New Ad from ACE Uses ‘Power by People’ for RFS

Marietta1Looking to capitalize on President Obama’s visit to Watertown, South Dakota, the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) placed a full page advertisement in the May 8 Watertown Public Opinion. The ad uses the Power by People campaign which highlights the personal stories and persuasiveness of ACE’s grassroots members.

The ad features Marietta Lakness, a farmer, rancher, and investor in Glacial Lakes Energy, an ACE-member ethanol company that owns and operates facilities in Watertown and Mina, South Dakota. It focuses on how the RFS has supported Watertown’s economic growth and success. The text of the ad reads:

“Sometimes policy makers in DC get it right. Watertown, South Dakota is proof. So is Marietta Lakness. She raised a family in Hamlin County and has seen up close the challenges rural communities face. That’s why Marietta joined with her neighbors to build Glacial Lakes Energy, their very own home town biorefinery. Thanks to a policy called the Renewable Fuel Standard, today Watertown and places like it across the country produce clean renewable fuel for all Americans. The RFS also helped Marietta and 4,000 people like her who invested in Glacial Lakes Energy unleash a new chapter of hope and prosperity for the region. Today there’s a new market for her crops, new feed for her livestock, new fuel for her neighbors, and new dollars circulating throughout the region. It’s a jolt that’s plain to see all over town. Even though they live well outside the Beltway, the people of Watertown – folks like Marietta – are proof that good things come when Washington gets it right. And that’s worth keeping. Mr. President, help keep the RFS on track.”

You can read Marietta’s ethanol story here.

Senators Show Support for Biodiesel Industry

durbin-heidiSenator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) led a number of her Democratic colleagues in calling on Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to stop the continued delays of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) rule and highlighted the impact that the uncertainty of the past two years has had on biodiesel industry.

“We stand together as Democratic Senators who care about this industry, care about energy independence, care about farm country, and care about the diversity of our energy sources to plead with the President of the United States to participate in this discussion,” said Sen. Heitkamp. “If you really are serious about a diverse energy mix, why do what we’re doing to the biodiesel industry?”

Joining Sen. Heitkamp were Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Al Franken (D-MN), as well as biodiesel producers, who also stressed how the uncertainty caused by EPA’s misguided 2013 rule and delays on farmers and biodiesel workers.

adm-biodieselKent Engelbrecht, the manager of the biodiesel division at ADM, which has a biodiesel plant in Velva, North Dakota and is headquartered in Illinois, as well as Todd Ellis, vice president at Imperium Renewables near Seattle, Washington, discussed how the delays have impacted their own operations and others.

“2014 was poised to be a breakout year for biodiesel, until the 2014 RVO proposal intervened,” said Engelbrecht. “With the subsequent expiration of the biodiesel tax credit, we were forced to cease or slow production at all of our facilities.”

Listen to or download audio here: Comments from Senators and Biodiesel Industry on RFS Delays

The senators’ press conference was held as word came out Thursday that EPA has sent its new RFS volume obligation proposal, which is due to be released on June 1, on to the Office of Management and Budget for review.

National Biodiesel Board Vice President of Federal Affairs Anne Steckel thanked the senators for their support and was optimistic about news that EPA may be getting the RFS back on track. “What’s most important, however, is that we see volume growth in this pending proposal,” said Steckel. “The Obama Administration says regularly that it supports renewable fuels and wants America to lead, particularly in the development of Advanced Biofuels like biodiesel. This proposal will show if that’s true. The proof will be in the numbers.”

NBB Talks Biodiesel Issues with NAFB

ww15-nbbThe National Biodiesel Board (NBB) took part in the annual National Association of Farm Broadcasting Washington Watch this week to talk with reporters from around the country about issues important to the industry, number one being get the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) back on track.

“We hope that they not only get it back on track but get those volumes out there, they need to be higher,” said NBB Vice President of Federal Affairs Anne Steckel, speaking about EPA’s plan to release overdue volume obligations under the law by June. “EPA has said they want 2014 volumes to be actual production, so for our industry that would be about 1.75 billion gallons.”

Steckel says they hope EPA will add several hundred million gallons to that each year going forward to support industry growth.

In this interview with Agri-Pulse reporter Spencer Chase, Steckel also talks about the status of the biodiesel tax incentive. Interview with Anne Steckel, NBB

EIA: Ethanol Production, Stocks Down

Weekly ethanol production numbers, as well as stocks are down. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reports ethanol production averaged 921,000 barrels per day (b/d), about 38.68 million gallons daily. That is down 9,000 b/d from the week before. The four-week average for ethanol production stood at 928,000 b/d for an annualized rate of 14.23 billion gallons. Stocks of ethanol were down 2.6 percent from a week earlier at 20.8 million barrels.

The Renewable Fuels Association added that ethanol production is accounting for a good amount of corn usage in the country.

Ethanol producers were using 13.965 million bushels of corn to produce ethanol and 102,786 metric tons of livestock feed, 91,635 metric tons of which were distillers grains. The rest is comprised of corn gluten feed and corn gluten meal. Additionally, ethanol producers were providing 5.42 million pounds of corn distillers oil daily.

Illinois Could Cut Carbon Pollution with More E15

chicagoe15A new study shows that Illinois could cut its carbon pollution if the state adopted higher blends of ethanol, such as E15. The report from the University of Illinois at Chicago’s principal research economist, Dr. Steffen Mueller, and backed by a group pushing for Chicago’s adoption of the E15 Clean Air Ordinance, says carbon could be cut by up to 663,646 tons per year, the equivalent of taking 139,715 passenger vehicles off the road in Illinois every year.

Key Findings:

Illinois motorists consume about 1.5 billion gallons of gasoline per year, nearly all of which is E10. The analysis shows that if consumers in Illinois had access to and chose to fill up with E15 gasoline, emissions of carbon dioxide pollution across the state would be reduced by 663,646 tons each year. These savings are equivalent to taking about 139,715 passenger vehicles off the road in Illinois every year.

The report shows that a gallon of E15 saves 1.26 g of CO2 equivalent (CO2e) per megajoule compared with E10 (gasoline with 10 percent ethanol blend). CO2e includes carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, and methane.

Dr. Mueller’s conclusions demonstrate that switching to a motor fuel with a greater quantity of homegrown renewable fuels would result in significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

The 15 Clean Air Ordinance — which would give consumers a choice of higher-blend motor fuels — would create a better future for our climate while protecting American jobs and our energy security.

The group points out that because it improves engine performance and burns with fewer emissions, E15 has been adopted throughout professional auto racing, as well as creating jobs and lowering dependence on foreign oil.

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.

NFU Disturbed by Renewable Energy Funding Cuts

nfu_logo1The National Farmers Union (NFU) is expressing its disappointment in proposed cuts to federal spending on renewable energy. NFU President Roger Johnson released the following statement after the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Water spending subcommittee’s voted to reduce funds for renewable energy and energy efficiency.

“Renewable energy and energy efficiency are key to building climate resilience, and many of our rural communities experience much-needed reinvestment from renewable energy development.” Johnson said. “Congress should increase, not cut, funds for renewable energy.”

Johnson noted that America’s family farmers and ranchers are already impacted by increased weather volatility related to the changing climate, including fewer workable days, increased potential for soil erosion, and increased crop insurance claims, and without support for renewables, they may have to brace for additional negative consequences.

“Other consequences, including fluctuating access to water resources and increased pest and weed pressure, will impact our efforts to produce sufficient food, fuel and fiber,” Johnson noted. “Renewable energy will also, in the long term, offer protection against volatile rates and contribute to our nation’s energy independence.”

House E15 Waiver Bill Introduced

adrian-smithCongressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) has introduced legislation to expand the existing waiver of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations regarding Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) of motor vehicle fuel to include 15% ethanol blended gasoline (E15) in addition to E10.

EPA regulations currently curtail retail sales of E15 during the summer months. “Ethanol provides consumers in Nebraska and across America with a competitive, clean, domestically-produced alternative,” Smith said. “However, burdensome EPA regulations are restricting consumers’ options at the fuel pump.

EPA granted a waiver for E10 in 1990 and Smith’s bill would extend this waiver to also include E15.

“Though E10 received a waiver decades ago, the same regulatory relief has not yet been extended to E15,” said Smith. “We must pursue an all-of-the-above energy policy, which includes ethanol and other renewable fuels, by reducing red tape and encouraging innovation in the energy marketplace.”

“We applaud this effort by Congressman Smith to establish greater consumer choice and to remove a major hurdle preventing consumers the opportunity to purchase higher blends such as E15,” said Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis. “We are hopeful that Congressman Smith’s legislative efforts are successful in granting this much needed waiver to overcome the single largest regulatory hurdle to ensuring consumers have access to higher blends such as E15.”

The legislation is similar to a bill introduced earlier this month in the Senate by Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Rand Paul (R-KY).