Experts Present Case for Ethanol vs Gasoline

ethanol-plant-rfaLeading experts in the field of lifecycle greenhouse gas (GHG) analysis and agricultural land use today responded to claims that corn ethanol and other biofuels are somehow worse for the climate than petroleum.

A panel of scientists and economists refuted the suggestion by anti-biofuel advocates that carbon accounting schemes should not credit bioenergy feedstocks for CO2 absorption based on the notion that the feedstock would have absorbed CO2 even if it wasn’t being used for biofuel. Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) Senior Vice President Geoff Cooper, who moderated the panel, called the assertion “illogical” and said “it’s a bit like saying the wind was going to blow anyway, so wind energy shouldn’t be counted as carbon neutral; or the sun was going to shine anyway, so we shouldn’t assume that solar panels are harnessing ‘free’ energy from the sun.”

California-based Life Cycle Associates (LCA) just released a new report on how biofuels have helped reduce GHG emissions in the United States since 2008 under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2). “The lifecycle approach is the best metric for greenhouse gas emissions for biofuels because it takes into account the fact that this is short cycle carbon that was recently removed from the air,” said LCA Senior Partner Stefan Unnasch. “The alternative system means that you have to have global accounting of all agriculture… that’s simply impossible and the opportunities for fraud are present everywhere.” Even if such a carbon flow approach was possible, if done correctly it would show that bioenergy reduces GHG emissions compared to petroleum.

LCA scientist Susan Boland explains that their recent study actually found greater GHG emissions reductions from biofuels than expected. “We found that the RFS2 has resulted in significant GHG reductions, with cumulative CO2 savings of 353 million metric tonnes over the period of implementation. These emissions savings occurred even though cellulosic biofuels have not met the RFS2 production targets,” said Boland.

University of Illinois-Chicago economist Steffen Mueller noted that much is made about land going into biofuels production. “But that land area is really relatively small,” he said. “There’s a lot of other land available that we can use to optimize sequestration potential.” Commenting on the latest Department of Energy analysis, Mueller said “…ethanol produced from corn grain and corn stover provides substantial greenhouse gas benefits over gasoline.” The latest version of GREET shows life cycle emissions for corn ethanol in the range of 63.5‒66.4 gCO2e/MJ, which is over 30% less than the 94 gCO2e/MJ for gasoline.

Meanwhile, Purdue University economist Dr. Wally Tyner takes issue with the assumption land used for biofuel feedstock production would have grown the same feedstock for some other purpose or reverted to a natural state in the absence of biofuels demand. “If we hadn’t have had biofuels in the United States, we might still be paying farmers not to grow as we were before biofuels came along,” said Tyner. “So the assumption that all of this would have happened anyway I think is absurd.”

Listen to the call here: RFA GHG conference call

Analysis Shows RFS2 has Reduced GHG Emissions

rfalogo1A new analysis shows implementation of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2) has resulted in a reduction of U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 354 million metric tons of CO2-equivalent since 2008.

Findings of the analysis, conducted by California-based Life Cycle Associates, have important implications for both the pending final rule for 2014–2016 RFS volumes and upcoming global climate talks in Paris, according to the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), which sponsored the study.

According to the report, “The RFS2 has resulted in significant GHG reductions, with cumulative CO2 savings of 354 million metric tonnes over the period of implementation. The GHG reductions are attributed to greater than expected savings from ethanol and other biofuels.”

Specifically, the authors ascribe the larger-than-anticipated GHG emissions reductions to: technology improvements in grain ethanol production, increased consumption of low-carbon advanced biofuels, and the steadily rising carbon intensity of petroleum fuels. The study found that conventional corn ethanol reduced emissions by an average of 29 percent when compared to the petroleum actually used in 2008, with that reduction growing to 39 percent by 2015. Importantly, these estimates include the best available estimates of prospective “indirect land use change” emissions from Argonne National Laboratory.

“This report, which uses globally accepted GHG accounting methods, demonstrates that the RFS has been tremendously successful in reducing the carbon intensity of our transportation fuels. In fact, the study found the RFS has actually exceeded expectations in terms of GHG reduction,” said RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen.

Read more here.

Pacific Ethanol CEO on Bobby Likis Car Clinic

likis-koehlerPacific Ethanol CEO Neil Koehler will be a guest on “Bobby Likis Car Clinic” tomorrow, November 21, at 11:40 am Eastern time.

Koehler will brief Car Clinic listeners and viewers on the actions required to make strides in energy independence, including the importance of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalizing the rule for the renewable volume obligations of the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS), set for November 30.

“It’s my job as consumers’ go-to source for truth-based automotive information to deliver the facts to you, so you can make best-of-decisions,” said Likis. “Neil Koehler will tell it like it is regarding the RFS.”

Pacific Ethanol is the leading producer and marketer of low-carbon renewable fuels in the Western United States. With the addition of four Midwestern ethanol plants in July 2015, Pacific Ethanol more than doubled the scale of its operations, entered new markets, and expanded its mission to be the industry leader in the production and marketing of low carbon renewable fuels.

To view Koehler’s interview in its entirety, visit on Saturday, November 21, at 11:41a ET.

API Push Poll Proved False by Real Poll

A push poll was recently released by the American Petroleum Institute (API) that found a majority of votes are concerned about using ethanol in their engines. The poll also found voters are opposed to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), contrary to what many other surveys have found. In response, Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), President and CEO Bob Dinneen called the poll “utterly dishonest” and said the questions are so “biased with prejudicial lead in text” that that the results cannot be considered even remotely credible.

Commenting specifically on the wording of the poll questions, Dinneen said that framing their misplaced narrative about food versus fuel, engine damage, and gasoline price impacts as questions, while blatantly ignoring all the facts to the contrary, assures a predetermined result that adds nothing to the public discourse.

API-RFS Poll Question-1Dinneen noted the RFA has been conducting its own monthly surveys throughout the year to ask respondents their opinions about ethanol and the RFS. He said the RFA surveys, which have been conducted by Morning Consult, have consistently shown strong support among the public for the RFS. November’s survey asked 2,001 (twice the number surveyed by API) registered voters for their opinions on biofuels and the RFS. Dinneen pointed out that RFA’s questions were straightforward and balanced, as opposed to those posed by API. When asked in the RFA survey whether they supported the RFS, 62 percent of respondents indicated that they supported the RFS, while 16 percent of respondents indicated they opposed the program. In addition the RFA poll found that a majority of voters (52 percent) think the RFS should be expanded.

API-RFS Poll Question -2“I would like to say that I am shocked API has stooped to such measures as trying to promote an obvious push poll, containing extremely biased questions, as a credible indication of public sentiment about the RFS and ethanol, but I am not,” said Dinneen. “API will do anything and everything in its power to ensure that its monopoly on the marketplace continues. Our data shows when you ask the public fair and balanced questions about the RFS, you see that it clearly supports the ethanol industry. The public wants safe, affordable fuel, and that’s what the RFS allows them to have each and every time they head to a fueling station to fill up their engines.”

Here are examples of questions asked by the API poll and the RFA survey. Dinneen is calling on readers to judge for themselves:

API poll question: “Over 40% of U.S. corn production is currently used to produce ethanol for gasoline. This significantly diverts corn away from the global food supply. Given that, how concerned are you that using even more corn for ethanol production could increase food prices here in the U.S. and increase hunger among the world’s poor?”

RFA survey question: “As you may know there is currently a renewable fuel standard that requires a certain amount of fuel produced each year to come from ethanol, bio-diesel and other renewable resources that aren’t fossil fuels. Do you support or oppose this requirement?”

Other credible polls conducted by third party polling organizations have also found broad support for the RFS including polls from National Farmers Union and America’s Renewable Future.

#Ethanol Leaders Discuss RFS with OMB

rfalogo1Ethanol organization representatives met Wednesday with with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to discuss the forthcoming rule from the Environmental Protection Agency regarding volume obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) president Bob Dinneen and Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis delivered the message that the RFS is working and that there is no reason for EPA to set the Renewable Volume Obligations (RVOs) for undifferentiated renewable fuel (primarily corn ethanol) below the levels specified in the statute.

growth-energy-logo1Dinneen said data show the U.S. ethanol industry would have no problem meeting the 15 billion gallon blending level specified by the statute. “The latest data from the Energy Information Administration show that gasoline consumption projections for 2016 have increased. In fact, EIA expects 2016 gasoline demand to achieve a nine-year high,” said Dinneen. “Our calculations show that because of the uptick in gasoline demand alone, EPA must increase the 2016 RVO by 270 million gallons.”

Dinneen added that the EPA significantly understated the use of E85 and non-ethanol conventional renewable fuels, including non-advanced renewable diesel and biodiesel, in its proposal. “We provided OMB with data showing that EPA has understated the likely market for E85 and non-ethanol conventional biofuels in 2016 by at least 440 million gallons,” said Dinneen. “All of this suggests there will be at least 14.7 billion gallons of undifferentiated renewable fuel blended next year.”

“This meeting was really our closing argument before the administration makes its final decision. We impressed upon OMB that the oil industry’s ‘blend wall’ narrative is simply not true,” Buis added. “The data is there to prove the value of the program and it shows the RFS is doing exactly what it was intended to do. The president needs to uphold the statute.”

EPA is expected to issue the final RFS rule for 2014-2016 on or before November 30.

RFA Updates

e85-pricesThe Renewable Fuels Association has unveiled a redesigned version of its popular fuel market website

According to RFA Vice President of Industry Relations Robert White, the layout of the site has been updated for easier navigation and redesigned with a modern interface for a cleaner presentation. “The all new website and mobile app make it easier than ever to locate E85 stations, search for the best prices for ethanol blends, and post your personal pricing experiences,” said White. “Both the website and the app are optimized for use on any device and allow easier interaction than ever before. It is our hope that these upgrades will lead to increased usage and reporting.”

nafb15-rfa-whiteDuring an interview at the National Association of Farm Broadcasting last week, White said they have been working on the upgrade since they acquired earlier this year. “We think this will allow consumers and fleet operators a better ability to find E85 stations to use the fuel and find the best deal they can on E85,” White said, noting that 85 percent ethanol is approved for use only in Flex Fuel vehicles, of which there are now over 19 million on the road in the nation. is now better integrated with Google for optimal search results that link back to the website. In addition, the mobile app also includes an updated interface that makes it easier for users to share the latest prices for the fuel in their areas.

ethanol-report-adIn this edition of the Ethanol Report, White talks about the update, as well as the increasing number of flex fuel vehicles on the road, the growing number of stations offering E85, and other topics related to higher ethanol blends in the marketplace.

Listen to this edition of the Ethanol Report here: Ethanol Report on Updated

Broin Resumes Role as POET CEO

poet-broinPOET founder Jeff Broin announced last week that he has resumed his role as the company’s CEO after serving as Executive Chairman for over three years.

“A few years ago, I wanted to slow down a bit, be less involved in the affairs of POET and have time to do other things and spend more time with my family,” Broin said. “In the last few years I have been able to work on broader industry and ag issues, get our new foundation – Seeds of Change – up and running and support several third-world causes. However, I also found myself continuing to work regularly on company issues. The fact is, my passion and love for this company, our industry, agriculture and the people I work with is just too great. I guess you could say my heart has always been in this company. We have so many great opportunities in front of us to change the world, and I think I can be of most value moving forward by serving as CEO,”

Jeff Lautt has been CEO and will continue to manage the day-to-day operations of POET as President and Chief Operating Officer. “No one is more passionate about this company and industry than Jeff Broin. This business is in his blood,” said Lautt.

Ethanol Report on the RFS and COP21

ethanol-report-adThe Renewable Fuels Association sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry this week urging him to highlight the role of the Renewable Fuel Standard in reducing global greenhouse gas emissions as he prepares to head to the international climate conference COP21 in Paris.

nafb-rfa-cooperAt the National Association of Farm Broadcasting, RFA Senior Vice President Geoff Cooper talked about the importance of the United States promoting biofuels as a means of reducing greenhouse gas emissions at the conference, how successful the RFS has been, the U.S. corn crop, and much more.

Listen to this edition of the Ethanol Report here: Ethanol Report on the RFS and COP21

Ethanol Conference to Offer View of Future

NEC 2016aThe organizers of the 21st Annual National Ethanol Conference are offering attendees a sneak peek of what they’ll see at the gathering Feb. 15-17, 2015, at the Hyatt Regency in New Orleans… while also offering a view of the future for the ethanol industry.

NEC 2016, Fueling a High Octane Future, will highlight how ethanol’s high octane content is driving demand for the fuel both domestically and abroad. Industry experts will provide a look at the current state of the industry, as well as forecasts for the future.

Featured Session Highlights Include…

Keynote Address from John Hofmeister, former president of the Shell Oil Company
Energy Markets Outlook with Tom Kloza, Global Head of Energy Analysis at Oil Price Information Service (OPIS)
High Octane Means High Performance Addresses ethanol’s benefits as a high octane fuel source for today’s vehicles, as well as future advanced engine technologies
Government Industry Conversation About the Future of U.S. Biofuels Policy, including a discussion on how evolving fuel policies present both challenges and opportunities to industry
Why Some Marketers Choose to Sell E15 and Flex-Fuels, and Others Don’t provides first-hand insight on the regulatory and marketplace environment presented by higher ethanol blends.
Opportunities for Ethanol Export in Key Target Markets will involve experts from the target markets of the International Buyer Program (Brazil, China, India, Mexico & Philippines) to provide detailed information on export opportunities for the U.S. ethanol industry
High Octane Fuels: Economic & Environmental Benefits will present a macro picture of the economic and environmental advantages of ethanol as a high octane fuel both domestically and abroad

In addition, those who register early will get some exclusive upgrades.

Register by November 27, 2015 and receive:

An exclusive invitation to participate in a private webinar on the 2016 presidential campaign with a focus on candidates’ positions on ethanol issues (taking place on January 14, 2016)
Entry into a drawing to win a complimentary Executive Suite upgrade
Entry into a drawing to receive a complimentary registration to NEC 2017

And if that weren’t enough, the NEC Scholarship Program will see six students have their full cost of the conference registration fee – an $895 value – paid for in full. Deadline to apply for the scholarship is December 18.

RFA Urges Secy Kerry to Promote RFS

As U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry prepares to head to COP 21 in Paris, the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) is calling on him to promote the success of Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen urged Kerry in a letter to highlight the role of the RFS in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and encourage other countries to follow the example.

rfalogo1“On behalf of America’s renewable fuel producers and farmers across the country poised to contribute to lower carbon fuels here and across the globe, I ask you to be bold in Paris,” the letter states. “I ask that you encourage other nations to follow the lead of the United States, which has the single most effective and aggressive low carbon fuels program the world has to offer – and it has been a phenomenal success.”

Dinneen’s letter noted that although the RFS is a potent weapon in combating climate change and has a proven track record of reducing GHG emissions, the U.S. government’s actions leading up to Paris have not sufficiently embraced what he called “America’s best kept climate policy secret”. Enclosed with the letter was a recent RFA report indicating that nearly 30 countries attending COP21 have included biofuels policies and programs in their post-2020 climate action plans, but the U.S. plan does not even mention the RFS or biofuels.

In closing, the letter states, “Mr. Secretary, a very convenient truth is that renewable biofuels are poised to replace a dramatically increasing share of the world’s liquid transportation fuel. We are doing that successfully and to great benefit in the United States. With your leadership, the world will follow. But we must not be afraid to trumpet our success.”