ARF Releases 2016 Prez Candidate Midterm Report

America’s Renewable Future (ARF) released a 2016 Presidential Candidate midterm report card today during a press call putting candidates into three categories: good, needs work and bad. Scores were based on the candidates’ support of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and ethanol in particular. Candidates who received good grades included Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump (who is visiting an ethanol plant in Gowrie, Iowa this week), Bernie Sanders, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, Chris Christie, Lindsay Graham, George Pataki, and Martin O’Malley.

The midterm report was published to serve as a guide for voters come February 1, 2016 to understand where candidates stand on biofuels.

Photo Credit: Joanna Schroeder

Photo Credit: Joanna Schroeder

“Ethanol and the RFS are top concerns for Iowa caucus-goers and Americans everywhere, because renewable fuel like ethanol is making America cleaner, stronger, and more secure,” said ARF Co-Chair Rep. Annette Sweeney in a press release following the press call. “We will make sure Iowans know where candidates stand, and ensure all of our supporters see this report card.” The RFS enjoys broad support from Iowa’s Democrat and Republican caucus-goers, with 76% and 61% respectively saying in a recent poll that they would be more likely to support a candidate who is pro-RFS.

For a candidate to receive a “good” score, he or she must have demonstrated consistent support for the RFS and Iowa farmers. A “needs work” candidate is one is has given inconsistent and undefiend positions on the RFS. These include: Marcio Rubio, Jeb Bush, Carly Fiorina and John Kasich. A “bad” candidate is one who has stood against Iowa Farmers and the RFS and includes Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Bobby Jindal.

“The midterm report card is not the final word, but it puts everyone on notice that Iowans can see whether candidates are preparing to stand with them or against them,” added Sweeney. “We will be releasing a final report card in January, when the middle category will be gone and candidates will either be designated as with us or against us.”

ARF State Director Eric Brandstad said during the press call that ARF plans to notify their list of 45,000 supporters and other allies about these results at ethanol plant caucus trainings, phone calls from field staff, and other one-on-one grassroots efforts. In addition, ARF will utilize a mix of paid media tactics including direct mail, digital, and radio advertisements and Brandstad said they also plan to release caucus instructional videos.

Listen to the press conference audio here: ARF Midterm Candidate Report Score Card Press Conference

Ethanol Industry Takes Clean Energy Mission to India

A team from the U.S. including the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Growth Energy, U.S. Grains Council (USGC) and the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) recently returned from a clean energy mission to India. Led by USDA Undersecretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Micheal Scuse, the group met to discuss opportunities for developing clean energy solutions, technologies and policies. An additional goal of the mission was to strengthen the level of cooperation and coordination between the ethanol industries of the two countries.

logosDuring a series of meetings that involved ethanol producers, oil companies and government officials, the U.S. participant group of seven received an in-depth look at the local industry’s situation and outlook. There were extensive discussions on India’s economy, political environment, energy sector, and the role of government policy as a driver of the ethanol industry’s growth.

“Macroeconomic factors like population growth, continuing urbanization and increases in disposable income mean India is poised to use more gasoline and diesel fuels,” said USGC Past Chairman Ron Gray, who was part of the group representing the U.S. industry. “Given the negative effect that petroleum-based gasoline has on air quality, we feel that the expanded use of ethanol as an oxygenate can help India reduce smog and carbon emissions in this rapidly growing developing country, particularly in its cities.”

Ed Hubbard, general counsel for RFA said of the trip, “America’s commitment to using ethanol in our fuel has made it possible for our nation’s busiest cities to dramatically reduce levels of smog and other harmful tail-pipe emissions. By sharing our experiences with our friends here in India, we believe we can help them significantly improve the country’s air quality.”

In 2014, India imported $86 million of industrial ethanol mostly from the U.S. and Brazil and USGC expects imports to rise potentially researching $150-200 million in 2015. Even accounting for this level of growth, the U.S. ethanol industry believes there is still room for growth, especially in the transportation market. According to a press release sent out from the U.S. delegation, this view was echoed by India’s sugar and ethanol sector during last week’s meetings, with the country seeking ways to increase their blend rates from current low levels as a means to improving air quality while supporting India’s sugar producers.

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IRFA Updates Look, Website

Iowa RFA logo-newThe Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) has updated their brand look including a enhance logo and website with additional features that includes more consumer-friendly information about biofuels.

Some of the key website updates include:

  • Enhanced Homepage: Sleek, responsive web design with larger images, a comprehensive menu option, and quick links to take you to the latest and greatest on renewable fuels.
  • Fueling Your Vehicle Center: A dedicated page for motorists, complete with fuel recommendations based on vehicle types, and Iowa E15, E85 and biodiesel fueling station finders.
  • Retailer Center: If you’re a fuel retailer looking to gain a competitive advantage with renewable fuel blends, this is the place for you. Information on fuels, state tax credits, and more are just one click way.
  • Resources and Statistics: Improved stats on the production and benefits of renewable fuels like ethanol and biodiesel, as well as other great informational resources.

IRFA Communications Director T.J. Page said of the refreshed brand, “With so much attention on renewable fuels, we’ve redesigned our website and refreshed our logo to better serve audiences of all backgrounds. Along with an updated, responsive web design, we’ve added new features like an Iowa E15, E85, and biodiesel fuel station finder, a consumer center to address questions about fueling with biofuels, and an enhanced retailer center aimed at aiding Iowa retailers in their search to find a competitive advantage with renewable fuels blends. A lot has changed with the IRFA website, but what has stayed the same is it’s still a great resource for all things renewable fuels.”

In other news, IRFA is hosting its 10th Annual Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit, free for to attend and open to the public, taking place January 19, 2016 at The Meadows Conference Center at Prairie Meadows in Altoona, Iowa. Two key topics of discussion will be the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and the upcoming Iowa Caucuses. Online registration is now open.

NCGA Disappointed in Congress’ Lack of RFS Support

The National Corn Growers Association is “deeply disappointed” that Members of Congress who represent corn-producing states have sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requesting a reduction in the volume of corn-ethanol blended into the fuel supply as required by the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The letter was signed by 184 Members of Congress and according to Open Secrets, collectively, these legislators have received $39 million from the oil industry throughout their careers.

Photo credit Joanna Schroeder

Photo credit Joanna Schroeder

“I’m disappointed to see Members of Congress turn their back on farmers and rural communities,” said Wesley Spurlock, First Vice President of the National Corn Growers and a farmer from Stratford, Texas. The Renewable Fuel Standard has been one of the most successful energy policies ever enacted. The RFS works. It has reduced our dependence on foreign oil. It has made the rural economy stronger. And it has been better for the environment. It’s puzzling that these Representatives would not want to support it.”

On November 4, 2015, the House members made a request to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to reduce the Renewable Volume Obligation (RVO) for corn-based ethanol, the amount of biofuels blended into the transportation fuel supply each year. NCGA states that this action would violate congressional statue. The organization cites an article from Bloomberg News that claims that the initial drafts of the congressional letter were written by an oil industry lobbyist.

“This letter has Big Oil’s fingerprints all over it,” continued Spurlock. “The letter includes false attacks on ethanol that have been disproven time and again. The blend wall is a false construct. We have known from the beginning that eventually we would need higher blends of ethanol to meet the statutory requirements. That was the point: to replace fossil fuels with renewables. The oil industry doesn’t want to hear that. That’s why they have spent hundreds of millions of dollars trying to repeal the RFS, even to the point of having their lobbyists write this letter.”

Also responding to the letter was Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA). “It should come as no surprise that, as the November 30th deadline for the EPA to issues its final rule on the 2014-2016 RVOs looms, the Big Oil spin machine has gone into overdrive and the petroleum industry is pulling out all the stops in an attempt to confuse the public and mislead policymakers about this important program. The fact that members of Congress are parroting Big Oil’s blend wall narrative is shameful evidence that money talks. Continue reading

Florida Station Promotes Higher #Ethanol Blends

protec-citgo-signThe prices for higher ethanol blends at the Citgo Gas Station on John Young Parkway in Kissimmee are low normally, but Friday they were even lower as the retailer continued to celebrate the ability to offer lower cost fuel to consumers.

Motorists who might have been in town for a weekend at the theme parks were able to fill up Friday for an additional discount on the E15 ethanol blend fuel of $.15, OR for $.85 off E85 Flex-Fuel, a fuel for Flex-Fuel gasoline engines.

Station owner Paul Przychocki of Mid-State Energy has worked to offer higher ethanol blends at his retail outlets because he is a big believer in the fuel. “I personally use it in my vehicle,” he said, noting that he drives a 2011 model that can use E15. “It’s put Americans back to work and (helped us) get away from foreign oil that unfortunately we have to supply in America.”

Przychocki partnered with Protec Fuel to install the new pumps at the Kissimmee station with the help of USDA Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership funding. Here’s an interview with Przychocki when the partnership was announced. Interview with Paul Przychocki, Mid-State Energy

28 COP21 Countries Using Biofuels for CO2 Reduction

According to a new report from the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), 28 countries attending the climate talks in Paris in December have submitted carbon reduction strategies that use biofuels to help meet goals. Not included in this number? The U.S. despite its Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The RFA report found that America’s action plan did not acknowledge the important roles biofuels have played in significantly reducing GHG emissions from the transportation sector over the past decade.

RFA-RFS COP21 report coverThe report notes that transportation-related emissions, which account for 27 percent of total U.S. GHG emissions, have “steadily trended downward since adoption of the RFS, and current levels are 10 percent below 2005 levels.” The report also notes that both the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Energy (DOE) cite that the use of biofuels has had a positive net impact on reducing GHG emissions.

“It is unquestionable that biofuels have delivered substantial GHG emissions reductions from the transportation sector over the past decade,” said RFA’s President and CEO, Bob Dinneen. “And these emissions reductions would not have been possible without the adoption of the RFS. Inexplicably, the United States’ initial submission to COP21 completely ignores past GHG reductions and the future promise of even greater reductions as the RFS drives further improvements in biofuels technologies.”

Dinneen continued, “It is ironic that the climate talks will take place just as EPA is due to release its final rule on the 2014-2016 RVOs. If EPA sticks to its initial proposal, it will roll back the single most successful climate change program the world has ever seen. The administration wants to be viewed as a leader on climate change; then it must do what nearly 30 other countries who are attending COP21 plan on doing and embrace, not ignore, biofuels.”

President Obama is heading to Paris later this month to participate in some preliminary discussions prior to COP21. In tandem with this visit, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and GREEN FOR ALL released a poll that found two-thirds of African Americans believe global warming is a serious program and want more action to curb its effects including increased used of clean energy technologies.

Where or Where Will Cellulosic Ethanol Go?

The world’s largest cellulosic ethanol biorefinery went online Friday, October 30, 2015 in Nevada, Iowa marked by a commissioning celebration featuring several Iowa dignitaries. The day was kicked off with a welcome reception where DuPont Industrial Biosciences President William Feehery spoke about how the company is committed to reforming how energy is produced. Yet despite the jovial mood, there was talk about the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and the EPA’s lack of commitment to advanced biofuels and the concern of where the increasing cellulosic biofuels will go? (More than likely, California).

In Iowa, support for renewable energy is a bipartisan issue. Governor Terry Branstad took the stage calling on the EPA to “support the Iowa way”, which is “together in a bipartisan way, recognizing the benefits of renewable fuels and not being afraid to continue to move forward with these advancements”. He thanked DuPont for having the “courage and tenacity” to build the biorefinery in Iowa, noting cellulosic ethanol was a long-time coming, “but we’re proud the day is finally here and that it’s happening”.

Branstad, among other legislators, took the momentous occasion to call out the EPA for its lack of commitment to supporting the RFS. The agency is expected to publish the 2014, 2015 and 2016 final rules by November 30, 2015 and the agency transmitted the rules to the Office of Management and Budget this week.

Steve Kings signs first bale

IA Representative Steve Kings signs the biomass bale that will be the first bale used to produce cellulosic ethanol. Photo Credit: Joanna Schroeder

When Congressman Steve King took the stage, he focused his remarks on the future of biofuels. “We’re in the beginnings of this, not the end.” He applauded not only the hundreds of millions of dollars invested in the project but also the intellectual investment it took to create the technology. Yet he too took the opportunity to champion the success of the RFS.

“And I wanted to point out also, that yes, we do have a battle in Congress and maybe it starts before this day is over,” said Rep. King. “It ticks me off when they go after the RFS. They [fellow Representatives] came to me on the floor the other day and said what happens if we bring a bill to repeal the RFS to the floor of the House of Representatives. And I looked at them with the dirtiest look I could give and I said that would be a holy war because the RFS is the Holy Grail. It’s market access and without market access they shut us out and we can’t sell this product.”

Another long-standing and vocal supporter of homegrown renewable fuels, Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, called DuPont’s achievement revolutionary when he took the platform. “From conception to commercialization, this biorefinery is a byproduct of Iowa ingenuity, innovation and investment,” he said stressing that what has been achieved here is what Congress hoped. Yet once again, he seized the moment to share his frustration over the battle of the RFS and let the audience know that he will continue to fight to ensure the legislation gets back on track and there remains a legislative commitment behind the advanced biofuels industry.

“Defending and maintaining the program is critical, especially for advanced and cellulosic biofuel producers. We can not pull the rug out and we won’t pull the rug out from under you,” said Sen. Grassley who called on the Congress and EPA to reject efforts to undermine the a successful program and encourage them to do whatever they can to encourage the investment in the development of the advanced biofuels industry.

“Yes, is it a day of celebration, but tomorrow is a day for us to continue to fight,” added Grassley. “The fight to show people that everything about ethanol is good. Nothing bad, from this standpoint!”

NFU Poll: Rural Voters Support the RFS

On a press conference call yesterday, the National Farmers Union (NFU), released a poll that showed popularity and support within rural congressional districts for political candidates that support the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). NFU President Roger Johnson said that the poll demonstrates the importance of the Obama Administration getting the RFS back on track as it sets the RFS volume obligations for 2014-2016, due out by the end of this month.

National Farmers Union logoJohnson noted that support for the RFS outweighed opposition in five out of the six districts surveyed by the poll. “Rural America seems to have taken note of the measurable gains in climate change resiliency, energy independence and the rejuvenation of rural economies across the country that are directly attributable to the RFS.”

When asked if this meant Democrats were also supportive of the RFS, Andrew Drechsler, president of HaystaqDNA a “democratic-centric” firm who conducted the poll, responded that the poll findings are very important for moderates, who the poll found support the RFS. “One thing that could make a difference on the position of the leadership is this issue, and for the Democrats, that’s the president,” he said during the press call.

Johnson added, “Self-identified moderates constituted 39 percent of the electorate surveyed in the poll, and by a two-to-one margin, these voters said that support for the RFS will make them more likely to vote for a congressional candidate versus voters who say it will make them less likely to support that candidate.” In other words, RFS support among voters is bi-partisan.

This poll, along with several other RFS polls released over the past few weeks all demonstrate a strong support for the RFS – even among city-dwelling voters.

The take-away? Johnson summed it up: “The RFS is a rare issue that cuts across party lines and deals directly with rural economics. This poll demonstrates the importance of the RFS to rural voters. The President, both because it is the right public policy and it is the right political move in rural America, needs to show his support for a strong RFS. And that begins by issuing volume obligations that comply with the RFS statute.”

Listen to the press conference audio here: NFU RFS Poll Press Conference

Hail a “Clean Energy” Beltway Taxi

People hailing taxis in the Beltway will be riding with “clean energy”. Well, not actually. (But wouldn’t that be awesome?) The clean energy will be in the form of an ad running on screen inside the cabs sponsored by Americans for Energy Security and Innovation. The ad highlights President Obama’s “hypocrisy” on promoting clean energy – a message the group wants the country to hear as President Obama heads to Paris for a global conference on climate change at the end of November. As is stands today, pro-biofuel groups are calling on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to stop gutting the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and reverse its proposed 2014, 2015 and 2016 fuels to increase the amount of renewable fuels mandated across all categories.

“Regardless of your position on climate change, it’s clear that President Obama is talking out of both sides of his mouth on renewable energy. Despite his environmental rhetoric, the Obama Administration has tried to gut the Renewable Fuel Standard – the only successful federal law that has effectively promoted clean fuels that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The President’s stunning hypocrisy has undermined his credibility and proven that he cannot be trusted to keep his word and follow through on his promises,” said American for Energy Security and Innovation Chairman and former United States Senator Jim Talent.

Green Plains & Delek to Build Ethanol Terminal

greenplainsGreen Plains Partners and Delek US Holdings have announced plans to build an ethanol unit train terminal in Maumelle, Arkansas. The 50:50 venture, being constructed on the Union Pacific rail line, will is estimated to cost $12 million and be completed by the end of 2106. Maumelle is located near Little Rock and Mayor Mike Watson applauded the companies for their investment in the community’s economic development.

Screen Shot 2015-11-05 at 7.41.23 AM“We are pleased to move forward with the partnership’s first organic growth project with a strategic downstream partner,” said Todd Becker, president and chief executive officer at Green Plains Partners. “When completed, this new terminal will allow ethanol to be delivered more efficiently into the Little Rock and surrounding markets. This certainly will give the joint venture a platform upon which to build.”

Green Plains Partners has been very active the last few weeks with purchase announcements. The company will be buying an ethanol refinery in Texas owned by Murphy USA. In addition, Green Plains Partners has made a bid for a Virgina ethanol plant owned by Future Fuels.

In less than 24 hours, more than 110-car unit trains can be unloaded at the new terminal with initial storage capacity of 4.2 million gallons of ethanol. Green Plains Partners, one of the country’s largest ethanol producers, and Delek US will jointly own the terminal.