Rubio Commits to Supporting RFS

At a campaign stop in Council Bluffs, Iowa this week, presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio committed to supporting the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) through 2022. According to America’s Renewable Future (ARF), this is the most in-depth answer Sen. Rubio has given on the subject saying, “Whether you like it or not, it isn’t fair to yank away something in the middle of it, after people have invested in it based on an existing government program. So, what I have argued is since it is already in place until 2022, let it stay in place until 2022 to respect the investment that people have made.”

ARF Co-Chair Rep. Annette Sweeney, said of his remarks, “Sen. Rubio’s comments show that he has spent time learning about this issue and we’re glad to see that he understands that the government needs to keep a promise to the Main Street investments made with the RFS. We’re also thankful that he is committed to supporting the law through 2022 and certainly hope to hear more from him on the topic.”

Rubio recently received a “needs work” rating from ARF on its midterm report card. The comments from senator come following the airing of ARF’s digital ads calling on the senator to stand up for Iowa farmers and support the RFS.

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

Odor Wins Ethanol Racing Championship

Osceola, Iowa-based John Oder has taken the top spot in the Kearney Raceway Pro Class Points Championship driving his 1971 Dodge Challenger. Trailing by 60 points late in the event, Oder took the last two rounds to earn his second consecutive championship. Odor won six races in the 2015 season including his final three, and this year was his first competing with Ignite Fuel, a 90 percent ethanol and 10 percent gasoline racing blend.

John_Oder_KRP_Racer2“I remember thinking ‘Wow! I can’t believe I pulled this off,’” Oder said. “I didn’t think I had a chance of winning the championship again, but the car ran on the ‘number’ all weekend. It finally sank in the following week when I had time to think about the accomplishments and work I did figuring out the new fuel, carburetor and car setup.”

Odor made the change to Ignite Fuel when he was approached by Grady Koch, local farmer and Kearney Raceway Park investor.

“I wanted to supply a consistent ethanol-blended fuel for our racers and I needed a driver willing to give it a try,” Koch said. “Bringing in Ignite high performance racing fuel was a great decision for our track. We get a high quality, high octane blend of ethanol every time.”

Although Oder burns about 30 percent more fuel the economics still work in his favor. The race fuel he used previously cost more than $7.70 per gallon. Ignite Fuel has a 114 octane rating and is about $4 per gallon – about a 50 percent savings.

“I would recommend it to my fellow racers to improve horsepower, torque and consistency,” Oder said. “Ethanol fuel doesn’t corrode like straight methanol, so I was able to use all the same fuel system components.”

Koch is in negotiations now to bring Ignite Fuel to Nebraska circle tracks including Junction Motor Speedway in McCool and I-80 Speedway in Greenwood.

Growth Energy Intros ‘Bachelor’ Chris Soules RFS Ad

During a press call this morning, Growth Energy launched a week-long TV ad campaign featuring Iowa Farmer Chris Soules of “The Bachelor” and “Dancing with the Stars” fame. The ad focuses on the economic benefits of ethanol and the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) in rural America. The spot hits airwaves just days before the Obama Administration is due to announce its final rule on the RFS. The ad is airing in Iowa, Illinois, Ohio, and Indiana.

“I’m proud to be a part of something that protects something important to my family farm operation as well as thousands of others,” said Soules about why he became involved in efforts around promoting the positive benefits of the RFS. “I’ve been able to see first-hand the benefits of renewable fuels and how they affect my family’s enterprise and other families who haven’t even been involved in farming by providing jobs in clean energy that helps our country diversify our energy resources.”

Soules noted that in light of the recent events in Paris, it re-emphases the need for the U.S. to become energy independent with a diversified energy portfolio.

Soules was joined on the call by Tom Buis, co-chair of Growth Energy who noted that the RFS is a great American success story.

“We know our opposition is out there saying anything and doing anything in every possible way to keep the administration from rolling out an implementation of the volumetric standards of the 2014, 2015 and 2016 that are beneficial to this great nation,” said Buis.

The RFS proposal, as it currently stands, contains volumes that are below the legislative mandate. Biofuel supporters have been working to get the volumes back on track and moving forward as the law intended. Buis also noted that many eyes are on Paris for COP21 to see how countries, including America, identify strategies to reduce carbon emissions. Buis said the RFS has been a successful policy in doing just this.

Listen to the full press call here: Growth Energy-Chris Soules Ad Press Call

EcoPAS Ethanol PAS-100 Exceeds Expectations

The California wine industry is seeing growing concern of ethanol vapor released into the atmosphere from large fermentation tanks, an issue that can lead to the formation of smog. Fermentation is a necessary step in the production of wine; therefore to address the concern, EcoPAS invented the Passive Alcohol System (PAS-100) that captures the alcohol vapor that escapes from wine tank vents during fermentation.

EcoPAS-100To test the technology, EcoPAS partnered with Greenbelt Resources Corporation who fabricated the first commercial scale PAS-100 and its complementary manifold system. The system was installed in a southern Californian wine services facility and used for the first time during the recently completed 2015 crush. The company has announced the fabricated system has exceeded performance expectations.

“Leveraging the manufacturing expertise of the Greenbelt team enables our own team to focus on continued performance improvements,” said Patrick Thompson, CEO of EcoPAS. “Now that the full-scale PAS system has been achieved in practice, we expect to see an increase in demand for Greenbelt fabrication of additional PAS systems.”

According to EcoPAS, both its own engineers as well as winemakers, of whom are EcoPAS target customers and end users, were pleased with all aspects of the operation. Utilizing the PAS-100 manufactured by Greenbelt Resources for EcoPAS, the winery was able to claim credit for enough captured volatile organic compounds (VOCs) to stay below mandated daily emissions rates. Thus, says EcoPAS, deployment of the PAS is not only good for the environment, it’s good business.

Darren Eng, CEO of Greenbelt Resources added, “The PAS is an impressive invention requiring no active energy input. “We look forward to growing our two complimentary companies side-by-side. Once the market adoption of the PAS hits a critical mass, the aggregated by-product of local PAS’s will be an excellent feedstock for the typical modular distillation-and-dehydration systems for which Greenbelt Resources is known.”

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.

Fuels America Launches RFS Climate Ad Campaign

Leading up to COP21 in Paris in a couple of weeks Fuels America has launched a climate campaign targeted at President Obama. The campaign encourages him to tout the success of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) during the climate talks. Fuels America is calling on the administration to get the RFS back on track. During the call biofuel industry representatives discussed how the decision on the RFS will be critical in determining if the U.S. will lead by example on climate action. The campaign includes full page ad in the New York Times and digital ads in the Beltway.

Screen Shot 2015-11-20 at 9.57.22 AM“If the President doesn’t reverse course on the disastrous proposal, he will effectively be letting the oil industry and climate deniers in Congress dictate our climate policy,” said Roger Johnson, president of the National Farmers Union, during the press call. “It will upend America’s most successful policy cutting greenhouse gas emissions and combatting climate change, and stifle investment in advanced biofuels in America.”

Speakers noted the threat to the advanced biofuels industry is significant with $13.7 billion in investment in advanced biofuels currently frozen according to a report from BIO. Chris Standlee, executive vice president of global affairs at Abengoa Bioenergy, noted during the call that Abengoa is looking to deploy its cellulosic ethanol technology overseas due to the uncertainty caused by the current state of the RFS. The company’s first cellulosic ethanol plant went online last October in Hugoton, Kansas.

“This Administration’s proposal inserts a loophole into the RFS—our country’s most aggressive climate policy in force today—and allows oil companies to continue ignoring their obligations under the law,” explained Standlee. “Our industry has fought and won this battle before—this waiver was sought for years by the oil industry and would allow them to control the RFS and restrict the deployment of the lowest carbon fuels in the world.”

Listen to the presser here: Fuels America Launches Biofuel Climate Ad Campaign Presser Continue reading

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.