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: www.EthanolRFA.org/policy/app

Senator Toomey’s Anti-RFS Amendment Tanks

Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) introduced an amendment that would eliminate corn ethanol from the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). It was promptly defeated by the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs by a vote of 15-7. Pro RFS supporters came out en masse against Toomey’s amendment and thanked the Committee for making the right decision on consumer choice at the pump.

Senator Toomey“Biofuels are a key part of energy independence and energy security,” said Jon Soltz, Iraq War Veteran, and Chairman of VoteVets.org, the largest veterans group in America. “It is jarring to see a sitting U.S. Senator thumb his nose at our national security, just so he can repay his oil buddies. We need to figure out ways to use less oil. Pat Toomey is trying to make sure that we use more, and that his Big Oil pals make more profit as a result. It’s was a disgrace, but thankfully common sense won out, over Pat Toomey.”

Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) President and CEO Bob Dinneen made the following statement upon the news of defeat. “Consumers can breathe a sigh of relief when they fill up at the gas pump because today’s vote by the committee ensures that ethanol will remain the number one source of renewable fuel in the world,” said Dinneen. “The committee understood the writing is on the wall when it comes to the RFS, and that legislative proposals that seek to purportedly ‘fix’ the statute are nothing more than political gamesmanship. When Congress passed the RFS it did so with the intention of stabilizing and growing the biofuels market. The committee rightly rejected the amendment by Senator Toomey because it would have done nothing more than squelched investment and created uncertainty in the market, and would thereby have had a detrimental impact on the energy and economic future of generations to come.”

Biofuels supporters cite the RFS as the most successful energy policy ever. VotesVets.org did some research into Senator Toomey’s connections with the oil industry and found Big Oil his 12th largest contributor contributing $552,816,000. Of that, half (252,050) was made to his campaign committee over the course of the last few months, making the oil and gas industry the 10th largest contributor to Toomey this election cycle.

“It is no surprise that Senator Toomey’s amendment failed – it never had a chance of passing,” said Tom Buis, Growth Energy CEO. “Similar to legislation he has introduced before, it did not gain any traction and failed because this legislation only restricts consumer choice and attempts to dismantle a successful American industry that is creating jobs, improving our environment and reducing our dependence on foreign oil. The simple fact is that the RFS has bipartisan support and it has been the most successful energy legislation this nation has enacted in over 40 years.”

Joule Receives EPA Cert for CO2 Ethanol

Screen Shot 2015-10-01 at 8.39.11 AMJoule’s fuel grade Sunflow-E ethanol has been registered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for commercial use in E10 and E15 gasoline blends. The fuel is derived from recycled CO2.

“We are approaching commercialization with a technology that is first of its kind, able to convert CO2 directly into multiple drop-in fuels. It is critical to prove its readiness by meeting government and industry requirements. Having secured EPA registration, our fuel grade Sunflow-E ethanol is now cleared for use,” said Serge Tchuruk, president and CEO of Joule.

Earlier this year Joule announced the results of its third-party testing of Sunflow-E ethanol. Key results included:

  • American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) D4806 – Denatured fuel ethanol for blending with gasolines for use as automotive spark-ignition engine fuel
    German Institute for Standardization (DIN) EN 15376 – Ethanol as a blending component for petrol
  • Joule Sunflow-E ethanol is chemically identical to its traditional counterparts, but differs in the way it is produced. Joule converts CO2 to ethanol directly in a continuous process, using engineered bacteria as living catalysts rather than biomass feedstocks. At full-scale commercialization, Joule ultimately targets productivity of up to 25,000 gallons of Sunflow-E ethanol per acre annually.

Tchuruk added, “Following a full year of production at our demonstration plant, we have achieved a several-fold advance in outdoor productivity. Additionally, we have reached unprecedented levels in our lab reactors, and we know the steps required to replicate these results outdoors. This will further strengthen our position to initiate global deployment.”

Industry Applauds Sen Talent’s RFS Efforts

Yesterday former Missouri U.S. Senator Jim Talent launched Americans for Energy Security and Innovation (AESI), an organization focused on expanding support for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The ethanol industry responded to the news favorably.

rfs-mess-2“The RFA welcomes AESI to the ongoing efforts to ensure that the RFS remains America’s most successful energy policy,” said Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Bob Dinneen. “Former Senator Talent has been an enthusiastic and outspoken supporter of the U.S. ethanol industry. We look forward to hearing the ideas this new group will put forth to ensure that the American public has access to clean, secure, affordable home-grown sources of energy. Indeed, the RFS is law today in no small part because of Senator Talent’s leadership on the Energy Committee during his tenure representing the people of Missouri. He knows far better than most the rural economic, energy security and economic promise of the RFS.”

Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy added, “We are pleased that Americans for Energy Security and Innovation have joined the important fight to ensure that the RFS is protected and that America has a strong, robust and resilient renewable fuels industry.”

“Former Senator Jim Talent from Missouri has always been a true advocate for renewable fuels and rural America,” Buis added. I am confident that Senator Talent and Americans for Energy Security and Innovation will be effective in the battle to improve our environment, create jobs in America that cannot be outsourced and reduce our dangerous dependence on foreign oil and fossil fuels, all while providing consumers with a choice and savings at the pump.”

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.

Former MO Senator Chairs New Pro-RFS Group

aesiFormer U.S. Senator Jim Talent from Missouri today launched Americans for Energy Security and Innovation (AESI), a new organization aimed at expanding support for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

“It’s an organization supported by biofuels producers and investors around the country,” said Talent, who notes that the RFS was one of his priorities when he served in the Senate between 2002 and 2007. “I’ve been very pleased by how the policy has worked,” he said.

jim-talent“(The RFS) has helped spark a revolution in value-added agriculture,” said Talent. “It’s had the effect of strengthening family farms and done it without price supports from the federal government … and it’s sparked a lot of privately funded research in biotechnology.”

Talent likens the RFS to a “gigantic strategic petroleum reserve except it doesn’t cost the government anything to maintain, it’s better for the environment, it creates large numbers of jobs and it supports family farming and agriculture across the country.”

Questioned about how this group will differ from the many organizations and coalitions already promoting the RFS, Talent said they planned to work with the other groups but they wanted to have an independent platform and he believes the more voices the better. “If you look at the amount of money being spent by organizations that are not very friendly to the RFS, I think you’ll find it dwarfs what’s being spent in support of it,” Talent said.

Listen to Talent’s announcement here: Former MO Sen. Jim Talent announces new pro-RFS group

EHS Summit Comes to Kearney Nebraska

The 11th annual Environment, Health and Safety Summit is coming to Kearney, Nebraska Tuesday, October 11, 2015. The daylong summit, for safety professionals, includes speakers from agencies including the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality, Pinnacle Engineering, Fletcher Safety and Southeast Community College. The event is hosted by the Nebraska Ethanol Board (NEB).

NEB EHS Summit“This is a great opportunity to network and learn about the latest government regulations and compliance changes,” said Todd Sneller, NEB administrator who was recently awarded the Merle Anderson Award during the annual ACE Ethanol Conference. “We are proud that the summit has grown to include diverse companies beyond the ethanol industry during the past 11 years.”

Sneller said that the event was originally established to provide compliance, safety, public health and emerging technology information for the rapidly developing ethanol industry, but today the Summit has attracted the attention of other professional sectors as government regulations continue to increase.

The NEB works with a variety of private partners and ethanol plant personnel, who focus on compliance, worker safety and public health issues, to put on the summit. College students also are invited to attend and may qualify for a scholarship to waive the registration fee.

The event is presented in cooperation with the Association of Nebraska Ethanol Producers (ANEEP) and open to professionals who work in environmental compliance, worker safety, and processing and manufacturing. For registration details, contact the NEB at 402-471-2941 or visit www.ethanol.nebraska.gov.

Study: 15B Gallon RFS Can Happen in 2016

According to new research from the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD), the 15 billion gallons per year of ethanol set in the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) is currently achievable. With infrastructure in place, what is needed, say the Iowa State University (ISU) economists, is the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to adhere to the law.

“Our results show that meeting the original 15 billion gallon RFS ethanol target in 2016 is feasible,” write ISU Profs. Bruce Babcock and Sebastien Pouliot. “The two key conditions needed to meet this consumption level are to allow the market for RINs [Renewable Identification Numbers] to work as intended, which will allow the price of E85 to fall to induce consumers to buy the fuel, and for EPA to set a consistent policy signal to industry that they will indeed have to meet this target. A clear and consistent message from EPA is needed to foster investment in fueling stations that will allow enough consumers to access E85.”

E85 pump in Des Moines IA

Photo Credit: Joanna Schroeder

The data used was from actual daily fuel sales and volume prices from a major Midwest retail chain and demonstrates that E85 is a viable means to meet renewable fuel mandates. The study also reviewed the willingness of flex fuel vehicle (FFV) drivers to purchase E85 at various price points.

According to the report, “Using these new direct estimates of consumer demand, we find that owners of current flex vehicles in all US metro areas would consume 250 million gallons of E85 if it was priced at parity on a cost per mile basis with E10, and one billion gallons of ethanol if E85 were priced to save drivers 23% on a cost per mile basis. These estimates assume that no new E85 stations are installed,” write the authors. The study shows that in one metro area, the market share of E85 exceeded 15 percent when E85 saved FFV owners money on a cost-per-mile basis.

The authors also demonstrate how a strong and consistent enforcement signal from the EPA — transmitted through the market for RIN credits — can quickly transform the market for E85. They write, “Our finding that owners of FFVs like to save money on their fuel purchases is not too surprising: all of us do. Perhaps what is surprising is that EPA’s proposed decision to cut ethanol mandates reveals so little faith in their own compliance mechanism—the RIN trading system. …EPA set up the RIN trading system to create the incentive to invest in the infrastructure that is needed to expand the consumption of biofuels which, in turn, lowers RIN price. Using the power of the marketplace has proved to be an efficient method of achieving policy objectives.”

Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) President and CEO Bob Dinneen commented on the study’s findings, stating, “This report confirms that if EPA and the Administration would just let the RFS and its RIN mechanism work as intended, we would obliterate the so-called ‘blend wall’ and increase consumer access to lower-cost, lower-carbon renewable fuels that are made right here in America. The authors show that Congress’ original vision for conventional biofuels under the RFS is indeed achievable in 2016 with existing infrastructure, and that the only thing missing is the resolve and commitment from EPA and the Administration to continue building upon the remarkable success story that is the RFS.”

Ethanol the Cure for Omaha’s Bad Gas

NEethanolboardNew tests show that Omaha has a case of bad gas, but ethanol could be the cure. The Nebraska Ethanol Board says gasoline at the Magellan fuel terminal in Omaha showed some samples tested to having as much as 30 percent by volume of toxic substances in fuel that wasn’t blended with ethanol.

Toxics such as benzene, xylene and toluene are added to gasoline to increase octane, which is necessary to reduce engine knock. These substances, known collectively as “aromatics”, are known toxins and, in some cases, known or suspected carcinogens or cancer-causing substances.

In the July fuel samples, these toxics accounted for nearly 30 percent of volume in base gasoline without ethanol added. However, when 10 percent ethanol was added to the mix, the volume of toxic compounds dropped to 23 percent—or nearly by one-fourth that of straight gasoline.

“While ‘aromatics’ may sound like a good thing, they are actually a huge threat to human health,” said Angela Tin, vice president of environmental health for the American Lung Association of the Upper Midwest. “These toxics do not completely combust in the engine and therefore exit the tailpipe as tiny particles that enter our lungs, heart, brains and bloodstream.”

Particulate matter from vehicle exhaust has been linked to brain cancer, lung cancer, heart disease and asthma — and is especially harmful to infants, children and people suffering from heart or respiratory problems.

Tin says fuel with ethanol is a cleaner air alternative. “Ethanol is a clean-burning, non-toxic source of octane,” she said. “The more ethanol in our fuel, the lower the volume of toxic compounds in our fuel and in the air we breathe.”

Nebraska Ethanol Board officials point out that ethanol adds oxygen to fuel and that helps the fuel burn more completely with more of the toxic compounds completely burned in the engine rather than coming out the tailpipe.

Cause of Ethanol Train Derailment Probed

train-derailFederal investigators are looking into why seven ethanol tanker cars derailed in South Dakota over the weekend. No one was injured in the derailment that occurred early Saturday morning, but at least one of the cars caught fire in the accident involving a 98-car Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad train.

Senate Transportation Committee chairman John Thune (R-SD) is watching the investigation closely and says they believe the derailment was caused by a broken rail or structural failure in the small bridge where the incident occurred. “Safety has got to be the highest priority,” said Thune. “These were some of the older model cars that actually derailed and started a fire there.” The Department of Transportation has required updates to fuel transportation cars, including the unjacketed DOT-111 cars which commonly carry ethanol.

“Ethanol should have some different treatment with respect to these cars compared to oil tank cars,” Thune said. “Most of the seven cars that derailed were older models that will require upgrades under these new safety standards.” Five of the seven cars were the DOT-111 models and two were newer jacketed models that will still be required to have some upgrades under the new standards.