DOT Announces New Rail Car Standards

rfa-railcarU.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) today announced a final rule for the safe transportation of flammable liquids by rail.

The final rule, developed in coordination with Canada, focuses on “safety improvements that are designed to prevent accidents, mitigate consequences in the event of an accident, and support emergency response.”

“Safety has been our top priority at every step in the process for finalizing this rule, which is a significant improvement over the current regulations and requirements and will make transporting flammable liquids safer,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.

Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association, believes the new rule strikes “a fair balance in setting comprehensive standards while at the same time being sensitive to the limitation of retrofit capacity by giving less hazardous flammables — like ethanol — additional time to retrofit railcars.”

“We applaud the Department of Transportation for working to harmonize these regulations with Canada; for adopting a risk-based approach that prioritizes the most dangerous and highly-volatile flammables like crude oil while giving medium hazard liquids like ethanol additional time to come into compliance, for recognizing the limitations of the retrofit capacity, and, for establishing a regular reporting process for the retrofit schedule,” added Dinneen.

Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis, however, expressed disappointment with the new rule. “Although we are pleased that this rule begins to acknowledge the difference between cars in ethanol and crude service, we are extremely disappointed that regulators are requiring extensive changes to the ethanol rail fleet, while seemingly ignoring the number one cause of these accidents – broken rails and poor track condition,” said Buis.

The new rule requires a phase out or retrofit of all DOT-111 railcars transporting crude oil and ethanol by May 2023. Specifically, the rule requires a phase out or retrofit of all unjacketed CPC-1232 railcars used to ship ethanol by July 2023. Additionally, a new tank car standard has been put in place that establishes the DOT-117 as the new railcar to ship oil and ethanol. The DOT-117 includes a 9/16 inch steel hull, roll over protection, full height head shields, top fitting protection, and jacketing with thermal protection.

U.S. Ethanol Exports Rebound in 2014

usda-fasUSDA’s Foreign Agriculture Service reports that exports of U.S. ethanol exports rebounded last year after two years of declines. It was the second highest level of ethanol exports in history, making the United States the largest exporter of ethanol in the world, surpassing Brazil for the second time.

Value and volume of ethanol exports were both up approximately 35 percent from 2013, although still below the record set in 2011. At nearly 3.2 billion liters (836 million gallons), U.S. ethanol exports were worth more than $2 billion dollars. Six percent of ethanol produced in the United States was exported last year, shipped to a more diverse range of markets. Exports to Canada accounted for 40% of the total and while exports to Brazil and Europe dropped, dramatic increases were seen in markets such as the Philippines, South Korea, and the United Arab Emirates.

On the other side, U.S. ethanol imports (including both fuel and non-fuel ethanol) dropped by more than half in 2014, to less than 900 million liters, the lowest level since 2010. At the same time, domestic ethanol production jumped nearly eight percent in 2014, reaching a record 54 billion liters (14.3 billion gallons).

Read the entire FAS report here.

Ethanol Report from NAFB Washington Watch

ww15-dinneen-kenMembers of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting were on Capitol Hill this week for their annual Washington Watch, and the Renewable Fuels Association was once again pleased to participate. RFA president and CEO Bob Dinneen was interviewed by dozens of broadcasters from around the country addressing a number of different topics.

ethanol-report-adIn this edition of the Ethanol Report, Sabrina Hill of AgNet West in California talks with Bob about several issues, including the California Air Resources Board Low Carbon Fuel Standard, E15 legislation, and why RFA supports farm broadcasters.

Ethanol Report from NAFB Washington Watch

EIA: Ethanol Production, Stocks Down

Weekly ethanol production numbers, as well as stocks are down. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reports ethanol production averaged 921,000 barrels per day (b/d), about 38.68 million gallons daily. That is down 9,000 b/d from the week before. The four-week average for ethanol production stood at 928,000 b/d for an annualized rate of 14.23 billion gallons. Stocks of ethanol were down 2.6 percent from a week earlier at 20.8 million barrels.
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The Renewable Fuels Association added that ethanol production is accounting for a good amount of corn usage in the country.

Ethanol producers were using 13.965 million bushels of corn to produce ethanol and 102,786 metric tons of livestock feed, 91,635 metric tons of which were distillers grains. The rest is comprised of corn gluten feed and corn gluten meal. Additionally, ethanol producers were providing 5.42 million pounds of corn distillers oil daily.

Platts Pre-Report Survey of Sugarcane Crush

In preparation for the Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA)’s bi-monthly harvest data, Platts survey has announced that sugarcane crush volumes in the Key Center-South region of Brazil in the first half of April are expected to total 13.10 million mt with a focus on ethanol production. The wider range of analysts’ advance expectations for cane crush spanned from 10.2 million mt to 18.3 million mt.

UNICA sugar-ethanol plantAnalysts expect sugar mills to have focused on ethanol production, with ethanol representing 68.57 percent of the cane crush in the April 1- 15 period, with sugar at 31.43 percent. Cane yield measured by Total Recoverable Sugar (or ATR in Portuguese) was estimated by Platts sugar analysis and forecasting unit Kingsman* at 105.5 kg/mt.

Analysts anticipate the following: sugar production of 399,000 mt, total ethanol output of 637,000 liters, including 450,000 liters of hydrous and 187,000 liter of anhydrous ethanol. The strong focus on hydrous ethanol production is attributed to higher electricity prices from cogeneration, as well as more competitive prices at the pumps, which boosted demand.

Since the February reinstatement of Brazil’s Cide tax on gasoline, hydrous ethanol consumption has boomed, increasing its share of total automotive fuel demand in Brazil to 29 percent, the highest since February 2011, according to data from the Brazilian Petroleum Agency.

Solenis’ Antibiotic-Free Fermentation Aids for Ethanol

Solenis-Fuel-Ethanol-Workshop1Specialty chemical company Solenis will soon introduce a new line of antibiotic-free fermentation aids and a new scale inhibitor for ethanol. This company news release says the debut happens during the 2015 International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo (FEW) to be held June 1-4 at the Minneapolis Convention Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

On Tuesday, June 2 at 1:20 p.m. Allen Ziegler, global biorefining marketing director for Solenis, will provide an overview of the new fermentation aids on the Innovation Stage on the Expo floor at the FEW. In addition, Robert Yule, platform launch manager for Solenis, will deliver a presentation on the new scale inhibitor during the FEW Production and Operations seminars on Tuesday, June 2, 3:30-5:00 p.m. in room 200 DEFG.

Antibiotic-free Fermentation Aids: The Solenis™ family of fermentation aids provides better yeast propagation while simultaneously reducing bacterial growth without the use of antibiotics in both high pH and standard pH fermentation processes. The company’s offering of patented and patent-pending antibiotic-free fermentation aids can help fuel ethanol producers improve efficiency and address regulatory and consumer concerns about antibiotics in the food chain.

Scale Inhibitor to Improve Evaporator Efficiency: Solenis’ Polystabil™ AS4535 scale inhibitor is specifically designed to help fuel ethanol producers reduce scale, improve heat transfer and reduce downtime in their evaporators. This patent-pending blended product starts working at a dosage level below traditional polyacrylate chemistries and allows higher dosages, up to 20 ppm, while still meeting regulatory requirements ‒ making it significantly more effective than conventional technologies.

During FEW, Solenis will also talk about new cooling water treatments, FDA-approved corn oil extraction aids for both disk-stack and tricanter systems, and a proprietary control system that allows for around-the-clock surveillance and control of process and water treatment programs.

RFA CEO Talks RFS with NAFB

ww15-rfaMembers of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting (NAFB) are on Capitol Hill this week talking with lawmakers, administration officials, and industry organizations about topics important to agriculture, which include the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) president and CEO Bob Dinneen had some new information to share with broadcasters about support for the RFS among the general public. “We released a poll (Monday) that shows 62% of voters support the RFS, compared to only 18% that oppose it,” said Dinneen in an interview with Agri-Pulse reporter Spencer Chase. “I hope both EPA and the president and Congress are paying attention to what Joe Public wants.”

In this interview, Dinneen also discusses the proposed EPA timeline for releasing overdue volume requirements for the RFS. “Typically EPA doesn’t act until they absolutely have to so my expectation is that the clock will run until the very last second,” he said. Interview with Bob Dinneen, RFA CEO

Kum & Go to Offer E15

kum-and-go1Iowa-based convenience stores Kum & Go will begin offering E15 as a fuel option. The first station will be in Windsor Heights, Iowa on April 30 with 65 stores in Iowa, Nebraska, Arkansas, Colorado, Missouri, Oklahoma, and South Dakota planning to offer the higher blend within the next two years.

“We have a strong tradition in our company to implement sustainability within our business and at our locations. From our 100 LEED-certified stores, to our selection of alternative fuels, E15 was a natural addition to our fuel offering,” said Jim Pirolli, Vice President of Fuels, Kum & Go. “Having E15 in our portfolio allows Kum & Go to offer our customers a quality product at a great value.”

The news was welcomed by the ethanol industry.

Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy, issued the following statement:

growth-energy-logo1“We are thrilled to hear that Kum & Go will be offering E15, providing motorists with a choice and savings at the pump. Kum & Go prides themselves on their exemplary service and a drive to give the customer more than what they expect, and this latest announcement underscores their role as an innovator and leader in the convenience store marketplace. Furthermore, this announcement shows that customer demand for higher blends of homegrown, renewable fuels, such as E15, is growing and Kum & Go is taking the necessary steps to deliver what the marketplace demands and what the consumer wants.”

The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) pointed out that that this action will bring the total number of states offering E15 to 20.

rfalogo1“RFA would like to thank Kum & Go for their continued leadership in ethanol,” said Robert White, vice president of industry relations at the Renewable Fuels Association. “They have been offering E85 to consumers for years, and this addition of E15 in these seven states just makes sense. These continued E15 announcements demonstrate that the business case is solid for higher blends, and should lead other retailers to explore their options.”

American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) Senior Vice President Ron Lamberty offered congratulations and thanks to Kum & Go for making E15 more widely available.

ACElogo“Kum & Go has been a leader in offering E85 as a fuel choice at most of the locations they’ve built in the last several years – it seems fitting that they would now be the first large Midwest retailer to announce the addition of E15 as a fuel option. In the c-store business, everyone “wants to be first to be second,” so other retailers will take notice when a chain like Kum & Go is added to the list of E15 retailers that includes Mapco, Murphy Oil, Protec, Sheetz, and other smaller chains and single stores that have been offering E15 for two years or more. E15 is real, and with the number of vehicles built and warrantied for E15 growing by 10 million or more a year, it’s a smart option for stations to offer in the future,” said Lamberty.

Poll Says Americans Support RFS

More than six in 10 Americans support the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) according to a new national poll conducted by Morning Consult on behalf of the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA). The RFS mandates the amount of renewable fuels to be used in the U.S. transportation fuel supply.

The poll finds that the RFS garners broad, bipartisan support from Democrats (65%), Independents (61%) and Republicans (57%) alike. Nearly two in three registered voters overall (62%) support the RFS. Less than two in 10 voters (18%) oppose the standard and two in 10 have no opinion (20%).

Screen Shot 2015-04-27 at 10.34.07 AMOther key findings include that two-thirds of voters (65%) support Federal tax incentives on cellulosic ethanol expansion. Fifty-one percent Fifty-one percent of voters oppose tax incentives given by the federal government to oil companies in order to help pay for such things as equipment depreciation, oil depletion allowances, and foreign investment tax credits for taxes they pay in foreign countries. Only about one-third of voters (34%) support such government assistance to oil companies and 15 percent have no opinion.

In terms of mandating automakers to produce alternative vehicles, 69 percent of registered voters support requiring automakers to build cars that use “fuel” other than oil including electric vehicles, natural gas and biofuels.

“This poll clearly shows that the oil industry’s misinformation, hyperbole, and manufactured angst against the RFS is not resonating with an American public that wants competition for the pump, relief for their wallet, and lower carbon fuels for the planet,” said RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen. “More than six in ten Americans understand the economic, environmental, and national security benefits of the RFS. Congress and the Environmental Protection Agency should take note of the high level of support for the program and allow the RFS to work at the levels Congress envisioned in 2007. Failure to do so only rewards the recalcitrant incumbent industry, jeopardizes investment in new innovative technologies, and ignores an American public intent upon moving our nation’s energy future forward.”

Illinois Could Cut Carbon Pollution with More E15

chicagoe15A new study shows that Illinois could cut its carbon pollution if the state adopted higher blends of ethanol, such as E15. The report from the University of Illinois at Chicago’s principal research economist, Dr. Steffen Mueller, and backed by a group pushing for Chicago’s adoption of the E15 Clean Air Ordinance, says carbon could be cut by up to 663,646 tons per year, the equivalent of taking 139,715 passenger vehicles off the road in Illinois every year.

Key Findings:

Illinois motorists consume about 1.5 billion gallons of gasoline per year, nearly all of which is E10. The analysis shows that if consumers in Illinois had access to and chose to fill up with E15 gasoline, emissions of carbon dioxide pollution across the state would be reduced by 663,646 tons each year. These savings are equivalent to taking about 139,715 passenger vehicles off the road in Illinois every year.

The report shows that a gallon of E15 saves 1.26 g of CO2 equivalent (CO2e) per megajoule compared with E10 (gasoline with 10 percent ethanol blend). CO2e includes carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, and methane.

Dr. Mueller’s conclusions demonstrate that switching to a motor fuel with a greater quantity of homegrown renewable fuels would result in significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

The 15 Clean Air Ordinance — which would give consumers a choice of higher-blend motor fuels — would create a better future for our climate while protecting American jobs and our energy security.

The group points out that because it improves engine performance and burns with fewer emissions, E15 has been adopted throughout professional auto racing, as well as creating jobs and lowering dependence on foreign oil.