Fuels America Submits 200k+ Pro RFS Comments

More than 200,000 Americans took a stand for biofuels by submitting written comments in support of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Today is the final day of the comment period following the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) releasing its final renewable fuel volumes for 2015 and 2015. Fuels America, during a press call this morning, said these comments only paint a partial picture – tens of thousands of additional pro-biofuels comments are expected by the close of business today.

During an interview with DomesticFuel.com, Roger Johnson, president of the National Farmers Union, noted that the only industry that is not benefited by the biofuels industry is the oil industry, and those most hurt when biofuels are not in the marketplace are the consumers when they pay more money at the pump.

rfs-works“The Renewable Fuel Standard represents a promise to rural America—a promise that, when kept, helped rural economies across America make a strong comeback,” said Johnson, whose organization is a Fuels America member and who himself dropped comments off at the EPA this morning. “Today’s tremendous show of support for a strong RFS shows that it is time for the EPA to stop choosing foreign oil over rural America, and start getting the RFS back on track.”

Fuels America said that the comments were just one element of the widespread activism and support from Americans, and they collectively, they tell a story of outrage toward EPA’s proposal to, “allow oil companies to take charge of our renewable fuel supply, and effectively permit them to block competition from cleaner, less expensive, homegrown fuel”. These actions, stressed Johnson, could potentially weaken a biofuels industry that has helped enhance our national security, strengthened rural economies, and improved America’s climate impact.

Erick Lutt, Director of Industrial and Environmental Policy at the Biotechnology Industry Organization, who was also on the call today added, “Today, Americans are sending a strong signal to the EPA that its proposal to lower RVOs under the RFS is unacceptable. The EPA’s misfires and delays have pulled the rug out from the American investors and innovators who have brought the next generation of biofuels online in the U.S. The EPA is already responsible for $13.7 billion in frozen investment in advanced and cellulosic biofuels, and we’re risking sending jobs, innovation, and investment overseas. We can’t afford any more setbacks. The EPA must set RVOs consistent with Congress’ original intent in order to bring investment back to America and allow our country’s innovators to continue developing clean, secure American energy.”

Listen to my interview with Roger Johnson: NFU's Roger Johnson Discusses Importance of RFS

Ethanol to Help Fuel 75th Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

rfa-sturgis14-fuelThe Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) will once again partner with the Buffalo Chip Campground at the 75th annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, which will be held Aug. 3-9 in Sturgis, South Dakota. More than 1.5 million motorcycle enthusiasts are expected to attend the event this year for the big anniversary and RFA Vice President for Industry Relations Robert White the event offers a perfect venue to dispel some of the misconceptions about the use of ethanol blended fuel in motorcycles.

“We do that around the “Free Fuel Happy Hours,” said White. “From Sunday August 2nd through Thursday August 6 from 1 to 4 pm, any motorcyclist can come up and fuel for free with 93 octane 10 percent ethanol.” This is the fourth year that RFA has sponsored the free fuel happy hours and White says it also offers them the opportunity to talk one on one with bikers and provide them with information about ethanol.

sturgis-guideIn addition, White says messages about ethanol can be found throughout the Buffalo Chip Campground during the rally. “We have everything from banners to commercials on the Jumbotron at the main stage and we sponsor the Essentials Guide that goes out to every camper this year,” said White.

The event sponsorship has become more important in the last 2-3 years as the oil industry has worked with the motorcycle association to spread misinformation about 15% ethanol, which is not approved for use in motorcycles – a fact which is stated clearly on all pumps that sell E15. But White says the information they provide goes beyond motorcycles. “If there is 1.6 million or more people there, they all own lawnmowers, cars, trucks, SUVs, boats back at home,” he added.

Listen to this edition of “The Ethanol Report” where White talks about what they will be doing in Sturgis to connect with those attending and help them come away with a better understanding of ethanol. Ethanol Report Preview of 2015 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

Comment Deadline for RFS Proposal is Monday

The deadline for submitting comments to the Environmental Protection Agency on the proposed Renewable Fuel Standards for 2014, 2015, and 2016 is Monday, July 27.

EPA administrator Gina McCarthy encouraged members of the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) meeting in Washington DC last week to make their voices heard during the comment period. “Keep talking, keep communicating, take advantage of the public comment process,” she said. “This was a proposal, this was not a final rule, so tell us what you think. That way we’ll be able to produce a final standard that is based on all of the best information and data available.” EPA administrator encourages comments

rfs-mess-2NCGA has made it a priority to get growers involved in commenting on the EPA proposal, sponsoring rallies at the EPA’s public hearing last month in Kansas City, Kansas and on Capitol Hill last week. NCGA president Chip Bowling says they are doing everything possible to help their farmers make their voices heard. “Anyone out there in the countryside can send their comments to EPA,” said Bowling, who notes that they can also send your comments to the EPA through the corn growers website ncga.com/rfs. “We don’t have a whole lot of time to get your comments in but we could really use them.” NCGA president urges farmers to comment

Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) president and CEO Bob Dinneen says everyone who has a stake in the ethanol industry should send in comments on the proposal. “EPA needs to be hearing from farmers, from consumers, from renewable energy advocates across the country,” said Dinneen. “We made a difference before when we got EPA to not finalize a flawed program. We need to make a difference again.” RFA CEO on EPA comment deadline

Comments can be submitted directly to the EPA by going to the Federal eRulemaking Portal.

Senate Committee Advances Tax Credits Extension

The Senate Finance Committee Tuesday approved a two-year extension of various tax credits that expired at the end of 2014, including those for biodiesel, cellulosic ethanol, and wind energy.

The bill contains a two-year extension of the Second Generation Biofuel Producer Tax Credit, the Special Depreciation Allowance for Second Generation Biofuel Plant Property, and the Alternative Fuel Mixture Excise Tax Credit.

rfalogo1Renewable Fuels Association president and CEO Bob Dinneen commended the committee’s leadership for recognizing how important these tax credits are for the continued growth and innovation of the U.S. biofuels industry. “Stability in the marketplace is crucial to encouraging development in second-generation biofuels, like cellulosic ethanol,” said Dinneen. “By extending these incentives, the Committee has helped to provide that needed stability. We look forward to working with the Senate Finance Committee specifically and Congress generally on comprehensive tax reform.”

Dinneen says passage of the tax credit extensions, which will be retroactive, still has a long way to go. “Still needs to get through the floor of the Senate and be conferenced with a bill from the House side,” said Dinneen. “But it’s progress.”

Last year Congress passed retroactive tax credits for 2014 in December, two weeks before they expired again.

Listen to Dinneen’s comments here: RFA CEO Bob Dinneen comments on tax credits progress

EPA Chief Defends RFS Proposal to Corn Growers

ginaSpeaking to members of the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) meeting in Washington DC this week, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy defended her agency’s proposed volume obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) while at the same time thanking farmers for their strong voice on the issue.

“I know RFS matters deeply to corn growers,” said McCarthy. “You know we held a hearing in Kansas and I know you knew it because you showed up. Last month you were there in force. And I want to thank you for being out there.”

McCarthy told the farmers that “EPA is deeply committed to the RFS” and to the industry. “You might have heard that we are trying to shrink or kill this program, but the truth is we are committed to growing it,” she said. “The volumes we’ve proposed for 2015 and 2016 are designed to bust through any blend wall – even if you don’t believe it exists!”

McCarthy was invited to address the summer Corn Congress session by NCGA President Chip Bowling, a farmer from Newburg, Maryland. “I invited her to Corn Congress because I wanted farmers to hear from her directly,” said Bowling. “To her credit, she had the courage to show up and talk to farmers face to face.”

In her address, McCarthy also talked about the EPA’s Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, which is also a major issue of concern for corn farmers. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy at NCGA Corn Congress

Corn Growers Rally for RFS in DC

Hundreds of corn farmers from across America were in Washington D.C. today to rally for the cuts to corn ethanol in the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFs) to be overturned. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed cutting corn ethanol by 3.75 billion gallons through 2016. According to the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), which sponsored the rally, this represents nearly 1.5 billion in lost corn demand.

NCGA RFS Rally“Our message to the EPA is clear and unequivocal: Don’t mess with the RFS,” said NCGA Chairman Martin Barbre, a farmer from Carmi, Illinois. “We are gathered here today because we all understand what’s at stake.”

Barbre spoke with DomesticFuel.com from the Hill this afternoon and said that legislators really don’t understand how the RFS works. When corn growers and others who support the RFS sit down with them and their staff and walk them through the legislation, he explained, and get a better understanding that corn growers can meet the demand for food, fiber and fuel, they support the RFS returning to levels in which they were intended to be as set forth by the legislation.

Rally attendees heard from Senator Mark Kirk, Representative Tammy Duckworth, farmers, and ethanol industry leaders on the importance of ethanol to strengthening rural economies and protecting our environment and national security. Following the rally, corn farmers visited their congressional offices to spend some one-on-one time in dialogue about the RFS, its importance to rural America, and to assure them, stressed Barbre, that the industry will continue to meet and exceed national and global demands.

Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill) note during his rally remarks, “Illinois farmers export more than a billion bushels of corn annually. That is why I supported them on trade and will continue to support them in the fight for a fair Renewable Fuel Standard.”

Representative Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill) added, “American investors and consumers at the gas pump are better off supporting American jobs and access to clean, secure American energy, rather than Middle Eastern oil. As a veteran and a Member of the House Armed Services Committee, I see renewable, home-grown fuel as not only critical for our environment and our economy, but also as a national security imperative.”

To close the rally NCGA President Chip Bowling, a farmer from Newburg, Maryland, urged farmers to stand up and make their voice heard. “Now is the time for farmers to stand up for your farms, your families, your communities, and our country,” said Bowling. “We must hold Congress to its promises – and hold the EPA to the law.”

Hear more about the rally and why the EPA shouldn’t mess with the RFS by listening to my interview with Martin Barbre here: Martin Barbre RFS Rally Interview

Biodiesel Industry Testimony on RFS

While ethanol got most of the attention at the recent EPA hearing on proposed volume obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), biodiesel producers had their say as well.

At least two dozen biodiesel representatives from across the country testified at the hearing to thank EPA for increasing volumes in the latest proposal while at the same time calling for further growth in the final rule set to be released in November.

epa-hearing-jobe“The biodiesel industry can do much more to make the whole program stronger,” said National Biodiesel Board (NBB) CEO Joe Jobe in an interview at the hearing. “Biodiesel is the only domestic, fully commercialized, advanced biofuel and we’ve helped the advanced biofuel category meet its goals nearly every year of the program.”

Biodiesel falls under the Biomass-based Diesel category of the RFS, which is a subset of the overall Advanced Biofuels category. The EPA proposal would gradually raise biodiesel volumes by about 100 million gallons per year to a standard of 1.9 billion gallons in 2017. Because of biodiesel’s higher energy content, this would count as 2.95 billion ethanol equivalent gallons under the RFS. The overall Advanced Biofuel standard would rise to 3.4 billion ethanol equivalent gallons in 2016. NBB had requested more aggressive growth to a biodiesel standard of 2.7 billion gallons by 2017, along with additional growth in the overall Advanced Biofuel category.

Listen to Jobe explain more in this interview: Interview with Joe Jobe, NBB

EPA RFS Public Hearing photo album

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

Ethanol Report on RFS Hearing and Rally

rfs-worksHundreds of ethanol supporters turned out for a rally and public hearing in Kansas City, Kansas last week on the EPA’s proposed volume obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). In this edition of the Ethanol Report, we hear from some of those who attended.

ethanol-report-adThe report includes comments and testimony from Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) senior vice president Geoff Cooper, RFA chairman Randy Doyal of Al-Corn Clean Fuel in Minnesota, Jeff Oestmann of East Kansas Agri-Energy and Chris Grundler, Director of EPA’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality.

Listen to or download the Ethanol Report here: Ethanol Report from EPA RFS Hearing and Rally

Franklin Orr Shares Optimism for Bioenergy

Franklin OrrDr. Franklin Orr, Under Secretary for Science and Energy, U.S. Department of Energy, provided the keynote address at the recent BioEnergy 2015 Conference which took place in Washington, D.C. In his role, Dr. Orr is the principal advisor to the Secretary and Deputy Secretary on clean energy technologies and science and energy research initiatives.

“If there is any technology that we are working on that illustrates the facets of innovation that we are trying to foster, it’s bioenergy. It goes from the fundamental science side of the house, to development, to demonstration and deployment. And we have lots of activities going on in all these areas.”

Dr. Orr said he truly believes that biofuels are a very important part of America’s energy and economic future. He added that this is clear when you look at the global context of energy.

He mentioned a few examples which indicate broader global challenges that we are going to face. “Energy security is one of those, creating good paying jobs in the United States is very important for us and of course reducing the emissions that lead to climate change.” Dr. Orr admits these are all big challenges, but stresses that biofuels can help in each of these measures.

Listen to Dr. Franklin Orr’s complete remarks to learn more about the future role of biofuels when it comes to science and energy across the United States: Franklin Orr's Remarks

View the 2015 BioEnergy 2015 photo album. 

Sen Klobuchar: Time to Govern by Opportunity

Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) keynoted the opening session of the BioEnergy 2015: Opportunities in a Changing Energy Landscape conference in Washington, D.C. During her remarks, she noted it isn’t an easy time to be in Washington in terms of Sen Amy Klobuchar BioEnergy 2015energy policy and the country has “lost opportunities” in energy policy since 9-11.

Sen Klobuchar explained that in the summer of 2008, right before the downturn, energy legislation was pushed through but legislators were unable to push through a federal Renewable Electricity Standard (RES). Instead, President Obama, during the worst downturn since the Great Depression, opted to move forward with failed Cap and Trade legislation.

“We’ve been governing by crisis,” said Klobuchar who stressed that now is the moment to govern by opportunity. She quoted Pope Francis who recently released his Encyclical on climate change who asked, “What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us?” A better world, said Klobuchar.

Klobuchar ended her remarks focusing on ways the country can build on the progress of the past few years, including the success of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

Listen to Senator Amy Klobuchar’s remarks: Senator Amy Klobuchar Remarks

View the 2015 BioEnergy 2015 photo album.

(Note: two days after her presentation the EPA held a public comment hearing in Kansas City where hundreds of people from across the country came together to support the RFS. Coverage can be found here.)