Iowa Governor Blasts Ted Cruz Over Ethanol

irfa-branstadIowa Governor Terry Branstad made national headlines Tuesday at the Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit with his comments about presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) during an impromptu press conference.

“He is heavily financed by Big Oil,” Branstad said about Cruz. “I think it would be very damaging to our state…and I think it would be a big mistake for Iowa to support him.”

Branstad noted that Senator Cruz was not invited to speak at the renewable fuels summit specifically because of his views on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). “That’s the reason why he hasn’t been invited to this because he hasn’t supported renewable fuels,” said Branstad. “He still supports immediately repealing the Renewable Fuel Standard.” Branstad added that Cruz is “against the wind energy tax credit as well.”

Listen to Branstad’s comments here: Gov. Branstad comments on Ted Cruz

Governor Branstad addressed the 10th Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit, which he has done almost every year that the event has been held. “I have supported ethanol and biodiesel from the very beginning,” he said. Gov. Branstad at Iowa RFA summit

10th Annual Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit Photo Album

Four GOP Candidates Address #Ethanol

Four Republican presidential candidates addressed the 10th annual Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit on Tuesday, putting a major national spotlight on the importance of ethanol to the nation.

irfa-santorumFirst up was former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, the only candidate who had been there before, making his third appearance to the group. He stressed his long support for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). “I am not a newbie to the RFS world,” he said. “I’m the only person in this race who actually voted for the RFS when I was in the United States Senate in 2005.”

Alluding to Senator Ted Cruz, who was not invited to speak at the summit but who has strong support in Iowa, Santorum encouraged ethanol supporters to “Stand up for someone who supports the RFS.”

Listen to Santorum’s remarks here: Rick Santorum at Iowa RFA

irfa-trumpFront runner Donald Trump was next up, reading from prepared remarks and also stressing his support for the RFS. “The RFS is an important tool in the mission to achieve energy independence for the United States,” Trump said. “I will do all that is in my power as president to achieve that goal.”

Trump also noted remarks that Iowa Governor Terry Branstad made in a press conference at the event that “it would be a big mistake for Iowa to support him.”

Listen to Trump’s remarks here: Donald Trump at Iowa RFA

irfa-huckabeeFollowing Trump was former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, who stressed the importance of farmers in the goal of energy independence, saying people don’t appreciate “that our agricultural system not only provides the food and fiber for our tables, but now is doing something truly remarkable – helping provide fuel for our energy needs.”

Huckabee said the RFS created investment in renewable fuels and “something magic happened – the program actually worked!”

Listen to Huckabee’s remarks here: Mike Huckabee at Iowa RFA

irfa-fiorinaLast to take the stage was businesswoman Carly Fiorina who talked about the EPA’s final rule for biofuels volume obligations under the RFS made last year that is lower than Congress intended.

“What’s going on with renewable rule standards, what’s going on with EPA, are an example of what’s wrong with our government,” she said. “They are one of the reasons why I’m running for the presidency of the United States.”

Listen to Fiorina’s remarks here: Carly Fiorina at Iowa RFA

10th Annual Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit Photo Album

Vilsack Featured Speaker at Nat’l Ethanol Conference

vilsackrfaU.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has been named to the lineup for this year’s National Ethanol Conference. The gathering, going on Feb. 15-17 in New Orleans, is the most widely attended executive level conference for the ethanol industry. Vilsack, a former governor of Iowa, was praised by the Renewable Fuels Association as being a long-time ally of ethanol.

Vilsack is a strong proponent of ethanol, renewable fuels and American agriculture. As leader of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Vilsack is working hard to strengthen the American agricultural economy, build vibrant rural communities and create new markets for the tremendous innovation of rural America.

Other topics at the conference include, global marketing and logistics trends, ethanol’s benefits as a high octane fuel source, and much more!

More information and registration are available here.

Abigail Fisler Wins NEC Scholarship

Abigail FislerAbigail Fisler, a junior at Dickinson College in Carlislie, PA, has been awarded a student scholarship to attend the 21st Annual National Ethanol Conference (NEC) in February in New Orleans. The scholarship, awarded by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) and the Renewable Fuels Foundation, (RFF) provides a student studying renewable fuels with complimentary registration and an opportunity to network with industry members.

Abigail is pursuing two bachelor’s degrees in environmental studies — with a focus on renewable energy and climate change — and Italian studies, respectively. She was introduced to biofuels at a young age during a fourth-grade field trip to an ethanol plant in Lakota, Iowa. Last summer, she worked as an intern for California Ethanol and Power, where she assisted with investor presentations, developing marketing materials, and providing business plan updates. This summer Abagail intends to gain additional experience in the areas of sustainable energy and policy development. She ultimately plans to work globally in the field due to her affinity for foreign languages and cultures.

“On behalf of the RFA and RFF, I am proud to hand this year’s scholarship to a talented student with a promising career in the renewable fuels industry ahead of her,” said Mike Jerke, chairman of the RFF and CEO of Guardian Energy. “Abigail’s deep resume at such a young age is a testament to her commitment to energy in the 21st century, and the NEC is the perfect place for her to extend that background further. This scholarship will provide Abigail with exclusive access to the best in the industry who will deliver insight into the important issues facing the ethanol industry.”

The National Ethanol Conference will take place Feb. 15–17 at the New Orleans Hyatt Regency. Click here for more information and to register.

EPA Study on Vehicle Emissions Raises Questions

A new study has raised questions about the veracity of the U.S Environmental Protection Agencies vehicle emissions modeling system. The third party report found it to be an inadequate and unreliable tool for estimating the exhaust of emissions of gasoline blends containing more than 10 percent ethanol. The evaluation of EPA’s latest Motor Vehicle Emissions Simulator (MOVES2014) model was conducted by scientists from Wyle Laboratories, Inc., and Volpe (part of the U.S. Department of Transportation), and commissioned by the Renewable Fuels Foundation.

rfalogo1“Overall, it was found that the predictive emissions results generated by MOVES2014 for mid-level ethanol blends were sometimes inconsistent with other emissions results from the scientific literature for both exhaust emissions and evaporative emissions,” according to the study. “…results and trends from MOVES2014 for certain pollutants are often contrary to the findings of other studies and reports in the literature.”

The study found that the MOVES2014 model predicts increased exhaust emissions of nitrogen components and particulate matter as the ethanol content in gasoline increases, even though real-world emissions testing based on mid-level ethanol blends has shown distinctly opposite trends. “The results from other researchers often show ethanol-related emissions trends that are different than the MOVES2014 results obtained for this study…” the study found. “In some cases not only were magnitudes different but different [directional] trends were presented.”

The study’s authors suggest the MOVES2014 model’s questionable predictions for certain emissions likely result from the use of data that misrepresents the actual parameters and composition of mid-level ethanol blends. Specifically, the default ethanol blend data in the model is based on arcane “match blending” methods intended to “match” specific fuel parameters, rather than “splash blending” methods that are used in the real world. According to the study, “…real-world splash blends may not have the same attributes as the modeled default match blends used in MOVES, and actual emissions may be different than the emissions predictions from MOVES.”

In an attempt to simulate the emissions of mid-level ethanol blends created using real-world “splash blending” practices, the Wyle and Volpe scientists performed an analysis where certain fuel parameters were modified. However, the model still produced questionable results that suggested increases in emissions of nitrogen components and PM as ethanol content increases.

To correct the deficiencies with the MOVES2014 model, the authors recommend obtaining new mid-level ethanol blend emissions data using blends that better represent real-world fuel properties and blending practices. They write that “…additional vehicle exhaust testing from mid-level ethanol blends with well-defined fuel properties is recommended.”

RFA Comments on DOE’s Innovative “Optima” Program

The Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy (EERE) had a call for information on Co-Optimization of Fuels and Engines (Optima). The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) submitted comments stating that the Association agrees that “co-optimization of future fuels and engines is an essential strategy for achieving national objectives related to energy conservation, carbon emission reduction, and energy security.”

rfalogo1The comments were authored by RFA Senior Vice President Geoff Cooper who noted in the remarks that a significant amount of work is already underway that complements Optima’s goals including lifecycle energy and greenhouse gas analysis of ethanol and high octane fuels (HDFs); evaluation of tools to predict HOF exhaust emissions; infrastructure compatibility and cost analyses; development of standards and specifications; and other activities. The comments also pointed out several areas for further research and collaboration, including actual HOF emissions testing; refinery-level economic analysis; using flex-fuel vehicles as a “bridge” technology to HOFs; and further characterizing the properties of various octane sources.

RFA notes that existing regulatory barriers pose the most significant threat to the commercial introduction of HOFs. According to RFA, “Federal regulatory barriers that must be addressed include: fuel volatility (RVP) regulations; Tier 3 regulations regarding certification fuels; new fuel registration requirements; treatment of biofuels and FFVs in determining compliance with 2017-2025 CAFE/GHG standards (e.g. ‘R-factor’ and ‘F-factor’ values); inconsistent boundaries and approaches to regulatory lifecycle GHG accounting; and tailpipe pollutant (i.e., non-GHG) emissions estimation. In addition, a number of state regulatory barriers need to be addressed to facilitate introduction of HOFs.”

RFA stated the “chicken and egg” phenomenon was a substantial barrier to the deployment of co-optimized engines and HOFs, characterizing the phenomenon as one where “automakers are hesitant to invest in manufacturing HOF-optimized vehicles until HOFs are substantially available in the marketplace, and…fuel producers are reluctant to invest in infrastructure to produce and distribute HOFs until HOF-optimized vehicles are substantially available.” RFA said a primary objective of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) was to “eliminate the ‘chicken or egg’ fuel/engine situation by specifying biofuel volumes that must be consumed far in advance, providing substantial lead time for affected industries to implement plans.” RFA stated that the EPA’s “unlawful reinterpretation of its statutory waiver authority and its reduction of RFS volume obligations has raised serious concerns about the future viability of the RFS as a tool for driving the transition to HOFs and optimized SI engines.”

2015 Sees Record Car Sales, Most Approved for E15

U.S. car sales in 2015 hit record sales according to statistics from Autodata. Increased sales have been spurred by cheap gasoline prices coupled with low interest rates. In total, 17.5 million cars and light trucks were sold last year to the tune of $570 billion.

According to the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), a majority of these vehicles sold are approved for the use of E15 (15 percent ethanol; 85 percent gas). In 2016, an even more cars and light trucks are expected to be approved for E15 use by automakers.

E15 at the pump

Photo Credit: Joanna Schroeder

RFA estimates that E15 was identified by auto manufacturers as an approved fuel for slightly more than 60 percent of model year (MY) 2015 vehicles sold – nearly 10.7 million cars and light trucks. This number is expected to grow in 2016, as strong sales are expected to continue and more than 70 percent of MY2016 vehicles carry the manufacturers’ explicit endorsement of E15. Recent analysis by RFA showed that Fiat Chrylser, General Motors, Ford, Toyota/Lexus, Audi/Porsche/Volkswagen, Honda/Acura, Jaguar, and Land Rover all clearly identify E15 as an approved fuel for MY2016 vehicles.

“With each passing day, the number of automakers approving the use of E15 vehicles on U.S. roadways continues to grow,” said RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen. “As we begin 2016 three important trends are worth noting: first, vehicle sales show no signs of slowing down; second, an even larger percentage of new cars, pickups, and SUVs are explicitly approved by their manufacturer for E15; and third, the oldest vehicles in the fleet— model years 2000 and older not EPA-approved for E15 use —are being scrapped at an accelerated rate. This means that someday in the not-so-distant future, nearly every car, truck, or SUV in the country will be unambiguously approved by the auto manufacturer for E15 and we can put to rest the false notion that carmakers don’t allow the use of E15.”

While automakers only began identifying E15 as an approved fuel for new vehicles following registration of E15 as a legal fuel in 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has approved the use of E15 in all vehicles built since 2001. This means more than 85 percent of the vehicles on the road today are legally approved to use E15.

Ethanol Report on 2016

ethanol-report-adA new year has dawned and with it new opportunities for the ethanol industry. In this Ethanol Report, Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) president and CEO Bob Dinneen discusses some of the upcoming events in 2016, including the 21st National Ethanol Conference in New Orleans February 15-17, and comments on whether there may yet be a legal challenge by the industry to the EPA’s biofuels volume obligations under the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS).

Ethanol Report on 2016

ADM to Develop North Carolina Ethanol Hub

ADMlogoArcher Daniels Midland (ADM) will develop a new ethanol hub in Selma, North Carolina. The company says the project with Kinder Morgan, Inc. and Bailey Feed Mill will be to build a new unit train rail facility and ethanol offloading system.

KMI will invest in and construct the new facilities, which will be located at the Bailey Feed Mill and will have the ability to offload up to 96 railcar-long unit trains in a 24-hour period. KMI will also build a new pipeline, approximately 2.6 miles in length, to connect the unit train offload system to their vast tank farm in Selma, allowing ethanol to be distributed to blending terminals in Selma and the surrounding markets.

“This project will help us improve the efficiency of our ethanol delivery in this market with added unload capacity, quick-turn time on railcars and a pipeline connection to tankage,” said Craig Willis, president of ethanol for ADM. “And by working with KMI and Bailey Feed Mill on this project, we will achieve the benefits in a cost- and capital-efficient manner. ADM has been a long-time supplier in this market, and we are excited to work with KMI and Bailey Feed Mill to bring a more flexible, reliable and efficient solution to customers in the Selma area.”

ADM and KMI anticipate having inter-terminal connections in service as early as the third quarter of 2016, with the remainder of the project expected to be complete by the end of 2016.

“We are pleased to work with ADM and Bailey Feed Mill on this transportation solution for ethanol deliveries,” said David Halphen, vice president of business development for KMI’s Products Pipelines. “This project will reduce the ethanol delivery carbon footprint through a more efficient use of rail capacity and pipeline transportation.”

Iowa Tops 4 Billion Gallons of Ethanol in 2015

Iowa-RFA-logo-new1It’s been a record-breaking year for ethanol production in Iowa. The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) says the state’s 43 ethanol plants produced more than 4 billion gallons during 2015, up slightly from 3.9 billion gallons in 2014. Iowa continues to be the number one ethanol producing state, accounting for more than a quarter of all ethanol produced in the U.S.

“While Iowa took a modest step forward in production this year, we have the corn supplies to really expand ethanol production,” said IRFA Executive Director Monte Shaw. “What we don’t have is access to the market for higher ethanol blends. The USDA blender pump grant program will help move the needle forward in 2016 and we hope the EPA will get the RFS back on track when they propose the RFS levels for 2017. If we can crack the petroleum monopoly on fuel choice, it will benefit consumers, farmers and the environment.”

IRFA credits the increase to efficiency gains and debottlenecking at existing plants, as well as ethanol production from cellulosic feedstocks such as corn stover and corn kernel fiber.