Renewable Fuels Association Elects 2016 Leadership

rfalogo1The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) announced the election of officers for the 2016 Board of Directors at the organization’s annual membership meeting held this week in Omaha, Nebraska.

Randall Doyal, General Manager and CEO at Al-Corn Clean Fuel, has been re-elected to serve as Chairman of the Board of Directors for another year. Doyal’s ethanol facility, which is located in Claremont, Minnesota, produces 50 million gallons of ethanol annually. His experience in the ethanol industry began in 1982 at Mountain Development Company. In addition to Al-Corn Clean Fuel, Doyal serves as Chairman of the Board at Guardian Energy, LLC and the Renewable Products Marketing Group. He previously served as Vice-Chairman and Treasurer of the RFA.

rfa-doyal“I am truly humbled that my peers have, once again, selected me to head the Renewable Fuels Association. The RFA is a strong and vocal advocate for the ethanol industry, and its technical knowledge, political influence, and market acumen are unmatched,” said Doyal. “I look forward to another year of working side by side with RFA’s highly professional staff and other producers to protect the Renewable Fuel Standard and expand market access at home and abroad.”

The RFA membership also elected Mick Henderson, General Manager of Commonwealth Energy in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, as vice chairman. And Jim Seurer, CFO of Glacial Lakes Energy in Watertown, South Dakota was elected treasurer for the organization. Bob Dinneen was also re-elected as president of RFA.

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.”

Ethanol the Cure for Omaha’s Bad Gas

NEethanolboardNew tests show that Omaha has a case of bad gas, but ethanol could be the cure. The Nebraska Ethanol Board says gasoline at the Magellan fuel terminal in Omaha showed some samples tested to having as much as 30 percent by volume of toxic substances in fuel that wasn’t blended with ethanol.

Toxics such as benzene, xylene and toluene are added to gasoline to increase octane, which is necessary to reduce engine knock. These substances, known collectively as “aromatics”, are known toxins and, in some cases, known or suspected carcinogens or cancer-causing substances.

In the July fuel samples, these toxics accounted for nearly 30 percent of volume in base gasoline without ethanol added. However, when 10 percent ethanol was added to the mix, the volume of toxic compounds dropped to 23 percent—or nearly by one-fourth that of straight gasoline.

“While ‘aromatics’ may sound like a good thing, they are actually a huge threat to human health,” said Angela Tin, vice president of environmental health for the American Lung Association of the Upper Midwest. “These toxics do not completely combust in the engine and therefore exit the tailpipe as tiny particles that enter our lungs, heart, brains and bloodstream.”

Particulate matter from vehicle exhaust has been linked to brain cancer, lung cancer, heart disease and asthma — and is especially harmful to infants, children and people suffering from heart or respiratory problems.

Tin says fuel with ethanol is a cleaner air alternative. “Ethanol is a clean-burning, non-toxic source of octane,” she said. “The more ethanol in our fuel, the lower the volume of toxic compounds in our fuel and in the air we breathe.”

Nebraska Ethanol Board officials point out that ethanol adds oxygen to fuel and that helps the fuel burn more completely with more of the toxic compounds completely burned in the engine rather than coming out the tailpipe.

Cause of Ethanol Train Derailment Probed

train-derailFederal investigators are looking into why seven ethanol tanker cars derailed in South Dakota over the weekend. No one was injured in the derailment that occurred early Saturday morning, but at least one of the cars caught fire in the accident involving a 98-car Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad train.

Senate Transportation Committee chairman John Thune (R-SD) is watching the investigation closely and says they believe the derailment was caused by a broken rail or structural failure in the small bridge where the incident occurred. “Safety has got to be the highest priority,” said Thune. “These were some of the older model cars that actually derailed and started a fire there.” The Department of Transportation has required updates to fuel transportation cars, including the unjacketed DOT-111 cars which commonly carry ethanol.

“Ethanol should have some different treatment with respect to these cars compared to oil tank cars,” Thune said. “Most of the seven cars that derailed were older models that will require upgrades under these new safety standards.” Five of the seven cars were the DOT-111 models and two were newer jacketed models that will still be required to have some upgrades under the new standards.

New Holland Focus on Clean Energy at Expo Milano

cnh-expo-tractorThe centerpiece outside the New Holland Agriculture Sustainable Farm Pavilion at Expo Milano is a prototype methane-powered tractor that the company is developing to help farmers run their equipment on self-generated energy.

“We are a clean energy leader company,” said New Holland Agriculture Brand president Carlo Lambro. “Methane is really close to zero emission.”

cnh-carlo-welcomeIn addition, Lambro says methane is very economical. “Methane is one of the cheapest fuels that can be found,” he told a group of agricultural bloggers from around the globe during an event at Expo Milano last week.

The prototype tractor on display at Expo is based on a New Holland T6.175 standard tractor and has a total capacity of 300 litres (52kg) compressed methane, enough to operate the tractor for half a day. The biomethane powered tractor can result in fuel savings of 20-40% and has 80% lower emissions than a standard diesel tractor.

Lambro says New Holland is also looking at other alternative fuels. “In North America, we’re working more on the ethanol side as a potential fuel,” Lambro told a group of agricultural bloggers from around the globe during an event at Expo Milano last week. “Methane in Europe, ethanol in the U.S., ethanol from sugarcane in Brazil.”

Listen to Carlo’s discussion with the bloggers here: Carlo Lambro, New Holland Brand President

2015 New Holland Heroes & Bloggers Days

RFA: Oregon Treating Biofuels Unfairly

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has offered a proposal to include indirect land use change (ILUC) emissions when calculating the carbon intensity of biofuels regulated under the state’s Clean Fuels Program (CFP). The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) has expressed disappointment in the proposal that is to take effect on January 1, 2016 and aims for a 10 percent reduction in the carbon intensity (CI) of transportation fuels in the state over a 10-year period.

rfalogo1RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen said that the DEQ proposal would have the effect of creating an inconsistent and unfair methodology for estimating the carbon intensity of competing fuel options under the CFP. Specifically, DEQ’s proposal would penalize certain biofuels for theoretical indirect emissions, while assuming that no other fuels induce any indirect greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions at all. DEQ proposed to integrate the flawed ILUC analysis conducted by the California Air Resources Board (CARB), despite the fact that recent analyses have shown that the land use changes predicted by CARB’s computer models have not occurred in the real world. DEQ also flatly ignored the results of new land use modeling approaches, including recently published data from the Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory.

“Oregon DEQ really fumbles the ball with this proposal,” said Dinneen. “The Oregon CFP previously enjoyed broad-based support from the biofuels and ag industries because the CI impacts of all fuels were being evaluated fairly and consistently. But the program is headed off the rails now that DEQ is planning to simply regurgitate CARB’s faulty and biased ILUC penalties, while pretending that other fuels don’t have indirect GHG effects.”

Dinneen continued, “Regrettably, Oregon’s proposal puts politics ahead of science, a problem that has plagued the California program, harming consumers by limiting choice at the pump. The U.S. ethanol industry will continue to support performance-based low carbon fuel programs that are grounded in the principles of fairness, sound science, and consistent analytical boundaries. Unfortunately, Oregon’s proposal doesn’t meet any of those criteria.”

Oregon DEQ is hosting a public hearing on the proposed rule on October 19, 2015 and will accept written comments from the public through October 21, 2015.

UN Data Shows No Food Price Rise from Ethanol

The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (UN FAO) has released new data showing that global food prices in August experienced the steepest monthly drop since 2008, which casts doubt upon concerns about the impact of ethanol production in food price increases.

global-rfaAccording the the Global Renewable Fuels Alliance (GRFA), the recent decline in food prices coincided with a period of record ethanol production expansion, reaching a high of 94 billion litres in 2014 from 83.5 billion litres in 2012, a 10% increase over this period.

The UN FAO Food Price Index averaged 155.7 points in August, down 5.2% from July, representing the steepest monthly drop since December 2008 with virtually all major food commodities registering marked dips. This drop coincides with a fall in crude oil prices in July of 19%, closing at $48.25USD per barrel on July 31.

The Global Renewable Fuels Alliance (GRFA) has for several years argued that the price of oil and energy inputs are the single most influential drivers of food and commodity prices. A number of international institutions including the World Bank, International Energy Agency (IEA) and United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (UN FAO) have also recognised the strong relationship between oil prices and food prices.

Read more from GRFA.

Ethanol Report on Growing Biofuels Infrastructure

ethanol-report-adUSDA has announced new funding for biofuels infrastructure at fueling stations and Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) president and CEO Bob Dinneen thinks EPA should pay attention to that message. In this Ethanol Report, Dinneen also comments on what Congress may or may not do the rest of this session, and how another big corn crop makes keeping the RFS on track more important than ever.

Listen to this edition of the Ethanol Report here: Ethanol Report on Growing Biofuels Infrastructure

American Ethanol “Top Gun” at Lake Ozark Shootout

Photo credit - george denny, Lake of the Ozarks Shootout

Photo credit – george denny, Lake of the Ozarks Shootout

American Ethanol made a big splash at the Lake of the Ozarks Shootout held in central Missouri recently.

More than 100,000 spectators gathered to watch nearly 100 boats race along the one-mile course, and the boat crowned as the “Top Gun” was the American Ethanol 51-foot Mystic Powerboats catamaran. The boat, named after its fuel, logged a top speed of 208 mph.

“The American Ethanol catamaran definitively proved that ethanol and marine engines are more than compatible,” said Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy. “The team chose to run on ethanol because the fuel performs better and burns cooler than regular gasoline. Unsurprisingly, the second place boat was also powered by homegrown American ethanol,” Buis said.

The driver of the boat, Myrick Coil, said, “This boat accelerated harder than any boat I have ever been in. It was also the biggest boat I have ever driven. Those two things usually don’t go together!”

John Cosker, owner of Mystic Powerboats, added, “All of our hard work leading up to the event paid off when the boat came alive off of the start line and rocketed to a clocked speed of 208 mph. It showed America the power behind American Ethanol.”

The owner of the boat, Don Onken, echoed these sentiments and noted that, “We showcased the potential of American Ethanol at this event, and I’m proud of what we were able to accomplish together. There’s only one thing left to do—figure out how to go faster next year.”