EPA Officials Visit Kansas Ethanol Plant

EPA officials visit East Kansas Agri-Energy plant

EPA officials visit East Kansas Agri-Energy plant

In advance of a public hearing in Kansas City on the proposed volume obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials visited East Kansas Agri-Energy (EKAE) in Garnett, Kansas Wednesday.

Federal and regional EPA personnel toured the 45 million gallon per year corn ethanol plant, examined progress on EKAE’s co-located renewable diesel project, and discussed the importance of the RFS with plant management and local investors. EPA also hand-delivered a letter to EKAE approving the company’s efficient producer pathway petition, which certifies that the company’s ethanol reduces GHG emissions by 27.2 percent compared to petroleum.

“Today’s event provided an excellent opportunity for key EPA officials to see firsthand the ethanol industry’s innovation and ingenuity,” said Jeff Oestmann, CEO of EKAE. “We were honored to host EPA, and we thank them for spending a few hours with us to learn more about the ethanol process, renewable diesel, and the importance of the biofuels industry to the Garnett community. We had a very productive discussion and hope they left here with a new appreciation for both the challenges and opportunities facing ethanol producers today.”

EKAE, which was founded by local farmers and business leaders, produced its first gallon of ethanol one month before the original RFS was adopted in 2005. In 2014, the company broke ground on a bolt-on renewable diesel facility, which will convert the corn distillers oil already produced at the plant into low-carbon advanced biofuel.

RFA Senior Vice President Geoff Cooper, who also attended the tour, said EKAE is proof that the RFS is working. “EKAE is an excellent example of how the RFS provided the stability needed for first-generation biofuels like corn ethanol to succeed and flourish, then delivered the investment certainty required to develop second-generation biofuels like renewable diesel from corn distillers oil,” he said.

Both Oestmann and Cooper will be testifying today at the EPA hearing in Kansas City, along with more than 250 other industry stakeholders.

Listen to an interview with Oestmann and Cooper about the plant tour and hearing here: Interview with Jeff Oestmann, EKAE and Geoff Cooper, RFA

EPA RFS Public Hearing photo album

Iowa Biodiesel Users Soon to Save on Tax

IBBBiodiesel users in Iowa will soon be saving some money on their gas tax. The Iowa Biodiesel Board says that as of July 1, diesel blended with at least 11 percent biodiesel (B11) will enjoy a tax exemption of 3 cents a gallon compared to regular diesel.

“This state policy represents another link in the chain that secures Iowa’s energy and economic future,” said Grant Kimberley, executive director of IBB. “This incentive, along with other state policies that encourage biodiesel production and use, shores up support for a fuel that delivers jobs, diversifies our fuel supply and reduces greenhouse gases.”

Prior to 2015, the tax for diesel was $0.225 a gallon. The new diesel tax, already in effect, is $0.325 a gallon. Users of B11 or higher will now pay tax of just $0.295 a gallon.

Kimberley added that this won’t automatically mean B11 is less expensive at the pump than diesel, but: “All of the pro-biodiesel policies in Iowa working together, plus federal programs that encourage energy independence, add up,” he said. “This is likely to make B11 pretty competitive at the pump.”

Corn Growers to Protest EPA’s Ethanol Cuts

rallyforruralamerica1Corn farmers are going to make their voice heard on the Obama Administration’s cuts to ethanol. The National Corn Growers Association says producers from more than a dozen states are expected to turn out at a public hearing and rally in Kansas City, Kansas, this Thursday, protesting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposal to slash nearly 4 billion gallons of corn ethanol from the Renewable Fuel Standard through 2016.

“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.”

All farmers who can make the trip are encouraged to attend the hearing and public rally, with free bus transportation provided from several points across four states – Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Iowa. The buses are scheduled so growers can depart and return the same day, and free food and refreshments will be provided.

A rally in conjunction with the public hearing will kick off at 11:30 a.m. at nearby Huron Park, with several prominent agriculture, business and political leaders talking about the importance of renewable fuels for rural America.

Senate Committee Grills EPA Official on RFS

hearing-mccabeEnvironmental Protection Agency Acting Assistant Administrator Janet McCabe was the lone witness in a Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing Thursday on “Re-examining EPA’s Management of the Renewable Fuel Standard Program.”

Committee chairman James Lankford (R-OK), who favors repealing the RFS, grilled McCabe over the “aspirational” goal of breaching the blend wall and the potential that volumes of cellulosic ethanol targets under law will have to be “reset” by the EPA because not enough is being produced.

Committee Ranking Member Heidi Heitkamp, who is a strong supporter of the RFS, was more concerned that the volume obligations for biofuels proposed by EPA “ignore Congressional intent and reduces Congressionally-mandated blend volumes, citing availability of distribution capacity.”

McCabe continued to defend the EPA’s recently proposed volume obligations for 2014, 2015 and 2016 as “ambitious but responsible” in the face of criticism from both sides of the issue.

Schroeder to Participate in Bioenergy 2015

bio2015Domestic Fuel’s own Joanna Schroeder will be part of next week’s U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Bioenergy Technologies Office’s (BETO) eighth annual conference “Bioenergy 2015: Opportunities in a Changing Energy Landscape.” She’ll be in Washington, D.C., moderating the session titled, “Reaching Your Stakeholders: Effectively Engaging and Educating Key Audiences,” on the second day of the June 23-24 conference.

This session focuses on demonstrated communication strategies and tactics to engage and educate key audiences—such as the general public, communities, policy makers, and investors—on bioenergy. Panelists, through a facilitated discussion, will provide attendees with unique insights, success stories, and best practices and lessons learned that improved public perception of bioenergy at local, regional, and national levels.

About 600 participants are expected to attend the conference, including key stakeholders from the bioenergy industry, Congress, national laboratories, academia, and the financial community. Some of the other issues they’ll discuss include:

– Impact of changing oil prices
– Vehicle/fuels co-optimization
– Future of the Renewable Fuel Standard
– Environmental benefits of biofuels
– Innovative technologies and emerging pathways
– U.S. manufacturing in a global marketplace.

Check out the full agenda here.

Biodiesel Producers on Capitol Hill

nbb-dc-15Nearly 120 biodiesel industry leaders from California to Florida are in Washington DC this week calling on lawmakers to push for a strong Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) during the comment period for the recently released proposal from EPA.

“We want to show Congress that the RFS is working and that thousands of jobs are at stake in this pending EPA rule,” said Anne Steckel, National Biodiesel Board vice president of federal affairs. “We want lawmakers to see first-hand how these issues are playing out in their states and districts. The RFS is not some political football. It’s a successful policy that’s driving innovation, creating jobs and building competition in the fuels markets.”

The EPA recently released its draft RFS proposal that provides modest growth for biodiesel over several years. The proposal would increase the Biomass-based Diesel sector of the RFS by about 100 million gallons per year to 1.9 billion gallons in 2017.

“The proposal is a step in the right direction, and we appreciate the Administration’s efforts to strengthen and grow the RFS,” Steckel said. “However, there is plenty of room for improvement before it is finalized in November. We intend to make sure policy makers in Washington understand biodiesel’s full potential to help grow the economy and strengthen our energy security while sharply reducing pollution.”

Nebraska Governor Visits Novozymes

Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts wrapped up his first agricultural trade mission this week with a visit to Novozymes world headquarters in Denmark, where a company tour showcased the production of unique enzymes and microbial products used in the animal nutrition, agriculture, and biofuels industries.

Novozymes CEO Peder Holk Nielsen welcomes Nebraska Gov. Ricketts

Novozymes CEO Peder Holk Nielsen welcomes Nebraska Gov. Ricketts

While at Novozymes, Gov. Ricketts and the United States Ambassador to Denmark hosted a roundtable on renewable fuels and bio-products where Nebraska delegates “showcased the dynamic interaction between the corn, cattle, and ethanol sectors and their important roles in Nebraska’s success in agriculture.”

Industry representatives presented U.S. market trends and regulations to the group, with a focus on co-products, revenue opportunities, and biorefinery developments. In addition to the governor, Nebraska roundtable participants included Department of Economic Development Director Brenda Hicks-Sorensen, KAAPA President and Nebraska Ethanol Board representative Paul Kenny, Green Plains Energy COO Jeff Briggs and Bret Wyant with American Laboratories. European company executives included representatives from Novozymes, Dong Energy, Leifmark, Renew Energy, DuPont, and the U.S. Embassy.

The Governor and mission members also met with Novozymes CEO Peder Holk Nielsen and Executive Vice Presidents of Business Development and Supply Operations Thomas Videbaek and Thomas Nagy to discuss business development and international expansion. Ricketts says the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) was a concern as they discussed expansion plans in the United States. “With the EPA changing the rule, pulling the rug out from under our ethanol producers, by changing the RFS they’ve created uncertainty,” said Ricketts. “That uncertainty is impacting Novozymes as it’s impacting the rest of the industry.”

Novozymes opened its newest advanced manufacturing plant in Blair, Nebraska to make enzymes for biofuels production in 2012 in part because of strong policies like the RFS.

Listen to the governor’s summary of the trade trip here:Neb. Gov Pete Ricketts on trade trip wrap up

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.

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