Alt Energy Consultant Lee Enterprises Expands

leeenterprisesThe world’s largest renewable fuels consulting group is expanding its team. Lee Enterprises Consulting has added five new engineers and two additional Ph.D’s to its worldwide team of experts. The company says it is also dividing itself into four internal teams to handle biodiesel, ethanol, emerging technologies and solar/wind projects.

“As the world’s largest consulting group of its kind, we have experts in virtually every area of alternative and renewable fuels”, says CEO Wayne Lee. He notes that the company has now grown to over fifty consultants, and has reached a point where each of these core businesses needed its own dedicated leadership. “[Dr. Gerald Kutney, who will lead the Emerging Technologies Team] is an imminently qualified expert, and his knowledge in the fields of pyrolysis, waste-to-energy (WTE), forestry bioenery/bioproducts, gasification and emerging technologies made him the perfect choice to lead the Emerging Technologies Team,” said Lee. “Likewise, [new Solar/Wind Team lead] Bob Parkins is a Civil Engineer and renowned solar expert, making him the perfect selection to lead our Solar/Wind Team”.

The group also owns National Business Brokerage, Inc., a full service business brokerage firm specializing in the buying and selling of alternative and renewable fuels plants.

Bipartisan Group of Senators Call for Strong RFS

US Capitol at dusk photo Joanna SchroederA bipartisan group of senators is calling on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reverse its current course and strengthen the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Led by U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), John Thune (R-SD), Al Franken (D-MN), and Mark Kirk (R-IL), the 37 in the group say the EPA’s latest proposal would create uncertainty for ethanol and biodiesel producers and undermine job creation.

“The RFS has already proven to be an effective driver of alternative fuels and economic development,” the senators wrote. “The biofuels volume requirements for 2014 and beyond have serious implications for our economy and energy security. We encourage you to ensure a final proposal continues to work toward achieving the RFS’s long-term economic and renewable energy goals.”

The ethanol industry praised the senators for their action.

“It is encouraging to see such broad, bipartisan, and geographically diverse support for the Renewable Fuel Standard,” said Renewable Fuels Association president Bob Dinneen. “It’s leadership like this that will move America’s energy future forward. Farmers, entrepreneurs, and innovators across the country will applaud these 37 visionaries.”

“Convincing Senators to sign the RFS to Administrator McCarthy was a key part of our grassroots fly-in last month so we’re glad ACE members could play such an instrumental role in securing so many signatures,” said American Coalition for Ethanol Executive Vice President Brian Jennings. “We are also grateful for the strong bipartisan support conveyed by Senators that EPA must get the RFS back on track for implementation by reversing course from their ill-advised proposal which would have limited renewable fuel use at ten percent of gasoline consumption.”

Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy, says the letter is a clear message to the EPA. “In no uncertain terms this strong bipartisan coalition of Senators have indicated that they are closely watching the EPA as they seek to finalize this rule and that any changes which would undercut the congressional intent or role of the RFS will be met with intense scrutiny and strong objection,” said Buis.

EPA recently announced it will propose volume requirements by June 1 for 2015 and 2016 and will re-propose volume requirements for 2014 that reflect the volumes of renewable fuel that were actually used in 2014.

E15 Bill Introduced in the House

A bipartisan bill was introduced in the U.S. House yesterday as a companion to the Fuel Choice and Deregulation Act of 2015 in the Senate.

rod-blumCongressman Rod Blum (R-IA), along with Congressman Ken Buck (R-CO), Congressman Collin Peterson (D-MN), and Congressman David Young (R-IA) are co-sponsoring the House legislation, which removes the burdensome restrictions placed on the ethanol marketplace by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), further encourages manufacturers and producers to develop new technologies, and equalizes the tax between liquid natural gas (LNG) and diesel fuel.

“It is time for the EPA to stop denying American consumers access to new fuels in the marketplace,” said Rep. Blum. “This bill from Senators Paul and Grassley reduces unnecessary red tape while promoting competition, innovation, and fairness in the energy marketplace, and I look forward to working with my colleagues in the House and the Senate to move this measure forward.”

The bill requires EPA to correct the disparity regarding Reid Vapor Pressure, which measures the evaporation rate of gasoline, in ethanol blends. E10 blends have a waiver allowing year-round sales throughout the country, but EPA has refused to grant E15 the same waiver meaning E15 can only be sold from June 1 to September 15 in the majority of the country. If the bill passes, more retailers would be expected to offer E15.

“Consumers should have year-round access to higher ethanol blends,” said National Corn Growers Association president Chip Bowling. “This is the single largest regulatory hurdle standing in the way. We urge both the House and the Senate to step up, remove this hurdle, and expand consumer choice.”

Marine Base Goes Green with Ethanol, Biodiesel

marinebiodiesel1Marines in Southern California are going a bit greener, as initiatives at one base are converting much of the vehicles used to run on ethanol, biodiesel and other alternative fuels. This article from DVIDS says Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, California, is trying to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by four percent in the next two years, to 15 percent in the next six years, reaching a target of 30 percent by 2025.

“We are converting from gasoline and diesel, to compressed natural gas, liquid propane, ethanol, biodiesel, and electric,” [Tim Hutzley, fleet manager at Southwest Regional Fleet Transportation, Yermo Annex of Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow] said. Those conversions have been ongoing, with some of the new technologies working well, and others taking time for the industry to work out the problems. For vehicles that can’t be retrofitted to accept alternative fuels, buying vehicles made to run on more efficient fuels is one of the major ways to meet the target of reducing petroleum-based fuels.

Hutzley added, “Our requirement for 2025 is to have 20 percent of the 127 over-the-road vehicles (that can operate outside the base) as hybrids. And replace the rest when possible with smaller better, technologically advanced vehicles.”

According to Hutzley, more than half of the base’s gasoline type vehicles run on E-85 fuel, meaning 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline, which cost $3.18 a gallon compared to unleaded gasoline at $3.21. California’s consumer summer blend unleaded gasoline has only 10 percent ethanol.

“The upside,” he said, “is we are cutting our dependence on foreign oil as well as cutting our greenhouse gas emissions, which are the main reasons for using alternative fuels.”

Most diesel vehicles on base are running with a blend of 20 percent biodiesel. Biodiesel is typically made from corn, but can also be distilled from other vegetable and animal fats as well as algae, said Hutzley.

Officials add that biofuels are renewable, produced in the U.S., and often cheaper.

Corn Growers Urge EPA to Keep RFS Timeline

ncga-logo-newCorn growers are urging the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to keep its agreement on a court-enforced timeline for establishing the Renewable Volume Obligation numbers for 2014 and 2015 for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

“Congress created the Renewable Fuel Standard to help reduce our dependence on foreign oil and to provide cleaner domestic fuel choices for consumers and the EPA has finally provided additional clarity about their timeline for announcing the 2014 through 2016 renewable fuel requirements,” said National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) President Chip Bowling. “We have expressed our concerns about the continued delays to the EPA, and we will be taking them at their word that they will adhere to this new deadline.”

Under the consent decree and other commitments, the EPA will propose volume requirements by June 1 for 2015 and 2016 and will re-propose volume requirements for 2014 that reflect the volumes of renewable fuel that were actually used in 2014. By November 30, EPA will finalize volume requirements for 2014, 2015 and 2016, and resolve a pending waiver petition for 2014.

According to NCGA, if the RVO reduction took place as proposed by the EPA in November 2013, the price of corn was estimated to fall by as much as an additional $1.10. “With corn stocks high and prices low well into 2015’s planting season, NCGA and its growers will continue to track progress on these deadlines and hold EPA accountable,” said Bowling.

DOT Issues Energy Transportation Actions

dotThe U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), together with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), has announced a package of targeted actions to address some of the issues identified in recent train accidents involving crude oil and ethanol shipped by rail.

The volume of crude oil being shipped by rail has increased exponentially in recent years, and the number of significant accidents involving trains carrying ethanol or crude oil is unprecedented. “The boom in crude oil production, and transportation of that crude, poses a serious threat to public safety,” stated U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “The measures we are announcing today are a result of lessons learned from recent accidents and are steps we are able to take today to improve safety. Our efforts in partnership with agencies throughout this Administration show that this is more than a transportation issue, and we are not done yet.”

The announcement includes one Emergency Order, two Safety Advisories, and notices to industry intended to further enhance the safe shipment of Class 3 flammable liquids.

TV Ad Marks 5th BP Spill Anniversary

americans-changeMarking the fifth anniversary of the BP oil spill, Americans United for Change is running a television ad in Des Moines and Chicago calling it “no rare incident.”

While BP airs their own ads congratulating themselves for their cleanup efforts despite the lingering economic and environmental fallout in the Gulf region, AUFC is kicking off Earth Day week with a message that the Deepwater Horizon disaster was only a drop in the bucket for an industry responsible for 14,000 oil spills every year. The message to lawmakers: Don’t help make a bigger mess by repealing the Renewable Fuel Standard or denying consumers the choice of cleaner alternatives like ethanol at the pump.

The spot called “Rare Incidents” features American Petroleum Institute President Jack Gerard’s outrageous 2011 comments downplaying the BP disaster as “clearly a rare incident”. The Iowa version is targeted to presidential candidates and concludes: “If Washington guts the Renewable Fuel Standard, expect plenty more ‘rare incidents.’ The version in Chicago is aimed at local leaders who are considering a “E15 Clean Air Ordinance.”

The six-figure effort kicks off an aggressive and ongoing campaign around a new website, www.RareIncidents.com.

Iowa Gov, Lt Gov to Tour Cellulosic Ethanol PLant

QCCPsyngentaQuad County Corn Processors (QCCP) and Syngenta will host Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds for a tour of the cellulosic ethanol production facility in Galva, Iowa, Tuesday, April 21. The QCCP plant is the first commercial cellulosic ethanol production in the state.

QCCP recently passed the 1 million gallon milestone for cellulosic ethanol production using Cellerate™ process technology. Cellerate is a collaboration between Syngenta and Cellulosic Ethanol Technologies, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of QCCP. Cellerate process technology is designed to increase an ethanol plant’s production by allowing the corn kernel fiber to be converted into cellulosic ethanol. With Cellerate, the biofuels industry now has the technology available to create 2 billion gallons of additional cellulosic ethanol – all from corn already being processed.

E15 Could Save Iowa Drivers $50 Mil Per Year

irfaIowa drivers could save a lot of money if they had better access to E15. This news release from the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) says a new report from the Iowa Department of Revenue shows that if the higher blend of ethanol was widely available, Iowa drivers could save more than $50 million per year in fuel costs.

In its annual report on retail fuel sales, Iowa Department of Revenue data shows Iowa motorists purchased more than 1.2 billion gallons of E10. E15 is approved for use in model year 2001 and newer passenger vehicles and flex-fuel vehicles (FFVs), representing more than 80 percent of the fuel consumed in the U.S. On average, E15 is typically sold at a 5-cent discount to E10 in Iowa.

An IRFA analysis found that even with abnormally low petroleum prices:

· If only 20 percent of Iowa motorists used E15, Iowans could save $12.7 million per year

· If a modest 50 percent of Iowa motorists used E15, Iowans could save $31.7 million per year.

· If 80 percent of Iowa motorists used E15, Iowans would save $50.7 million per year.

“The economics are simple: the more Iowa motorists that have access to and are able to take advantage of low-cost E15, the more money consumers save,” stated IRFA Executive Director Monte Shaw. “Price is a big motivator when it comes to buying fuel, and cleaner-burning E15 is consistently priced at a discount to E10. If motorists across the state were able to utilize this safe, economical fuel, Iowa drivers would literally save millions of dollars of their hard-earned money, enabling them to spend it elsewhere in the state.”

IRFA reminds drivers that more than 100 million miles have successfully been driven on E15, and the higher blend of the green fuel is approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for use in all 2001 and newer passenger vehicles, as well as flex-fuel vehicles (FFVs).

Hillary Clinton Talks with Ethanol Supporters in Iowa

ARF-LogoDemocratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has been meeting with supporters around Iowa this week since declaring her candidacy on Sunday and Wednesday had private meeting with ethanol supporters to discuss the Renewable Fuel Standard.

Mrs. Clinton met with farmer leaders and America’s Renewable Future co-chair Patty Judge, former lieutenant governor and agriculture secretary for Iowa. “We had about an hour with her and had a very good discussion with her,” said Judge in an interview after the meeting. “I felt very good after our conversation.”

Judge says Clinton was very receptive. “I believe that she was supportive of the Renewable Fuel Standard and supportive of continuing the research and development in renewable fuel and renewable energy that we started here in Iowa.”

Clinton supported the RFS when she ran for president in 2007 and Judge expects that to be the case this time as well. “I would like to get her out to see an ethanol plant and see how it works and I think we’ll have that opportunity this summer,” said Judge.

Listen to my interview with Judge here: Interview with Patty Judge, America's Renewable Future co-chair