Study Shows Biofuel Use Saves Carbon Emissions

bio-logoA new study from the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) shows that use of biofuels over the past decade has saved nearly 590 million tons of carbon emissions.

According to the study, the requirement under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) over the past 10 years to substitute biofuels for fossil fuels has displaced nearly 1.9 billion barrels of foreign oil and reduced U.S. transportation-related carbon emissions by 589.33 million metric tons.

“The Renewable Fuel Standard was signed into law ten years ago this month by President George W. Bush. The law’s purpose was to end America’s addiction to oil, reduce reliance on foreign oil and lower carbon emissions from the transportation sector,” said Brent Erickson, executive vice president of BIO’s Industrial & Environmental Section. “The RFS program has demonstrably achieved those goals. The total reduction in carbon emissions achieved under the program is equal to removing more than 124 million cars from the road over the decade.”

The study also finds that EPA’s recent proposed rules for the RFS would cut short achievable future carbon emission reductions. In 2015 alone, the proposal would add 19.6 million tons of CO2e for the year, equal to putting 7.3 million cars back on the road, compared with achievable levels of biofuel use.

“It is unfortunate that the Environmental Protection Agency has delayed issuing new rules for the program and is now proposing to halt growth in the biofuel market,” said Erikson. “The agency’s delay will continue to allow fossil fuels to be used when cleaner, lower carbon biofuels are available, reversing some of the progress made in the past ten years.”
Read the study here.

NCGA CEO at #ACE15

ace15-novakThe still new CEO of the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) addressed the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) annual meeting last week with strong message that they stand behind the industry all the way.

Chris Novak, who took over as NCGA CEO in October of last year, told the ACE members that the state corn grower organizations recently solidified their vision going forward and part of it includes the idea that the ethanol industry is part of feeding the world. “Because the by-products, the DDGS, that are coming through your plants contribute tremendous value and gains to the livestock industry,” he said. “So, not only are you fueling America, you’re also feeding America.”

Novak talked about the latest crop production forecast from USDA for this year’s corn crop, calling for the third largest crop in history, and how that makes the EPA’s decision on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) more important than ever. “Our primary challenge is the size of the corn crop and what we are going to do about that,” he said. “We look at the EPA’s decision with respect to the RVO (Renewable Volume Obligations) basically taking away about 1.5 billion bushels of demand over the next three years.”

Depending on what EPA makes as a final decision in November, Novak says NCGA is already considering legal options. “Our board has … recognized that EPA violated the law, the statute is clear in terms of what the renewable fuel levels should be, and we think the methodology that the EPA chose is wrong – and so we are looking at what legal options we may have to continue to challenge that rule,” said Novak.

Listen to Novak’s address to ACE and an interview with him summarizing those remarks below –

NCGA CEO Chris Novak at ACE Interview with NCGA CEO Chris Novak

2015 ACE Annual Meeting Photos

#ACE15 Honors America’s Renewable Future

L-R: Absolute Energy CEO Rick Schwark, ARF co-chair Bill Couser, ARF coordinator Eric Branstad, and ACE EVP Brian Jennings

L-R: Absolute Energy CEO Rick Schwark, ARF co-chair Bill Couser, ARF coordinator Eric Branstad, and ACE EVP Brian Jennings

America’s Renewable Future (ARF) is less than one year old, but what the coalition has accomplished in that short time has been so impressive that the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) recognized them with the organization’s policy and legislative leadership award this year. The coalition was established in January of this year for the sole purpose of educating 2016 presidential candidates about agriculture, biofuels and the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

Accepting the award at the ACE annual meeting in Omaha this week were two Iowa ethanol advocates – Rick Schwark of Absolute Energy and Bill Couser with Couser Cattle Company who serves as ARF co-chair, as well as the son of Iowa’s governor who was instrumental in the formation of the coalition.

Eric Branstad says right now they are focused on the Iowa caucuses in February. “We are building a team of pledged supporters…pledging to come and caucus for an RFS supporting candidate,” he said. “Right now we have surpassed 25,000 caucus goers and our goal by November 1 is to have 50,000.”

ARF has been very busy this past week at the Iowa State Fair talking to visiting candidates, including Republican front runner Donald Trump. “We had a 40 minute, one-on-one meeting with him,” said Branstad, who added that Trump’s knowledge about ethanol going into the meeting was negligible. By the end of the meeting, after getting a short course on the history and advancements of the industry, Branstad felt they had made an impression. “He said ‘I want to invest!’ so I guess that’s the best compliment we could get from Mr. Trump,” said Branstad.

Listen to my interview with Eric Branstad here: Interview with Eric Branstad, America's Renewable Future

I also talked with ARF co-chair Bill Couser about the organization’s first eight months. “I think one thing we’ve been able to bring out in these candidates is ‘who are you really?’,” said Couser. “You talk about their wives and their kids – we want to know that here in the Midwest.”

Couser says he still wants to get Hillary Clinton out to his operation near Nevada, Iowa. “To get her out on our farms and ranches and actually show her about corn production and show her where ethanol’s made and show her what that’s done for our schools and our roads and how important that is for our country,” he said.

In this interview, Couser also talks about his testimony at the EPA hearing on the Renewable Fuel Standard, his unique perspective as a cattle producer and ethanol advocate, and why he is so involved with the American Coalition for Ethanol: Interview with Bill Couser, America's Renewable Future

2015 ACE Annual Meeting Photos

Grains Council Chairman at #ACE15

ace15-tiemannNebraska farmer Alan Tiemann was recently elected chairman of the U.S. Grains Council and he is excited about the work they are doing to expand exports of ethanol and the co-product Distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS) used for livestock feed.

“For this coming year, my theme is ‘Excellence in Exports,'” said Tiemann during an interview after his address to the American Coalition for Ethanol conference this week in Omaha. “That’s what we’re going to focus on, excellence in exports – in ethanol, in distillers grains, in all the co-products, in sorghum and barley.”

During his address at ACE, Tiemann talked about the great success in exports of DDGS around the world and the potential for increasing ethanol exports to markets like Asia. “We look at Beijing and the smog issues they have there, the opportunities for a clean burning fuel like ethanol should be a no-brainer,” he said. Right now the largest export markets for U.S. ethanol are Canada and Brazil.

Listen to my interview with Tiemann here: Interview with Alan Tiemann, US Grains Council chairman

Listen to Tiemann’s full presentation at ACE here: USGC chair Alan Tiemann address to ACE

2015 ACE Annual Meeting Photos

ACE Chairman Optimistic About Ethanol Future

ace15-alversonThe chairman of the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) is encouraged about the future for the ethanol industry, despite the continued challenges.

Ron Alverson of Dakota Ethanol says a lot has happened in the 10 years since the first Renewable Fuel Standard became law. “There were three legs of support for the RFS. It was cheap corn, high priced and scarce fuel, and the better environmental footprint of renewable fuels – we’ve had ups and downs since then,” said Alverson. Ultimately he thinks ethanol will keep moving forward because “we’ve got a really great product and a really great priced product.”

Listen to my interview with Ron here: Interview with ACE chairman Ron Alverson, Dakota Ethanol

2015 ACE Annual Meeting Photos

#ACE15 Annual Celebrates Ethanol Ingenuity

ace15-1The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) is meeting this week in Omaha, Nebraska to celebrate the people, ingenuity and advancements of the ethanol industry.

ACE Executive Vice President Brian Jennings talked about the success of the industry, despite the roadblocks that have come up over the past decade since passage of the first Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). “In the face of adversity you don’t give up,” said Jennings. “You quietly and calmly roll up your sleeves and you go about fixing the problems.”

Jennings compared the trajectory of success, with its ups and downs, to the way implementation of the RFS has evolved. “Under EPA’s recent supervision, the RFS has been messy, it’s been slow going and it’s been hard work,” said Jennings, asking what the industry should do if EPA keeps “riding the brakes” on the RFS. “Maintain pressure on them to keep it on track? Absolutely!”

Jennings also left open the option of legal action if EPA makes no change in the proposed RFS. “What are we to do if EPA drives the RFS in the ditch?,” asked Jennings. “Do we take them to court? Maybe. We’ll have to see.”

The final rule from EPA is expected by November and Jennings says in meantime, ACE is planning a new promotional and social media campaign to keep up the pressure. “ACE plans to launch a new round of Power by People ads, in the Beltway and around the country, to highlighting the benefits of the RFS to everyday people,” said Jennings.

Listen to Brian’s industry address here: ACE Executive VP Brian Jennings, 2015 annual meeting

2015 ACE Annual Meeting Photos

EIA: Outage Increased Midwest Gas Prices

eia-outageNew data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) confirms that the unplanned outage earlier this month of a 240,000-barrels-per-day unit at a refinery in Whiting, Indiana, caused gas prices to spike throughout the Midwest.

The outage occurred on August 8 and EIA notes that regular gasoline prices in the Midwest increased by 32 cents a gallon within the following week, from $2.47 the week of the outage to $2.79 a gallon on August 17. EIA says it was “the largest weekly increase for Midwest gasoline prices since the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.”

“The EIA data show that the refinery outage made a serious dent in the wallets of consumers,” said Bob Dinneen, President and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association, which released a statement in response to the unplanned shutdown. “The Environmental Protection Agency and the Obama Administration have all the tools they need at their disposal to assist in blunting the consumer impacts of the refinery outage. We, once again, call on EPA to immediately waive RVP requirements for E15 and also allow E12 blending in the Midwest region.”

According to EIA, it can take markets days or weeks to adjust to the sudden loss of production during unplanned outages, often resulting in sudden price increases. The severity and duration of the higher prices depend on how quickly the refinery problem can be resolved, how soon alternative sources of supply can arrive, and the marginal cost to bring alternative supply to the region.

ICM Completes Cellulose Ethanol Performance Runs

icm-20ICM Inc. has successfully completed two 1,000-hour performance runs of its patent-pending Generation 2.0 Co-Located Cellulose Ethanol process at the company’s pilot plant in St. Joseph, Missouri.

The runs were designed to prove performance of the co-located technology design for the conversion of cellulosic biomass feedstocks, including energy crops such as switchgrass and energy sorghum, agricultural crop residues, and forestry residues, to cellulosic ethanol and co-products.

The first performance run, which ran from March to late April, focused on switchgrass while the second run from early June to late July, focused on energy sorghum. Both runs were similar in nature, but with a few minor operational modifications included to allow for smoother operation between the two runs. The 1,000+ hours of continuous production in each run are a significant achievement, as it qualifies these data sets for federal loan guarantee programs.

“This achievement is important because it provides operational confidence at a commercially relevant scale. We used all commercial-type equipment for these performance runs that processed 10 dry tons of feedstock per day. At that scale, we were able to achieve continuous operations throughout both performance runs to generate key data required to move forward to commercialization as the market provides demand for Gen. 2.0 Cellulosic Ethanol and co-products.” said Dr. Doug Rivers, ICM’s Director of Research and Development.

ICM believes that the success with each of these three 1,000-hour runs comes from the dedicated individuals and extensive testing of various feedstocks at the pilot scale for next generation conversion technology to produce renewable fuels that meet low carbon fuel standards.

East Kansas Agri-Energy Celebrates 10th Anniversary

East Kansas Agri-Energy (EKAE) is celebrating its 10th anniversary of operations. The Garnett, Kansas ethanol biorefinery is hosting an event on Saturday, August 15th and the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) will be onsite to share in the plant’s success along with government and industry officials and featuring a keynote speech from Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan). Attendees can also tour the facility.

EKAE_Logo_235Since opening in 2005, EKAE has produced and sold more than 376 million gallons of ethanol, more than 2 million tons of wet and dried distillers grains animal feed, and nearly 35 million pounds of corn distillers oil. The plant has processed more than 137 million bushels of corn since opening, creating an important new market for local farmers and adding value to East Kansas crops.

Following a plant expansion, EKAE can now produce 48 million gallons of ethanol each year. Construction is also underway for a co-located renewable diesel facility that will convert corn distillers oil into low-carbon advanced biofuel. Other accomplishments include the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) certifying the ethanol plant as an efficient producer. The EPA determined that the plant’s corn ethanol reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 27.2 percent as compared to petroleum even when the elusive “land use change” calculations are included.

“We’ve come a long way since that first gallon of ethanol in 2005. What started as an idea at a local coffee shop is now a multi-million dollar advanced biofuel refinery,” said EKAE Chairman Bill Pracht. “Our company has evolved to become a leading driver of economic growth in our community, and we’re very proud of that fact. Once our renewable diesel project launches, we will employ more than 50 hard-working men and women at our facility. We’re also proud of our safety record and the fact that we have had no lost-time accidents since day one.”

“The entire EKAE family should be congratulated for this remarkable achievement,” noted RFA Senior Vice President Geoff Cooper. “The EKAE facility has made an indelible mark on the Garnett community, and for that the company’s board, staff, and investors should be very proud. But they should also be proud of the fact that the positive impacts of this plant—including lower gas prices, reduced dependence on foreign oil, and cleaner air—extend well past the borders of Anderson County.”

Jeff Oestmann, EKAE President and CEO, explained that the ethanol plant has experienced a tremendous level of success in an industry that is often known for its unpredictability. “East Kansas Agri-Energy has had an unquestionably positive economic impact on Garnett, helping to revitalize the community by creating demand for local producers and saving consumers cash at the pump.” Continue reading

POET Shows Economic Impact of Its Ethanol

POETEthanol made by POET is big in U.S. economic growth, cutting dependence on foreign oil, and reducing greenhouse gases. The South Dakota-based ethanol maker has released its first-ever economic impact study that shows the company made significant contributions, including:

– Generating a total of $13.5 billion in sales for U.S. businesses;
– Adding $5.4 billion in national gross domestic product;
– Supporting an estimated 39,978 full time jobs; and
– Contributing $3.1 billion in income for American families.

The report further details POET’s contribution to the economic prosperity in each of the seven states where it operates – South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Indiana, Ohio and Michigan. POET, which is headquartered in Sioux Falls, S.D., operates a total of 27 dry mill corn ethanol plants with an annual capacity of 1.7 billion gallons – more than 11 percent of the total U.S. ethanol output.

“Ethanol provides us the means to produce our own clean fuel and keep the enormous economic benefits within America’s borders,” POET CEO Jeff Lautt said. “The impact flows from the plants to farmers, communities, throughout the states in which they operate and across the nation.”

In addition, the report cites POET’s impact on reducing foreign oil dependence. According to the study, POET’s production of 1.7 billion gallons of ethanol displaces nearly 1.2 billion gallons of gasoline, which requires 61 million barrels of crude oil to produce. This displacement potentially reduces the outflow of money to foreign producers of oil by nearly $5.5 billion.

The use of POET ethanol also reduces greenhouse gas emissions relative to gasoline. Burning a gallon of ethanol opposed to gasoline results in a 35 percent reduction of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Reflecting this, the production of 1.7 billion gallons of POET ethanol cuts CO2 emissions by approximately 874,000 metric tons.

The full report is available here.