ARF Releases Final Prez Candidate Report

ARF RFS Report Card-2As the year comes to a close, Americas Renewable Future (ARF) has released its final 2016 presidential candidate Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) report card. Candidates are given a “good” or “bad” grade based on their statements and actions related to the alternative energy legislation. ARF plans to send the report card to more than 50,000 pledged caucus-goers so that “Iowans know which candidates will protect the state’s economy or which will be job killers”.

Both Senator Ted Cruz and Senator Rand Paul once again received a “bad” grade while the remaining Republican and Democrats have received a “good” grade. Jeb Bush, Carly Fiorina, John Kasich and Marco Rubio have been upgraded from “needs work” to “good”.

Out of the race is Lindsey Graham, Bobby Jindal George Pataki, Rick Perry and Scott Walker.

During the past few weeks, Sen. Cruz has made pro biofuel statements but ARF calls him a liar and hypocrite and has been funding campaigns across Iowa to enlighten voters to his true position on biofuels – against them.

“Ted Cruz is dangerous to Iowa and thousands of Iowa jobs,” again stresses ARF State Director, Eric Branstad. “Our economy depends on a strong RFS and Iowans count on $5 billion in wages thanks to it, Ted Cruz wants to kill their jobs and we are going to make sure every Iowan knows that.”

USDA Highlights 2015 Energy Achievements

USDAAgriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has released a list of USDA’s top achievements in 2015 in the areas of trade, food security, conservation, energy, research, rural development, and more.

“Even with challenges in 2015, including an unprecedented animal disease outbreak and lower commodity prices, America’s rural communities have proven once again that we are a nation of makers, creators and innovators, and our economy and security are stronger because of it,” said Vilsack. “As we look to 2016, USDA will continue to seek out new and innovative ways to expand opportunity for America’s farming families and rural communities.”

Among USDA’s 2015 highlights in the area of energy:

Made available $100 million in grant funds, with matching funds from state and private partners, which will provide $210 million to nearly double the number of fueling pumps nationwide that supply American-made renewable fuels, such as E15 and E85.

Through the Biomass Crop Assistance Program, USDA provided assistance to 890 growers on 49,000 acres for costs associated with harvesting and transporting agriculture or forest residues to facilities that convert biomass crops into energy.

Announced 10 Building Blocks for Climate Smart Agriculture and Forestry, which, by 2025, will reduce net emissions and enhance carbon sequestration by the equivalent of taking 25 million cars off the road.

Read more here.

Bill Howell Wins New Holland Boomer 47

Bill Howell was the winner of the 2015 Growth Energy Individual Member Sweepstakes and took home a Boomer 47, a 47 hp tractor customized with Growth Energy racing decals. The contest was sponsored by New Holland and Growth Energy and Howell was presented with his Boomer 47 in Carroll, Iowa this week.

Bill and Katherine Howell take a seat in their new New Holland Boomer 47 as part of the 2015 Growth Energy Individual Member Sweepstakes. Photo Credit: Carroll Broadcasting Company.

Bill and Katherine Howell take a seat in their new New Holland Boomer 47 as part of the 2015 Growth Energy Individual Member Sweepstakes. Photo Credit: Carroll Broadcasting Company.

“We are proud to support farmers and those who choose to work the land and who work so hard every day to grow crops to help feed the world and fuel our nation,” said Growth Energy Co-Chair, Tom Buis. “Our members are working hard to revitalize our rural economies, create new jobs and ensure our nation will have a sustainable and secure energy future. This sweepstakes was part of a larger effort to continue to build grassroots support for biofuels across the country. Our growing grassroots advocates, such as Mr. Howell, help promote our industry and ensure that lawmakers in Washington understand the important role biofuels play in America’s heartland.”

Howell was presented with the Boomer 47 by Clay Haley with Haley Equipment who sells New Holland equipment, along with Scott Wangsgard and George Rigdon representing New Holland Agriculture.

“New Holland is proud to support Growth Energy in their individual membership growth initiatives and we look forward to continuing the partnership in 2016,” said Ron Shaffer, Director of Commercial Sales Regions and Network Development for New Holland North America. “We are also pleased to have the opportunity to provide Mr. Howell with the Boomer 47 and we hope he will find it to be a valuable asset to his operation.”

RFA Analysis: More Automakers Approving E15

Photo Credit: Joanna Schroeder

Photo Credit: Joanna Schroeder

According to an analysis conducted by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) of 2016 model year (MY) warranty statements and owners manuals, auto makers are approving E15 use in more than 70 percent of new vehicles. This is an increase from MY 2015 when a little over 60 percent of vehicles were approved to use E15.

RFA’s analysis shows that, for the first time, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA Group) has approved the use of E15 in its MY 2016 Chrysler/Fiat, Jeep, Dodge, and Ram vehicles. FCA’s decision means it joins the other members of the “Detroit Three” (General Motors and Ford) in unequivocally allowing E15. Other key points from RFA’s analysis include:

  • GM started approving the use of E15 with its MY 2012 vehicles, while Ford joined a year later with its MY 2013 vehicles.
  • More than 45 percent of the vehicles sold in the United States this year have been produced by the Detroit Three, according to industry data.
  • Other automakers offering explicit approval of E15 in MY 2016 vehicles include Toyota/Lexus, Audi/Porsche/Volkswagen, Honda/Acura, Jaguar, and Land Rover. Together with the Detroit Three, these manufactures have produced approximately 72 percent of the vehicles sold in 2015.
  • When flex-fuel vehicles (FFVs) produced by Nissan and Mercedes-Benz are included, RFA estimates the percentage of MY 2016 automobiles explicitly approved by manufacturers to use E15 is even larger (FFVs are approved to use up to 85 percent ethanol blends).
  • With a U.S. market share of 8.5 percent, Nissan Motor Company is the largest “hold-out” when it comes to approving the use of E15 in its vehicles. Nissan even goes as far as suggesting that “E-15 fuel will adversely affect the emission control devices and systems of the vehicle,” which raises questions about why Nissan is not able to provide the same quality of technology as automakers approving the use of E15. Curiously, Nissan also warns drivers that oxygenates like ethanol “can cause paint damage.”
  • Hyundai, Kia, and Subaru also continue to exclude E15 from their fuel recommendations. Together, these three foreign automakers account for about 11 percent of U.S. auto sales. While Subaru recommends that gasoline used in its vehicles contain “no more than 10% ethanol,” it allows the use of gasoline containing 15% MTBE—a toxic substance banned in dozens of states because of groundwater pollution concerns.
  • Interestingly, BMW’s MINI Hardtop appears to allow the use of 25% ethanol blends. The manufacturer states, “Fuels with a maximum ethanol content of 25%, i.e., E10 or E25, may be used for refueling.”

“This analysis should open some eyes and finally lay to rest the ridiculous myth that automakers do not allow the use of E15 in their vehicles,” said RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen. “In fact, 2016 will be the fifth year in a row in which some auto manufacturers have explicitly included E15 in owners’ manuals and warranty statements as an approved fuel. With each passing year, more and more vehicles sold in the U.S. carry the manufacturer’s unequivocal approval for E15; and with each passing year, the auto warranty misinformation campaign undertaken by AAA and Big Oil fades further into irrelevance.” Continue reading

ExxonMobil, Wisc. Partner on Biomass-Biofuel Project

exxonmobilOil giant ExxonMobil has partnered with the University of Wisconsin–Madison on a project to turn biomass into biofuel. This article from Lab Manager says the two inked a two-year research agreement.

UW–Madison long has been known for its expertise in biomass conversion, and the project leverages the university’s expertise alongside the resources and technology development of ExxonMobil. George Huber, the Harvey D. Spangler professor of chemical and biological engineering at UW–Madison, is working closely with ExxonMobil scientists to build a stronger understanding of the basic chemical transformations that occur during biomass conversion into diesel and jet fuels.

“The science of biomass conversion is very complicated,” Huber says. “In this project we are doing the long-term fundamental research to understand the chemistry involved in the catalytic process of converting biomass into diesel and jet fuel. Our goal is to generate knowledge about what’s possible, and what’s not possible.”

Researchers have used expensive precious metal catalysts such as platinum for biomass conversion. Huber’s group, however, has been working to develop new catalytic materials that are orders of magnitude cheaper than precious metal catalysts.

“The challenge is to make biomass-derived fuels cost-competitive with petroleum-derived diesel fuels,” says Huber, who also is affiliated with the Wisconsin Energy Institute at UW–Madison.

The project allows extensive collaboration between ExxonMobil scientists and UW–Madison students, who will gain experience collaborating with an industrial partner.

“This agreement continues ExxonMobil’s commitment to partner with top universities and scientists to research and discover next-generation energy solutions,” says Vijay Swarup, vice president of research and development for ExxonMobil Research & Engineering Company. “We are continuously investigating new ideas and technologies and we are looking forward to working with the team at the University of Wisconsin on this project.”

This is the latest in a series of research partnerships ExxonMobil established with some of the leading universities around the world, including MIT, Princeton, Michigan State, Northwestern, Stanford and Iowa State University.

Seattle Airport Inks Deal for Aviation Biofuels

Alaska-Biofuel1Officials at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport are partnering with Alaska Airlines and Boeing to aim to have all flights out of the hub use sustainable aviation biofuel. This news release from the port authority says Sea-Tac is the first U.S. airport to lay out a long-term roadmap to incorporate aviation biofuel into its infrastructure in a cost-effective, efficient manner.

At the Sea-Tac fuel farm today, executives for the port, Alaska Airlines, and Boeing signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to launch a $250,000 Biofuel Infrastructure Feasibility Study that will assess costs and infrastructure necessary to deliver a blend of aviation biofuel and conventional jet fuel to aircraft at Sea-Tac, a crucial step toward routine biofuel use in the future.

“The Port of Seattle has an important role in helping develop the state’s green energy economy,” said Port of Seattle Commissioner John Creighton. “Striving to make Sea-Tac Airport a national leader in developing aviation biofuel infrastructure and incentivizing the use of biofuels by our airline partners will grow jobs for our region, decrease our environmental footprint, and benefit both our fence line communities and the airlines that use the airport.”

The partners’ longer-term plan is to incorporate significant quantities of biofuel into Sea-Tac’s fuel infrastructure, which is used by all 26 airlines and more than 380,000 flights annually at the airport. Sea-Tac is the 13th busiest airport in the U.S. and will serve over 42 million domestic and international passengers this year.

Joe Sprague, senior vice president of communications and external relations for Alaska Airlines, Sea-Tac’s largest carrier and leader of the airport’s fueling consortium, said the airline wants to incorporate biofuel into flight operations at one or more of its hubs by 2020, with Sea-Tac as a first choice for the Seattle-based airline.

“Biofuel offers the greatest way to further reduce our emissions,” said Sprague. “This study is a critical step in advancing our environmental goals and stimulating aviation biofuel production in the Pacific Northwest.”

The Port of Seattle will manage the study and the engineering and integration of biofuel infrastructure, such as the airport’s fuel farm. An RFP for the infrastructure study will be issued in the spring of 2016, and the study is expected to be completed by late 2016.

Huckabee Talks Energy During Debate

debate-huckabeeThe CNN Republican Presidential Candidates debate from Las Vegas this week was focused entirely on national security issues, but the word biofuels was actually uttered by one of the candidates who put forth the idea of using energy as a weapon.

“We ought to be challenging not only Russia, but the Iranians and the Saudis, on the point of energy,” said former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee during the first debate panel. “We ought to be drilling every bit of oil, getting all the coal out, we need to be going after our natural gas and biofuels, and become the energy exporter of the world.”

Huckabee argued that such an approach would “destabilize” the enemies of the United States. “We need to take an offensive approach by using our energy, the one weapon we have,” he said. “Let’s use it as an offensive weapon to change the dynamics of the entire globe and especially change the dynamics of the Middle East.”

Listen to Huckabee’s comments here: Huckabee energy comments during CNN debate

Is Cruz for or Against Ethanol?

In Iowa, presidential Republican candidates Donald Trump and Senator Ted Cruz are leading the polls, but the two are running close. One heated area of debate: renewable fuels. With Iowa the leading state for all things biofuels, voters want a president who will continue to support clean, renewable energy and rural economic development, something Trump as been a supporter and recently called Ted Cruz out for not visiting an ethanol plant. He’s not the only one on his case – America’s Renewable Future (ARF) has launched several campaigns against Cruz for his wishy-washy ethanol policy. Yet, this month, at an event in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Cruz called for the end of all energy subsidies and stated, that as president he would “take on the EPA’s blend wall that is preventing ethanol and biofuels from having a larger share of the marketplace.”

ARF-Logo-Retina-AltThis week, ARF has launched another attack on Cruz calling him a “career politician” and “doing the oil industry’s dirty work”. ARF State Director Eric Branstad, in reaction to his ethanol remarks in Cedar Rapids, noted that they want Iowans to know that, “unlike what Ted Cruz would like them to believe, he is a typical politician who will say one thing in Iowa and do another thing in Washington.”

The ad campaign focuses on his ties to Big Oil. Cruz’s campaign says he is against oil subsidies, but he told an Iowan that subsidies for the oil industry don’t exist and another that tax breaks exclusive to the oil industry, like intangible drilling costs, are not subsidies. In the Senate, says ARF, Cruz has introduced three bills to repeal the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and has consistently voted against measures that would close tax loopholes for the oil industry. The only loopholes he has supported getting rid of are “enhanced oil recovery credits for producing oil and gas from marginal wells”—in the Energy Freedom and Economic Prosperity Act of 2014—which are inconsequential since taxpayers would see no revenue effect from them according to the Joint Committee on Taxation.

“Meanwhile Cruz has failed to introduce a single bill to repeal the $4.8 billion in subsidies that the oil industry receives annually,” said Branstad, “What’s worse is that he opposes the RFS because he claims it is a subsidy. But in fact, ethanol hasn’t received subsidies since 2011.”

Branstad added, “His entire career he’s been in the pocket of the oil industry and he will continue to stand up for it against Iowa farmers and the Renewable Fuel Standard.”

Grain Growers, Biofuelers to Meet at Export Exchange

exportexchange1Two industries that go hand-in-glove will meet next fall in Detroit. The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) says it is joining with the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) for Export Exchange 2016, scheduled for Oct. 24–27, 2016.

“We are expecting more than 200 international buyers of coarse grains, co-products and ethanol to attend Export Exchange 2016 along with an estimated 300 producers and agribusiness representatives, making this the industry’s premiere opportunity to network with your key customers,” said USGC Chairman Alan Tiemann.

In addition to networking opportunities, Export Exchange 2016 general sessions will address critical issues facing U.S. agricultural exports, offering the customers and sellers in attendance an increased awareness of the benefits of U.S. corn, distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS), ethanol and other products.

“The global demand for DDGS has increased significantly over the last several years, and Export Exchange provides a one-of-a-kind opportunity to bring buyers and sellers together with the goal of promoting continued growth in the international market,” said Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association.

More information is available at www.exportexchange.org or on social media using the hashtag #ExEx16. Those interested can sign up for a mailing list to automatically receive conference updates by emailing info@exportexchange.org.

New Officers Elected for Iowa RFA

Iowa RFA logo-newThe 2016 Board of Directors, Officer and Executive Committee have been elected for the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA). The votes took place during their annual meeting on December 10, 2015. Each producer member has a seat on the Board and votes on officers. New officers will serve a one-year term during the 2016 calendar year. Iowa is the leading producer of biofuels including ethanol, biodiesel and cellulosic ethanol.

2016 IRFA Board of Directors Officers:

  • President: Tom Brooks, Western Dubuque Biodiesel
  • Vice President: Eamonn Byrne, Plymouth Energy
  • Treasurer: Rick Schwarck, Absolute Energy
  • Secretary: Steve Bleyl, Green Plains, Inc.
  • Executive Director: Monte Shaw (non-voting)

The IRFA Executive Committee is comprised of the IRFA Officers and other members as elected by the Board. Elected to join the IRFA Officers on the Executive Committee for 2016 are:

  • Past President: Brian Cahill, Southwest Iowa Renewable Energy
  • At-Large: Derek Winkel, Renewable Energy Group
  • At-Large: Craig Willis, Archer Daniels Midland
  • At-Large: Bill Howell, POET – Coon Rapids

“For renewable fuels in Iowa, 2015 was both a great and challenging year,” said IRFA President-elect Tom Brooks. “I’m looking forward to leading IRFA, and continuing to build upon our progress as a leader in renewable fuels production and use.”