New Ethanol Production, Corn Oil Comes to Market

Pacific Ethanol has begun commercial production of corn oil utilizing Valicor’s corn oil recovery system at its Columbia ethanol plant located in Boardman, Oregon. With the completion of this 2-year initiative, all four of the western Pacific Ethanol plants are now producing corn oil.

Neil Koehler, the company’s president and CEO, said of the milestone, “With the production of distillers corn oil at our Columbia plant, all eight of our ethanol facilities separate corn oil for sale into high-value markets. Corn oil production has been a major milestone for the company, and one that we expect to provide significant benefits as it broadens our co-product mix, further diversifies our revenue streams and enhances operating income.”

Cellulosic sugars, following extraction from bagasse at Iogen's Raizen Costa Pinto Plant (Brazil) where cellulosic ethanol is not being produced. Photo Credit:  novocana.com

Cellulosic sugars, following extraction from bagasse at Iogen’s Raizen Costa Pinto Plant (Brazil) where cellulosic ethanol is now being produced. Photo Credit: novocana.com.

Moving to the Midwest, the Dakota Spirit AgEnergy ethanol plant was fully commissioned. The 65 MMGy facility, located in Spiritwood, North Dakota, is the first corn-ethanol plant to be built in the U.S. in more than five years. The plant is unique in that the process steam is purchased from Great River Energy’s nearby Spiritwood Station and is used to help produce electricity.

Across the pond (and an ocean) in Brazil, Iogen Energy’s cellulosic ethanol plant is now up and running at the Raízen`s newly expanded Costa Pinto sugar cane mill in Piracicaba, São Paulo, Brazil.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff was on hand for a celebration and noted, “the production of second generation ethanol from sugarcane bagasse is the realization of a dream for the country. The collaboration between the State and Raízen is part of the government’s commitment to ethanol production as a strategic measure for economic development.”

Nebraska Names Ethanol Ambassadors

A pair of college students has been named as the Nebraska Ethanol Board’s ambassadors. This news release from the board says David Hansen and Maggie Louthan have been tapped for the posts in the program that engages them in the importance of Nebraska’s ethanol industry.

David_HansenHansen of Lincoln, Nebraska, is a junior chemical engineering student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He is involved in Partners in Pollution Prevention analyzing industrial manufacturing facilities and recommending waste reduction solutions.

Maggie_LouthanLouthan of Smithfield, Nebraska, is a sophomore agricultural education student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She is a member of the Nebraska Agriculture Youth Council, Sigma Alpha, Block and Bridle and CASNR Coffee Club.

“We’re excited to have two talented students with diverse experience on our team for the 2015-2016 academic year,” said Megan Grimes, Nebraska Ethanol Board. “This is a great opportunity for participants to learn about the multi-faceted ethanol industry and share information among peers, community groups and classrooms.”

Ambassadors learn about ethanol production, technology, research and marketing, and then have opportunities to work with the public, delivering presentations to middle and high school classrooms. The program lasts one academic year (August-May) with new recruits each year. For their time and efforts, ambassadors are earn a $1,000 scholarship to assist with their education.

RFS Comments Piled High at EPA Doors

Boxes upon boxes of comments relating to the Renewable Fuel Standard were delivered to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) doors yesterday as the comment period ended for the final 2014/2015 rule. Despite clear legislation on the amount of renewable volumetric obligations (RVOs) for all facets of renewable fuels, the EPA lowered the amount of corn-ethanol required to be blended in America’s fuel supply. During the timeframe allocated for comments, the biofuels industry came together not only in support of the industry but to call on the EPA to “get back on track” and put the RVOs at minimum at the levels set by legislation.

Leaders from the National Farmers Union and I Am Biotech delivered more than 200,000 comments on behalf of Fuels America to the EPA.

Leaders from the National Farmers Union and I Am Biotech delivered more than 200,000 comments on behalf of Fuels America to the EPA.

Fuels America collected more than 200,000 written comments while VoteVets.org turned in nearly 47,000 petition signatures calling on the EPA to strengthen the RFS.

“It is absolutely crucial, for the wellbeing of our military, and our national security, that we lessen our dependence on oil,” said Jon Soltz, Iraq veteran and chairman of VoteVets.org.  “A strong RFS is a key part of that equation.  It is very simple – every drop of renewable fuel in our gasoline means one less drop of oil.  The EPA should listen to those who love and support our military, and care about our national security, and strengthen the RFS.”

Last week the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) held an RFS rally where hundreds of corn growers from across the country called the EPA to task and told them to “stay the course”. A letter submitted by NCGA states, “The RFS has spurred growth in agriculture, increased energy diversity and decreased GHG emissions from fossil fuels through the development of renewable energy resources. We urge the Agency to stay the course and support this important piece of transformational energy policy, and we request it reconsider its proposed reduction in the 2014, 2015 and 2016 renewable volume obligations.”

Also submitting a letter along with comments was the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA). The letter, authored by President and CEO Bob Dinneen, called the proposal “surprising” and imprudent” and he charged the EPA with buying into the oil industry’s false narrative regarding the so-called blend wall. By doing so, he wrote, “EPA has unnecessarily and illegally curtailed the unprecedented evolution occurring in the transportation fuels market that was delivering technology innovation, carbon reduction, and consumer savings.”

The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE0 also submitted comments that included E15 sales data demonstrating that consumers are choosing ethanol at the pump. Executive Vice President Brian Jennings wrote, “The RFS is intended to reduce the GHG emissions of motor fuel and provide consumer access to E15 and flex fuels which are less expensive and cleaner than gasoline. These sweeping goals will not be realized if EPA continues to ride the brakes on the RFS. Issuance of the final RFS in November has consequences beyond trying to get the program back on track.  The decision will come at the same time the President prepares to negotiate an international agreement to reduce GHG emissions in Paris.  What an embarrassment it will be if EPA betrays the Administration’s commitment to curb climate change by restricting the use of low carbon biofuels in the U.S.” Continue reading

Neb Gov Ricketts Rallies for RFS

On Friday, Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts rallied for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) in Blair, Nebraska at Novozymes’ biofuel enzyme facility. Also in attendance was Iowa Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds, Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson and Kyle Nixon, Novozymes general manager. According to speakers, should the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) final rule that slashes the required volumes of corn ethanol by more than one million gallons move forward, it will threaten thousands of jobs and billions of dollars of investments by ethanol producers in Nebraska and Iowa.

Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts speaks about the RFS during a rally held at Novozyme's enzyme facility in Blair, Nebraska. Photo Credit: Novozymes

Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts speaks about the RFS during a rally held at Novozyme’s enzyme facility in Blair, Nebraska. Photo Credit: Novozymes.

“Agriculture is Nebraska’s number one industry, and ethanol is one of the key agricultural growth industries that have added billions in revenue and thousands of jobs over the past decade to our state,” said Gov. Ricketts. “These efforts were undertaken in expectation that such efforts would meet the commitment of this nation to renewable fuels established by the Renewable Fuel Standard. Nebraskans have cause for concern because the EPA’s proposal to slash billions of gallons of biofuels from the RFS has the potential to negatively impact the future growth of our state. The RFS is an achievable and ambitious target and must be maintained.”

Today is the last day for public comment on the rule and more than 200,000 comments alone were submitted today by Fuels America. Earlier this year the association released an economic study citing the RFS driving $184 billion in economic activity, 850,000 jobs and $46 billion in wages across the country. This activity, found the report, creates a ripple effect as supplier firms and employees re-spend throughout the economy. The local impact for Nebraska is $11.1 billion and nearly 40,000 jobs. Likewise, the impact for Iowa is $19.3 billion and 73,000 jobs.

Today the U.S. biofuels industry produces 14 billion gallons of ethanol and biodiesel.

According to Nixon, enzymes from Novozyme’s Blair, Nebraska plant allow agricultural products like corn starch and corn stover to be converted into conventional and advanced biofuels. He noted the facility has helped realize two of the Obama Administration’s key goals for renewable energy; creating short-term construction and long-term professional jobs; and helping move the U.S. away from foreign oil and towards homegrown renewable fuel, energizing the economy and increasing domestic security. Continue reading

Fuels America Submits 200k+ Pro RFS Comments

More than 200,000 Americans took a stand for biofuels by submitting written comments in support of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Today is the final day of the comment period following the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) releasing its final renewable fuel volumes for 2015 and 2015. Fuels America, during a press call this morning, said these comments only paint a partial picture – tens of thousands of additional pro-biofuels comments are expected by the close of business today.

During an interview with DomesticFuel.com, Roger Johnson, president of the National Farmers Union, noted that the only industry that is not benefited by the biofuels industry is the oil industry, and those most hurt when biofuels are not in the marketplace are the consumers when they pay more money at the pump.

rfs-works“The Renewable Fuel Standard represents a promise to rural America—a promise that, when kept, helped rural economies across America make a strong comeback,” said Johnson, whose organization is a Fuels America member and who himself dropped comments off at the EPA this morning. “Today’s tremendous show of support for a strong RFS shows that it is time for the EPA to stop choosing foreign oil over rural America, and start getting the RFS back on track.”

Fuels America said that the comments were just one element of the widespread activism and support from Americans, and they collectively, they tell a story of outrage toward EPA’s proposal to, “allow oil companies to take charge of our renewable fuel supply, and effectively permit them to block competition from cleaner, less expensive, homegrown fuel”. These actions, stressed Johnson, could potentially weaken a biofuels industry that has helped enhance our national security, strengthened rural economies, and improved America’s climate impact.

Erick Lutt, Director of Industrial and Environmental Policy at the Biotechnology Industry Organization, who was also on the call today added, “Today, Americans are sending a strong signal to the EPA that its proposal to lower RVOs under the RFS is unacceptable. The EPA’s misfires and delays have pulled the rug out from the American investors and innovators who have brought the next generation of biofuels online in the U.S. The EPA is already responsible for $13.7 billion in frozen investment in advanced and cellulosic biofuels, and we’re risking sending jobs, innovation, and investment overseas. We can’t afford any more setbacks. The EPA must set RVOs consistent with Congress’ original intent in order to bring investment back to America and allow our country’s innovators to continue developing clean, secure American energy.”

Listen to my interview with Roger Johnson: NFU's Roger Johnson Discusses Importance of RFS

Ethanol to Help Fuel 75th Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

rfa-sturgis14-fuelThe Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) will once again partner with the Buffalo Chip Campground at the 75th annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, which will be held Aug. 3-9 in Sturgis, South Dakota. More than 1.5 million motorcycle enthusiasts are expected to attend the event this year for the big anniversary and RFA Vice President for Industry Relations Robert White the event offers a perfect venue to dispel some of the misconceptions about the use of ethanol blended fuel in motorcycles.

“We do that around the “Free Fuel Happy Hours,” said White. “From Sunday August 2nd through Thursday August 6 from 1 to 4 pm, any motorcyclist can come up and fuel for free with 93 octane 10 percent ethanol.” This is the fourth year that RFA has sponsored the free fuel happy hours and White says it also offers them the opportunity to talk one on one with bikers and provide them with information about ethanol.

sturgis-guideIn addition, White says messages about ethanol can be found throughout the Buffalo Chip Campground during the rally. “We have everything from banners to commercials on the Jumbotron at the main stage and we sponsor the Essentials Guide that goes out to every camper this year,” said White.

The event sponsorship has become more important in the last 2-3 years as the oil industry has worked with the motorcycle association to spread misinformation about 15% ethanol, which is not approved for use in motorcycles – a fact which is stated clearly on all pumps that sell E15. But White says the information they provide goes beyond motorcycles. “If there is 1.6 million or more people there, they all own lawnmowers, cars, trucks, SUVs, boats back at home,” he added.

Listen to this edition of “The Ethanol Report” where White talks about what they will be doing in Sturgis to connect with those attending and help them come away with a better understanding of ethanol. Ethanol Report Preview of 2015 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

Midwest AgEnergy Starts Making Ethanol, Corn Oil

MidwestAg EnergyMidwest AgEnergy Group has started producing ethanol and corn oil for biodiesel at its Jamestown, North Dakota, refinery. This article from AreaDevelopment.com says the 65 million-gallon-per-year Dakota Spirit AgEnergy biorefinery uses steam from the combined heat and power plant and corn from local farmers to produce ethanol, distillers grains and fuel-grade corn oil.

The ethanol produced at Dakota Spirit AgEnergy amounts to about 20 percent of North Dakota’s annual fuel demand. The biorefinery will purchase 23 million bushels of corn annually from farmers and employs 38 people. The cost of the project was $155 million.

As an incentive, the state provided nearly $40 million in grants and loans for the renewable fuel project, including funding for feasibility studies, construction and jobs training. The state’s investment includes loans from the Bank of North Dakota and the North Dakota Department of Commerce’s Development Fund, along with grants from the North Dakota Industrial Commission and the NDDOC’s Agricultural Products Utilization Commission and Community Development Block Grant programs. Funding for new jobs training was provided by Job Service North Dakota.

“The Dakota Spirit AgEnergy biorefinery is an important investment for North Dakota because it adds value to the state’s production agriculture industry, expands our renewable energy offerings, and creates jobs and economic opportunities for our people,” said Governor Jack Dalrymple. “Congratulations to Midwest AgEnergy Group and its many local and state partners as they celebrate the beginning of operations for this unique biorefinery and its impact on both the local and statewide economies.”

Comment Deadline for RFS Proposal is Monday

The deadline for submitting comments to the Environmental Protection Agency on the proposed Renewable Fuel Standards for 2014, 2015, and 2016 is Monday, July 27.

EPA administrator Gina McCarthy encouraged members of the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) meeting in Washington DC last week to make their voices heard during the comment period. “Keep talking, keep communicating, take advantage of the public comment process,” she said. “This was a proposal, this was not a final rule, so tell us what you think. That way we’ll be able to produce a final standard that is based on all of the best information and data available.” EPA administrator encourages comments

rfs-mess-2NCGA has made it a priority to get growers involved in commenting on the EPA proposal, sponsoring rallies at the EPA’s public hearing last month in Kansas City, Kansas and on Capitol Hill last week. NCGA president Chip Bowling says they are doing everything possible to help their farmers make their voices heard. “Anyone out there in the countryside can send their comments to EPA,” said Bowling, who notes that they can also send your comments to the EPA through the corn growers website ncga.com/rfs. “We don’t have a whole lot of time to get your comments in but we could really use them.” NCGA president urges farmers to comment

Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) president and CEO Bob Dinneen says everyone who has a stake in the ethanol industry should send in comments on the proposal. “EPA needs to be hearing from farmers, from consumers, from renewable energy advocates across the country,” said Dinneen. “We made a difference before when we got EPA to not finalize a flawed program. We need to make a difference again.” RFA CEO on EPA comment deadline

Comments can be submitted directly to the EPA by going to the Federal eRulemaking Portal.

RFA Sponsors Ethanol-Powered Boat Race

RFAboats1Boat racers were able to show the power of ethanol recently. This news release from the Renewable Fuels Association says the group, along with East Kansas Agri-Energy and the Kansas Corn Commission, sponsored the National Boat Racing Association’s (NBRA) annual Garnett Ethanol Hydroplane Shootout in Garnett, Kansas, running on Lake Garnett with ethanol-powered hydroplanes.

The Shootout is a popular family attraction that also demonstrates the benefits that ethanol brings to the performance of a marine engine. E10 is approved for use by all boat manufacturers for their engines. The NBRA, which represents more than 250 drivers in 30 states, has used E10 as its primary fuel source for years and has a long history of breaking records with the fuel blend.

“We were happy to again sponsor this event to help dispel any myths boat owners might have had about using ethanol in their engines,” said Robert White, RFA’s vice president of industry relations. “E15 has become a negative buzzword in the marine world, but it is a fuel not approved for boats. Many people still don’t know that E10 is a perfectly safe fuel for boats, and this event by the NBRA demonstrates that. We always tell boaters to review their owner’s manuals and to read fuel dispenser labels — hopefully the same practice they have with their cars, trucks and SUVs. Consumers can have the same high performance outcome as these racers if they just follow this advice.”

“EKAE is a proud supporter of this national event. The Garnett Ethanol Hydroplane Shootout proves to ethanol newcomers that E10 is great not only for the average motorboat, but for high-performance marine engines like the ones showcased on Lake Garnett,” said Jeff Oestmann, president and CEO of East Kansas Agri-Energy. “These races cast an important spotlight onto an industry significant to both the state of Kansas and our entire nation. Ethanol and boats do mix, and we’re excited so many people turned out to witness it for themselves.”

NFU to Obama Admin – Comply with RFS

The National Farmers Union (NFU) is calling on the Obama Administration to comply with the Renewable Fuel Standard volume obligations as set forth by the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) statutory levels.

President Roger Johnson sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) writing, “The volume standards issued in EPA’s proposed rule for RFS target levels are unacceptable and will further hurt investment in a renewable fuel sector that has already been damaged by significant delays in issuing the standards,” said Johnson. “NFU strongly urges the administration to comply with the RFS levels already provided in the popular, bipartisan EISA statute.”

National Farmers Union logoJohnson noted that the volume standards in the proposed rule do not match the goals EPA claims to pursue through its execution of the RFS, and that EPA needs to set volume standards to those provided in the EISA in order to alleviate this problem.

“The proposed, lower volume standards demonstrate to industry that taking steps to increase consumer choice and pursue worthwhile environmental goals can be avoided, even when mandated by Congress,” wrote Johnson. “Instead, holding industry to the proposed targets would demonstrate the Administration’s stable, reliable commitment to biofuels and allow the biofuels and transportation fuels industries the certainty required to attract capital investment and build out the infrastructure needed to offer consumers higher-level ethanol blends.”

Johnson said the proposed rule hurts the administration’s goals for climate resiliency – important steps that mitigate the threats climate change poses to family agriculture. He said that transportation fuels promoted by the RFS have immense potential to reduce climate-influencing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the transportation sector.

“EPA should pursue GHG emission reductions at every opportunity to try to mitigate climate change as much as possible,” Johnson’s letter continued. “The RFS offers tremendous capacity to reduce GHGs by encouraging the use of transportation fuels that emit fewer GHGs than petroleum-based transportation fuels.”

The letter concluded, “NFU respectfully asks EPA to issue a final rule implementing volume standards that match those Congress set in EISA. Those standards will drive investment in advanced biofuel production and rural communities and contribute to climate resiliency. NFU stands ready to offer any support and assistance EPA may find helpful regarding these matters.”