ACE #Ethanol Ready to Soar into DC

ace16-flyinMembers of the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) are getting ready to soar into Washington, DC this year for their annual legislative fly-in. The 8th annual ACE fly-in will be held on April 13-14, with the Washington Court on Capitol Hill serving as the host hotel for the event.

“The most persuasive and effective spokespeople for our industry are real people, whose everyday life experiences and authenticity illustrate how the decisions made in Washington, DC impact their businesses and communities,” said ACE Executive Vice President Brian Jennings. “Given how much is at stake for biofuels in 2016 between the election, RFS implementation challenges, and regulatory hurdles impacting consumer access to E15, flex fuels, and the clean octane in ethanol, we encourage supporters to join us for this important event.”

Fly-in registration information is available at this link on the ACE website.

Iowa Ethanol Retailer Profiled for Caucuses

goodIn its coverage leading up to the Iowa caucuses, NBC Nightly News profiled an independent fuel retailer who has become a strong advocate for higher ethanol blends.

Charlie Good, who has been in the fuel retailing business for 35 years as a convenience store operator and auto mechanic, started offering higher ethanol blends at his Good and Quick store in Nevada, Iowa in 2013. NBC headlined him as an “Iowa man who’s never caucused before” and he had the opportunity to tell Tom Brokaw why he wanted to be more involved in this year’s election – and it’s all about renewable fuels like ethanol. “This is about national security, providing our own fuel and not buying from people who want to hurt us,” he said.

I interviewed Charlie last March when he took his story to Capitol Hill with the American Coalition for Ethanol, and you can watch Good in the NBC spotlight here.

Groups Sue EPA Over RFS

A coalition has sued the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), over the final rules of the Renewable Fuel Standard for 2014, 2015 and 2016 that were finalized near the end of last year. The current levels for fuels do not meet legislative mandates for those years regardless of the fact that the biofuels industry has shown they can meet fuel volumes.

rfs-mess-2A group that consists of seven industry associations including BIO, Americans for Clean Energy, American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE), Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), Growth Energy, National Corn Growers Association, the National Sorghum Producers, filed the suit on Friday, January 8, 2016 in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (Case 16-1005).

According to a group statement, among other things, the petitioners intend to demonstrate that EPA’s interpretation of its general waiver authority is contrary to the statute. By focusing on fuel distribution capacity and demand rather than supply, and by failing to consider surplus RINs from prior years, the Agency erroneously concluded that there was an inadequate supply of renewable fuel to justify a waiver of the levels established by Congress. The petitioners also plan to point out other fundamental flaws and inconsistencies in the government’s rule.

A preliminary, non-binding listing of issues to be raised in the court of appeals will be filed by February 11. The statement concluded, “The petitioners look forward to presenting their arguments to the court of appeals to provide clarity and certainty to market participants concerning the requirements of the statute.”

ACE: Tax Credits Will Increase Cheaper Ethanol Blends

Last week Congress approved the Omnibus Bill that included tax credit extensions for clean, renewable energy. One of these credits is for retail fuel station owners who buy equipment to offer alternative fuels such as E85. Ron Lamberty, American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) senior vice president and a fuel retailer, says additional ethanol blends  could further increase profitability for retailers.

E85 Sign December 2015

Photo Credit: Joanna Schroeder

The Alternative Fuel Vehicle (AFV) Refueling Property Credit until the end of next year, according to Lamberty. The credit, which allows retail gas station owners to claim a 30% tax credit, up to a maximum of $30,000 per location for qualified AFV refueling infrastructure, originally expired on December 31, 2014.

“Marketers who saw the opportunity to gain new customers by offering E85 at the pump, also saw they could increase profits by selling the RIN credits they earned for selling higher ethanol blends. Some added pumps earlier this year, others will, in 2016,” said Lamberty “E85 compatible equipment costs more than standard or E25 compatible fueling equipment, and this credit helps offset some of that additional cost. That means retailers can pass the lower price of E85 through to consumers sooner, increasing volume and RIN profits, which most station owners use to reduce E85 prices even further.”

That means, says Lamberty, retailers can pass the lower price of E85 straight through to consumers, increasing volume and RIN profits, which most station owners use to reduce E85 prices even further.”

Lamberty pointed out that the credit is available for E85 fueling infrastructure only, and is scheduled to expire again at the end of 2016. “Fortunately, the equipment needed to sell ethanol blends up to E25 – including E15, adds only a few hundred dollars per dispenser,” he said.

“Having E15 – a lower cost, higher octane blend that 80 percent of the cars on the road can use – should justify that expense.  And with a growing number of station owners, including innovative retailers like Kum & Go, Sheetz and Protec, adding E15, consumers will quickly become more familiar and be looking for E15,” added Lamberty. “Those retailers were already selling E85 in some locations, and are expanding offerings through USDA’s Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership (BIP) program. We’re hoping the availability of this tax credit inspires those companies and others to make higher ethanol blends available sooner, in even more places.”

More #Ethanol Groups Disappointed with #RFS Rule

While ethanol industry representatives agree that the EPA final rule for volume obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard is an improvement, most still are disappointed.

aceAmerican Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) Executive Vice President Brian Jennings says the final rule protects the oil industry from meeting the requirements that Congress intended.

“When Congress enacted the Renewable Fuel Standard it voted to side with those of us who said ‘yes we can’ reduce greenhouse gas emissions from motor fuel, ‘yes we can’ allow consumer access to E15 and flex fuels, and ‘yes we can’ spark innovative ways to produce cleaner fuels,” said Jennings. “While we appreciate that the Administration made incremental improvements compared to the proposed RFS rule, unfortunately, today they are choosing to side with those who say ‘no, we can’t’. Regrettably, EPA’s final RFS rule protects the old way of doing business by obstructing consumer access to cleaner fuels, stifling competition in the marketplace, and undermining innovation.”

Iowa RFA logo-newIowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) Executive Director Monte Shaw says the final rule is a blow to farmers and fuel choice for consumers. “Given EPA’s stated rationale for these numbers, one of the most successful energy policies in our nation’s history has been put squarely in the stranglehold of the petroleum industry,” said Shaw. “As a result, consumers will see higher prices at the pump and Iowa farmers will likely continue to see commodity prices below the cost of production.”

Iowa has 43 ethanol refineries capable of producing 3.9 billion gallons annually, including nearly 55 million gallons of annual cellulosic ethanol production capacity.

NEB logoNebraska Ethanol Board administrator Todd Sneller, who is also chairman of the Clean Fuels Development Coalition, called the final rule “disappointing but not unexpected” and said it means biofuels must move beyond government imposed limits and establish new value based on performance and environmental benefits. “The RFS was, and remains, a foundation to provide a solid base for biofuels to continue to develop,” Sneller said. “All this means is EPA will limit the amount of biofuels they intend to manage under this particular program. Ethanol’s high octane and cleaner-burning properties make it an extremely valuable fuel and we expect increasing demand for those reasons.”

“Our challenge and wake-up call is to provide a valuable product that does not depend on levels established by the EPA,” said Doug Durante, CFDC executive director. Although the EPA has chosen to limit the amount of fuels like ethanol under the RFS, Durante says the EPA could choose to increase biofuel demand by limiting toxic compounds in gasoline, which the agency is required to do under the Clean Air Act.

AESI logoFormer United States Senator and Americans for Energy Security and Innovation (AESI) Chairman Jim Talent said that this midterm modification to the RFS flies in the face of the intent of Congress when it passed the law, and says the President is saying that if oil companies refuse to comply with the law, then the EPA can waive the obligation.

Talent added, “It is clear that the Obama Administration and Democrats have once again abandoned Rural America by finalizing a new rule that undermines the Renewable Fuel Standard and threatens the 850,000 well-paying American jobs that have been created by this successful law. With billions invested in this industry thus far, the Obama Administration’s new lackluster standards threaten the already frozen $13.7 billion in investments in advanced biofuels and discourage new investments in clean energy.

ACE Ads Feature RFS Success Stories

As the deadline for the final Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) rules nears for 2014, 2015 and 2016, the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) is promoting members with RFS success stories in Washington, D.C.  One such story is being featured in Morning Consult’s daily energy brief and another in the November 18, 2015 edition of The Washington Post.

Delayne Johnson WaPo AdOne story features Delayne Johnson, CEO of Quad County Corn Processors and other features Jeff Oestmann, CEO of East Kansas Agri-Energy. Both are part of ACE’s Power by People campaign, an initiative that highlights people in the ethanol industry who are doing extraordinary things for the economy and the environment.

“ACE’s ads draw attention to the milestones that East Kansas Agri-Energy and Quad County Corn Processors have achieved in advanced and cellulosic biofuel thanks to the RFS, evidence that should help the Obama Administration stand strong on RFS blending volumes instead of caving into oil company demands,” said Brian Jennings, executive vice president of ACE.

Jeff Oestmann WaPo AdMorning Consult’s daily energy brief is read by more than 41,000 subscribers inside and out of the Beltway and ACE’s advertisement runs today through November 23. In addition, ACE is sponsoring a “cover wrap” print ad in copies of The Washington Post delivered to Capitol Hill on November 18. The print ad is available on the ACE website.

During the month of November, ACE’s social media platforms are also showcasing people from all walks of life, including retailers and consumers, who benefit from a strong RFS using videos, infographics, and profiles on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram and featuring hashtags #RFSWorks, #PowerByPeople, and #RFSOnward.

BIP Announcement Welcome News by Ethanol Industry

This week Big Oil launched yet another anti-RFS campaign and has also been calling for an end to programs that support the development of biofuel infrastructure. As such, it was welcomed news this week when USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced while at a Protec Fuel station in Florida, $100 million in funding to increase retail pumps for higher ethanol blends in 21 states through the Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership (BIP). Private partners have matched the funding 1 to 1 with another $100 million in commitments.

USDA BIP Announcement at Protec Fuel stationRon Lamberty, American Coalition for Ethanol’s senior vice president was happy to hear the news as well as shared support for Protec who has been a leader in the southeast in bringing higher ethanol blends to drivers.

“This is a great day for petroleum marketers who want to offer cleaner fuels, and an even better day for drivers, who will save money with more biofuel options at the pump,” said Lamberty. “The USDA-BIP program funds will assist station owners who want to stand out from the competition and offer fuel blends like E15 and E85 to consumers. Making higher ethanol blends available in more stations from coast to coast has been a priority of Secretary Vilsack, and this program does that, by offering funds to retailers from Pennsylvania to Texas, and from Florida to Colorado.”

Once such matching infrastructure program is the Prime the Pump Fund. Organizers of the campaign thanked USDA for their commitment to helping drivers have access to cleaner, greener domestically produced fuels.

“The investment the USDA and other industries are making to give consumers more choices at the pump goes a long way to break Big Oil’s stranglehold on the fuel market,” said Ray Defenbaugh, chairman of the Prime the Pump Fund following the BIP announcement.  “America’s farmers and biofuel producers can provide a cleaner, greener, higher octane fuel that actually lowers the price of gasoline at the pump. We’re now seeing several of the nation’s leading fuel retailers making these fuel blends available to consumers and these USDA funds will help to make this continue to happen. I would like to thank the USDA and specifically Secretary Vilsack for their leadership and commitment to rural America.”

View the USDA-Protec Fuel Biofuel Pump Funding Announcement photo album.

 

USDA Applauded for Biofuel Infrastructure Support

Photo Credit Joanna Schroeder

Photo Credit Joanna Schroeder

This morning, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Secretary Tom Vilsack made the announcement that 21 states will receive grants through the Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership (BIP) to help provide access to more renewable fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel. In response, the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) applauded USDA for expanding its efforts to provide consumers with fuel choice at the pump through expanded ethanol blends. The program will help retail station owners pay for equipment they may need to offer higher ethanol blends such as E85.

“Secretary Vilsack has worked tirelessly to see that his vision of 10,000 blender pumps across the nation becomes reality, and the Biofuels Infrastructure Partnership is another great example of his commitment to expanding markets for farmers’ products,” said ACE Senior Vice President Ron Lamberty whose organization works with retailers and provide assistance through their FlexFuelForward website.

“BIP is a matching grant program, which means USDA also challenged states and ethanol supporters to step up and make equal or greater amounts of infrastructure funding available to station owners. The intended result is nearly a quarter of a billion dollars petroleum marketers can use to buy equipment and offer more ethanol blends to consumers. In many cases, station owners will pay little or nothing to add state-of-the-art blender dispensers and other equipment they may need to sell flex fuels and E15. We encourage retailers to apply for funding assistance through the appropriate state agencies,” Lamberty added.

Growth Energy also praised the USDA with CEO Tom Buis noting that the announcement is a “tremendous win” for American consumers. “It is unfortunate that the obligated parties refuse to follow the law and blend increasing amounts of renewable fuel,” said Buis, “but the steps by the administration and Secretary Vilsack will ensure higher ethanol blends, such as E15, penetrate the marketplace, and provide consumers with a choice and savings they deserve.” Continue reading

Association Motor Club Proudly Supports Ethanol

Gene Hammond, Co-Owner with Association Motor Club Marketing (AMCM), supports the use of E15. Over the past few years, despite evidence to the contrary, AAA does not support the use of E15. However, competitor AMCM does and the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) is calling on drivers to support a company that supports ethanol.

Gene Hammond Association Motor Club MarketingHammond explained that four years after EPA approval of E15 and two years after AAA declared it was premature back in 2012, his company began looking into their claims, and not one service claim in two years was related to ethanol. As a result, Hammond approached ACE with their findings and a partnership was solidified.

Hammond was born on a farm in South Dakota and he knows first-hand what ethanol has done for America. So have others, he said. Many new customers have joined because his company supports the use of ethanol blends.

The 50+ year old motor club has more than 19 million members in 50 states and Hammond said his company’s focus is on providing unmatched service for their members. As a result, “reality” trumps all and with no car problems related to the fuel, he encourages drivers to give E15 a try.

Ethanol supporters ready to make the switch (I did) should go to amcm-online.com and click on the “Ethanol Supporters” tab to receive a membership discount.

To learn more about the Association Motor Club Marketing and their support of ethanol, listen to my interview with Gene Hammond: Interview with Gene Hammond, AMCM

2015 ACE Annual Meeting Photos

Nebraska Wants Clean Air

Kim Clark ACE 2015Kim Clark, former director of biofuels development for Nebraska Corn spoke during the recent Ethanol Conference in Omaha, Nebraska hosted by the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) about their Clean Air for Nebraska campaign. Her focus is to educate consumers across the state about ways to improve air quality. The goal of the campaign is create awareness around how using ethanol in fuels is a small step to make a big impact in air quality. She noted that there is a good number of organizations supporting the efforts.

The multi-facted campaign includes adding additional biofuels infrastructure throughout the state with Nebraska Corn allocating $500,000 to adding more blender pumps. Next, the campaign is focusing on helping consumers understand what ethanol blends are and what cars can use what blends including E15 and E85. Much of the marketing is taking place at the pump but the campaign also included radio ads. Ultimately the clean air campaign supporters hope their tools can be used by other regions and states as a template for biofuel and air pollution education.

To learn more about the Clean Air for Nebraska campaign, listen to Kim Clark’s presentation: Kim Clark, Clean Air for Nebraska

2015 ACE Annual Meeting Photos