NFU Adds Voice to Displeasure Over RFS Report

National Farmers Union logoThe National Farmers Union (NFU) is the latest to voice its displeasure over a new report critical of the Renewable Fuel Standard. This news release from the group says the recommendations made in the “10-Year Review of the Renewable Fuels Standard: Impacts to the Environment, The Economy, and Advanced Biofuels Development,” by the University of Tennessee that calls for dismantling the RFS are “shortsighted and irresponsible,” and urged the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to simply implement the current law. The report was commissioned by the American Council for Capital Formation (ACCF) who the ethanol industry is saying is in the front pocket of Big Oil.

“The recommendations issued by this study are shortsided and irresponsible, and would only serve the interests of its financiers – Big Oil,” said [NFU President Roger] Johnson. “EPA should stick with the targets provided in the current law that have already made measurable gains in climate change resiliency, energy independence, and the rejuvenation of rural economies across the United States.”

Johnson said that the study calls for striking the RFS and to start over with a new program focused exclusively on advanced biofuels.

“The study glosses over greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions achieved through corn ethanol production – reductions that continue to grow as climate-smart practices become more popular among producers,” said Johnson. “Its analysis of corn ethanol’s GHG advantages makes too many assumptions about land use changes and neglects to account for other factors like market shifts and conservation programs that may also affect producers’ land use decisions.”

Growth Energy and the Renewable Fuels Association have also expressed their displeasure with the report.

NEC to Participate in Int’l Buyer Program

The National Ethanol Conference (NEC) has been selected to participate in the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Buyer Program (IBF). This marks the first time the NEC has been selected, an annual ethanol conference hosted by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA). The NEC will take place Feb. 15–17, 2016 in New Orleans.

RFA-NEC general logoThe IBF program recruits pre-screened foreign buyer delegations from U.S. embassies and consulates worldwide and brings them to selected trade shows and conferences in the U.S. as a medium to connect U.S. companies with international buyers. The NEC draws attendees from around the globe and next year’s event will see representatives from Brazil, China, India, Mexico and the Philippines.

“We are extremely excited about being selected to participate in the IBF, and for the opportunity to work closely with the Department of Commerce to provide a pathway that connects domestic ethanol producers with international markets,” said Edward Hubbard, RFA’s general counsel. “Export promotion is a crucial component for maintaining the vibrancy of the ethanol industry, and the NEC provides the perfect forum for accomplishing that goal. By joining forces with the Department of Commerce, the RFA is ensuring that the NEC will be the premier destination for U.S. ethanol producers who are interested in opportunities to promote their products in the international marketplace.”

Registration for the National Ethanol Conference is now open and will headlined by John Hofmeister, the founder and CEO of Citizens for Affordable Energy, former president of Shell Oil Company and author of “Why We Hate the Oil Companies“.


Illinois Teen’s Cellulosic Ethanol Wins Science Prize

TavisReedAn Illinois teen is being recognized for his efforts to make cellulosic ethanol. This article from the Chicago-area Daily Herald says 17-year-old Tavis Reed, a senior at the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy in Aurora, won the 2015 gold medal in the chemistry/biochemistry division of the National Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics competition, besting more than 700 students from 150 ACT-SO chapters across the nation.

He did so by developing a process — for which he has a provisional patent — for the production of cellulosic ethanol, a “next-generation biofuel” made from cellulose, the structural part of plants.

The process uses bacteria to make ethanol as a potential fuel source in a cheaper and more environmentally conscious manner. He’s now working to find a way to scale up his research and make sure its results can be repeated in large quantities.

“That’s really important to me,” he said. “I feel like for my generation, the environmental impact that humans have on the world is a lot more evident than it has been in earlier decades.”

Tavis is unfailingly enthusiastic about science, said Sarah Soltau, his mentor through Argonne National Laboratory’s ACT-SO high school research program.

“He’s got many more ideas than I’d expect as a high school student,” she said. “He’s gone above and beyond anyone else I’ve seen at the high school level — and some even in college.”

Tavis’ teacher admits she had to learn a lot, just to keep up with the teenager.

The ACT-SO award was announced in July at the 106th Convention of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, held in Philadelphia, which Tavis actually had to leave early to tutor some incoming students.

Tequila Source Could be Next Ethanol Source

ARCplantcellwallsWhat makes a mighty fine drink could also make a pretty good fuel. Researchers at the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Plant Cell Walls have figured out how to get about 4,000 gallons per hectare a year of ethanol from the agave plant, well adapted to grow on marginal land under low rainfall conditions.

The paper, titled “Prospecting for Energy-Rich Renewable Raw Materials: Agave Leaf Case Study” published in the journal PLOS ONE, outlined agave leaf composition and fermentation efficiencies that could produce competitive biofuels from this fast-growing, highly water use efficient plant.

“Bioethanol yields from agave fermentation could rival the most successful biofuel feedstock crops around the world,” says Associate Professor Rachel Burton.

“Importantly, it doesn’t compete with food crops, it’s fast growing so the whole plant could be used rather than just harvesting the leaves, and it is up to 10 times more water efficient than some other crop plants.”

Associate Professor Burton and her team, including PhD student Kendall Corbin, are working with AusAgave who have trial sites of agave established in Ayr in northern Queensland and Whyalla, South Australia.

The researchers are now looking at the best cultivation methods for ethanol production.

White Paper Released on Farm Income and the RFS

Leaders of the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) and the National Farmers Union (NFU) jointly released a new white paper Thursday on how the EPA’s proposed rule for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) is threatening farm income and rural economies across the United States.

ncga-smallerThe paper cites the latest USDA data on net cash income for American farmers and ranchers, which is forecast to decline by 26 percent in 2015 from peak levels in 2013, as proof that the EPA proposal is impacting the farm economy. “That devastating forecast is worse than originally projected, and it represents the lowest farm income levels in nearly a decade, and it could get worse,” says the paper.

“There are factors other than the RFS,” said NCGA president Chip Bowling of Maryland. “(But) it has changed the basis, the price received for our corn, it has changed the way we’re buying equipment … most of that is due to the uncertainty in the Renewable Fuel Standard.”

nfu_logo2EPA is expected to release the final rule at the end of November and NFU president Roger Johnson says they have heard nothing to indicate they will change that time line. “They agreed to that in the court order,” said Johnson. “It’s hard to say what to expect from them.”

Johnson stressed that the so-called blend wall should not be included in any determination for volume requirements under the RFS. “When the RFS was put in place it was never intended that it would stop at ten percent,” he said. “It was always the intent that it would go way beyond ten percent.”

Bowling says corn growers have responded to the demand for more corn to produce ethanol and another record crop is expected this year. “We’re still expecting yields of 162 bushels per acre at minimum,” said Bowling. “We have carry over that’s growing and without a strong Renewable Fuel Standard demand for corn is going to decrease.”

Listen to the announcement from NCGA and NFU here: Press call on RFS/farm income white paper

CoBank Report – Ethanol Industry Rebalanced

The ethanol industry has rebalanced in 2015 following 18 months of record earnings. As energy prices collapsed late in 2014, so did ethanol prices and plant margins. The report from CoBank, “Ethanol Industry Reblanaces,” has found that ethanol’s supply and demand has remained well balanced, and producers have maintained positive earnings. Looking into 2016, the report finds plant operators will face dueling positive and negative shifts in the market that are likely to result in lean, yet positive margins.

CoBank logo“With corn prices expected to remain relatively static, it will be the prices of distillers grains and ethanol that determine the direction of earnings,” explained Dan Kowalski, the report’s author, and director of CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange Division. “Ethanol profitability will largely hinge on two key factors: the volatility of energy prices and the industry’s ability to maintain strong export sales. The report also points to the importance of sustained discipline in growing production capacity and output.”

Kowalski continued, “The industry will see little growth in domestic sales as a result of improving fuel efficiency in the nation’s vehicles and changes to the EPA’s renewable fuels blending mandate. The EPA’s proposed alteration to the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) is expected to be approved later this year, and will set a floor beneath the current 10 percent blending level. However, the new policy will not incentivize retailers to sell higher ethanol-blended fuels.”

The report finds that the potential for increased export sales will help to counterbalance the domestic picture. Brazil has increased its domestic blending rate to 27 percent. This has reduced its export ability and opened the door to U.S. producers.

The report cautions foreign markets also pose a risk to ethanol producers. China, which currently imports 60 percent of U.S. distillers grains, is expected to change its grain policies to discourage the import of corn-alternative feed grains. These changes could significantly impact producers’ bottom lines.

US Ethanol Exports Lowest in 2 Years, DDGS Down

rfalogo1American ethanol exports to the world are down to their lowest levels in more than two years. This analysis from the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) says at just 50.1 million gallons (mg), total ethanol shipments in August were 35 percent lower than in July, falling by 27.1 mg. In addition, the ethanol by-product, distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) used for animal feed, was also down, but just slightly from record levels of this summer.

Ninety percent of exports were destined for only 10 countries, with the majority of shipments split between Canada (21.4 mg, or 43% of total exports) and Tunisia (12.6 mg, or 25% of total). China (3.3 mg), the Philippines (3.0 mg), South Korea (2.8 mg) and Mexico (2.0 mg) account for much of the remaining balance. Once again, Brazil remained a minor player in the U.S. ethanol export market, taking in just 1.7 mg (compared to 25.1 mg only 5 months ago). Total U.S. ethanol exports for the first eight months of 2015 stood at 564.5 mg, indicating an annualized rate of 847 mg.

August exports of undenatured ethanol for fuel use fell 44% from July to 26.2 mg. Nearly half of those exports moved to Tunisia (12.6 mg), with China (3.3 mg), the Philippines (3.0 mg) and South Korea (2.7 mg) also pulling in notable volumes. Exports of denatured ethanol fuel decreased by 24% from July, down to 20.1 mg. This is the lowest denatured volume since August 2010. Canada took the lion’s share of denatured product at 18.1 mg (90% of exports), with Jamaica, Singapore and Turkey receiving much smaller volumes. The United States exported 356,211 gallons of undenatured ethanol for non-fuel, non-beverage use, a decrease of 39% over July. Denatured ethanol for non-fuel, non-beverage purposes was the only product to see any upward movement over the prior month, with nearly all of the 3.4 mg crossing the border to Canada.

After months of virtually nonexistent fuel ethanol imports, the United States saw 15.7 mg enter the country in August—greater than the combined imports from the past 5 months. All but 3% of total imports originated in Brazil (11.8 mg undenatured, 3.8 mg denatured), with Spain and Sweden responsible for the remainder. At 65.8 mg, year-to-date imports are just half of last year’s total at this point. In August, the United States boasted a net exporter status for two years straight.

DDGS exports were off by 6 percent from the record high logged in July to a still-sizable 1,279,396 metric tons (mt), with China still receiving about half of that number – down from the 65-74 percent market share seen in recent months.

John Hofmeister to Headline #RFANEC

John Hofmeister will be headlining the 21st Annual National Ethanol Conference (NEC) next February 15-17, 2016 in New Orleans. Hosted by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), Hofmeister is the founder and CEO of Citizens for Affordable Energy, former president of Shell Oil Company and author of “Why We Hate the Oil Companies: Straight Talk from an Energy Insider. The NEC conference theme is “Fueling a High Octane Future”.

John hofmeisterHofmeister founded Citizens for Affordable Energy in 2008, a public policy education firm that promotes sound energy security solutions for the U.S., including a range of affordable energy supplies, efficiency improvements, essential infrastructure, sustainable environmental policies, and public education on energy issues.

During his tenure as President of Shell he launched a groundbreaking outreach program designed to discuss critical global energy challenges. The program included an 18-month, 50-city cross-country tour during which Hofmeister, along with 250 other Shell executives, met with more than 15,000 business, community and civic leaders, policymakers, and academics to discuss what must be done to ensure affordable, available energy for the future. Hofmeister serves on the boards of Fuel Freedom Foundation; the National Energy Security Council; the Foreign Policy Association; Strategic Partners, LLC; and the Gas Technology Institute.

Bob Dinneen, RFA President and CEO, said he was delighted to have John Hofmeister headlining next year’s NEC and praised him for his extensive work in pursuing policy solutions that ensure energy is not only affordable, but is also clean and secure.

“John Hofmeister is an innovative and energetic leader on issues surrounding energy security,” said Dinneen. “As a former oil company executive, he not only possesses an insider’s understanding about how the oil industry actually operates but, because of his background, when he speaks he does so with a very credible and authentic voice. Mr. Hofmeister is the perfect choice for next year’s NEC because he wholeheartedly believes that the key to providing consumers with clean, affordable, and secure sources of energy is to implement policies that promote diversity in our energy supply.”

In addition to announcing Mr. Hofmeister as the headliner for next year’s NEC, RFA also announced that it has launched an official Twitter handle @EthanolConf and hashtag #RFANEC for the event. Registration is now open.

RFA Unveils New Website

Screen Shot 2015-10-05 at 10.24.58 AMThe Renewable Fuels Association has unveiled a new website this morning. With improved user experience, the new site has new and enhanced content to further improve ease of navigation and usability. RFA’s website will provide up-to-date market data as well as feature news of importance to the ethanol industry. In addition, users will be able to access ethanol industry statistics, RFA reports and studies and infographics. The website also features Google optimization and a responsive design that allows its display to be easily viewed of any mobile device, smartphone, laptop, or tablet.

“When we took on the task of redesigning the RFA website, our main goal was to greatly enhance the end-user experience,” said RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen. “The functionality of the new website will make it a dynamic resource for those who are looking for the latest information on the ethanol industry. RFA will continue to vigorously advocate for policies that seek to provide a stable energy marketplace and allow consumers to have more choices at the pump; the new website is part of a set of tools, including the RFA mobile app, ‘RFA Advocacy,’ that will assist RFA in its efforts.”

For information on the RFA mobile app, visit:

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.