NEC to Participate in Int’l Buyer Program

The National Ethanol Conference (NEC) has been selected to participate in the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Buyer Program (IBF). This marks the first time the NEC has been selected, an annual ethanol conference hosted by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA). The NEC will take place Feb. 15–17, 2016 in New Orleans.

RFA-NEC general logoThe IBF program recruits pre-screened foreign buyer delegations from U.S. embassies and consulates worldwide and brings them to selected trade shows and conferences in the U.S. as a medium to connect U.S. companies with international buyers. The NEC draws attendees from around the globe and next year’s event will see representatives from Brazil, China, India, Mexico and the Philippines.

“We are extremely excited about being selected to participate in the IBF, and for the opportunity to work closely with the Department of Commerce to provide a pathway that connects domestic ethanol producers with international markets,” said Edward Hubbard, RFA’s general counsel. “Export promotion is a crucial component for maintaining the vibrancy of the ethanol industry, and the NEC provides the perfect forum for accomplishing that goal. By joining forces with the Department of Commerce, the RFA is ensuring that the NEC will be the premier destination for U.S. ethanol producers who are interested in opportunities to promote their products in the international marketplace.”

Registration for the National Ethanol Conference is now open and will headlined by John Hofmeister, the founder and CEO of Citizens for Affordable Energy, former president of Shell Oil Company and author of “Why We Hate the Oil Companies“.


Illinois Teen’s Cellulosic Ethanol Wins Science Prize

TavisReedAn Illinois teen is being recognized for his efforts to make cellulosic ethanol. This article from the Chicago-area Daily Herald says 17-year-old Tavis Reed, a senior at the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy in Aurora, won the 2015 gold medal in the chemistry/biochemistry division of the National Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics competition, besting more than 700 students from 150 ACT-SO chapters across the nation.

He did so by developing a process — for which he has a provisional patent — for the production of cellulosic ethanol, a “next-generation biofuel” made from cellulose, the structural part of plants.

The process uses bacteria to make ethanol as a potential fuel source in a cheaper and more environmentally conscious manner. He’s now working to find a way to scale up his research and make sure its results can be repeated in large quantities.

“That’s really important to me,” he said. “I feel like for my generation, the environmental impact that humans have on the world is a lot more evident than it has been in earlier decades.”

Tavis is unfailingly enthusiastic about science, said Sarah Soltau, his mentor through Argonne National Laboratory’s ACT-SO high school research program.

“He’s got many more ideas than I’d expect as a high school student,” she said. “He’s gone above and beyond anyone else I’ve seen at the high school level — and some even in college.”

Tavis’ teacher admits she had to learn a lot, just to keep up with the teenager.

The ACT-SO award was announced in July at the 106th Convention of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, held in Philadelphia, which Tavis actually had to leave early to tutor some incoming students.

CoBank Report – Ethanol Industry Rebalanced

The ethanol industry has rebalanced in 2015 following 18 months of record earnings. As energy prices collapsed late in 2014, so did ethanol prices and plant margins. The report from CoBank, “Ethanol Industry Reblanaces,” has found that ethanol’s supply and demand has remained well balanced, and producers have maintained positive earnings. Looking into 2016, the report finds plant operators will face dueling positive and negative shifts in the market that are likely to result in lean, yet positive margins.

CoBank logo“With corn prices expected to remain relatively static, it will be the prices of distillers grains and ethanol that determine the direction of earnings,” explained Dan Kowalski, the report’s author, and director of CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange Division. “Ethanol profitability will largely hinge on two key factors: the volatility of energy prices and the industry’s ability to maintain strong export sales. The report also points to the importance of sustained discipline in growing production capacity and output.”

Kowalski continued, “The industry will see little growth in domestic sales as a result of improving fuel efficiency in the nation’s vehicles and changes to the EPA’s renewable fuels blending mandate. The EPA’s proposed alteration to the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) is expected to be approved later this year, and will set a floor beneath the current 10 percent blending level. However, the new policy will not incentivize retailers to sell higher ethanol-blended fuels.”

The report finds that the potential for increased export sales will help to counterbalance the domestic picture. Brazil has increased its domestic blending rate to 27 percent. This has reduced its export ability and opened the door to U.S. producers.

The report cautions foreign markets also pose a risk to ethanol producers. China, which currently imports 60 percent of U.S. distillers grains, is expected to change its grain policies to discourage the import of corn-alternative feed grains. These changes could significantly impact producers’ bottom lines.

John Hofmeister to Headline #RFANEC

John Hofmeister will be headlining the 21st Annual National Ethanol Conference (NEC) next February 15-17, 2016 in New Orleans. Hosted by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), Hofmeister is the founder and CEO of Citizens for Affordable Energy, former president of Shell Oil Company and author of “Why We Hate the Oil Companies: Straight Talk from an Energy Insider. The NEC conference theme is “Fueling a High Octane Future”.

John hofmeisterHofmeister founded Citizens for Affordable Energy in 2008, a public policy education firm that promotes sound energy security solutions for the U.S., including a range of affordable energy supplies, efficiency improvements, essential infrastructure, sustainable environmental policies, and public education on energy issues.

During his tenure as President of Shell he launched a groundbreaking outreach program designed to discuss critical global energy challenges. The program included an 18-month, 50-city cross-country tour during which Hofmeister, along with 250 other Shell executives, met with more than 15,000 business, community and civic leaders, policymakers, and academics to discuss what must be done to ensure affordable, available energy for the future. Hofmeister serves on the boards of Fuel Freedom Foundation; the National Energy Security Council; the Foreign Policy Association; Strategic Partners, LLC; and the Gas Technology Institute.

Bob Dinneen, RFA President and CEO, said he was delighted to have John Hofmeister headlining next year’s NEC and praised him for his extensive work in pursuing policy solutions that ensure energy is not only affordable, but is also clean and secure.

“John Hofmeister is an innovative and energetic leader on issues surrounding energy security,” said Dinneen. “As a former oil company executive, he not only possesses an insider’s understanding about how the oil industry actually operates but, because of his background, when he speaks he does so with a very credible and authentic voice. Mr. Hofmeister is the perfect choice for next year’s NEC because he wholeheartedly believes that the key to providing consumers with clean, affordable, and secure sources of energy is to implement policies that promote diversity in our energy supply.”

In addition to announcing Mr. Hofmeister as the headliner for next year’s NEC, RFA also announced that it has launched an official Twitter handle @EthanolConf and hashtag #RFANEC for the event. Registration is now open.

Senator Toomey’s Anti-RFS Amendment Tanks

Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) introduced an amendment that would eliminate corn ethanol from the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). It was promptly defeated by the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs by a vote of 15-7. Pro RFS supporters came out en masse against Toomey’s amendment and thanked the Committee for making the right decision on consumer choice at the pump.

Senator Toomey“Biofuels are a key part of energy independence and energy security,” said Jon Soltz, Iraq War Veteran, and Chairman of, the largest veterans group in America. “It is jarring to see a sitting U.S. Senator thumb his nose at our national security, just so he can repay his oil buddies. We need to figure out ways to use less oil. Pat Toomey is trying to make sure that we use more, and that his Big Oil pals make more profit as a result. It’s was a disgrace, but thankfully common sense won out, over Pat Toomey.”

Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) President and CEO Bob Dinneen made the following statement upon the news of defeat. “Consumers can breathe a sigh of relief when they fill up at the gas pump because today’s vote by the committee ensures that ethanol will remain the number one source of renewable fuel in the world,” said Dinneen. “The committee understood the writing is on the wall when it comes to the RFS, and that legislative proposals that seek to purportedly ‘fix’ the statute are nothing more than political gamesmanship. When Congress passed the RFS it did so with the intention of stabilizing and growing the biofuels market. The committee rightly rejected the amendment by Senator Toomey because it would have done nothing more than squelched investment and created uncertainty in the market, and would thereby have had a detrimental impact on the energy and economic future of generations to come.”

Biofuels supporters cite the RFS as the most successful energy policy ever. did some research into Senator Toomey’s connections with the oil industry and found Big Oil his 12th largest contributor contributing $552,816,000. Of that, half (252,050) was made to his campaign committee over the course of the last few months, making the oil and gas industry the 10th largest contributor to Toomey this election cycle.

“It is no surprise that Senator Toomey’s amendment failed – it never had a chance of passing,” said Tom Buis, Growth Energy CEO. “Similar to legislation he has introduced before, it did not gain any traction and failed because this legislation only restricts consumer choice and attempts to dismantle a successful American industry that is creating jobs, improving our environment and reducing our dependence on foreign oil. The simple fact is that the RFS has bipartisan support and it has been the most successful energy legislation this nation has enacted in over 40 years.”

Industry Applauds Sen Talent’s RFS Efforts

Yesterday former Missouri U.S. Senator Jim Talent launched Americans for Energy Security and Innovation (AESI), an organization focused on expanding support for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The ethanol industry responded to the news favorably.

rfs-mess-2“The RFA welcomes AESI to the ongoing efforts to ensure that the RFS remains America’s most successful energy policy,” said Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Bob Dinneen. “Former Senator Talent has been an enthusiastic and outspoken supporter of the U.S. ethanol industry. We look forward to hearing the ideas this new group will put forth to ensure that the American public has access to clean, secure, affordable home-grown sources of energy. Indeed, the RFS is law today in no small part because of Senator Talent’s leadership on the Energy Committee during his tenure representing the people of Missouri. He knows far better than most the rural economic, energy security and economic promise of the RFS.”

Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy added, “We are pleased that Americans for Energy Security and Innovation have joined the important fight to ensure that the RFS is protected and that America has a strong, robust and resilient renewable fuels industry.”

“Former Senator Jim Talent from Missouri has always been a true advocate for renewable fuels and rural America,” Buis added. I am confident that Senator Talent and Americans for Energy Security and Innovation will be effective in the battle to improve our environment, create jobs in America that cannot be outsourced and reduce our dangerous dependence on foreign oil and fossil fuels, all while providing consumers with a choice and savings at the pump.”

Former MO Senator Chairs New Pro-RFS Group

aesiFormer U.S. Senator Jim Talent from Missouri today launched Americans for Energy Security and Innovation (AESI), a new organization aimed at expanding support for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

“It’s an organization supported by biofuels producers and investors around the country,” said Talent, who notes that the RFS was one of his priorities when he served in the Senate between 2002 and 2007. “I’ve been very pleased by how the policy has worked,” he said.

jim-talent“(The RFS) has helped spark a revolution in value-added agriculture,” said Talent. “It’s had the effect of strengthening family farms and done it without price supports from the federal government … and it’s sparked a lot of privately funded research in biotechnology.”

Talent likens the RFS to a “gigantic strategic petroleum reserve except it doesn’t cost the government anything to maintain, it’s better for the environment, it creates large numbers of jobs and it supports family farming and agriculture across the country.”

Questioned about how this group will differ from the many organizations and coalitions already promoting the RFS, Talent said they planned to work with the other groups but they wanted to have an independent platform and he believes the more voices the better. “If you look at the amount of money being spent by organizations that are not very friendly to the RFS, I think you’ll find it dwarfs what’s being spent in support of it,” Talent said.

Listen to Talent’s announcement here: Former MO Sen. Jim Talent announces new pro-RFS group

Study: 15B Gallon RFS Can Happen in 2016

According to new research from the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD), the 15 billion gallons per year of ethanol set in the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) is currently achievable. With infrastructure in place, what is needed, say the Iowa State University (ISU) economists, is the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to adhere to the law.

“Our results show that meeting the original 15 billion gallon RFS ethanol target in 2016 is feasible,” write ISU Profs. Bruce Babcock and Sebastien Pouliot. “The two key conditions needed to meet this consumption level are to allow the market for RINs [Renewable Identification Numbers] to work as intended, which will allow the price of E85 to fall to induce consumers to buy the fuel, and for EPA to set a consistent policy signal to industry that they will indeed have to meet this target. A clear and consistent message from EPA is needed to foster investment in fueling stations that will allow enough consumers to access E85.”

E85 pump in Des Moines IA

Photo Credit: Joanna Schroeder

The data used was from actual daily fuel sales and volume prices from a major Midwest retail chain and demonstrates that E85 is a viable means to meet renewable fuel mandates. The study also reviewed the willingness of flex fuel vehicle (FFV) drivers to purchase E85 at various price points.

According to the report, “Using these new direct estimates of consumer demand, we find that owners of current flex vehicles in all US metro areas would consume 250 million gallons of E85 if it was priced at parity on a cost per mile basis with E10, and one billion gallons of ethanol if E85 were priced to save drivers 23% on a cost per mile basis. These estimates assume that no new E85 stations are installed,” write the authors. The study shows that in one metro area, the market share of E85 exceeded 15 percent when E85 saved FFV owners money on a cost-per-mile basis.

The authors also demonstrate how a strong and consistent enforcement signal from the EPA — transmitted through the market for RIN credits — can quickly transform the market for E85. They write, “Our finding that owners of FFVs like to save money on their fuel purchases is not too surprising: all of us do. Perhaps what is surprising is that EPA’s proposed decision to cut ethanol mandates reveals so little faith in their own compliance mechanism—the RIN trading system. …EPA set up the RIN trading system to create the incentive to invest in the infrastructure that is needed to expand the consumption of biofuels which, in turn, lowers RIN price. Using the power of the marketplace has proved to be an efficient method of achieving policy objectives.”

Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) President and CEO Bob Dinneen commented on the study’s findings, stating, “This report confirms that if EPA and the Administration would just let the RFS and its RIN mechanism work as intended, we would obliterate the so-called ‘blend wall’ and increase consumer access to lower-cost, lower-carbon renewable fuels that are made right here in America. The authors show that Congress’ original vision for conventional biofuels under the RFS is indeed achievable in 2016 with existing infrastructure, and that the only thing missing is the resolve and commitment from EPA and the Administration to continue building upon the remarkable success story that is the RFS.”

Prez Candidates Recommit RFS Support

Several presidential candidates have reiterated their support for the continuation of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). (Click here to read articles relating to the candidates stand on energy issues).

ARF-Logo-Retina-AltSen. Santorum reaffirmed his support at a forum hosted by Heritage Action in South Carolina on Friday, at Iowa’s Faith and Freedom Presidential Forum on Saturday, and at the taping of Rural Town Hall on RFD-TV on Sunday saying that the RFS creates jobs and domestically produced fuels and keeps the U.S. secure.

“Sen. Santorum has been an unwavering champion for renewable fuels and has always stood with Iowans on this crucial issue,” said America’s Renewable Future (ARF) State Director, Eric Branstad, “It’s why he won the Iowa caucus in 2012.”

Also during the Forum, Trump said that he supports the RFS. “I am totally in favor of ethanol, 100 percent.” This is the first time Trump gave his stance on the topic publicly.

The Rural Town Hall event also marked Sen. Webb’s first public affirmation of support for the RFS and Gov. Pataki’s full support. Pataki said that the government needed to keep the promise it made with the RFS, “Washington made a commitment to those farmers and those investors, we have to keep our word.”

Branstad added, “ARF is thankful for the commitments these candidates made and that all the above candidates took the time to meet with our organization or to tour an ethanol plant. A large part of our effort was providing education to all the campaigns and it’s clear that we’ve done that. Now we can focus on letting Iowans know where each candidate stands and on turning out our army of 50,000 caucus-goers on Feb. 1.”

Senate Democrats Propose New Energy Package

A group of Senate Democrats have proposed a new energy bill to promote clean energy. If passed, the legislation would end some subsidies for fossil fuels and close some oil and gas tax loopholes; incentivize clean energy such as solar and wind through grant programs and tax incentives; and encourage carbon capture and sequestration along with continued development of nuclear energy and biofuels.

AWEA logoIn response to the proposed bill, Tom Kiernan, CEO of American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) commented, “We commend Senators Reid, Wyden, Schumer, and Cantwell for putting forward a policy framework to provide domestic energy producers with greater stability so businesses can invest and bring costs down even further. The tax code has a century-long history of incentivizing American-made energy, and we must continue to ensure that we have abundant, clean, and affordable energy to power our economy. Wind energy has proven that it can deliver in these areas and it must continue to be a critical part of the U.S. energy mix. We appreciate the leadership of Sens. Reid, Wyden, Schumer, and Cantwell in trying to find common ground to ensure that the U.S. is well-suited to face the energy challenges of the 21st century by promoting a diverse energy portfolio.”

According to Senate Finance Committee staff, this legislation would save Americans at least $20 billion over the next 15 years and create/support at least 3.5 million jobs.

SEIA logo“By providing long-term, steady federal tax and energy policy, this legislation provides the stability that businesses in the solar industry need to grow – adding tens of thousands of new, well-paying solar jobs across the country, which today includes more than 174,000 Americans,” said Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA) President and CEO Rhone Resch. “We also applaud the inclusion of programs that remove barriers for low-income Americans, making it easier for everyone to access clean, affordable, reliable solar energy.”

If approved and signed into law, this legislation would temporarily extend the federal solar investment tax credit (ITC), and then ease the transition afterward through the creation of long-term, technology-neutral clean energy tax incentives.

Resch added, “The United States deserves to be a world leader in cutting-edge technologies, and providing a long-term extension of the ITC will encourage massive investment in the U.S. solar industry. When you provide certainty to solar consumers and businesses with an energy tax code that promotes innovation and encourages the development of new and efficient technologies – America wins. We see this bill as a major step forward, and the solar industry looks forward to working with Congress so all solar technologies are included.”