Senate Committee Advances Tax Credits Extension

The Senate Finance Committee Tuesday approved a two-year extension of various tax credits that expired at the end of 2014, including those for biodiesel, cellulosic ethanol, and wind energy.

The bill contains a two-year extension of the Second Generation Biofuel Producer Tax Credit, the Special Depreciation Allowance for Second Generation Biofuel Plant Property, and the Alternative Fuel Mixture Excise Tax Credit.

rfalogo1Renewable Fuels Association president and CEO Bob Dinneen commended the committee’s leadership for recognizing how important these tax credits are for the continued growth and innovation of the U.S. biofuels industry. “Stability in the marketplace is crucial to encouraging development in second-generation biofuels, like cellulosic ethanol,” said Dinneen. “By extending these incentives, the Committee has helped to provide that needed stability. We look forward to working with the Senate Finance Committee specifically and Congress generally on comprehensive tax reform.”

Dinneen says passage of the tax credit extensions, which will be retroactive, still has a long way to go. “Still needs to get through the floor of the Senate and be conferenced with a bill from the House side,” said Dinneen. “But it’s progress.”

Last year Congress passed retroactive tax credits for 2014 in December, two weeks before they expired again.

Listen to Dinneen’s comments here: RFA CEO Bob Dinneen comments on tax credits progress

Corn Growers: Build it and They Will Come

The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) has announced an additional $500,000 investment in Prime the Pump, a program that is expanding midlevel ethanol fueling infrastructure. The latest funds brings NCGA’s annual commitment in the program to $2 million. The organizations overseeing the E15-Blender-Pump-in-Cresco-IowaPrime the Pump program will use the monies as matching funds to secure grants under the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USFA) Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership. The USDA has allocated $100 million in grants.

“The nation’s corn farmers have shown their commitment to domestically produced, clean burning ethanol repeatedly over the last 30 years and, when needed, have put their money where their mouth is,” said Chip Bowling, president of NCGA and a farmer from Newburg, Maryland. “Consumers should have fuel options that include cleaner burning ethanol and this investment will allow us to continue to move forward toward that important goal.”

Prime the Pump is aimed at retailers with high volumes and multiple locations. Retailers have to commit to a five-year marketing program, E15 must be offered at all dispensers under the canopy, signage on the street must include E15 and retailers must agree to actively promote the fuel.

“Big Oil and others opposed to ethanol keep setting up road blocks, so we need to work all the more to ensure domestic renewable ethanol moves forward,” added Bowling. “Family corn farmers are faced with the lowest corn prices in more than a decade and increased ethanol utilization is an efficient way to turn that around and help the U.S. economy and environment at the same time.”

Renewable Tax Credits Before Committee

grassley-head1A Senate committee will consider a package of tax credits for wind, biodiesel and cellulosic ethanol. Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa included the tax incentives in the bipartisan tax extenders bill the Finance Committee will consider today.

“Certainty and predictability in tax policy are both important for retaining and creating jobs,” Grassley said. “The Finance Committee leaders deserve credit for getting an early start on extending tax provisions. The energy items not only help support jobs. They also support the renewable energy that consumers want for a cleaner environment and energy independence. The higher education deduction helps families and students afford college.”

The inclusion of the wind energy provision comes after Grassley urged the committee chairman to include it, noting it deserves a fair shake compared to many long-standing tax provisions benefiting non-renewable energy sources. Grassley authored and won enactment of the first-ever wind energy production tax credit in 1992. The incentive was designed to give wind energy the ability to compete against coal-fired and nuclear energy and helped to launch the wind energy industry. He has worked to extend the credit ever since.

Renewable production tax credit. Under the provision, taxpayers can claim a 2.3 cent per kilowatt hour tax credit for wind and other renewable electricity produced for a 10-year period from a facility that has commenced construction by the end of 2014 (the production tax credit). They can also elect to take a 30 percent investment tax credit instead of the production tax credit. The bill extends these credits through December 31, 2016.

Cellulosic biofuels producer tax credit. Under the provision, facilities producing cellulosic biofuels can claim a $1.01 per gallon production tax credit on fuel produced before the end of 2014. The bill would extend this production tax credit for two additional years, for cellulosic biofuels produced through 2016.

Incentives for biodiesel and renewable diesel. The bill extends for two years, through 2016, the $1.00 per gallon tax credit for biodiesel, as well as the small agri-biodiesel producer credit of 10 cents per gallon. The bill also extends through 2016 the $1.00 per gallon tax credit for diesel fuel created from biomass.

Mycogen Supports Ethanol at Brickyard 400

mycogen-nascarMycogen Seeds and Richard Childress Racing (RCR) have unveiled a new paint scheme for the No. 3 Mycogen Seeds Chevrolet SS, which Austin Dillon will drive at the Brickyard 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on July 26.

“Mycogen Seeds is proud to partner with RCR to support the legacy of the No. 3 car,” says Damon Palmer, U.S. Seeds marketing director, Dow AgroSciences. “As one of America’s fastest-growing seed companies, we’re excited to be at the Brickyard 400 to cheer on one of the quickest-rising stars in NASCAR, Austin Dillon.”

Palmer says the company’s support of the No. 3 Mycogen Seeds Chevrolet SS goes deeper than its new red paint scheme. The car runs on 15 percent ethanol-blended fuel, which has powered every NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race car since 2011. In 2014, ethanol production used more than 5 billion bushels of American-grown corn.

NASCAR drivers have traveled more than 7 million miles on the track with ethanol-blended fuel since its adoption. Ethanol use increases race car horsepower and reduces emissions.

“Just as NASCAR is improving efficiency on the track, Mycogen Seeds is improving productivity in the field,” Palmer says. “We provide American farmers with high-performance grain corn hybrids. Ethanol, which helps fuel the Brickyard 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, is an important market for U.S. corn.”

The 2015 Brickyard 400 is set for Sunday, July 26, at 3:30 p.m. ET at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and is scheduled to air live on NBC Sports.

Hope for Renewable Energy Tax Credits

The Senate Finance Committee is set to vote Tuesday on a two-year extension of tax benefits, including the production tax credit for wind power, and credits for biodiesel and cellulosic biofuels production.

wyden-hatch“This markup will give the Committee a timely opportunity to act on extending a number of expired provisions in the tax code that help families, individuals and small businesses,” Hatch said. “This is the first time in 20 years where a new Congress has started with extenders legislation having already expired, and given that these provisions are meant to be incentives, we need to advance a package as soon as possible.”

“The tax code should work for, not against, Americans,” Wyden said. “We need to extend these tax provisions now in order to provide greater certainty and predictability for middle class families and businesses alike. However as we look beyond next week, it’s critical we all recognize and take action to end this stop and go approach to tax policy through extenders.”

A group of biofuel trade organizations have sent a letter to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR) encouraging extension of the critical advanced biofuel tax incentives. The incentives include the Second Generation Biofuel Producer Tax Credit, the Special Depreciation Allowance for Second Generation Biofuel Plant Property, the Biodiesel and Renewable Diesel Fuels Credit, and the Alternative Fuel and Alternative Fuel Mixture Excise Tax Credit. Groups supporting the extensions are the Advanced Ethanol Council, Advanced Biofuels Association, Algae Biomass Organization, Biotechnology Industry Organization, Growth Energy, National Biodiesel Board, and Renewable Fuels Association.

EPA Chief Defends RFS Proposal to Corn Growers

ginaSpeaking to members of the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) meeting in Washington DC this week, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy defended her agency’s proposed volume obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) while at the same time thanking farmers for their strong voice on the issue.

“I know RFS matters deeply to corn growers,” said McCarthy. “You know we held a hearing in Kansas and I know you knew it because you showed up. Last month you were there in force. And I want to thank you for being out there.”

McCarthy told the farmers that “EPA is deeply committed to the RFS” and to the industry. “You might have heard that we are trying to shrink or kill this program, but the truth is we are committed to growing it,” she said. “The volumes we’ve proposed for 2015 and 2016 are designed to bust through any blend wall – even if you don’t believe it exists!”

McCarthy was invited to address the summer Corn Congress session by NCGA President Chip Bowling, a farmer from Newburg, Maryland. “I invited her to Corn Congress because I wanted farmers to hear from her directly,” said Bowling. “To her credit, she had the courage to show up and talk to farmers face to face.”

In her address, McCarthy also talked about the EPA’s Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, which is also a major issue of concern for corn farmers. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy at NCGA Corn Congress

DuPont Signs Cellulosic Ethanol Deal with Chinese Co.

dupontchina1DuPont and Chinese company New Tianlong Industry Co. (NTL) have signed an historic deal that will bring cellulosic ethanol to China. This DuPont news release says the agreement allows NTL to license DuPont’s cellulosic ethanol technology and use DuPont Accellerase enzymes to produce renewable biofuel from the leftover biomass on Jilin Province’s highly productive corn farms.

Combining NTL’s ethanol production expertise with processing technology, technical support and world-class enzymes supplied by DuPont, NTL will be able to produce cellulosic renewable fuel for the rapidly growing Chinese liquid biofuel market, which is projected to exceed 1.7 billion gallons per year by 2020.

“As we bring online the largest and most sophisticated cellulosic facility in the world in the State of Iowa in the United States, we are simultaneously working with leaders who share the same vision of producing the next generation of clean renewable fuels in their region,” said Jan Koninckx, global biofuels leader for DuPont Industrial Biosciences. “We are honored to have found such a strong partner in NTL. The company’s reputation for producing world-class grain ethanol makes it a superior candidate to put DuPont’s advanced technology to work to realize the additional economic and environmental benefits of cellulosic biofuel in China.”

“With its history of scientific innovation, collaboration and commitment to the ethanol industry, DuPont is an ideal partner for New Tianlong in our quest to bring the cleanest renewable fuel on the planet to China,” said SUN Guojing, general manager of NTL. “We look forward to working with DuPont over the coming years as we develop the biomass supply chain, construct a world-class facility, and produce fuel that delivers on the promise of reduced pollution and greenhouse gases. This project will augment our current excellent grade ethanol offerings and business and will make NTL the preeminent biofuel product supplier in China.”

This deal is expected to fill China’s aggressive goals for renewable energy, cutting its reliance on foreign oil and increasing employment opportunities for its large rural population.

Canadians Support Renewable Fuels

Canadians believe in renewable fuels. A recent survey finds 88 percent of Canadians believe more renewable fuels should be produced in Canada and that government should do more to promote the industry. The poll was was commissioned by the Canadian Canadians support renewable fuelsRenewable Fuels Association (CRFA) and shows that 85 percent of respondents feel pride in Canada’s biofuels industry.

“This poll reinforces what the CRFA and our members have known for years: renewable fuels are important to and valued by the public,” said Andrea Kent, president of CRFA. “Eight in 10 Canadians believe renewable fuel products are clean, innovative and needed across the country. The renewable fuels industry also provides Canadians with over 14,000 jobs and generate $3.5 billion in economic activity every year.”

One in three Canadians would like there to be more support for renewable fuels, found the survey. In addition, when respondents learned of the current federal biofuels mandates, 31 percent said their impression of government action on climate change improved while sixty-seven percent also support increasing the level of biodiesel from the current mandate of 2 percent to 5 percent.

UNICA: Ethanol Cut 300 Mil Tons of CO2

unicaEthanol has cut carbon dioxide emissions by more than 300 million over the last 12 years. Brazil’s sugarcane ethanol industry group UNICA says to get the same results from growing trees, it would be necessary to plant and maintain over 20 years more than 2.1 billion native plants.

Hosted on the site ‘ Verde Ethanol ‘, the Carbonômetro indicates the high potential of sugarcane biofuel helped the country to mitigate CO2 more than the sum of the annual emissions of Argentina (190 million tonnes), Peru (53.1 million tons ), Ecuador (35.7 million tons), Uruguay (7.8 million tonnes) and Paraguay (5.3 million tons).

For the consultant on emissions and Technology of UNICA, Alfred Szwarc, the result shows that sugarcane ethanol produced in Brazil is one of the cleanest energy alternatives commercially available worldwide.

“The reduction is quite significant. The data are of the same order of magnitude as the annual emission of CO2 from Poland (317 million tons), country considered one of the major global emitters of greenhouse gases, “says Szwarc.

The consultant notes that, despite its benefits, the global promotion of ethanol is still limited and needs more incentives, especially in Europe.

Corn Growers Rally for RFS in DC

Hundreds of corn farmers from across America were in Washington D.C. today to rally for the cuts to corn ethanol in the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFs) to be overturned. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed cutting corn ethanol by 3.75 billion gallons through 2016. According to the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), which sponsored the rally, this represents nearly 1.5 billion in lost corn demand.

NCGA RFS Rally“Our message to the EPA is clear and unequivocal: Don’t mess with the RFS,” said NCGA Chairman Martin Barbre, a farmer from Carmi, Illinois. “We are gathered here today because we all understand what’s at stake.”

Barbre spoke with DomesticFuel.com from the Hill this afternoon and said that legislators really don’t understand how the RFS works. When corn growers and others who support the RFS sit down with them and their staff and walk them through the legislation, he explained, and get a better understanding that corn growers can meet the demand for food, fiber and fuel, they support the RFS returning to levels in which they were intended to be as set forth by the legislation.

Rally attendees heard from Senator Mark Kirk, Representative Tammy Duckworth, farmers, and ethanol industry leaders on the importance of ethanol to strengthening rural economies and protecting our environment and national security. Following the rally, corn farmers visited their congressional offices to spend some one-on-one time in dialogue about the RFS, its importance to rural America, and to assure them, stressed Barbre, that the industry will continue to meet and exceed national and global demands.

Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill) note during his rally remarks, “Illinois farmers export more than a billion bushels of corn annually. That is why I supported them on trade and will continue to support them in the fight for a fair Renewable Fuel Standard.”

Representative Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill) added, “American investors and consumers at the gas pump are better off supporting American jobs and access to clean, secure American energy, rather than Middle Eastern oil. As a veteran and a Member of the House Armed Services Committee, I see renewable, home-grown fuel as not only critical for our environment and our economy, but also as a national security imperative.”

To close the rally NCGA President Chip Bowling, a farmer from Newburg, Maryland, urged farmers to stand up and make their voice heard. “Now is the time for farmers to stand up for your farms, your families, your communities, and our country,” said Bowling. “We must hold Congress to its promises – and hold the EPA to the law.”

Hear more about the rally and why the EPA shouldn’t mess with the RFS by listening to my interview with Martin Barbre here: Martin Barbre RFS Rally Interview