Button. The initiative is designed to simplify and standardize data across the solar project lifestyle, enhance data quality, and make solar transactions more efficient. SGIP and partner Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) are organizing a wide array of market participants to drive strategy and to collect business requirements from a variety of perspectives. They are asking industry leaders to join them in defining the strategy and business requirements to make solar projects more bankable by signing up to participate in one of five working groups. More info about Orange Button and how to participate can be found here.
  • Green Plains Inc. has announced that its board of directors appointed Ejnar Knudsen as an independent director, effective May 5, 2016. Mr. Knudsen has joined the board as its tenth director, filling a vacant position, whose term expires at the 2017 annual meeting.
  • According to a new report released by the Texas Advanced Energy Business Alliance, “Advanced Energy Jobs in Texas,” employment in Texas’s advanced energy industry stands at an estimated 143,023 workers. This is more people than are employed in chemical manufacturing and petroleum refining, twice as many as employed by airlines, and nearly as many working in building construction in the Lone Star State. Employers engaged in advanced energy business expect to increase their workforce by 7% this year, which would bring Texas’s advanced energy industry to over 152,000 jobs.

Bill Attempts to Cap Ethanol Blends

A new bill was introduced this week that would cap ethanol blends in the U.S. transportation fuel system to no more than 9.7 percent by volume. The legislation was introduced by Rep. Bill Flores (R-Texas), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Jim Costa (D-Calif.), all biofuel critics. This bill is in conflict to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), an energy policy designed to reduce the country’s dependence on foreign sources of oil.

Ethanol Pump Photo May 2016 Joanna Schroeder

Photo Credit: Joanna Schroeder

Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) President and CEO Bob Dinneen responded to the bill by saying, “Passage of this bill would represent a complete capitulation to the oil industry that steadfastly refuses to provide consumers higher octane, lower cost alternative fuels at the pump. They whine about a so-called blend wall even as they continue to build it themselves by denying consumer access to E15 and E85. The RFS was made necessary by oil company intransigence. It was intended to break the stranglehold oil companies have on the motor fuel market by forcing access. This bill would gut the RFS and send America’s energy and climate change policy back decades. Americans want choices at the pump, they want to see lower carbon fuels, they want to spend less on motor fuel, and they want to stimulate investments in new technologies and new fuels to drive our economy in a low carbon world. This bill would sacrifice all of that at the altar of Big Oil, and that is why it will never pass.”

Setting the Record Straight: #Ethanol & Marine Engines

Engine and marine experts called on Washington lawmakers this week to get the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) back on track. The White House Office of Management and Budget is expected to release its review of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed blending requirements for biofuels in 2017 soon. Fuels America hosted a panel discussion and press call with several certified mechanics, engine performance experts and professional fisherman who discussed the benefits of ethanol including the environmental benefits for marine life and engine performance as well as dispelled myths about ethanol. In addition, the panelists addressed misconceptions about ethanol use in classic cars in response to recent comments by Jay Leno.

From left to right: Marc Rauch, Executive Vice President and Co-Publisher at the Auto Channel; Joel Hennen, President and Owner of Hennen’s Auto Service; Brian Sowers, Co-Host of Crappie Masters TV; & Keith Holmes, President and Owner of CK Motorsports

From left to right: Marc Rauch, Executive Vice President and Co-Publisher at the Auto Channel; Joel Hennen, President and Owner of Hennen’s Auto Service; Brian Sowers, Co-Host of Crappie Masters TV; & Keith Holmes, President and Owner of CK Motorsports

According to Keith Holmes, president and owner of CK Motorsports based in Nunica, Michigan, the National Boat Racing Association exclusively uses E10 for all of its races. “We work on a wide variety of racing engines for watercraft, and they run at their absolute best on a high-octane ethanol blend.” Holmes, who is a certified marine racing technician, stressed that ethanol burns cleaner and cooler and since the introduction of E10 into the sport, many racers have found that many engine parts have a 25 to 50 percent longer lifespan.

“It doesn’t matter whether a boat has a two-stroke or four-stroke engine, an in-board or out-board motor, or a built-in or portable fuel tank,” explained Marc Rauch, executive vice president and co-publisher at the Auto Channel, based in Louisville, Kentucky. “Decades of experience with modern engines shows that E10 is the best fuel for marine applications. As an oxygen booster, ethanol replaces toxins like MTBE, which are notorious for contaminating water supplies. And it reduces CO2 emissions by 34 to 100 percent or more compared to gasoline.”

While Rauch and Holmes stressed the marine engine performance benefits of ethanol, also noting that E15 is not approved for use in marine engines, Brian Sowers, the co-host of Crappie Masters TV stressed the biofuels environmental benefits. “I want to take my grandkids fishing someday. That means having clean water and clean air. Mixing ethanol into our fuel is the best way to reduce the pollutants that fossil fuels leave behind, so our lakes and rivers stay clean and marine life can flourish.” Sowers covers the Crappie Masters All American Tournament Trail based in Clinton, Missouri and noted that 100 percent of the tournament winners use ethanol blends.

Major boat manufactures approve the use of E10 and Joel Hennen, president and owner of Shakopee, Minnesota-based Hennen’s Auto Service, said that if a boat owner properly takes care of his boat, then ethanol will pose no problems. He also noted that in his area, boaters ask for and use, ethanol. “We serve communities on the Minnesota River and Prior Lake, and our customers expect to have choices at the pump. Companies like Kawasaki, Mercury Marine, OMC, Pleasurecraft, Tigershark, Tracker, Honda, and Yamaha all approve the use of E10 in their engines. The labels are clear, and whether customers have a flex fuel vehicle or a race boat, we make it easy to pick the most affordable option with the lowest emissions.”

Learn more about ethanol, marine engines and other ethanol myths by listening to the full press conference: The Truth About #Ethanol & Marine Engines