Ethanol Plays Key Role in Iowa Campaigning

caucusSen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) won the Republican ticket in Iowa last night with Donald Trump coming in second despite Cruz’s ambiguity on ethanol and the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). However, compared to the campaigning four years ago, ethanol has gained a significant amount of positive ground according to a press conference held by Growth Energy. The Iowa Caucus kicks off the beginning of the nomination process for the next U.S. president.

Tom Buis, co-chair of Growth Energy, noted on the call that the oil industry is calling the results proof that Iowans don’t care about ethanol. However, he says the facts are, “Over 80 percent of the votes yesterday in Iowa were cast for candidates that are in favor for the RFS.” The results find that there were more pro-RFS votes made in Iowa this year than in 2012.

For example, in 2012 in Iowa, anti-RFS candidate votes were cast for Ron Paul: 21.5 percent; Rick Perry: 10.4 percent; and Michele Bachmann: 5 percent for a total of 36.9 percent. Whereas in 2016, anti-RFS votes were for Ted Cruz: 27.7 percent and Rand Paul: 4.5 percent for a total of 32.2 percent.

According to Paul Tewes, political strategist, who has been a keen observer of the campaigning process, said he has never seen ethanol more talked about, perform better as a whole, or have a politician like Ted Cruz be more contorted about how to talk about it than this one. “This was a race here where ethanol was put on the map, where candidates had to talk about it and most of the candidates moved either completely for it, or the few that didn’t, moved towards it.”

He also noted that if Cruz is the Republican nominee, then he believes Democrats will take the state in November.

Monte Shaw, executive director for the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) added that the effort to support the RFS in Iowa has always been more than about one candidate. “It was about trying to get candidates to understand the reality of the support oil gets from the government and how the RFS cracks through that monopoly.”

To learn more about Iowa voter support for ethanol and the RFS, listen to the full press conference including the Q&A here: Iowa Caucus Results Press Conference

RFA: Cruz In But Ethanol Not Out

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) may have won in Iowa last night, but according to the Renewable Fuel Association (RFS), ethanol is not out. RFS President and CEO Bob Dinneen said that his win has created a narrative that presidential candidates campaigning in the state no longer have to voice support for ethanol or the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Dinneen said this is not the case.

“The narrative comrfalogo1ing out after last night’s Iowa caucus that the domestic ethanol industry is somehow on the ropes is false,” said Dinneen. “Many people seem to have forgotten that, in the run-up to last night’s caucus vote, though Sen. Cruz stated he was opposed to the RFS he also expressed support for ethanol as a fuel. In fact the senator has discussed the need to provide American consumers better access to ethanol fuels like E25 or E30, stating that they could prove to be quite popular with American consumers who are increasingly concerned about fuel economy. The senator also called ethanol an effective additive because it increases octane and decreases harmful tailpipe emissions. That doesn’t sound like someone to me who is writing off the domestic ethanol industry. That sounds to me like someone who is just being true to his no-mandates of any kind philosophy.”

Dinneen added, “Moreover, pundits anxious to write off ethanol’s potential currency in Iowa should note that more than 85 percent of the votes cast in Iowa last night were in support of candidates who continue to champion the RFS.”

Trestle Energy Receives CARB Pathway Approval

California-based Trestle Energy has received its pathway approval for the production of ethanol from California Air Resources Board (CARB) under the state’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS). Back in 2014, the company received approval by British Columbia.

Trestle Energy logo“We are pleased California has joined BC in approving our fuel pathways,” said James Rhodes, co-founder and president of Trestle Energy. “These pathways demonstrate the ability of American agriculture, industry, and ingenuity to both grow the economy and protect the environment. They also demonstrate the ability of ambitious environmental policies to stimulate innovation and drive down carbon emissions. We look forward to expanding our network of partners to ramp up deliveries for California consumers. We are excited to begin working with Oregon regulators in the coming year.”

According to the company, it’s goal is to apply the ethanol technology under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). EPA approval under the RFS would allow American ethanol producers to compete with foreign sugarcane ethanol imports, creating jobs and climate benefits here at home, says Rhodes, who also noted it would also enable American industries to start delivering on the climate commitments adopted last month in the Paris Agreement (COP21).

Growing Beyond the RFS to Drive Demand for Ethanol

After years of uncertainty, the final volumes for the amount of corn ethanol were announced late last year, and corn ethanol is essentially at its limit under the RFS, according to Doug Durante, Clean Fuels Development Coalition (CFDC) executive director.

Doug_Durante_CFDCDurante gave a recap of the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) and what it means for the ethanol industry during a Nebraska Ethanol Board meeting Jan. 21 in Lincoln. He discussed the regulatory roadblocks that, if eliminated, would open the market for higher ethanol blends.

“The RFS helped kick start the significant volumes of ethanol production we see today, but we cannot rely on the RFS to ensure a continued market,” Durante said. “The industry needs to grow beyond the RFS and create new, consumer-driven demand that capitalizes on the health benefits of ethanol’s clean octane and the ability to meet low-carbon fuel standards.”

Durante suggested that ethanol advocates find additional pathways to create market demand that allows the industry to move beyond the RFS volume obligations. He noted that eliminating the following burdens on ethanol would help create more opportunities for ethanol:

  • Removing unnecessary seasonal Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) restrictions
  • Raising the minimum octane for fuel
  • Enforcing limitations on levels of toxic aromatics in gasoline
  • Correcting the flawed EPA MOVES model and lifecycle analysis
  • Reinstating meaningful flex fuel vehicle (FFV) credits for vehicle manufacturers
  • Streamlining the certification of higher ethanol blends up to E30

“Given the restrictions and possible expiration of the RFS, the transition to more open and free ethanol markets must begin now,” explained Durante. “Ethanol production and utilization has only scratched the surface of its potential.”

Reynolds, Naig Highlight Fueling Our Future 100

During the 10th Annual Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit, Iowa Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds, along with Mike Naig, deputy secretary of agriculture, highlighted the new “Fueling Our Future 100” program. In round one, the program has allocated $2.49 million dollars to help Iowa gas retailers install 107 blender pumps and 8 underground storage tanks to store high blends of ethanol. Naig said applications for the 2nd round of funding are due February 1, 2016.

Kim Reynolds and Mike NaigReynolds noted that each blender pump installed benefits Iowa’s agricultural economy and supports good jobs for Iowa families. Adding blender pumps also gives consumers more choices at the pump, she added.

“Thanks to the support of our federal partners at the USDA, the ‘Fueling our Future 100’ program is going to ensure that consumers in our state have greater access to biofuels.  We’re appreciative of companies like Five Star Coop, New Century Farm Services, Kum & Go, STAR Energy and Three Rivers Farm Services Company for their efforts in continuing to put Iowa on the forefront of an even greater renewable future.”

The  Fueling Our Future 100 received a $5 million competitive grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership (BIP) program.  All funds must be matched by non-federal funds, including up to $2.5 million from the Iowa Renewable Fuels Infrastructure program. The fueling sites applying for assistance will also be required to provide a minimum of $2.5 million.

Listen to Iowa Lt. Governor Kim Reynold’s remarks here: IA Lt Gov Kim Reynolds' Remarks

Listen to Iowa Ag Deputy Secretary Mike Naig’s remarks here: Mike Naig's Remarks

10th Annual Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit Photo Album

Iowa Delegation Urges EPA to Get RFS on Track

The entire Iowa congressional delegation this week urged the EPA to propose 2017 ethanol and 2018 biodiesel Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) Renewable Volume Obligations (RVOs) consistent with enacted law.

A letter signed by Iowa Congressmen David Young, Rod Blum, Steve King, and Dave Loebsack, and Iowa Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst, was sent to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy encouraging her to commit to getting the RFS back on track.

“Our agricultural base in Iowa, serving as feedstock for ethanol and biodiesel production, has near record supplies of excess corn,” the members of Congress wrote. “We believe the statutory levels are more than achievable in the coming year.”

irfa-iowa-delegationReps. Loebsack, Young and King all appeared Tuesday at the Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit to discuss the letter and the importance of the RFS.

“We’ll see if we get any results,” from the letter, said Rep. King. “But we’ve been saying consistently and persistently that the RFS is in statute – follow it.”

“It’s not totally out of the question for us to work together,” said Loebsack, the only Democrat of the three. “And on this issue it’s a complete no brainer … it’s about our economy, it’s about our farmers, it’s about national security, it’s about a lot of things.”

“We have farm income down about 35% and we have the EPA which seems to be on a warpath at times,” said Young. “We’re just asking the EPA to obey the law.”

Listen to the press conference here: Iowa congressmen at Iowa RFA

10th Annual Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit Photo Album

Great Green Fleet Deployed

vilsack-navy-fleetSecretary of the Navy Ray Mabus and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack kicked off the Great Green Fleet with the deployment of the USS John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group (JCS CSG) during a ceremony Wednesday in California. At the end of the ceremony, the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Stockdale left the pier to begin its deployment, becoming the first U.S. Navy ship running on an alternative fuel blend as part of its regular operations.

The Great Green Fleet is a Department of the Navy initiative using energy efficiency and alternative fuels to increase combat capability and operational flexibility. “The Great Green Fleet shows how we are transforming our energy use to make us better warfighters, to go farther, stay longer, and deliver more firepower,” said Mabus. “Diversifying our energy sources arms us with operational flexibility and strengthens our ability to provide presence, turning the tables on those who would use energy as a weapon against us.”

The blend fueling the Navy ships contains alternative fuel made from waste beef fat provided by farmers in the Midwest purchased through a partnership between the Navy and USDA. “The Navy’s use of renewable energy in the Great Green Fleet represents its ability to diversify its energy sources, and also our nation’s ability to take what would be a waste product and create homegrown, clean, advanced biofuels to support a variety of transportation needs,” said Secretary Vilsack. “Today’s deployment proves that America is on its way to a secure, clean energy future, where both defense and commercial transportation can be fueled by our own hardworking farmers and ranchers, reduce landfill waste, and bring manufacturing jobs back to rural America.”

The advanced fuel blend was produced by California-based AltAir Fuels from a feedstock of beef tallow – waste beef fat – provided by Midwest farmers and ranchers, and traditional petroleum provided by Tesoro. Pursuant to Navy requirements, the alternative fuel is drop-in, meaning it requires no changes to ship engines, transport or delivery equipment, or operational procedures.

Iowa Governor Blasts Ted Cruz Over Ethanol

irfa-branstadIowa Governor Terry Branstad made national headlines Tuesday at the Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit with his comments about presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) during an impromptu press conference.

“He is heavily financed by Big Oil,” Branstad said about Cruz. “I think it would be very damaging to our state…and I think it would be a big mistake for Iowa to support him.”

Branstad noted that Senator Cruz was not invited to speak at the renewable fuels summit specifically because of his views on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). “That’s the reason why he hasn’t been invited to this because he hasn’t supported renewable fuels,” said Branstad. “He still supports immediately repealing the Renewable Fuel Standard.” Branstad added that Cruz is “against the wind energy tax credit as well.”

Listen to Branstad’s comments here: Gov. Branstad comments on Ted Cruz

Governor Branstad addressed the 10th Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit, which he has done almost every year that the event has been held. “I have supported ethanol and biodiesel from the very beginning,” he said. Gov. Branstad at Iowa RFA summit

10th Annual Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit Photo Album

Secy Vilsack: Continue to Tout Biofuel Benefits

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack, spent the morning back in his home state of Iowa (Vilsack is a former Iowa Governor) to kick off the 10th Annual Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit. He began his remarks by saying its great to be back in Iowa and great to be back in front of folks who understand the importance of the renewable fuels industry. He also mentioned he is proud of the work the USDA has done to help expand the industry.

The key focus on his speech was the amount of people, both consumers and legislators, who don’t see the benefits of this industry the way we see them, who are attacking the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) in the courts, and attacking the Renewable Fuel Standard in the halls of Congress. “But we continue to point out to those who oppose this industry, the benefits of the country.”USDA Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack during 10th Annual Iowa Summit

For example, the ethanol industry has helped reduce the price of gas at the pump, even as gas prices go down, and given consumers choice at the pump. He also noted biofuels benefit the farm and rural communities, and help to reduce the trade deficit.

Vilsack discussed several of the programs the USDA has implemented to help grow and improve the industry including the Biomass Assistance Program, Biomass Research Centers and Loan Guarantees. But he said he was most excited of the new markets that are being developed. He also highlighted the Farms to Fly program that is looking at producing renewable biofuels for the aviation and shipping industry as well as biofuels for our military.

We need consumers to understand that every time they go to the pump, they are helping the industry. He also stressed the importance of the blender pump program and continuing to bring more mid-level blends to consumers.

In closing, Vilsack said expanding the renewable fuels industry is more than just the benefits (choice at pump, environment, national security, etc.). “It’s really about preserving the value system of rural America. This is an industry that allows us the process of diversifying the opportunities in rural America, to support production agriculture, to expand the biobased economy…so that we have more stable farm income and we give people opportunities to live, work and raise their families in rural areas. That is important to me.”

Listen to USDA Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack’s full remarks: Vilsack Remarks During IRFA Summit

10th Annual Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit Photo Album

IRFA’s Shaw: We Will Not Retreat

“Today, Iowa’s renewable fuels industry – the entire renewable fuels industry quite frankly – is at a fork in the road. We must decide whether to retreat, or whether to fight for victory. I know we will not retreat. It is simply not in the farmers DNA. So we fight,” said Monte Shaw, executive director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) during the opening session of the 10th Annual Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit referring to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). This legislation, said Shaw, is the key to long-term success of renewable fuels.

IRFA Executive Director Monte Shaw“I know the renewable fuels industry will not waiver or retreat or surrender,” said Shaw. “It will continue to battle for market access and to tear down the bogus ‘blend wall.’ I know this because the renewable fuels industry has fought the odds for 35 years – and won.”

He continued, “Keeping the RFS intact is key to near term biodiesel growth, the ability for cellulosic ethanol to have a chance to develop, and to pulling corn ethanol above 15 billion gallons per year. When the RFS finally breaches the artificial blend wall and major markets add the distribution infrastructure necessary for E15, ethanol use won’t increase by just that prescribed amount. Once the hole is in the dam, the octane value of corn ethanol will burst through – pulled by the RFS just as certainly as cellulosic ethanol and biodiesel.”

He also noted there is not a consensus to repeal nor modify the RFS in D.C. Do buy in to the narrative and choose the path of retreat because Big Oil is trying to win, he added.

To view Shaw’s selected prepared remarks, click here.