ARF Reacts to Hillary Clinton’s Ag, Energy Plan

Presidential candidate Sec. Hillary Clinton (D) made another visit to Iowa this week where she unveiled her agriculture and rural policy plan. She called for strengthening the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) so that it continues to drive the development of advanced cellulosic and other advanced biofuels. Clinton called for more consumer choice at the pump with better access to ethanol blends such as E15 and E85 as well as biodiesel. She also called for more renewable energy to be phased into the electricity sector.

Sec Hillary ClintonAmerica’s Renewable Future (ARF), who is meeting with candidates to discuss the benefits of biofuels, released the following statement in response to the plan.

“We thank Sec. Clinton for her commitment to Iowa’s farmers, consumers, and investors with her call of a strengthened RFS. We enthusiastically echo that call, especially in light of President Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) disastrous Renewable Volume Obligation (RVO) proposal. The EPA’s proposal is another example of conceding to the oil industry’s demands at the expense of clean, domestic renewable fuels and American jobs.

Billions of dollars were invested by famers and local investors to produce biofuels with the promise of a strong RFS. Reducing the RVO will strand capitol and punish the pioneers who invested in clean, homegrown renewable energy. The RFS has created 73,000 jobs here in Iowa and hundreds of thousands more around the country that cannot be outsourced, reduced our dependence on foreign oil, helped clean our air, and provided consumers savings at the pump.

Iowa’s rural communities and economy depend on the RFS for stability and growth and the EPA must get it back on track and focus on protecting the jobs and economic progress it has yielded.”

Clinton Voices Support for Renewable Energy

clinton-iowaWith a John Deere tractor as a backdrop, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton voiced her strong support for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), solar and wind energy during a visit to Iowa this week.

“We need to capitalize on rural America’s strength as a producer of clean, renewable energy,” said Mrs. Clinton during a speech in Ankeny, adding that she has two main goals in that area. “Half a billion solar panels within four years and enough energy production from renewables to power every home in America within 10 years.”

Noting that Iowa produces a third of its total energy from renewables, especially wind and biofuels. “If Iowa can do it…so can the rest of America,” she said.

“We need to strengthen the Renewable Fuel Standard,” Mrs. Clinton continued to applause. “So that it drives the development of advanced biofuels and expand the overall contribution that renewable fuels make to our overall fuel supply.”

Introduced by former Iowa governor and current Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Clinton discussed her plan to support rural America which includes investments in rural areas and rural transportation, making the production of agricultural products more profitable for farmers, and promoting the use of clean energy and renewable energy sources.

Listen to Vilsack’s introduction and Clinton’s speech here: Hillary Clinton on Ag in Iowa

#ACE15 President’s and Media Awards

ace15-presidentsAmerican Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) president Ron Alverson of Dakota Energy surprised his friend Steve Roe with Little Sioux Corn Processors in Marcus, Iowa with this year’s President’s Award. This honor is awarded to individuals or organizations who display principled dedication and support to ACE and to the U.S. ethanol industry.

Little Sioux is a grassroots ethanol plant started in 2003 with local community investors. The company has grown to include over 800 investors and is currently undertaking its third expansion which will bring its capacity to over 135 million gallons per year.

ace15-riterACE Director of Communications Chuck Beck awarded the Excellence in Media award this year to Tom Riter of WNAX in Yankton, SD.

Riter is a veteran farm broadcaster and a native of Rock Rapids, Iowa. He is a regular contributor to the National Association of Farm Broadcasting news service on issues pertaining to the ethanol industry.

2015 ACE Annual Meeting Photos

First Power by People Award at #ACE15

ace15-power-awardIn honor of its successful photo campaign featuring the people of the ethanol industry, the American Coalition for Ethanol awarded its first “Power by People” award at last week’s annual meeting.

The award was presented to Husker Ag of Plainview, Nebraska for the plant’s continued efforts to provide consumers access to higher ethanol blends. The new award was created to recognize a plant or an individual who has gone the extra mile to help get ethanol’s message out to the public.

“Everyone is very proud to have worked together to receive this prestigious award,” said Seth Harder, Husker Ag general manager. “We are proud to be members of Husker Ag.”

ACE Executive Director Brian Jennings said Husker Ag’s recent response to a Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) public hearing made them a perfect fit for the inaugural Power by People Award. According to Jennings, when the RFS hearing was announced, Harder and his team immediately stepped forward with a group of employees, shareholders, investors and a fuel retailer to testify in Kansas City despite short notice.

In addition to addressing policy issues, Husker Ag provides support for flex fuel infrastructure throughout northeast Nebraska. In 2012, Husker Ag passed a resolution to promote higher ethanol fuel blends at the retail level. Since then, the Plainview ethanol plant has provided grant money and ethanol for several retail locations including Creighton, Crofton, Hartington, Osmond, and Pierce at two locations. Plainview and Norfolk locations are in various stages of flex fuel pump installation, and equipment is ready for installation at possibly four more locations.

2015 ACE Annual Meeting Photos

#ACE15 Success, Jennings Highlights What’s Next

The 28th Annual American Coalition for Ethanol’s (ACE) Ethanol Conference was a huge success. At times the room was stand-up only and the content was engaging and informational for attendees. I had a chance to sit down with Executive Vice President Brian Jennings who kicked off the conference and closed the conference and he said that there were a few presentations that really stood out.

The first was the retailer panel that featured Kum & Go and what they are doing to promote the use of E15 and other ethanol blends to consumers in the Midwest, along with Protec and what they are doing in a totally different way and different part of the country (South/Southwest) to bring ethanol to consumers.

Brian Jennings EVP of ACE“There are a lot of smart, progressive companies out there that see the advantage, that see the price advantage, see the other advantages that E15 and higher blends bring to the table,” said Jennings. “I know it’s frustrating for some in our industry because the progress of E15 is going as quickly as any of us like but progress indeed is being made and it’s a testament to the work that ACE and others are doing with the Kum & Gos in the world and the Protecs of the world.”

Another panel that was very informative, noted Jennings, was the panel of ethanol producers who are adopting new technologies and becoming pioneers of emerging technologies. These plants, he said, are leading the way in production improvements, in new product developments, bring in new revenues and help them diversify. Jennings hopes that other ethanol producers both at their conference and not, will look to these plants as examples and also embrace these new technologies and co-products.

The conference really focused on emerging technologies and wins in the industry but none the less talk of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) was common among attendees. I asked Jennings what the next step was for ACE, on behalf of the industry, to keep the fight for the RFS front and center. He said that the industry has until November 30th to continue engaging with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and they will continue to do just that. “They have mountains of comments they have to sift through and we’re proud of ACE and the ethanol industry on how many comments were submitted.”

“I am enormously frustrated with the EPA,” said Jennings. “I have to be honest. We try to be constructive, we try to be helpful, and they just really want to continue to base this thing on the blend wall. So we have our work cut out for us.”

ACE hopes to engage in a Power to the People campaign this fall in the beltway and around the country to educate consumers about the benefits of ethanol.

To learn more about the Ethanol Conference and what’s next for ACE, listen to my interview with Brian Jennings here: ACE's Brian Jennings Conference Review

2015 ACE Annual Meeting Photos

Kum & Go, E15 Leader #ACE Award Honoree

Jim Pirolli Kum and GoKum & Go is well known in the Midwest, especially in states like Iowa and Nebraska where this year’s #ACE annual Ethanol Conference took place (Omaha). During the event, Jim Pirolli, Vice President of Fuels for Kum & Go talked about his company’s commitment to rolling out E15 stations as well as their efforts to continue to sell more E85. The retailer opened their first E15 station in Des Moines, Iowa recently with 6 more planned over the coming months.

How are they successful? Well, for starters they are price competitive at the pump. Pirolli said that Kum & Go recognizes that alternative fuels such as ethanol support local economies, better for the environment and help them deliver more to the customer than they might expect via an expanded product portfolio and also offering the economic and performance benefits. This summer they have done a very aggressive promotion campaign for E85 in Omaha and also for E15 in Des Moines. He did ask for help in helping to educate consumers about E15.

Listen to Jim Pirolli’s presentation here: Jim Pirolli, Kum & Go

Paul Dana Marketing Vision Award

American Coalition for Ethanol’s (ACE) Ron Lamberty (left) awards Jim Pirolli with Kum & Go the Paul Dana Marketing Vision Award.

Also during the event, Kum & Go was awarded the Paul Dana Marketing Vision Award, to honor a retailer who is supportive of ethanol. Ron Lamberty with ACE noted that the retailer has been an ongoing leader in ethanol selling E10 back in 1979, today as 170 E85 stations in 11 states. He praised them for stepping up for ethanol and for marketing the fuel aggressively and for being a leader in offering E15 to consumers.

Listen to Ron Lamberty’s remarks about Kum and Go here: Kum & Go Honored with Paul Dana Marketing Vision Award

2015 ACE Annual Meeting Photos

MO Lawmakers Support RFS

During a visit to the Missouri State Fair last week, two members of the state’s Congressional delegation were asked their opinions on the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed volume obligations for biofuels under the Renewable Fuel Standard.

msf-15-72-editedSen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) hopes EPA will listen to the concerns of the industry. “I think it’s important that we become as energy self-sufficient as we can and renewables are an important part of that,” said Blunt during an interview at the fair. “We have great potential in more American energy of all kinds and the potential of how much we can add to that in renewables and what that does to the ag economy and production agriculture generally in terms of that product being available not just for fuel but for food is important.”

Sen. Blunt also comments on EPA’s Clean Water Rule and other issues in this interview: Interview with Senator Roy Blunt

msf-15-101-editedRep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) says EPA tried to come up with a compromise with the proposed rule. “It was better than we hoped in some ways, but it was worse than we had hoped,” said Hartzler. “I think they should have just followed the law and continued on allowing a greater percentage of our fuel to come through renewables. I’m hopeful that we’ll somehow be able to increase that level.”

In this interview, Hartzler also comments on other issues important to farmers in her state. Interview with Congresswomen Vicky Hartzler

E15 Approved for 2016 Fiat Chrysler Models

2016-jeep Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) had approved the use of E15 (15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline) in its model year 2016 Chrysler/Fiat, Jeep, Dodge and Ram vehicles.

According to the new owners manuals for the vehicles, “Non-Flex Fuel Vehicles (FFV) are compatible with gasoline containing up to 15% ethanol (E15).” The decision means that FCA joins General Motors and Ford in covering E15 in its warranty statements. GM started covering E15 with its MY 2012 vehicles, while Ford joined a year later with its MY 2013 vehicles. More than 12 percent of the vehicles sold so far in the United States in 2015 have been FCA vehicles.

“FCA’s decision to join GM and Ford provides clear evidence that the tide on E15 has turned,” said Renewable Fuels Association president and CEO Bob Dinneen. “FCA customers will be afforded a benefit that will likely lower their weekly motor fuel bill: the freedom to choose what fuel to put into their vehicles.”

RFA has been concerned about FCA’s reluctance to embrace E15 for the past three years, and Dinneen specifically called on Chrysler to approve E15 during his State of the Industry address at this year’s National Ethanol Conference.

NREL Studies E15 Infrastructure

Kristi Moriarty NRELThe National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has been studying current gas retailer’s infrastructure to determine if the equipment is already certified for E15 and flex fuels such as mid-level ethanol blends (E30, E40, E85). If so, the cost to a retailer adding E15 and other ethanol blends will be much less than a retailer who has to upgrade all his/her equipment – a definite cost barrier to more stations adopting emerging ethanol blends.

During the American Coalition for Ethanol’s (ACE) annual Ethanol Conference, held in Omaha, Nebraska, NREL Senior Analyst Kristi Moriarty, discussed the study and demonstrated how retailers can identify opportunities with their current fueling equipment and begin the process of adding E15 as one of their fuel choices.

Listen to Kristi Moriarty’s presentation here: Kristy Moriarty, NREL

2015 ACE Annual Meeting Photos

Producer Panel at #ACE15

The theme of this year’s American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) convention was “Quiet Ingenuity, Bold Advance” and one of the last sessions of the event featured three ethanol producers who embody that slogan.

ace-15-delayneDelayne Johnson of Quad County Corn Processors has the distinction of being CEO of the plant to produce the country’s very first gallons of commercial cellulosic ethanol just last year. The plant has produced about two million gallons of the fuel in the past year.

Johnson gave an update on what’s new with the 15 year old company and how they are innovating to stay profitable. Delayne Johnson, Quad County

ace15-oestmannJeff Oestmann with East Kansas Agri-Energy is excited about their renewable diesel project under construction.

“Product diversity is key,” said Oestmann. “One of the nice things about renewable diesel is that it can run on its own. Obviously we’re building the plant to run on corn oil, but it can run on any kind of oil, animal fat, or greases.”

Listen to Oestmann give his update here: Jeff Oestmann, East Kansas Agri-Energy

ace15-rayRay Defenbaugh of Big River Resources talked a lot about the future of the industry, both for agriculture and ethanol.

“What I’m really concerned about is saving the family farm,” said Defenbaugh. “What we’re doing here is an important job.”

Defenbaugh is involved in many organizations, from ACE to RFA to the U.S. Grains Council and more – and he encouraged everyone to get involved as well. Ray Defenbaugh, Big River Resources

2015 ACE Annual Meeting Photos