Ethanol Report as Summer Begins

ethanol-report-adThe kickoff of summer this Memorial Day weekend finds beaches in Santa Barbara California closed as oil spreads off shore and workers try to clear up the mess left by the spill. Elsewhere, the oil industry continues to spread misinformation about ethanol, keeping RFA busy working to clear up misconceptions as fast as they happen.

In this Ethanol Report, Renewable Fuels Association president and CEO Bob Dinneen talks about a new report showing RIN credits have no impact on the price of gas, how E10 is safe for boaters, and when he expects to see the long overdue EPA proposal for volume obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Ethanol Report as Summer Begins

Novozymes Part of Global Bioenergy Initiative

sustainableA new UN Sustainable Energy for All initiative was announced this week with the goal of “doubling the global use of renewable energy and ensuring universal energy access by 2030.”

Co-chaired by the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials, the initiative includes Novozymes, a global technology provider for the biofuels industry, as a partner in the project to scale up the development and deployment of sustainable bioenergy solutions.

novozymes“With this initiative, we help bring together a diverse range of global frontrunners to advance the development and use of sustainable bioenergy in countries where the environmental and socio-economic benefits are greatest,” said Thomas Videbæk, Executive Vice President for Business Development with Novozymes. “It is a unique chance to involve governments, industry, financial institutions, academia, and civil society to identify opportunities where action on sustainable bioenergy can be accelerated.”

Accounting for nearly half of the global enzyme market, Novozymes has been a major player in the commercial development of cellulosic ethanol. “We produce the enzymes that help break down starch and make sugar available for first generation ethanol and we are working on a number of projects to help breakdown cellulosic material,” said Videbæk in an interview today with DomesticFuel.

Videbæk says next generation biofuels are considered “sustainable bioenergy” under the initiative’s High Impact Opportunity (HIO) goals. “I look at the biofuel area, be it first or second generation, as very sustainable forms of energy,” said Videbæk. “We certainly hope to see that continues going forward.”

Which is one of the reasons Novozymes wanted to be part of this initiative that they hope will help get some regulatory clarity regarding sustainable bioenergy around the world, including the United States. “And we can get politicians to commit to mandates and targets for this type of energy, because we believe that is for the best of the planet’s future,” Videbæk said.

In this interview, Videbæk explains much more about the new initiative and Novozymes’ role in it. Interview with Thomas Videbæk, Novozymes

Study Shows No RINS Impact on Gas Prices

fuelsA new statistical analysis prepared for the Renewable Fuels Association shows that retail gas prices remain unaffected by the “RIN credit” system under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

According to the analysis, conducted by Informa Economics, Inc., prices for “RIN credits” (Renewable Identification Numbers) used to demonstrate compliance with the RFS had no impact on retail gasoline prices from 2013 through the first quarter of 2015.

Instead, the analysis shows that “…a majority of gasoline price movements can be explained by crude oil prices.” In fact, the study found that gas prices in recent years have been driven almost entirely by crude oil prices and vehicle miles traveled.

RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen says the study “disproves the faulty assertion by oil industry trade groups that RINs somehow negatively influence consumer gas prices.”

“The bottom line is that RINs are free for refiners who purchase and blend required volumes of ethanol with gasoline,” said Dinneen. “Only those refiners who stubbornly refuse to blend required ethanol volumes have a need to buy separated RINs on the open market; and in the highly competitive gasoline marketplace, there is no way they can pass those costs on to consumers and remain competitive with refiners and blenders who are blending more ethanol than required.”

The new Informa analysis also supports the findings of an April study by former White House economic advisor James Stock, who concluded that “…there is negligible estimated effect of RIN prices on pump E10 prices.” Dinneen notes that Stock is a former Office of Management and Budget official who was involved with the approval of EPA’s proposal in November 2013 that called for scaling back the RFS. “I wish he had that revelation when he was at OMB,” said Dinneen.

Dinneen comments on the new analysis in this interview: RFA CEO on RINs/Gas Price Analysis

Ethanol Industry Launches RFS Campaign

fuels-rfs-adThe ethanol industry through Fuels America is launching a major advertising campaign in the nation’s capitol this week urging support for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) president and CEO Bob Dinneen says the campaign asks the EPA to choose whether to reward the oil industry for refusing to fulfill its obligations under the law, or to get the RFS back on track by proposing adequate Renewable Volume Obligation (RVO) levels. “We intend to make sure that the (EPA) administrator, members of Congress, and the president himself understand the very clear choice that will be made with this impending RVO decision,” said Dinneen during a morning press conference announcing the new campaign.

The campaign includes television advertising during morning news, Sunday morning talk shows, and cable television, as well as a digital campaign that includes a Politico homepage takeover, a Real Clear Politics Energy takeover, and banner ads on Roll Call’s Energy page.

“The question is, is EPA going to – for the first time – waive the RFS if the oil industry refuses to distribute renewable fuels?” said Advanced Ethanol Council executive director Brooke Coleman.

The campaign is in response to a letter from oil industry organizations to the EPA, and a responsive letter from biofuels industry leaders to the EPA last week. The letters agree on one thing: the EPA has a choice to make. Either choose to reward the oil industry for refusing to fulfill its obligations under the law, or choose to get the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) back on track by proposing Renewable Volume Obligation (RVO) levels that comport with the spirit and intent of the law.

Fuels America Campaign Launch

Senators Show Support for Biodiesel Industry

durbin-heidiSenator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) led a number of her Democratic colleagues in calling on Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to stop the continued delays of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) rule and highlighted the impact that the uncertainty of the past two years has had on biodiesel industry.

“We stand together as Democratic Senators who care about this industry, care about energy independence, care about farm country, and care about the diversity of our energy sources to plead with the President of the United States to participate in this discussion,” said Sen. Heitkamp. “If you really are serious about a diverse energy mix, why do what we’re doing to the biodiesel industry?”

Joining Sen. Heitkamp were Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Al Franken (D-MN), as well as biodiesel producers, who also stressed how the uncertainty caused by EPA’s misguided 2013 rule and delays on farmers and biodiesel workers.

adm-biodieselKent Engelbrecht, the manager of the biodiesel division at ADM, which has a biodiesel plant in Velva, North Dakota and is headquartered in Illinois, as well as Todd Ellis, vice president at Imperium Renewables near Seattle, Washington, discussed how the delays have impacted their own operations and others.

“2014 was poised to be a breakout year for biodiesel, until the 2014 RVO proposal intervened,” said Engelbrecht. “With the subsequent expiration of the biodiesel tax credit, we were forced to cease or slow production at all of our facilities.”

Listen to or download audio here: Comments from Senators and Biodiesel Industry on RFS Delays

The senators’ press conference was held as word came out Thursday that EPA has sent its new RFS volume obligation proposal, which is due to be released on June 1, on to the Office of Management and Budget for review.

National Biodiesel Board Vice President of Federal Affairs Anne Steckel thanked the senators for their support and was optimistic about news that EPA may be getting the RFS back on track. “What’s most important, however, is that we see volume growth in this pending proposal,” said Steckel. “The Obama Administration says regularly that it supports renewable fuels and wants America to lead, particularly in the development of Advanced Biofuels like biodiesel. This proposal will show if that’s true. The proof will be in the numbers.”

NBB Talks Biodiesel Issues with NAFB

ww15-nbbThe National Biodiesel Board (NBB) took part in the annual National Association of Farm Broadcasting Washington Watch this week to talk with reporters from around the country about issues important to the industry, number one being get the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) back on track.

“We hope that they not only get it back on track but get those volumes out there, they need to be higher,” said NBB Vice President of Federal Affairs Anne Steckel, speaking about EPA’s plan to release overdue volume obligations under the law by June. “EPA has said they want 2014 volumes to be actual production, so for our industry that would be about 1.75 billion gallons.”

Steckel says they hope EPA will add several hundred million gallons to that each year going forward to support industry growth.

In this interview with Agri-Pulse reporter Spencer Chase, Steckel also talks about the status of the biodiesel tax incentive. Interview with Anne Steckel, NBB

Ethanol Report from NAFB Washington Watch

ww15-dinneen-kenMembers of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting were on Capitol Hill this week for their annual Washington Watch, and the Renewable Fuels Association was once again pleased to participate. RFA president and CEO Bob Dinneen was interviewed by dozens of broadcasters from around the country addressing a number of different topics.

ethanol-report-adIn this edition of the Ethanol Report, Sabrina Hill of AgNet West in California talks with Bob about several issues, including the California Air Resources Board Low Carbon Fuel Standard, E15 legislation, and why RFA supports farm broadcasters.

Ethanol Report from NAFB Washington Watch

RFA CEO Talks RFS with NAFB

ww15-rfaMembers of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting (NAFB) are on Capitol Hill this week talking with lawmakers, administration officials, and industry organizations about topics important to agriculture, which include the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) president and CEO Bob Dinneen had some new information to share with broadcasters about support for the RFS among the general public. “We released a poll (Monday) that shows 62% of voters support the RFS, compared to only 18% that oppose it,” said Dinneen in an interview with Agri-Pulse reporter Spencer Chase. “I hope both EPA and the president and Congress are paying attention to what Joe Public wants.”

In this interview, Dinneen also discusses the proposed EPA timeline for releasing overdue volume requirements for the RFS. “Typically EPA doesn’t act until they absolutely have to so my expectation is that the clock will run until the very last second,” he said. Interview with Bob Dinneen, RFA CEO

USDA Presents Climate Change Initiative

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and presidential advisor Brian Deese visited Michigan State University Thursday to announce a comprehensive national strategy to partner with farmers, ranchers and forest land owners to address the threat of climate change. The new initiative, “Building Blocks for Climate Smart Agriculture & Forestry”, will utilize voluntary, incentive-based conservation, forestry, and energy programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase carbon sequestration and expand renewable energy production in the agricultural and forestry sectors.

climate-vilsack“American farmers and ranchers are leaders when it comes to reducing carbon emissions and improving efficiency in their operations. That’s why U.S. agricultural emissions are lower than the global average,” said Vilsack. “Through incentive-based initiatives, we can partner with producers to significantly reduce carbon emissions while improving yields, increasing farm operation’s energy efficiency, and helping farmers and ranchers earn revenue from clean energy production.”

Vilsack outlined details of the ten USDA Building Blocks for Climate Action, which includes promoting renewable energy technologies and improving energy efficiency. “We’ve incentivized the shift from fossil-based energy to renewable sources of energy in rural communities,” said Vilsack. “According to the 2012 Census of Agriculture, 57,299 farms reported using a renewable energy producing system in 2012. That’s more than double the 23,451 operations that reported the same in 2007.”

The Secretary also talked about the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) and the funding of anaerobic digesters to help farm operations produce electricity from captured methane.

Vilsack announcement on climate change initiative

Hillary Clinton Talks with Ethanol Supporters in Iowa

ARF-LogoDemocratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has been meeting with supporters around Iowa this week since declaring her candidacy on Sunday and Wednesday had private meeting with ethanol supporters to discuss the Renewable Fuel Standard.

Mrs. Clinton met with farmer leaders and America’s Renewable Future co-chair Patty Judge, former lieutenant governor and agriculture secretary for Iowa. “We had about an hour with her and had a very good discussion with her,” said Judge in an interview after the meeting. “I felt very good after our conversation.”

Judge says Clinton was very receptive. “I believe that she was supportive of the Renewable Fuel Standard and supportive of continuing the research and development in renewable fuel and renewable energy that we started here in Iowa.”

Clinton supported the RFS when she ran for president in 2007 and Judge expects that to be the case this time as well. “I would like to get her out to see an ethanol plant and see how it works and I think we’ll have that opportunity this summer,” said Judge.

Listen to my interview with Judge here: Interview with Patty Judge, America's Renewable Future co-chair