NFU Highlights RFS Success

Organizations are still reacting to the letter sent by 184 Congressman, including some for top corn producing states, calling on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reduce the volumes of corn-based ethanol blended into America’s fuel supply as part of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The EPA has sent their final rule drafts to the Office of Budget and Management (OMB) and the rules are expected to be released by November 30, 2015.

National Farmers Union logo“The RFS has been an unqualified success since its passage in 2005,” said Roger Johnson, president of the National Farmers Union (NFU), in a letter to President Obama. “Wavering from our commitment to the RFS would be a grave mistake for both America’s family farmers and this nation as a whole. We urge you to reject Big Oil’s talking points and stay the course on the RFS.”

Last week NFU released the results of a poll that showed that released a poll that showed popularity and support for political candidates that support the Renewable Fuel Standard within a majority of rural congressional districts in which the poll was conducted.

Johnson stressed in the letter that the RFS has boosted incomes for family farmers while making strides in mitigating climate change through the use of biofuels. He noted that climate change is a threat to both farmers’ operatons and, in turn, the nation’s food security.

“The RFS has helped family farmers and the nation make tangible steps toward mitigating our impact on climate change by driving the U.S. to make real reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions,” Johnson wrote in the letter. “Corn ethanol reduces GHG emissions by 34 percent, and more substantial gains can be made through new types of biofuels.”

Johnson noted that, unfortunately, most popular public policies face a small but vocal group of critics, and the RFS is no different. Continue reading

ARF Releases 2016 Prez Candidate Midterm Report

America’s Renewable Future (ARF) released a 2016 Presidential Candidate midterm report card today during a press call putting candidates into three categories: good, needs work and bad. Scores were based on the candidates’ support of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and ethanol in particular. Candidates who received good grades included Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump (who is visiting an ethanol plant in Gowrie, Iowa this week), Bernie Sanders, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, Chris Christie, Lindsay Graham, George Pataki, and Martin O’Malley.

The midterm report was published to serve as a guide for voters come February 1, 2016 to understand where candidates stand on biofuels.

Photo Credit: Joanna Schroeder

Photo Credit: Joanna Schroeder

“Ethanol and the RFS are top concerns for Iowa caucus-goers and Americans everywhere, because renewable fuel like ethanol is making America cleaner, stronger, and more secure,” said ARF Co-Chair Rep. Annette Sweeney in a press release following the press call. “We will make sure Iowans know where candidates stand, and ensure all of our supporters see this report card.” The RFS enjoys broad support from Iowa’s Democrat and Republican caucus-goers, with 76% and 61% respectively saying in a recent poll that they would be more likely to support a candidate who is pro-RFS.

For a candidate to receive a “good” score, he or she must have demonstrated consistent support for the RFS and Iowa farmers. A “needs work” candidate is one is has given inconsistent and undefiend positions on the RFS. These include: Marcio Rubio, Jeb Bush, Carly Fiorina and John Kasich. A “bad” candidate is one who has stood against Iowa Farmers and the RFS and includes Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Bobby Jindal.

“The midterm report card is not the final word, but it puts everyone on notice that Iowans can see whether candidates are preparing to stand with them or against them,” added Sweeney. “We will be releasing a final report card in January, when the middle category will be gone and candidates will either be designated as with us or against us.”

ARF State Director Eric Brandstad said during the press call that ARF plans to notify their list of 45,000 supporters and other allies about these results at ethanol plant caucus trainings, phone calls from field staff, and other one-on-one grassroots efforts. In addition, ARF will utilize a mix of paid media tactics including direct mail, digital, and radio advertisements and Brandstad said they also plan to release caucus instructional videos.

Listen to the press conference audio here: ARF Midterm Candidate Report Score Card Press Conference

DuPont to Buy Dyadic Enzyme Business

DuPont’s Industrial Biosciences is purchasing Dyadic International’s Industrial Technology business. The two companies have entered into a definitive agreement that will sell Dyadic’s enzyme business to DuPont for $75 million in cash. Once the transaction is complete, Dyadic plans to focus solely on its biopharmaceutical business. The deal is expected to close by the end of 2015 pending approval by a majority of Dyadic’s stockholders and customary closing conditions.

Dyadic logoMark Emalfarb, Dyadic’s founder and CEO, said, “This transaction is an exceptional opportunity to unlock value and provide Dyadic operational flexibility to further develop our pharmaceutical business. We will now focus our C1 technology exclusively on the pharmaceutical sector where we believe it has the potential to help develop and manufacture drugs and vaccines faster and more efficiently than existing production systems.”

Dyadic will sell to DuPont substantially all of its enzyme and technology assets, including its C1 platform, a technology for producing enzyme products used in a broad range of industries. As part of the transaction, DuPont has granted back to Dyadic co-exclusive rights to the C1 technology for use in human and animal pharmaceutical applications, with exclusive ability to enter into sub-license agreements in that field. However, DuPont will retain certain rights to utilize the C1 technology for development and production of pharmaceutical products, for which it will make royalty payments to Dyadic upon commercialization.

“We are very proud of the C1 platform and our team responsible for its development over the past decade,” added Michael Tarnok, Dyadic’s Chairman. “We are pleased to be able to provide liquidity and increased value to our stockholders and look forward to building our pharmaceutical business.”

Ethanol Industry Takes Clean Energy Mission to India

A team from the U.S. including the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Growth Energy, U.S. Grains Council (USGC) and the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) recently returned from a clean energy mission to India. Led by USDA Undersecretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Micheal Scuse, the group met to discuss opportunities for developing clean energy solutions, technologies and policies. An additional goal of the mission was to strengthen the level of cooperation and coordination between the ethanol industries of the two countries.

logosDuring a series of meetings that involved ethanol producers, oil companies and government officials, the U.S. participant group of seven received an in-depth look at the local industry’s situation and outlook. There were extensive discussions on India’s economy, political environment, energy sector, and the role of government policy as a driver of the ethanol industry’s growth.

“Macroeconomic factors like population growth, continuing urbanization and increases in disposable income mean India is poised to use more gasoline and diesel fuels,” said USGC Past Chairman Ron Gray, who was part of the group representing the U.S. industry. “Given the negative effect that petroleum-based gasoline has on air quality, we feel that the expanded use of ethanol as an oxygenate can help India reduce smog and carbon emissions in this rapidly growing developing country, particularly in its cities.”

Ed Hubbard, general counsel for RFA said of the trip, “America’s commitment to using ethanol in our fuel has made it possible for our nation’s busiest cities to dramatically reduce levels of smog and other harmful tail-pipe emissions. By sharing our experiences with our friends here in India, we believe we can help them significantly improve the country’s air quality.”

In 2014, India imported $86 million of industrial ethanol mostly from the U.S. and Brazil and USGC expects imports to rise potentially researching $150-200 million in 2015. Even accounting for this level of growth, the U.S. ethanol industry believes there is still room for growth, especially in the transportation market. According to a press release sent out from the U.S. delegation, this view was echoed by India’s sugar and ethanol sector during last week’s meetings, with the country seeking ways to increase their blend rates from current low levels as a means to improving air quality while supporting India’s sugar producers.

Continue reading

IRFA Updates Look, Website

Iowa RFA logo-newThe Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) has updated their brand look including a enhance logo and website with additional features that includes more consumer-friendly information about biofuels.

Some of the key website updates include:

  • Enhanced Homepage: Sleek, responsive web design with larger images, a comprehensive menu option, and quick links to take you to the latest and greatest on renewable fuels.
  • Fueling Your Vehicle Center: A dedicated page for motorists, complete with fuel recommendations based on vehicle types, and Iowa E15, E85 and biodiesel fueling station finders.
  • Retailer Center: If you’re a fuel retailer looking to gain a competitive advantage with renewable fuel blends, this is the place for you. Information on fuels, state tax credits, and more are just one click way.
  • Resources and Statistics: Improved stats on the production and benefits of renewable fuels like ethanol and biodiesel, as well as other great informational resources.

IRFA Communications Director T.J. Page said of the refreshed brand, “With so much attention on renewable fuels, we’ve redesigned our website and refreshed our logo to better serve audiences of all backgrounds. Along with an updated, responsive web design, we’ve added new features like an Iowa E15, E85, and biodiesel fuel station finder, a consumer center to address questions about fueling with biofuels, and an enhanced retailer center aimed at aiding Iowa retailers in their search to find a competitive advantage with renewable fuels blends. A lot has changed with the IRFA website, but what has stayed the same is it’s still a great resource for all things renewable fuels.”

In other news, IRFA is hosting its 10th Annual Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit, free for to attend and open to the public, taking place January 19, 2016 at The Meadows Conference Center at Prairie Meadows in Altoona, Iowa. Two key topics of discussion will be the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and the upcoming Iowa Caucuses. Online registration is now open.

NCGA Disappointed in Congress’ Lack of RFS Support

The National Corn Growers Association is “deeply disappointed” that Members of Congress who represent corn-producing states have sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requesting a reduction in the volume of corn-ethanol blended into the fuel supply as required by the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The letter was signed by 184 Members of Congress and according to Open Secrets, collectively, these legislators have received $39 million from the oil industry throughout their careers.

Photo credit Joanna Schroeder

Photo credit Joanna Schroeder

“I’m disappointed to see Members of Congress turn their back on farmers and rural communities,” said Wesley Spurlock, First Vice President of the National Corn Growers and a farmer from Stratford, Texas. The Renewable Fuel Standard has been one of the most successful energy policies ever enacted. The RFS works. It has reduced our dependence on foreign oil. It has made the rural economy stronger. And it has been better for the environment. It’s puzzling that these Representatives would not want to support it.”

On November 4, 2015, the House members made a request to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to reduce the Renewable Volume Obligation (RVO) for corn-based ethanol, the amount of biofuels blended into the transportation fuel supply each year. NCGA states that this action would violate congressional statue. The organization cites an article from Bloomberg News that claims that the initial drafts of the congressional letter were written by an oil industry lobbyist.

“This letter has Big Oil’s fingerprints all over it,” continued Spurlock. “The letter includes false attacks on ethanol that have been disproven time and again. The blend wall is a false construct. We have known from the beginning that eventually we would need higher blends of ethanol to meet the statutory requirements. That was the point: to replace fossil fuels with renewables. The oil industry doesn’t want to hear that. That’s why they have spent hundreds of millions of dollars trying to repeal the RFS, even to the point of having their lobbyists write this letter.”

Also responding to the letter was Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA). “It should come as no surprise that, as the November 30th deadline for the EPA to issues its final rule on the 2014-2016 RVOs looms, the Big Oil spin machine has gone into overdrive and the petroleum industry is pulling out all the stops in an attempt to confuse the public and mislead policymakers about this important program. The fact that members of Congress are parroting Big Oil’s blend wall narrative is shameful evidence that money talks. Continue reading

Texas A&M Developing Biofuel, Forage Crop

jessupamResearchers at Texas A&M University are developing a crop that will double as a bioenergy and livestock forage source. This news release from the school says Dr. Russ Jessup, a Texas A&M AgriLife Research perennial grass breeder in College Station, is introducing a new biofuel-biomass feedstock hybrid that is a hybrid “similar to seedless watermelons, seedless grapes and other sterile triploid crops.”

Jessup is utilizing two grass species: pearl millet, a grain crop, and Napier grass, which is a very high-biomass crop that can be crossed to make progeny that are sterile triploids in the field.

“This is a dual-use crop with a low seed cost, high yield potential and quality perennial biomass suitable for both forage and dedicated biofuels,” he said. “So in light of current downtrends in oil prices, this crop can stand on its own as a forage crop in the interim, until that reverses.”

As a high-quality forage crop, Jessup said, it is sterile in the field but has seeded parents, unlike sugarcane that has to be planted from stocks.

To produce this hybrid he started with the larger seeded but shorter pearl millet to give it quality, large seeds and drought tolerance. Pearl millet is native to Africa and can be more drought tolerant than even sorghum, he said.

Then he crossed it with Napier grass, a closely related cousin of pearl millet that is grown in Africa for cut-and-carry silage and high biomass fodder.

“You can cross these two species and get ample seed off of the pearl millet parent,” Jessup said.

28 COP21 Countries Using Biofuels for CO2 Reduction

According to a new report from the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), 28 countries attending the climate talks in Paris in December have submitted carbon reduction strategies that use biofuels to help meet goals. Not included in this number? The U.S. despite its Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The RFA report found that America’s action plan did not acknowledge the important roles biofuels have played in significantly reducing GHG emissions from the transportation sector over the past decade.

RFA-RFS COP21 report coverThe report notes that transportation-related emissions, which account for 27 percent of total U.S. GHG emissions, have “steadily trended downward since adoption of the RFS, and current levels are 10 percent below 2005 levels.” The report also notes that both the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Energy (DOE) cite that the use of biofuels has had a positive net impact on reducing GHG emissions.

“It is unquestionable that biofuels have delivered substantial GHG emissions reductions from the transportation sector over the past decade,” said RFA’s President and CEO, Bob Dinneen. “And these emissions reductions would not have been possible without the adoption of the RFS. Inexplicably, the United States’ initial submission to COP21 completely ignores past GHG reductions and the future promise of even greater reductions as the RFS drives further improvements in biofuels technologies.”

Dinneen continued, “It is ironic that the climate talks will take place just as EPA is due to release its final rule on the 2014-2016 RVOs. If EPA sticks to its initial proposal, it will roll back the single most successful climate change program the world has ever seen. The administration wants to be viewed as a leader on climate change; then it must do what nearly 30 other countries who are attending COP21 plan on doing and embrace, not ignore, biofuels.”

President Obama is heading to Paris later this month to participate in some preliminary discussions prior to COP21. In tandem with this visit, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and GREEN FOR ALL released a poll that found two-thirds of African Americans believe global warming is a serious program and want more action to curb its effects including increased used of clean energy technologies.

NFU Poll: Rural Voters Support the RFS

On a press conference call yesterday, the National Farmers Union (NFU), released a poll that showed popularity and support within rural congressional districts for political candidates that support the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). NFU President Roger Johnson said that the poll demonstrates the importance of the Obama Administration getting the RFS back on track as it sets the RFS volume obligations for 2014-2016, due out by the end of this month.

National Farmers Union logoJohnson noted that support for the RFS outweighed opposition in five out of the six districts surveyed by the poll. “Rural America seems to have taken note of the measurable gains in climate change resiliency, energy independence and the rejuvenation of rural economies across the country that are directly attributable to the RFS.”

When asked if this meant Democrats were also supportive of the RFS, Andrew Drechsler, president of HaystaqDNA a “democratic-centric” firm who conducted the poll, responded that the poll findings are very important for moderates, who the poll found support the RFS. “One thing that could make a difference on the position of the leadership is this issue, and for the Democrats, that’s the president,” he said during the press call.

Johnson added, “Self-identified moderates constituted 39 percent of the electorate surveyed in the poll, and by a two-to-one margin, these voters said that support for the RFS will make them more likely to vote for a congressional candidate versus voters who say it will make them less likely to support that candidate.” In other words, RFS support among voters is bi-partisan.

This poll, along with several other RFS polls released over the past few weeks all demonstrate a strong support for the RFS – even among city-dwelling voters.

The take-away? Johnson summed it up: “The RFS is a rare issue that cuts across party lines and deals directly with rural economics. This poll demonstrates the importance of the RFS to rural voters. The President, both because it is the right public policy and it is the right political move in rural America, needs to show his support for a strong RFS. And that begins by issuing volume obligations that comply with the RFS statute.”

Listen to the press conference audio here: NFU RFS Poll Press Conference

Hail a “Clean Energy” Beltway Taxi

People hailing taxis in the Beltway will be riding with “clean energy”. Well, not actually. (But wouldn’t that be awesome?) The clean energy will be in the form of an ad running on screen inside the cabs sponsored by Americans for Energy Security and Innovation. The ad highlights President Obama’s “hypocrisy” on promoting clean energy – a message the group wants the country to hear as President Obama heads to Paris for a global conference on climate change at the end of November. As is stands today, pro-biofuel groups are calling on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to stop gutting the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and reverse its proposed 2014, 2015 and 2016 fuels to increase the amount of renewable fuels mandated across all categories.

“Regardless of your position on climate change, it’s clear that President Obama is talking out of both sides of his mouth on renewable energy. Despite his environmental rhetoric, the Obama Administration has tried to gut the Renewable Fuel Standard – the only successful federal law that has effectively promoted clean fuels that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The President’s stunning hypocrisy has undermined his credibility and proven that he cannot be trusted to keep his word and follow through on his promises,” said American for Energy Security and Innovation Chairman and former United States Senator Jim Talent.