USDA Taking Apps for Biofuels Infrastructure Funding

USDA logoUSDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) is now accepting applications in 50 states, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C. for up to $100 million in grants under the Biofuels Infrastructure Partnership (BIP). The funding is to support the infrastructure needed to make more renewable fuel options available to American consumers. The Farm Service Agency will administer BIP.

Through BIP, USDA will award competitive grants, matched by states, to expand the infrastructure for distribution of higher blends of renewable fuel. These competitive grants are available to assist states, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C. with infrastructure funding. States that offer funding equal to or greater than that provided by the federal government will receive higher consideration for grant funds. States may work with private entities to enhance their offer.

CCC funds must be used to pay a portion of the costs related to the installation of fuel pumps and related infrastructure dedicated to the distribution of higher ethanol blends, for example E15 and E85, at vehicle fueling locations. The matching contributions may be used for these items or for related costs such as additional infrastructure to support pumps, marketing, education, data collection, program evaluation and administrative costs.

This new investment seeks to double the number of fuel pumps capable of supplying higher blends of renewable fuel to consumers. This will expand markets for farmers, support rural economic growth and the jobs that come with it, and ultimately give consumers more choices at the pump.

Nebraska Governor Talks Biofuels in Europe

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts and ag delegation meet with officials in Brussels

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts and ag delegation meet with officials in Brussels

Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts is on an agricultural trade mission trip to the European Union with stops in Italy, Belgium, and Denmark. The trade mission, being coordinated jointly by the Nebraska Departments of Agriculture and Economic Development, includes a number of representatives from the state’s agriculture and biofuels industry.

“As the number two ethanol producer in the country, we have a big interest in seeing what we can do with ethanol and one of the concerns in the industry is being able to export,” said Ricketts during a conference call with reporters on Friday from Brussels. “We’re just starting the conversion with regard to how we can expand that and export our ethanol into the European Union.”

In Brussels, the trade team met with executives from Ghent Port Company, TOTCO, Sygenta Brussels, and a consultant for Belgian Biodiesel Board to promote Nebraska’s biofuels industry and build relations between firms in Europe and the U.S.

Neb. Gov Pete Ricketts discusses biofuels in Europe

Corn Growers Urge Comments on RFS

PrintThe Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has opened the public comment period on its proposal to cut corn ethanol in the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) by nearly 4 billion gallons. That’s prompting the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) to urge farmers and their family and friends to email their opposition to this proposal as soon as possible, before the July 27 deadline.

“Last time, we were very clear to EPA about what we wanted,” said NCGA President Chip Bowling. “It is simple: EPA should follow the statute. For farmers and others in rural America, this new EPA proposal means low corn prices and ethanol plant and industry cutbacks. And for everyone, it means higher gas prices and dirtier air.”

This link while allow you to send a quick email: www.ncga.com/rfs. Various draft comments are available to enable both farmers and their non-farmer friends to easily send personalized notes to the EPA.

New Solenis’ Antibiotic-free Ethanol Fermentation Aids

Solenis announced during the recent Fuel Ethanol Workshop (FEW) the launch of a novel family of antibiotic-free fermentation aids to help ethanol producers improve efficiency of the ethanol production process. The aids also, said Solenis, will address consumer concerns about antibiotics in the food chain. While the ethanol produced from an ethanol production plant is not ingested, one byproduct is distillers grains (DDGs), an animal feed. Solenis said today’s typical fermentation processes control undesirable microorganisms using antibiotics, which remain in the resulting distillers grains. The company also launched a scale inhibitor during #FEW15.

“As consumer demands and regulatory requirements continue to become more stringent, current antimicrobials, and specifically antibiotics, may be further subject to maximum contaminate limits,” said Allen Ziegler, global biorefining marketing 18244022139_9ed6c4e7fc_zdirector. “As a result, our new fermentation aids give fuel ethanol producers more tools to address undesirable microorganisms without antibiotics, while helping them boost production and satisfy consumers at the same time.”

According to Solenis, their family of fermentation aids, which includes three patented and patent-pending products, significantly enhances the ability of yeast to compete with undesirable microorganisms in the critical initial stages of propagation and fermentation without the use of antibiotics—an increasingly important goal for fuel ethanol producers.

Designed to promote beneficial yeast growth and efficiency in both high pH and standard pH fermentation processes, Solenis said their fermentation aids are based on advanced proprietary and targeted antimicrobial technology. While the products were initially developed for fuel ethanol production, they also have practical application in other commercial fermentation processes.

“We will continue to anticipate and proactively address our customers’ needs to optimize processes while staying ahead of evolving regulations,” added John Panichella, president and CEO. “With close to 100 years of experience in process and water treatment chemistries, Solenis is committed to serving the fuel ethanol and biorefining industries with our well-respected and diverse product line, along with our application expertise and our investment in research and development.”

2015 Fuel Ethanol Workshop Photo Album

Coverage of the Fuel Ethanol Conference is sponsored by
Coverage of the Fuel Ethanol Conference is sponsored by Novozymes

Neb Governor Ricketts On Global Biofuels Tour

Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts has been spending the past few weeks on a global agriculture and biofuels promotion tour. Ricketts attended Expo Milano 2015 last week and while there, he visited the “Sustainable Farm Pavilion” sponsored by New Holland where with a group that included CNH Industrial Governor-Ricketts-Headshot-FINALdiscussed Nebraska’s ethanol industry. CNH Industrial operates a Combine Center of Excellence in Grand Island, Nebraska.

Carlo Lambro, a member of the Group Executive Council and Brand President of New Holland Agriculture, spoke to the group about their commitment to using biofuels across all sectors as well as highlight their local investments in agriculture. Nebraska is the top state in terms of cattle feed and the Nebraska ethanol industry, the second largest ethanol producer in the U.S., produces more than six million tons of livestock feed each year.

The meeting also addressed Governor Ricketts’ active advocacy for the widespread use of ethanol as a biofuel in the United States. The two parties discussed their shared commitment in promoting the use of alternative fuels, which include natural gas and biomethane.

Gov. Ricketts and his Nebraska delegation had discussions in Italy about renewable fuels with Italian energy company Enel. Next, the group headed to Brussels, Belgium where they have planned a visit to Novozyme’s headquarters in Denmark. The company operates a plant in Blair, Nebraska that makes enzymes used in the ethanol industry.

What Food Safety Act Means for Ethanol Plants

few15-fsma-kellyThe Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) was signed into law in 2011 and this summer the rulemaking for the new act might finally be complete. Because it includes safety of animal food as well as human food, ethanol plants that produce the co-product distillers grains for livestock feed are impacted.

Renewable Fuels Association Director of Regulatory Affairs Kelly Davis talked about what plants will need to do when FSMA becomes final during the 2015 Fuel Ethanol Workshop. “One of the first things in the rule is Current Good Manufacturing Practices,” said Davis, who says that most plants are already ahead of the game in that area. “We have really nice manufacturing facilities, good housekeeping, good quality assurance … a lot of us were gifted what we would call a good manufacturing practice plant.”

The main impact that FSMA will have on ethanol plants is another layer of bureaucracy. “It’s going to be a written plan with constant updating, supervision of the plan, verification of the plan,” said Davis. “It’s going to be similar to other programs like air quality and process safety management – you’re going to write down what you’re going to do, you’re going to do what you wrote down, and you’re going to verify you did it.”

Davis says there were some changes already made in the rule as it has been developed and assuming it is finalized in its current form she thinks ethanol plants will be able to comply within the two year time frame given by the law. “This is an important program and we’re going to provide some guidance to help people comply,” said Davis.

Find out more about FSMA and ethanol plants in this interview. Interview with Kelly Davis, RFA

2015 Fuel Ethanol Workshop Photo Album

Coverage of the Fuel Ethanol Conference is sponsored by
Coverage of the Fuel Ethanol Conference is sponsored by Novozymes

American Ethanol, NASCAR Rally Fans for RFS

amethanolrace1American Ethanol is using one of its most popular venues, NASCAR races, to rally fans to support the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). This item from the National Corn Growers Association says races in Michigan and St. Louis this weekend will put the power of ethanol on display, while asking fans to let known their displeasure of the Obama Administration’s cut to the amount of ethanol in the RFS.

The highlight in Michigan will be Austin Dillon hitting the track in his second American Ethanol paintout of the season in his No. 3 Chevy. At Gateway American Ethanol will a sponsor the American Ethanol Presents Drivin’ for Linemen 200.

In both Michigan and St. Louis, fans will be asked to show their support for American Ethanol by sending postcards to the Environmental Protection Agency telling them to reverse their decision to cut the amount of ethanol currently in the Renewable Fuels Standard.

In both Michigan and Gateway, American Ethanol has teamed up with state corn growers to educate consumers at the race sites.

“This will be a great opportunity to connect consumers, car dealers and the Michigan farmers who contribute to our fuel supply for a weekend of fun and information,” said Jim Zook, executive director of the Corn Marketing Program of Michigan. “When we use more Michigan-made fuel, it translates directly into stronger rural communities, more jobs and more money that goes back into our state. Our corn growers are huge NASCAR fans, and we are proud of the work we do to supply these drivers with American Ethanol.”

“We are excited to be a part of this event because the Gateway track is surrounded by corn and ethanol production and both are critical parts of the economy,” said Lou Lamoreux, chairman of the Illinois Corn Marketing Board and a Lanark, Ill. farmer. “This location also gives us a chance to promote E15 and other higher blends of ethanol to drivers from urban St. Louis.”

Ethanol Groups Note EPA Memo on RINS

fuels-americaThe ethanol industry is drawing attention to an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) memo “buried deep” in the recent proposal for volume requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) about the impact of Renewable Identification Numbers (RINS) and gas prices.

“The memo that came out in the rule package that was made public in the docket by EPA confirm(s) something we’d all confirmed before – that RIN prices didn’t and don’t have an impact on retail gas prices,” said Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis during a Fuels America press call on Thursday with the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA).

RFA Senior Vice President Geoff Cooper explained that EPA openly acknowledges that fact and others in the memo that the ethanol industry has been claiming for some time. “They spend a lot of time in this memo talking about how RIN prices can transform the gasoline market place,” said Cooper, since a higher RIN price results in a “significant decrease in the price for E85.”

Growth Energy Chief Economist Jim Miller adds that the memo shows the RFS is working as intended and the volume obligations under the law should reflect that. “We hope EPA will consider the memo they drafted and revise their proposed rule to reflect the positive elements that the RFS provides to everyone in America,” said Miller.

“By failing to implement the statute, EPA is systematically destructing the RIN credit market and discouraging investment in new technology and infrastructure that would break the blend wall,” concluded RFA president and CEO Bob Dinneen. “We strongly believe that EPA needs to scrap this proposal and get the RFS back on track.”

Fuels America press conference

USDA Lowers Corn for Ethanol Forecast

usda-logoIn the June World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimate, USDA raised corn beginning stocks for 2015/16 with a 25 million bushel reduction in 2014/15 forecast corn use in ethanol production. The revision, the result of a reduction of the forecast corn use in ethanol reduction for 2014/2015, is based on data reported in the Grain Crushings and Co-Products Production report through April.

Forecasts continue to show farmers planting 89.2 million acres and harvesting 81.7 million acres, with an average yield of 166.8 bushels per acre and production of 13.6 billion bushels, down from 2014 corn production of 14.2 billion bushels.

Despite total supply and ending stocks revisions, USDA continues to estimate the average farm price for the current market year at $3.55 to $3.75 per bushel, and a broader range of $3.20 to $3.80 for the next market year, which begins Sept. 1.

“May Day, May Day” Video Released

Americans United for Change has released a new video in response to the recent oil spill in Santa Barbara, California as well as several other recent oil spills. ‘May Day, May Day‘ is a roundup of news coverage showing why May was another messy oil spill month. The nonprofit notes the images of beach-goers trudging through tar to rescue oil soaked birds serve as a vivid reminder of the consequences of America’s dependence on oil.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that there will be 14,000 oil spills this year. This, cites American United for Change, is why people should be asking the EPA ‘what they were thinking’ when they cut back the Renewable Volume Obligations (RVOs) as part of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The RVOs are significantly under what was mandated by Congress when the legislation was passed. The organization said this decision continues to limit consumer choice at the pump and encourages the oil industry to keep drilling and spilling.

The move would also discourage investment in infrastructure, said Americans United for Change, that would “bust through the so-called ‘blend wall'” and discourage innovation towards cleaner and cheaper fuels.

The new video is as part of the organization’s ongoing project RareIncidents.com, inspired by American Petroleum Institute President Jack Gerard who in 2011 attempted to dismiss the BP spill disaster in the Gulf Coast as “clearly a rare incident”.