Ethanol Report on Latest Industry News

ethanol-report-adThere were some big ethanol industry announcements this week, most of them good, and I caught up with Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) president and CEO Bob Dinneen to get his comments on the latest news.

In this edition of the Ethanol Report, Dinneen comments on the DuPont cellulosic plant opening, how USDA and Protec Fuel are helping to increase higher ethanol blend pumps, attacks on the RFS by the oil industry and the new Fuels America campaign to fight back, and Dr. Ben Carson’s answer to an ethanol-related question during the GOP debate. Dinneen also talks about what he will be doing in the month ahead as the days countdown to the EPA’s scheduled release of volume obligations under the RFS.

Listen to this edition of the Ethanol Report here: Ethanol Report on current ethanol news

DuPont Celebrates Opening of Cellulosic Ethanol Plant

dupont-plantDuPont celebrated the opening of its cellulosic biofuel facility in Nevada, Iowa on Friday with a ceremony including industry representatives and many dignitaries. The biorefinery is now officially the world’s largest commercial cellulosic ethanol plant, with the capacity to produce 30 million gallons per year from corn stover – the stalks, leaves and cobs left in a field after harvest.

“Iowa has a rich history of innovation in agriculture,” said Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad. “Today we celebrate the next chapter in that story, using agricultural residue as a feedstock for fuel, which brings both tremendous environmental benefits to society and economic benefits to the state. The opening of DuPont’s biorefinery represents a great example of the innovation that is possible when rural communities, their government and private industry work together toward a common goal.”

“Today, we fulfill our promise to the global biofuels industry with the dedication of our Iowa facility,” said William F. Feehery, president of DuPont Industrial Biosciences. “And perhaps more significantly, we fulfill our promise to society to bring scientific innovation to the market that positively impacts people’s lives. Cellulosic biofuel is joining ranks with wind and solar as true alternatives to fossil fuels, reducing damaging environmental impacts and increasing our energy security.”

The majority of the fuel produced at the Nevada, Iowa, facility will be bound for California to fulfill the state’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard where the state has adopted a policy to reduce carbon intensity in transportation fuels. The plant also will serve as a commercial-scale demonstration of the cellulosic technology where investors from all over the world can see firsthand how to replicate this model in their home regions.

#Ethanol Blends Help Consumers and Retailers

protec-citgo-signThe price sign at the Citgo station in Kissimmee Wednesday told the real story of how higher ethanol blends can save consumers money at the pump and it helps the retailers as well.

“It’s been a great thing for us,” said Paul Przychocki of Mid-State Energy, which owns the Kissimmee station and several others. “This store is considerably up over last year, in the last 4-5 months since we put the E85/E15 combination in.”

Przychocki partnered with Protec Fuel to install the new pumps at the Kissimmee station with the help of USDA Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership funding. “This is the third site that we’ve done with Protec and every time we’ve done a site it’s taken off,” he said.

Listen to an interview with Przychocki here: Interview with Paul Przychocki, Mid-State Energy

Protec Fuel's Steve Walk, Citgo station owner Paul Przychocki, and Protec CEO Todd Garner

Protec Fuel’s Steve Walk, Citgo station owner Paul Przychocki, and Protec CEO Todd Garner

Protec Fuel CEO Todd Garner says they are happy to help retailers like Przychocki bring higher ethanol blends to consumers. “We’ve been doing this since 2006, since the original RFS, and trying to get higher blend ethanol out to our customer base,” he said. That’s why they are so pleased with the USDA grant funding announced this week in Kissimmee. “It costs the stations a lot of money and we’re fortunate that the government and USDA have taken the initiative to allow consumers to participate in lower cost, higher blend fuels,” said Garner.

Garner says continued support for the Renewable Fuel Standard is crucial to increase market penetration for renewable fuels. “It’s really important because it’s going to allow us to beat that blend wall,” he said. “I think we just need to come to a middle ground and make both sides fairly happy because ultimately the consumer is going to benefit.”

Listen to my interview with Todd here: Interview with Protec Fuel CEO Todd Garner

USDA-Protec Fuel Biofuel Pump Funding Announcement photos

BIP Announcement Welcome News by Ethanol Industry

This week Big Oil launched yet another anti-RFS campaign and has also been calling for an end to programs that support the development of biofuel infrastructure. As such, it was welcomed news this week when USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced while at a Protec Fuel station in Florida, $100 million in funding to increase retail pumps for higher ethanol blends in 21 states through the Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership (BIP). Private partners have matched the funding 1 to 1 with another $100 million in commitments.

USDA BIP Announcement at Protec Fuel stationRon Lamberty, American Coalition for Ethanol’s senior vice president was happy to hear the news as well as shared support for Protec who has been a leader in the southeast in bringing higher ethanol blends to drivers.

“This is a great day for petroleum marketers who want to offer cleaner fuels, and an even better day for drivers, who will save money with more biofuel options at the pump,” said Lamberty. “The USDA-BIP program funds will assist station owners who want to stand out from the competition and offer fuel blends like E15 and E85 to consumers. Making higher ethanol blends available in more stations from coast to coast has been a priority of Secretary Vilsack, and this program does that, by offering funds to retailers from Pennsylvania to Texas, and from Florida to Colorado.”

Once such matching infrastructure program is the Prime the Pump Fund. Organizers of the campaign thanked USDA for their commitment to helping drivers have access to cleaner, greener domestically produced fuels.

“The investment the USDA and other industries are making to give consumers more choices at the pump goes a long way to break Big Oil’s stranglehold on the fuel market,” said Ray Defenbaugh, chairman of the Prime the Pump Fund following the BIP announcement.  “America’s farmers and biofuel producers can provide a cleaner, greener, higher octane fuel that actually lowers the price of gasoline at the pump. We’re now seeing several of the nation’s leading fuel retailers making these fuel blends available to consumers and these USDA funds will help to make this continue to happen. I would like to thank the USDA and specifically Secretary Vilsack for their leadership and commitment to rural America.”

View the USDA-Protec Fuel Biofuel Pump Funding Announcement photo album.


Novozymes Ranked Best Science Employer

Science Magazine has ranked Novozymes at the top of its Top Employers list. The publication polled employees in the biotechnology, pharmaceutical, and related industries to determine the 20 best employers globally. The key characteristics the magazine was looking for in the ranking were ‘Innovative leader in the industry,’ ‘Treats employees with respect’ and ‘Is socially responsible’.

Screen Shot 2015-10-30 at 7.57.47 AM“We are very proud to be recognized as the best employer by this leading scientific journal,” said Per Falholt, chief science officer at Novozymes. “We develop biological answers to some of the greatest challenges of our time. Our growing world needs more food, better farming, renewable energy, and clean air and water. Our products really make a difference, and I believe that is a great motivation for everyone at Novozymes.”

Novozymes has been a major player in the field since the 1940s. One in five of its 6,500 employees work in research and development (R&D), with the company’s main research centers located in Denmark, China, U.S. and India. Novozymes invests 13-14% of its total revenue into R&D each year. The company is the largest maker of industrial enzymes and microorganisms, and their biotechnology is used by companies around the world to save energy, water and raw materials in the production of a wide range of products from laundry detergents, textiles and beer, to biofuels, animal feed and crops. Earlier this week, Novozymes launched their next gen enzyme product Avantec Amp.

Fuels America Launches New Ad Campaign

Fuels America is launching a new seven-figure TV and digital ad campaign today urging President Obama to make a choice between the oils industry and renewable fuels for the future.

fuels-americaThe campaign depicts President Obama’s choice of who to listen to when it comes to the Renewable Fuel Standard: his own experts who have repeatedly shown that ethanol and renewable fuel is dramatically reducing carbon emissions, or the oil industry, which has spent decades covering up the science and facts on both renewable fuel and climate science.

“President Obama’s choice on the Renewable Fuel Standard is clear. He can choose to listen to Big Oil’s distortions and lies, or he can listen to his own scientists who have shown that the RFS significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions,” said Brent Erickson, Executive Vice President at BIO.

“The truth is that slashing the amount of clean, domestic renewable fuel in our motor fuel supply would dramatically increase pollution and carbon emissions, while strengthening the RFS and building on the progress of the past 10 years would help in our efforts to combat climate change,” said National Corn Growers Association president Chip Bowling, a Maryland farmer.

The 30-second TV spot and digital ads are both airing in the Beltway. The campaign follows aggressive attempts by oil industry-funded special interest groups API and Smarter Fuel Future to discredit the climate benefits of renewable fuel—and as usual, their claims are false and wholly unsupported.

Listen to Erickson and Bowling announce the new campaign here: New Fuels America campaign

Funds Help @ProtecFuel Expand Ethanol Pumps

vilsack-steveWednesday was a big day for Protec Fuel as Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced funding to increase retail pumps for higher ethanol blends in 21 states through the Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership.

“Now it’s finally official,” said Protec Fuel VP of Operations and Business Development Steve Walk. “The funds will be dispersed to the respective states, projects can start and they’re going to be done by the end of next year. The fuel industry is really going to change in the next 12 months.”

In Florida, where Protec is based, that means an additional 150 retail pumps offering E15 and/or E85 for motorists. Nationwide, it amounts to some 5,000 additional stations in 21 states.

Listen to my interview with Steve here: Interview with Steve Walk, Protec Fuel

USDA-Protec Fuel Biofuel Pump Funding Announcement photos

What Ben Carson Said About Ethanol in Debate

carson-debateDuring Wednesday night’s CNBC Republican presidential candidates debate, Dr. Ben Carson was asked about a comment he made to the Des Moines Register earlier this year that he would “probably be in favor” of using oil subsidies to increase pumps for ethanol blends.

The question posed by the CNBC moderator was “Isn’t that just swapping one subsidy for another?”

Carson responded by saying he was “wrong about taking the oil subsidies” and that “the best policy is to get rid of all government subsidies and get the government out of our lives.”

“All this too big to fail stuff and picking winners or losers, this is a bunch of crap,” said Carson.

Listen to Carson’s answer here: Ben Carson answers oil subsidies question

Carson said nothing about ethanol in his answer but America’s Renewable Future State Director, Eric Branstad issued a statement to clarify that ethanol does not receive government subsidies, “while the oil industry does and has for the past 102 years.”

“Iowans want a candidate who will take the time to learn about the issue, not just repeat the oil industry’s talking points,” said Branstad. “We hope that next time he comes to Iowa, Dr. Carson will actually meet with farmers so he can get a better understanding of the full issue and that he will choose to side with Iowa farmers instead of Big Oil.”

USDA Announces Biofuels Infrastructure Funds

vilsack-protecAgriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack was at a Citgo station in Kissimmee, Florida today to announce a USDA partnership to increase fueling pumps for biofuels in 21 states through the Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership (BIP).

The investment will nearly double the number of fueling pumps nationwide that supply renewable fuels to American motorists. “The Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership is one more example of how federal funds can be leveraged by state and private partners to deliver better and farther reaching outcomes for taxpayers,” said Vilsack.

The 21 states participating in the BIP include Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. The final awards being announced today are estimated to expand infrastructure by nearly 5,000 pumps at over 1,400 fueling stations.

Vilsack was joined by representatives from Growth Energy and Florida-based Protec Fuel to make the announcement. “We’re very excited about this USDA program because we’re going to be opening up sites in other parts of Florida, as well as across the country,” said Protec Fuel VP of Operations and Business Development Steve Walk. “What this program is going to help us do is help speed up the growth” of stations offering higher ethanol blends.

Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis congratulated Protec Fuel and thanked Secretary Vilsack for his support of renewable fuels. “The Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership is helping us to further leverage industry funds to gain measurable market access in a far timelier manner than we could accomplish otherwise,” said Buis.”

Listen to remarks from Walk, Buis and Vilsack here: Secretary Vilsack announces biofuels infrastructure funding

Vilsack remarks to the media: Secretary Vilsack comments on Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership

USDA-Protec Fuel Biofuel Pump Funding Announcement photos

API Launches Another Anti-RFS Campaign

American Petroleum Institute’s Downstream Group Director Bob Greco told reporters this morning in a press call that they are launching another multi-faceted ad campaign targeted at the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) in anticipation for Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) final rules set to be announced by November 30th.

API has launched another anti-biofuels and anti-RFS campaign. The ethanol industry is fighting back.

API has launched another anti-biofuels and anti-RFS campaign. The ethanol industry is fighting back.

“Our ads focus on the negative consequences that higher ethanol mandates EPA is considering could have on consumers, including unexpected repair bills and potentially broad harm to our nation’s economy,” Greco said.

The ethanol industry has been fighting Big Oil about the RFS for years now and there is no end in sight. According to Bob Dinneen, President and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), Big Oil is pressuring the EPA to keep blending levels below mandates.

“Much like an uncontained oil spill which obliterates everything in its path, as we approach the deadline for the EPA to release its final RFS rule Big Oil and its congressional supporters are pulling out all the stops by completely obliterating the truth,” said Dinneen. “The blend wall narrative has been perpetuated by the petroleum industry as a way of creating fear among consumers about ethanol, while simultaneously greatly restricting their choices at the pump.

“If the blend wall is such an impenetrable barrier to increasing the amount of biofuels that can be blended with gasoline, as has been claimed by the petroleum industry, how can it explain that, according to data recently released by the Energy Information Agency, in 2013 ethanol comprised more than 10 percent of gasoline consumption in 22 states and the District of Columbia? As one would expect, the EIA data includes the Midwestern agricultural states of Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Michigan. But a number of coastal states also broke through the so-called blend wall in 2013, including Louisiana, Massachusetts, California and New Jersey. All of these states sailed past the 10 percent ethanol level, and there have certainly been no claims of ‘harmful economic effects’ coming from them. Nationally, ethanol constituted 9.75 percent of gasoline consumption in 2013, according to the EIA data — above the supposed limit of 9.7 percent supported by Big Oil.

Dinneen added that API needs to stop trying to scare consumers about biofuels in an attempt to protect their monopolistic market share. “Consumers rightly deserve to have choices at the pump and to hold onto more of their hard-earned dollars. The RFS is working. No amount of advertising by Big Oil will change that fact.”