To EPA – Get the RFS Back on Track

The biofuels industry is reacting to what is being called an “unfriendly” hearing being held tomorrow by the Senate Homeland Security Committee as well as to a press briefing held earlier today by the American Petroleum Institute (API), who industry supporters say is janetmccabe-thseeking a means to end the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The hearing, “Re-examining EPA’s Management of the Renewable Fuel Standard Program,” will be focused on examining EPA’s management of the RFS and features only one speaker: Janet McCabe, acting assistant administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation.

API this morning argued against the RFS by once again raising concerns over the EPA biofuel mandates warning “that higher ethanol mandates could damage vehicles and raise food costs.” Corn prices are spiraling downward and are the lowest seen in over two years despite growing ethanol use as noted Wisconsin corn farmer Cal Dalton during a Fuels America press conference this afternoon.

Dalton was joined by Ohio corn grower Fred Yoder and Bob Dinneen, CEO and president of the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), who said during the call, “There is nothing wrong with the RFS that can’t be fixed by what is right with the RFS.” He continued by saying new legislation is not needed, but rather, the EPA needs to review the statute and put the program in place that Congress established.

Participants on the call also discussed how legislative changes to the RFS will threaten America’s security, consumer choice, climate and rural economies. They also provided insight on EPA’s proposed renewable fuel obligations (RVOs) and they reacted to the claims put forth during the API media call.

The media conference was also a preview of the RFS public hearing taking place in Kansas City, Kansas on June 25, 2015 where EPA representatives will hear comments on the proposed rules for 2014, 2015, 2016 and the proposed 2017 RFS standard for biomass-based diesel. More than 250 people have already submitted requests to speak during the event. DomesticFuel will be covering the event live that begins at 9:00 am CT and will be held at Jack Reardon Center, 520 Minnesota Avenue, Kansas City, Kansas 66101.

To learn more about the ethanol industry’s call to the EPA to get back on track, listen to the Fuels America press conference here: Fuels America RFS Hearing Presser

Clinton Campaign Announcement Highlights Biofuels

hillary-2016Hillary Clinton seems to understand the importance in courting the biofuels vote, especially in Iowa, as she officially kicked off her presidential campaign. America’s Renewable Future (ARF) noted her support for advanced biofuels as part of making America a clean energy superpower.

“…We will make America the clean energy superpower of the 21st century [by] developing renewable power—wind, solar, advanced biofuels; building cleaner power plants, smarter electric grids, greener buildings; using additional fees and royalties from fossil fuel extraction to protect the environment,” said Clinton at the New York rally.

“Sec. Clinton has shown great insight and leadership on the issue of advanced biofuels and she clearly understands that renewable fuel is a key component of a 21st century energy policy,” said former Lt. Gov. and ARF Co-Chair, [Democrat] Patty Judge, “Renewable fuel supports over 852,000 American jobs, reduces our dependence on foreign oil, and gives consumers cleaner, less expensive choices at the pump.”

“We are grateful for her recognition of the role biofuels can play in our energy development, but the key to success for advanced biofuels is a partnership with first generation biofuels,” added Judge, “We invite Sec. Clinton to tour a plant and learn how we only fulfill the promise of advanced biofuels by having a strong corn ethanol industry.”

Clinton had recently penned an op-ed for the Cedar Rapids Gazette calling to get the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) back on track.

Nebraska Governor Visits Novozymes

Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts wrapped up his first agricultural trade mission this week with a visit to Novozymes world headquarters in Denmark, where a company tour showcased the production of unique enzymes and microbial products used in the animal nutrition, agriculture, and biofuels industries.

Novozymes CEO Peder Holk Nielsen welcomes Nebraska Gov. Ricketts

Novozymes CEO Peder Holk Nielsen welcomes Nebraska Gov. Ricketts

While at Novozymes, Gov. Ricketts and the United States Ambassador to Denmark hosted a roundtable on renewable fuels and bio-products where Nebraska delegates “showcased the dynamic interaction between the corn, cattle, and ethanol sectors and their important roles in Nebraska’s success in agriculture.”

Industry representatives presented U.S. market trends and regulations to the group, with a focus on co-products, revenue opportunities, and biorefinery developments. In addition to the governor, Nebraska roundtable participants included Department of Economic Development Director Brenda Hicks-Sorensen, KAAPA President and Nebraska Ethanol Board representative Paul Kenny, Green Plains Energy COO Jeff Briggs and Bret Wyant with American Laboratories. European company executives included representatives from Novozymes, Dong Energy, Leifmark, Renew Energy, DuPont, and the U.S. Embassy.

The Governor and mission members also met with Novozymes CEO Peder Holk Nielsen and Executive Vice Presidents of Business Development and Supply Operations Thomas Videbaek and Thomas Nagy to discuss business development and international expansion. Ricketts says the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) was a concern as they discussed expansion plans in the United States. “With the EPA changing the rule, pulling the rug out from under our ethanol producers, by changing the RFS they’ve created uncertainty,” said Ricketts. “That uncertainty is impacting Novozymes as it’s impacting the rest of the industry.”

Novozymes opened its newest advanced manufacturing plant in Blair, Nebraska to make enzymes for biofuels production in 2012 in part because of strong policies like the RFS.

Listen to the governor’s summary of the trade trip here:Neb. Gov Pete Ricketts on trade trip wrap up

USDA Taking Apps for Biofuels Infrastructure Funding

USDA logoUSDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) is now accepting applications in 50 states, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C. for up to $100 million in grants under the Biofuels Infrastructure Partnership (BIP). The funding is to support the infrastructure needed to make more renewable fuel options available to American consumers. The Farm Service Agency will administer BIP.

Through BIP, USDA will award competitive grants, matched by states, to expand the infrastructure for distribution of higher blends of renewable fuel. These competitive grants are available to assist states, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C. with infrastructure funding. States that offer funding equal to or greater than that provided by the federal government will receive higher consideration for grant funds. States may work with private entities to enhance their offer.

CCC funds must be used to pay a portion of the costs related to the installation of fuel pumps and related infrastructure dedicated to the distribution of higher ethanol blends, for example E15 and E85, at vehicle fueling locations. The matching contributions may be used for these items or for related costs such as additional infrastructure to support pumps, marketing, education, data collection, program evaluation and administrative costs.

This new investment seeks to double the number of fuel pumps capable of supplying higher blends of renewable fuel to consumers. This will expand markets for farmers, support rural economic growth and the jobs that come with it, and ultimately give consumers more choices at the pump.

Nebraska Governor Talks Biofuels in Europe

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts and ag delegation meet with officials in Brussels

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts and ag delegation meet with officials in Brussels

Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts is on an agricultural trade mission trip to the European Union with stops in Italy, Belgium, and Denmark. The trade mission, being coordinated jointly by the Nebraska Departments of Agriculture and Economic Development, includes a number of representatives from the state’s agriculture and biofuels industry.

“As the number two ethanol producer in the country, we have a big interest in seeing what we can do with ethanol and one of the concerns in the industry is being able to export,” said Ricketts during a conference call with reporters on Friday from Brussels. “We’re just starting the conversion with regard to how we can expand that and export our ethanol into the European Union.”

In Brussels, the trade team met with executives from Ghent Port Company, TOTCO, Sygenta Brussels, and a consultant for Belgian Biodiesel Board to promote Nebraska’s biofuels industry and build relations between firms in Europe and the U.S.

Neb. Gov Pete Ricketts discusses biofuels in Europe

New Solenis’ Antibiotic-free Ethanol Fermentation Aids

Solenis announced during the recent Fuel Ethanol Workshop (FEW) the launch of a novel family of antibiotic-free fermentation aids to help ethanol producers improve efficiency of the ethanol production process. The aids also, said Solenis, will address consumer concerns about antibiotics in the food chain. While the ethanol produced from an ethanol production plant is not ingested, one byproduct is distillers grains (DDGs), an animal feed. Solenis said today’s typical fermentation processes control undesirable microorganisms using antibiotics, which remain in the resulting distillers grains. The company also launched a scale inhibitor during #FEW15.

“As consumer demands and regulatory requirements continue to become more stringent, current antimicrobials, and specifically antibiotics, may be further subject to maximum contaminate limits,” said Allen Ziegler, global biorefining marketing 18244022139_9ed6c4e7fc_zdirector. “As a result, our new fermentation aids give fuel ethanol producers more tools to address undesirable microorganisms without antibiotics, while helping them boost production and satisfy consumers at the same time.”

According to Solenis, their family of fermentation aids, which includes three patented and patent-pending products, significantly enhances the ability of yeast to compete with undesirable microorganisms in the critical initial stages of propagation and fermentation without the use of antibiotics—an increasingly important goal for fuel ethanol producers.

Designed to promote beneficial yeast growth and efficiency in both high pH and standard pH fermentation processes, Solenis said their fermentation aids are based on advanced proprietary and targeted antimicrobial technology. While the products were initially developed for fuel ethanol production, they also have practical application in other commercial fermentation processes.

“We will continue to anticipate and proactively address our customers’ needs to optimize processes while staying ahead of evolving regulations,” added John Panichella, president and CEO. “With close to 100 years of experience in process and water treatment chemistries, Solenis is committed to serving the fuel ethanol and biorefining industries with our well-respected and diverse product line, along with our application expertise and our investment in research and development.”

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

Save the Date – MN Biodiesel & Bioheat Forum

Save the date for the Biodiesel and Bioheat Forum taking place August 19, 2015 in Mankato, Minnesota.

Screen Shot 2015-06-12 at 9.39.12 AMStates up and down the East Coast have ventured into new markets and uses for biodiesel that offer significant potential for Minnesota and U.S. soybean farmers as well as the entire biodiesel industry. One market includes the Bioheat market – nearly 6.2 million homes rely on heating oil in the winter months. In fact, the average home can use more than 1,000 gallons in one winter.

The Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council will host a delegation from the East Coast, as well as local and national biodiesel leaders. The group will include representatives from the New York Oil Heating Association, National Association of Oil & Energy Service Professionals, National Oilheat Research Alliance and the Massachusetts Energy Marketers Association, ready to share their experiences with biodiesel and explain the market potential in all arenas.

While much of the debate around biofuels revolves around future technologies and future uses, this round table discussion will look at opportunities available now for the biodiesel industry to grow and solidify its success.

Neb Governor Ricketts On Global Biofuels Tour

Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts has been spending the past few weeks on a global agriculture and biofuels promotion tour. Ricketts attended Expo Milano 2015 last week and while there, he visited the “Sustainable Farm Pavilion” sponsored by New Holland where with a group that included CNH Industrial Governor-Ricketts-Headshot-FINALdiscussed Nebraska’s ethanol industry. CNH Industrial operates a Combine Center of Excellence in Grand Island, Nebraska.

Carlo Lambro, a member of the Group Executive Council and Brand President of New Holland Agriculture, spoke to the group about their commitment to using biofuels across all sectors as well as highlight their local investments in agriculture. Nebraska is the top state in terms of cattle feed and the Nebraska ethanol industry, the second largest ethanol producer in the U.S., produces more than six million tons of livestock feed each year.

The meeting also addressed Governor Ricketts’ active advocacy for the widespread use of ethanol as a biofuel in the United States. The two parties discussed their shared commitment in promoting the use of alternative fuels, which include natural gas and biomethane.

Gov. Ricketts and his Nebraska delegation had discussions in Italy about renewable fuels with Italian energy company Enel. Next, the group headed to Brussels, Belgium where they have planned a visit to Novozyme’s headquarters in Denmark. The company operates a plant in Blair, Nebraska that makes enzymes used in the ethanol industry.

USDA Funds 544 REAP Projects

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has awarded 544 renewable energy and energy efficiency projects more than $6.7 million as part of the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack made the announcement at the Snake River Brewing Company, in Jackson, Wyoming. The company received a $13,810 REAP grant to install a solar panel to generate energy for the business.

srb-logo-3dThese grants will help farmers, ranchers and small business owners use more renewable energy, which cuts carbon pollution, reduces our dependence on foreign oil, saves businesses money on their energy bills and creates American jobs,” Vilsack said. “All of these are crucial components to developing healthier, more economically vibrant rural communities.”

REAP was created by the 2002 Farm Bill and was reauthorized by the 2014 Farm Bill. REAP funding has helped farmers expand renewable energy use in recent years. The new Census of Agriculture shows the number of farms utilizing renewable energy production has doubled in the last five years. Since 2009, USDA has awarded $545 million to support more than 8,800 REAP projects nationwide.

Eligible agricultural producers and rural small businesses may use REAP funds to make energy efficiency improvements or install renewable energy systems, including solar, wind, renewable biomass (including anaerobic digesters), small hydroelectric, ocean energy, hydrogen and geothermal.

“May Day, May Day” Video Released

Americans United for Change has released a new video in response to the recent oil spill in Santa Barbara, California as well as several other recent oil spills. ‘May Day, May Day‘ is a roundup of news coverage showing why May was another messy oil spill month. The nonprofit notes the images of beach-goers trudging through tar to rescue oil soaked birds serve as a vivid reminder of the consequences of America’s dependence on oil.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that there will be 14,000 oil spills this year. This, cites American United for Change, is why people should be asking the EPA ‘what they were thinking’ when they cut back the Renewable Volume Obligations (RVOs) as part of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The RVOs are significantly under what was mandated by Congress when the legislation was passed. The organization said this decision continues to limit consumer choice at the pump and encourages the oil industry to keep drilling and spilling.

The move would also discourage investment in infrastructure, said Americans United for Change, that would “bust through the so-called ‘blend wall'” and discourage innovation towards cleaner and cheaper fuels.

The new video is as part of the organization’s ongoing project RareIncidents.com, inspired by American Petroleum Institute President Jack Gerard who in 2011 attempted to dismiss the BP spill disaster in the Gulf Coast as “clearly a rare incident”.