Farmers Head to Washington in Defense of the RFS

ncga-logo-newFarmers from around the country are heading to Washington, D.C. today in defense of the RFS (Renewable Fuel Standard). Hundreds of biofuel and agricultural supporters are descending on DC in for the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) hearing on the 2014 RFS proposed rules that across the board lower the renewable fuel volumes for next year.

The National Corn Growers Association says by cutting the amount of corn ethanol required by 10 percent it will affect corn prices and rural economies. Farmers plans to tell EPA their personal stories of what such an action would reap across rural America.

More than 30 corn farmers and their allies from around the country are attending the hearing including growers from 13 states including Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin.

20120717-bowling200x250“It’s great to see so many people willing to leave their farms at this time of year for an important opportunity to give the EPA a piece of their mind,” said NCGA First Vice President Chip Bowling, a Maryland corn grower scheduled to speak at the hearing. “This has already had a negative effect on our farms, and if the EPA gets its way, it could cause serious harm to the rural economy – not to mention cutting the environmental benefits of domestic, renewable ethanol.”

For 2014, the EPA has proposed a 1.4 billion gallon reduction in how much corn ethanol will be required under the RFS, the federal law that requires the blending of domestic, renewable, cleaner-burning corn ethanol in the nation’s fuel supply.  Because of the record crop, growers are already seeing corn prices falling below the cost of production, and due to the planting cycle are having to buy inputs such as fertilizer, seed and fuel at much higher prices, Bowling said.

NCGA is strongly urging all its members to comment directly to the EPA about this issue before the Jan. 28, 2014 deadline. More information about how farmers can do this is available here.

E85 Sales in Iowa Strong

E85 pump handleE85 (85 percent ethanol, 15 percent gasoline) sales in Iowa remain strong with the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) announcing that third quarter sales were the second highest on record, doubling first quarter 2013 numbers. Iowans purchased more than 3.61 million gallons of E85 in the third quarter, nearly double the 1.83 million gallons purchased in the first quarter. The data was released by the Iowa Department of Revenue.

“These astounding third quarter sales numbers prove the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) was working, but now the EPA is trying to pull the rug out from underneath us,” said IRFA Executive Director Monte Shaw. “During the third quarter, Iowa motorists using E85 routinely saved $1.00 per gallon compared to regular gasoline. But when the EPA announced their proposal to gut the 2014 RFS numbers, they gutted the incentive for retailers to promote low-cost E85. We saw the E85 price savings pull back, and it won’t be surprising if fourth quarter E85 sales taper off as well.”

The IRFA recently launched a wholesale E85 price reporting service with wholesale E85 prices posted every Tuesday, to promote greater transparency for retailers and distributors of E85 in order to aid retailers in supplying their customers with the lowest-cost E85 available.

Nominate A Great Fuel Retailer Today

IA pump photoIowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey is encouraging Iowa fuel retailers and gas stations to submit nominations for the Secretary’s Renewable Fuels Marketing Awards, which recognize fuel retailers that have gone above and beyond in their efforts to sell renewable fuels. Awards are presented for both the marketing of ethanol and biodiesel.

“Fuel retailers continue to take steps to make ethanol and biodiesel more available to Iowa customers and this award is an opportunity to recognize those who have shown leadership in promoting these renewable fuels and making them more available to customers,” Northey said.

Qualifying entities will be those that market the renewable fuels they have available through creative means including, but not limited to: hosting special events highlighting their renewable fuels, development of creative signage, initiation of new advertisements or marketing efforts, and efforts that dramatically increase renewable fuel availability.

Nominations forms can be found on the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship’s website. Completed nominations can be submitted via email or mail at Henry A. Wallace Building, Attn: Dustin Vande Hoef, 502 East 9th Street, Des Moines IA 50319. Nominations must be submitted by Dec. 31, 2013.

This is the seventh year for the award. John Gilroy from Harney Oil Company in Coralville and Jim Becthold from Linn Coop Oil Co. in Marion are the 2013 award winners.

Researchers to Get More Biofuels from Pine Trees

A federal grant will help researchers get more biofuels out of pine trees. The University of Florida says it will use the $1.45 million in federal money to develop trait-prediction models and accelerate the growth of loblolly pine trees to produce more bioenergy.

Maitas Kirst. UF/IFAS File Photo.In his grant application, UF associate professor Matias Kirst, the principal investigator for the study, said Southern pines can be used as renewable biomass for bioenergy and renewable chemicals. However, for pines to meet their potential as a bioenergy crop, researchers must develop more productive cultivars that can be efficiently converted into liquid fuels, said Kirst, who teaches in the School of Forest Resources and Conservation, part of UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

Traditional breeding typically takes 15-25 years to develop a new improved cultivar, Kirst said. This makes the industry less competitive compared to other forest species grown overseas.

“There is a lot of interest in the industry in breeding trees that grow faster, and with lower inputs,” Kirst said, particularly among paper manufacturing businesses.

Researchers hope that they’ll be able to reduce the breeding cycle to four to five years using a process known as genome-wide selection.

ACE to Testify in Support of RFS at EPA Hearing

ACElogoBrian Jennings, executive vice president for the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE), along with ACE officials and members will be testifying against the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed 2014 Renewable Fuel Standard rule during the EPA’s public hearing in Crystal City, Virginia on December 5th.

Jennings says ACE’s Washington D.C. advisor Jonathon Lehman and Bruce Vollan, owner of Vollan Oil Company, will speak out alongside several ACE members against EPA’s proposed cut of the RFS during the hearing.

“As an advisor to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, Lehman helped develop and craft the original version of the RFS that was eventually enacted by Congress in 2005. As such, Jonathon is uniquely qualified to help EPA understand that Congress did not want the E10 blend wall or oil company foot-dragging to be an excuse to waive the RFS in the way they are proposing,” said Jennings.

“As a retailer, Bruce Vollan understands that when consumers have a choice, including the option to buy gasoline without ethanol, most people will choose fuel containing ethanol. Since he began offering E15, E85 and other blends, ethanol has comprised on average between 18 and 28 percent of his overall fuel sales. Bruce will explain to EPA that keeping the RFS intact is the best way to ensure market access for E15 and E85,” added Jennings.

ACE will be submitting comments to EPA during the formal comment period and has set up a digital RFS Action Center so supporters can share their personal stories with EPA about the importance of the RFS.

EPA Opens Comment Period for RFS

Protect the RFSThe Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has officially published the proposed 2014 renewable fuel standard in the Federal Register that starts a 60-day public comment period that runs until January 28, 2014. EPA’s proposal significantly lowers the levels of ethanol and biodiesel that must be blended in the nation’s fuel supply.

“It is unfortunate that the Obama administration has caved in to Big Oil rather than stand up for rural America and the environment,” said Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey who participated in a Protect the RFS rally on November 22, 2013. “The renewable fuels standard needs to be protected as it has helped hold down prices at the pump, created thousands of jobs in rural Iowa, and benefited the environment. The President should be focused on jobs and the economy rather than looking for ways to hurt rural America.”

We The People Support the RFSWhile comments to the EPA are an important part to restoring the RFS they don’t require President Obama to review them personally. Therefore, Patriot Renewable Fuels launched an online petition last week that needs 100,000 signatures by the end of December 26, 2013 for the President to review the 2014 RFS proposal. Take the time now to sign by clicking here.

Individuals interested in submitting comments to the EPA should reference Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2013-0479.  Comments can be submitted by any of the following methods:

  • www.regulations.gov: Follow the on-line instructions for submitting comments.
  • Email: a-and-r-docket@epa.gov
  • Mail: Air and Radiation Docket and Information Center, Environmental Protection Agency, Mailcode: 2822T, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW., Washington, DC 20460.
  • Hand Delivery: EPA Docket Center, EPA West Building, Room 3334, 1301 Constitution Ave., NW., Washington, DC 20460. Such deliveries are only accepted during the Docket’s normal hours of operation, and special arrangements should be made for deliveries of boxed information.

100th Anniversary of the Gas Station

Makeshift gas station in 1900's. Image courtesy of John Jakle.

Makeshift gas station in 1900’s. Image courtesy of John Jakle.

December 1, 2013 is the 100th anniversary of the modern gas station. As Americans pull up to the pump this holiday season, the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) is encouraging consumers to fill up with ethanol-blended fuel.

“For 100 years drivers have been paying too much for transportation fuel. This can be seen today more than ever,” said Bob Dinneen, President and CEO of RFA. “The price of gasoline is the first thing people see as they drive into a gas station. With the excitement of seeing loved ones comes the reality of the cost of a tank of gasoline, but ethanol reduces the cost of gasoline by on average $1.00/gallon in 2012 and 2013. In addition to cost savings it offers consumers choice at the pump. Now that is truly something to be thankful for.”

According to RFA, a popular cost saving fuel choice is E85 (85 percent ethanol, 15 percent gasoline) for flex fuel vehicles. There are approximately 3,200 stations offering E85 today and over 15.5 million flex fuel vehicles on the road. According to E85Prices.com, E85 prices in Michigan today average $2.62, compared to the average gas price of $3.27. In Lake Odessa, Michigan E85 prices even reached as low as $2.19. Click here to located E85 stations.

RFA also notes consumers increasingly have the option of a new fuel blend, E15 (15 percent ethanol, 85 percent gasoline) for cars 2001 and newer. E15 is the most tested fuel in the history of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and has already been driven over 45 million miles with no known instances of engine damage or misfueling. Approximately 75 percent of vehicles currently on the road are approved for E15 use.

E15 is currently available in 10 states including Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, North Carolina, and Illinois.

“We The People” Support of the RFS

We The People Support the RFSThis morning hundreds of people are expected at the RFS Rally (Renewable Fuel Standard) in support of keeping the renewable biofuel volumes for 2014 moving in the right direction: up. Patriot Renewable Fuels, located in Annawan, IL is hosting the event with Representative Cheri Bustos (D-IL) speaking about her support of the RFS.

Rep. Bustos along with Representative Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) have written a letter for Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Gina McCarthy expressing concern over the proposed rule regarding the RFS. The proposed 2014 rule reduces the renewable volume obligations and she says the rule threatens the long-term viability of the policy.

Gene Griffith with Patriot Renewable Fuels signing the White House We the People petition in support of the RFS. The petition needs 100,000 by Dec. 26, 2013 for the 2014 Proposed renewable fuel volumes to be reviewed by President Obama.

Gene Griffith with Patriot Renewable Fuels signing the White House We the People petition in support of the RFS. The petition needs 100,000 by Dec. 26, 2013 for the 2014 Proposed renewable fuel volumes to be reviewed by President Obama.

Bustos notes the proposed rule doesn’t even maintain the status quo, but instead moves the country backwards. “This reduction could hurt rural economies, jeopardize American jobs, raises prices at the pump and deters investment in biofuels and biofuel infrastructure.”

In preparation for tomorrow’s RFS rally, Patriot Renewable Fuels has created a White House petition to reinstate higher renewable fuels volumes. Patriot’s Gene Griffith, along with all the employees of the biofuel facility, encourage the industry to join together to ensure the future of the biofuel industry and rural economies.

It is important to know that this White House petition needs 100,000 signatures by December 26, 2013 for President Obama to personally address America’s request to keep the RFS intact.

Griffith says the 100,000 signatures will help support America, support the biofuel industry, support Patriot and other biofuel producers and support the rural economies in which they operate. Please take the time right now to sign the petition.

Good & Quick Offering E15 to Iowans

Good_Quick Pump TopperGood & Quick located in Nevada, Iowa has begun selling E15 to 2001 and newer vehicles, making it the 11th registered E15 station in the state. In addition to E15, Good & Quick also offers E20, E30 and E85 for flex-fuel vehicle owners and biodiesel blends.

“Nevada-area residents will now be able to benefit from this low-cost, clean and green fuel option,” said Good & Quick Owner Charlie Good. “Offering E15 as a registered fuel gives me a niche in the market. Making E15 and other higher blends available means my station has more to offer than any other station in Story County. I chose to sell E15 because it gives my customers more fuel choices and it supports our local economy and nearby ethanol production.”

Good_Quick DispenserGood & Quick is located at 519 Lincoln Highway in Nevada. E15, a blend of gasoline and 15 percent ethanol, can be used by all 2001 and newer passenger vehicles, which account for about 85 percent of fuel use in the United States. In order to offer E15, a retailer must register with the EPA. The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association assists retailers in the registration process to ensure they comply with all applicable federal and state E15 regulations.

“IRFA congratulates Good & Quick for making Iowa the nation’s leader in E15 retail stations,” said IRFA Managing Director Lucy Norton. “With both corn and cellulosic ethanol production projects in Nevada, it’s only fitting that the town now has a registered E15 station. Good & Quick now offers a wide variety of ethanol blended fuels and biodiesel, giving Nevada-area motorists the cleanest, lowest-cost fuel choices available.”

South Africa Adopts Biofuels Mandate

The Department of Energy of South Africa has announced that beginning October 1 2015, all gasoline and diesel sold in the country will include the addition of biofuels. The mandatory blending regulations released by the Department of Energy of South Africa in August 2012, allows mixing of B5 biodiesel and between E2 and E10 for gasoline, ie between 2 percent and 10 percent ethanol blended into gasoline.

South African flagThe Executive Director of the Sugar Cane Industry Union (UNICA), Eduardo Leão de Sousa, noted the introduction of mandatory blending, supported by clear policies and long-term, represents an important step towards the creation of a regional market in South Africa. “Considering the political and economic leadership of South Africa in the region, this initiative should encourage neighboring countries to adopt similar policies, enabling larger scales of production and consumption.”

The regulations also make sure that the biofuel-blended fuel are of high quality. Blenders may only negotiate with producers who are licensed to produce and sell biofuels and they will be required to provide a certificate that guarantees the quality in the production process. Oil producers will have to pay a regulated price and the South African Department of Energy is currently working on a table of biofuel prices that it hopes to have completed by the end of the year.

The effective date of October 2015, also takes into account the need to develop and improve the infrastructure for manufacturing, supplying and blending of biofuels. An implementation committee for biofuels was created especially to ensure that issues are resolved to the blends before the regulation comes into effect.

Africa has great potential to produce ethanol from sugarcane, which is considered an advanced biofuel by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) meaning its reductions of greenhouse gases are higher than 50 percent. Sugarcane ethanol emits up to 90% less carbon dioxide (CO2) compared with gasoline.