RFS Comments Piled High at EPA Doors

Boxes upon boxes of comments relating to the Renewable Fuel Standard were delivered to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) doors yesterday as the comment period ended for the final 2014/2015 rule. Despite clear legislation on the amount of renewable volumetric obligations (RVOs) for all facets of renewable fuels, the EPA lowered the amount of corn-ethanol required to be blended in America’s fuel supply. During the timeframe allocated for comments, the biofuels industry came together not only in support of the industry but to call on the EPA to “get back on track” and put the RVOs at minimum at the levels set by legislation.

Leaders from the National Farmers Union and I Am Biotech delivered more than 200,000 comments on behalf of Fuels America to the EPA.

Leaders from the National Farmers Union and I Am Biotech delivered more than 200,000 comments on behalf of Fuels America to the EPA.

Fuels America collected more than 200,000 written comments while VoteVets.org turned in nearly 47,000 petition signatures calling on the EPA to strengthen the RFS.

“It is absolutely crucial, for the wellbeing of our military, and our national security, that we lessen our dependence on oil,” said Jon Soltz, Iraq veteran and chairman of VoteVets.org.  “A strong RFS is a key part of that equation.  It is very simple – every drop of renewable fuel in our gasoline means one less drop of oil.  The EPA should listen to those who love and support our military, and care about our national security, and strengthen the RFS.”

Last week the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) held an RFS rally where hundreds of corn growers from across the country called the EPA to task and told them to “stay the course”. A letter submitted by NCGA states, “The RFS has spurred growth in agriculture, increased energy diversity and decreased GHG emissions from fossil fuels through the development of renewable energy resources. We urge the Agency to stay the course and support this important piece of transformational energy policy, and we request it reconsider its proposed reduction in the 2014, 2015 and 2016 renewable volume obligations.”

Also submitting a letter along with comments was the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA). The letter, authored by President and CEO Bob Dinneen, called the proposal “surprising” and imprudent” and he charged the EPA with buying into the oil industry’s false narrative regarding the so-called blend wall. By doing so, he wrote, “EPA has unnecessarily and illegally curtailed the unprecedented evolution occurring in the transportation fuels market that was delivering technology innovation, carbon reduction, and consumer savings.”

The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE0 also submitted comments that included E15 sales data demonstrating that consumers are choosing ethanol at the pump. Executive Vice President Brian Jennings wrote, “The RFS is intended to reduce the GHG emissions of motor fuel and provide consumer access to E15 and flex fuels which are less expensive and cleaner than gasoline. These sweeping goals will not be realized if EPA continues to ride the brakes on the RFS. Issuance of the final RFS in November has consequences beyond trying to get the program back on track.  The decision will come at the same time the President prepares to negotiate an international agreement to reduce GHG emissions in Paris.  What an embarrassment it will be if EPA betrays the Administration’s commitment to curb climate change by restricting the use of low carbon biofuels in the U.S.” Continue reading

NREL Expert on E15 Infrastructure at ACE

aceA senior National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) analyst will discuss E15 infrastructure at the upcoming American Coalition for Ethanol’s (ACE) Conference. This ACE news release says Kristi Moriarty, the principle author of a recent government report examining the compatibility of existing fuel station infrastructure for E15, will speak during the conference August 20 in Omaha, Nebraska.

“One reason the ethanol industry petitioned EPA to approve the use of E15 is because existing standards indicated the blend was compatible with most existing equipment,” said ACE Senior Vice President Ron Lamberty. “Unfortunately, gas station owners have been misled by ethanol detractors into believing that adding E15 would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in new equipment. We’re looking forward to hearing from Kristi Moriarty, the lead author of the NREL report which destroys the E15 compatibility and cost myths,” said Lamberty.

The theme of the August 19-21 ACE Conference is “Quiet Ingenuity, Bold Advance.” The event will also feature a talk on technology and advanced biofuel innovations involving Ray Defenbaugh, President and CEO of Big River Resources LLC, Delayne Johnson, CEO of Quad County Corn Processors, and Jeff Oestmann, President and CEO of East Kansas Agri-Energy, LLC, a retailer panel discussion on E15 and flex fuel sales, a progress report on ethanol and DDGs exports, ethanol plant board member training, and much more.

This link has more information on the ACE Conference.

Ethanol Blends Save Drivers Money

aceAs drivers are hitting the road for the 4th of July weekend, they’ll be able to do so with a little extra jingle in their pockets, thanks to ethanol. This news release from the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) says gas prices are lower because of the green fuel.

“People are traveling more because gas prices are about a dollar a gallon less than last year,” says ACE Senior Vice President Ron Lamberty, “American drivers are paying $11 billion a month less at the pump. That’s almost $40 bucks a month for every man, woman and child in the U.S.”

Lamberty says ethanol production gains made possible by the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) are a big help in lowering the price of gas.

“Ethanol costs less than gas, so adding ethanol lowers the price of gas,” Lamberty explained. “And when people can use more ethanol in fuels like E15 or E85, that’s more competition for gasoline. That forces oil companies to lower their prices to compete, and that’s why they badmouth ethanol and the RFS.”

Lamberty also warned that Big Oil is trying to get Congress and the EPA to eliminate or dramatically weaken laws that allow ethanol to compete with gasoline, and if petroleum interests are successful, we’ll all end up paying more.

EPA Hearing Turnout to Show #RFSWorks

The public hearing in Kansas City, Kansas last week on EPA’s proposed volume obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard was a who’s who of the biofuels industry and then some.

epa-hearing-panelA total of 254 people on 43 panels testified in two different rooms for about seven and a half hours. It was over twice as many people who testified at a public hearing in Arlington, Virginia in December 2013 on EPA’s first proposed RVO for 2014 that was ultimately withdrawn.

The vast majority of those testifying at the hearing were biofuels supporters, less than a dozen represented the oil industry or others opposed to increasing use of biofuels. Ethanol and biodiesel producers, corn growers, agribusiness interests and fuel retailers from across the nation testified, in addition to several state lawmakers, two governors and their agriculture secretaries.

The very first panel consisted of representatives from the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE), American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, American Soybean Association, National Farmers Union, National Biodiesel Board and the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA).

RFA senior vice president Geoff Cooper urged the agency to implement the statute as Congress intended and abandon its blend wall methodology in setting the 2014–2016 renewable volume obligations.

“We continue to believe EPA is overstepping the bounds of its legal authority by proposing to partially waive the RFS based on perceived distribution capacity constraints,” Cooper said. “Nothing in the statute allows EPA to set the renewable volume obligations (RVOs) based on the so-called ‘blend wall’ or alleged infrastructure limitations. Congress considered measures that would have allowed waivers based on distribution infrastructure. But they rejected those concepts because they knew allowing such off-ramps would allow oil companies to hold the RFS program hostage.”

Listen to Cooper and others on the first panel here: EPA RFS Hearing panel 1

EPA RFS Public Hearing photo album

Coverage of EPA RFS Hearing is sponsored by
Coverage of EPA RFS Hearing sponsored by RFA

Retailers Counter EPA Blend Wall Beliefs

Many fuel retailers were on hand at the EPA public hearing last week on volume obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) to tell their stories about selling higher ethanol blends.

epa-hearing-retailerAmong those who testified at the hearing and also spoke at the #RFSWorks rally was Cheryl Near, who owns Jump Start gas station in Wichita, Kansas with her husband Phil. The couple is featured in the movie PUMP, a documentary about America’s addiction to oil and the monopoly of the oil companies that works to prevent consumer choice at the pump.

“We need to be supporting homegrown renewables, we need be blending more ethanol into our fuel supply, not less,” said Near at the rally, who added that oil companies are controlling the price of higher ethanol blends. “We need blender pumps, we need to buy direct from the ethanol plants, and then we can pass our savings on to the consumers.”

Listen to Near’s rally comments here: Fuel retailer Cheryl Near at RFS Rally

Other retailers who testified at the hearing included Scott Zaremba, owner of Zarco USA, and Charlie Good, owner of Good and Quick convenience store in Nevada, Iowa. “We have seen our ethanol sales numbers increase as we educate the public on the higher ethanol blends,” said Zaremba, who was the first retailer to offer E15 in the United States. “Renewable blends make up 98% of my gasoline sales mix, and almost 30% of the fuel I sell is in renewable blends above ten percent,” added Good.

Dave Sovereign, owner and operator of the Cresco Fast Stop, summarized the thoughts of many retailers, telling EPA, “When consumers have a choice, there is no blend wall.”

Other stories of higher blend fuel retailers can be found on the American Coalition for Ethanol website Flexfuelforward.com.

EPA RFS Public Hearing photo album

Coverage of EPA RFS Hearing is sponsored by
Coverage of EPA RFS Hearing sponsored by RFA

ACE Opens August Conference Registration

ACElogoRegistration for the American Coalition’s for Ethanol’s (ACE) conference has opened, with “Quiet Ingenuity, Bold Advance” the theme for the Aug. 19-21 event. This news release from the group says it’s the 28th annual gathering for ACE and will be held in Omaha, Nebraska.

“One of the best kept secrets of the ethanol industry is how producers are boldly innovating, developing new co-products, and finding ways to improve their bottom line without fanfare. This is an important time for the industry and pivotal topics will take center stage at our upcoming conference,” said ACE Executive Vice President Brian Jennings.

One panel discussion which will reinforce the “Quiet Ingenuity, Bold Advance” theme features Ray Defenbaugh, President, CEO & Chairman of Big River Resources LLC, Delayne Johnson, CEO of Quad County Corn Processors, and Jeff Oestmann, President & CEO of East Kansas Agri-Energy, LLC who will discuss the technology and advanced biofuel innovations their respective companies are pursuing.

Quad County Corn Processors is the first ethanol plant in the nation to produce both conventional and cellulosic biofuel, East Kansas Agri-Energy is constructing a renewable diesel facility adjacent to its existing corn ethanol plant, and Big River Resources will be producing a zein protein alongside its ethanol plant in Galva, IL.

There will also be a retailer panel on E15 and flex fuel sales, a report from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) on fueling infrastructure, exports of ethanol and DDGs, plant board member training, and much more at this year’s conference. Registration information is here.

ACE Promotes Power by People at #FEW15

few15-aceThe American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) team was out in force at the 2015 Fuel Ethanol Workshop backed by the Power by People faces of the industry.

Something new for ACE this year is a retailer-focused website promoting the whys and hows of moving into flex fuels called FlexFuelForward.com and they were encouraging FEW attendees to check it out and use it as a tool to educate retailers.

Like everyone else in the industry, ACE was disappointed by the EPA’s proposed rule for volume obligations under the RFS but they were also encouraging FEW attendees to make their voices heard during the comment period. ACE Executive Vice President Brian Jennings says they plan to show the power of the people in this industry during the public hearing June 25 in Kansas City. “We’re going to get a bunch of retailers who are selling E15 and E85 to go to that hearing and tell EPA face-to-face that the blend wall isn’t real,” said Jennings. “We’re going to make sure we get some very persuasive messengers to come deliver a very compelling message to that hearing.”

In this interview, Jennings also talks about E15’s forced summer vacation which just started June 1 in many areas, as well as last week’s report from NREL on the ability of fuel infrastructure to handle E15. Interview with ACE Executive VP Brian Jennings at FEW

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

ACE Launches E15 Retailer Website

The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) has launched a new website for retailers focused on E15: www.FlexFuelForward.com. The site is designed to answer retailer-focused questions about E15, E85 and mid-level ethanol blends.

“When convenience store owners consider a new product, the information they trust most comes from people like them – other retailers who have already done what they’re thinking about doing,” said ACE’s Senior Vice President, Ron Lamberty. “Fuel marketers thinking about new fuels want to hear from another retailer that adding those choices increased gallons, and led to better customer counts and higher profits – and that’s what we’re hearing from retailers who added E15 and flex fuels.”

Flex Forward“Unfortunately, most station owners don’t know anyone who sells E15 or flex fuels, and what they think they know about higher ethanol blends is warped by fictional ethanol horror stories, written by people who have never sold a drop of either product,” Lamberty continued. “That’s why the centerpiece of the FlexFuelForward.com site is a short documentary that introduces three fuel marketers who saw through the anti-ethanol ghost stories and added E15 and flex fuels to their product mix. Their real-world results show the doom and gloom predictions have not come true, and the rewards have been higher volume, more customers, better margins, and higher profits.”

FlexFuelForward.com provides additional fuel marketer-focused information to help station owners decide to add E15 and/or flex fuels, including links to fuel, equipment and government websites that have even more detailed information. “This site is aimed at capturing the attention and answering the main questions of marketers who have not responded to the ethanol industry’s other campaigns,” explained Lamberty. “We want to address the top concerns that are keeping station owners from considering E15 or flex fuels, and from there, point them to the people or information they need to get another E15 or flex fuel location built.”

Lamberty concluded, “We can’t bring experienced E15 and flex fuel marketers with us to every trade show or retailer workshop ACE attends. So we’ve done the next best thing – we’ve brought their stories to a place where they will be available 24/7, for marketers who live and work in the 24/7 convenience store world.”

Ethanol Industry Blasts EPA RFS Proposal

Ethanol industry groups are blasting the EPA proposal for volume obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) for what they see as siding with the oil industry.

rfalogo1“Today’s announcement represents a step backward for the RFS,” says Renewable Fuels Association president Bob Dinneen, noting that the EPA continues to cling to the “blend wall” methodology. “The EPA plan fundamentally places the potential growth in renewable fuels in the hands of the oil companies — empowering the incumbent industry to continue to thwart consumer choice at the pump with no fear of consequence for their bad behavior.”

ACElogo“EPA is yet again proposing to circumvent the RFS by limiting ethanol use to the amount oil companies are willing to blend with the gasoline they refine and not one gallon more,” said American Coalition for Ethanol executive vice president Brian Jennings. “If EPA is willing to let oil companies disregard Clean Air Act requirements to clean up motor fuel, how does it expect power plants to comply with their Clean Air Act proposal to curb carbon pollution?”

growth-energy-logo1“It is unfortunate that EPA chose to side with the obligated parties who have deliberately refused to live up to their obligation to provide consumers with a choice of fossil fuels or lower cost, higher performing, homegrown renewable energy at the pump,” said Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis.

NCGA-Logo“Once again, the EPA has chosen to ignore the law by cutting the corn ethanol obligation 3.75 billion gallons from 2014 to 2016. This represents nearly a billion and a half bushels in lost corn demand,” said National Corn Growers Association president Chip Bowling. “The only beneficiary of the EPA’s decision is Big Oil.”

EPA will hold a public hearing on the proposal June 25 in Kansas City, Kansas. The public has until July 27 to comment on the proposal.

Ethanol Industry Pleased with NREL Study

The ethanol industry is pleased with a new study released this week by the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) showing existing service station equipment is compatible with E15, a 15 percent blend of the green fuel. The study also looked at vapor control equipment and found “an extensive list of E15 and E15+ compatible equipment available.”

lamberty“Rumors of E15’s impossibility and high equipment cost have been greatly exaggerated,” said American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) Senior Vice President Ron Lamberty. “NREL’s analysis confirms what we have been telling station owners since E15 was approved – most underground storage tanks (USTs), piping, and other fueling equipment are already compatible with E15.”

Lamberty said the ethanol industry has been criticized and called “dangerous” and “dishonest’ for suggesting marketers could simply put E15 in tanks they previously used for premium or midgrade gasoline. “Even after highlighting real-world fuel marketers selling E15 from existing equipment, the myth of high priced E15 infrastructure remains,” said Lamberty. “This study effectively busts that myth.”

Lamberty went on to say that “in stations where Big Oil couldn’t contractually ban E15, they had to scare the owners out of offering the less-expensive, higher-octane fuel.”

dinneen-capitolBob Dinneen, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association, also commented on the study:

“This comprehensive analysis is both timely and relevant to the current debate about the so-called ‘blend wall’ that some would like to use to limit the growth opportunities for ethanol under the RFS. Clearly, the constraints to the increased use of E15 have more to do with the recalcitrance of refiners and marketers than they do any real infrastructure barriers. Today’s comprehensive study should once and for all belie the misplaced conclusion that infrastructure and ethanol demand limitations should justify a reduction in the RFS as it found most equipment at a retail fuel station today, including underground storage tanks, are compatible with E15. This study demonstrates that most retailers will not be required to break concrete and spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to offer E15.”

The study was funded by the Blend Your Own Ethanol campaign, a joint effort of ACE and RFA to provide information for fuel retailers considering ethanol blends beyond E10. A full copy of the report can be found at BYOethanol.com, and interested parties can also register on the BYO website for an NREL webinar on the report which will be offered June 11, 2015 at 1:00 PM CDT.