Ethanol Trade Missions to Expand Markets

Representatives of the U.S. Grains Council (USGC), Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), and Growth Energy were in Tokyo this week for an industry market assessment of the potential to export U.S. ethanol to Japan.

growth-exports“The United States exported 900 million gallons of ethanol in 2014, supporting both U.S. farmers and the ethanol industry. We know that, going forward, ethanol exports have the potential to grow and become equally beneficial for our customers overseas,” said USGC president and CEO Tom Sleight. “USGC, Growth and RFA are committed to launching initiatives in 2015 and 2016 to build demand for U.S. ethanol and address barriers to ongoing imports.”

Over the next two years, the government of Japan will be undertaking a full review of its national energy policies, including biofuels, potentially opening up opportunities for additional ethanol exports there.

“The team came away with a much greater understanding of the current Japanese requirements and market conditions pertaining to ethanol and began the implementation of a strategy to help ensure that U.S. ethanol receives fair market access under the future energy policy that will be adopted when the current policy expires in 2017,” said Jim Miller, chief economist and vice president of Growth Energy.

“The team will continue examining the requirements of the Japanese sustainability standards, looking for ways to overcome infrastructure concerns, and compiling data responding to some of the misinformation government officials still hold regarding renewable fuels,” added RFA’s director of regulatory affairs, Kelly Davis.

Last week, the organizations were part of a mission with USDA’s Foreign Agriculture Service in Mexico to explore potential in that market. One mission member, Greg Krissek, CEO of Kansas Corn, reflected on the trip in this video from the USGC.


Ethanol Groups Promote Safe Boating on E10

With the Memorial Day weekend approaching fast, the ethanol industry is assuring boaters that 10% ethanol blended fuel is just fine for marine engines, despite what the American Petroleum Institute says.

In response to an API press call with the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) on Wednesday, Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis noted that “all major manufacturers of outboard and marine motors, as well as small engines, are approved for the use of gasoline blended with up to 10 percent ethanol.”

“What probably does concern boaters is the amount of time they spend dry docked as a result of oil spills, like the one that dumped 21,000 gallons of oil along four miles of coastline in Santa Barbara, California” this week,” said Buis.

rfa-nbra-3Renewable Fuels Association president and CEO Bob Dinneen adds that “E10 has been used successfully in marine engines for 30 years now” and that the higher octane in the fuel helps with summertime boating activities. “It’s gasoline on steroids, it doesn’t pollute, it’ll pull your jetskier, it’ll pull your tuber, it’ll get you to your favorite fishing hole, and you can know you’re supporting America’s farmers and clean water,” said Dinneen.

Dinneen’s simple advice to boaters concerned about using E10: “Take a look at your owner’s manual.” And check out RFA’s FAQs on ethanol and marine engines.

Listen to Dinneen’s comments about E10 and boating here: RFA CEO on E10 Safe for Boats

E15 Comes to Orlando

protecfuelThe Orlando, Florida area is getting its first offering of the higher blend of ethanol, E15. Biofuels distributor Protec Fuel and Kissimmee Citgo have teamed up to launch the 88-octane fuel at the station at 3297 S. John Young Pkwy in Kissimmee, which already sells E85 and B20 biodiesel fuel.

“We are extremely excited to be the first in Central Florida to offer this additional grade of alternative fuel,” said Ken Allen, president of Mid-State Energy, Inc., “and offer our customers more choices as it comes to fueling. This vacation destination is especially prime with all the rental cars that can run on E15, and even E85.” Mid-State Energy, Inc. owns and provides fuel for this station.

These are part of Protec Fuel’s station rollout of dozens of E15 sites to metropolitan areas that include various cities in the South and Southeast. This is the fourth location under Protec to open in Florida.

The news was also welcomed by ethanol advocacy group Growth Energy.

Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy, issued the following statement:

“I would like to congratulate Protec for bringing higher performing, lower cost fuel options to more consumers in Florida. Protec recognizes that E15 is a win for both retailers and consumers, and its ongoing efforts to find new locations to offer the homegrown renewable fuel shows that it is a leader in the marketplace.

“The demand for E15 is strong, and it is great to see E15 expand its footprint in Florida. It is clear, with the growing presence of E15 that when consumers are given the choice, they will choose the less expensive fuel that is better for their engines and our environment – one that creates jobs in America and reduces our dangerous dependence on foreign oil.”

Buis pointed out that E15 is compatible with more than 80 percent of the cars on the road today, as millions of miles have been driven on E15 without a single issue.

Bipartisan Bill Expands RVP Ethanol Waiver for 10%+

donnellyA bipartisan bill that increases the Reid vapor pressure (RVP) wavier for ethanol blends above 10 percent has been introduced in the U.S. Senate. Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN) was joined by Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Deb Fischer (R-NE). The legislation would allow for more retailers to sell E15 gasoline/ethanol blended fuel year-round.

Donnelly said, “Biofuels like ethanol are renewable domestic energy sources, create more economic opportunities, and give consumers more options at the gas pump. This legislation would expand the RVP waiver for ethanol blends, increasing the market for ethanol producers in Indiana and around the country and making more clean fuels available to consumers year-round. We should be pursuing an all-in approach toward American energy production that includes ethanol and other biofuels because it helps our economy and increases our national security by reducing our dependence on foreign oil. I am proud my colleagues Senator Grassley and Senator Fischer are joining me in this bipartisan effort to reduce the burden of regulations on ethanol producers and consumers.”

Grassley said, “Consumers appreciate having choices, whether it’s at the grocery store or the fuel pump. Those of us who live in biofuels-producing states understand the appeal of cleaner, domestic, renewable fuels. The EPA should be consistent in the way it treats different fuel blends as a matter of fairness and to give consumers more options for fueling their vehicles. The EPA has never acted on its authority to grant a Reid vapor pressure waiver for E15. This bill proposes a legislative fix to fill the void.”

Tom Buis, Growth Energy CEO, said, “We applaud this strong bipartisan effort to remove the largest regulatory hurdle standing between consumers and access to a cleaner, less expensive and higher performing fuel. Senators Donnelly, Grassley and Fischer recognize that higher ethanol blends such as E15 benefit our environment, our economy and our rural communities, and are working together to bring those benefits to every American and move our nation forward. We commend them for taking the lead on this important issue in Congress.”

ncga-logo-newThe National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) also welcomed the news:

“We applaud Senators Donnelly, Grassley, and Fischer for their bipartisan efforts to increase the market for ethanol producers and give consumers more choices at the pump,” said NCGA President Chip Bowling. “June 1 is rapidly approaching, and we should ensure consumers will continue to have access to energy that is clean, renewable, and American-grown. We urge Congress to pass this legislation.”

Biofuels Leaders Ask President for Meeting

A dozen organizations and companies representing biofuels interests this week sent a letter to President Obama asking for a meeting on proposed rules under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) due to come out next month.

fuels-americaThe letter comes on the heels of an analysis from the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) showing how EPA delays in setting volume requirements (RVOs) under the RFS have resulted in the loss of some $13.7 billion in investment in advanced biofuels like cellulosic ethanol. The letter was signed by BIO, the Renewable Fuels Association, Growth Energy, Advanced Ethanol Coalition, National Corn Growers Association, Association of Equipment Manufacturers, POET, DSM, Novozymes, and Abengoa.

“The EPA’s proposal in 2013 was an enormous disservice to you and your legacy, Mr. President,” the letter states. “Prior to the release of that proposal, we had asked to meet with the EPA, but were rebuffed. We would like to work with you to ensure that the mistake is not repeated.”

In addition to the letter and the analysis from BIO, the Fuels America coalition is running digital ads this week on Politico’s Environment & Energy section that say, “Will the next generation of biofuels be created in the United States or China? It’s up to you, Mr. President. Support the Renewable Fuel Standard.”

DOT Announces New Rail Car Standards

rfa-railcarU.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) today announced a final rule for the safe transportation of flammable liquids by rail.

The final rule, developed in coordination with Canada, focuses on “safety improvements that are designed to prevent accidents, mitigate consequences in the event of an accident, and support emergency response.”

“Safety has been our top priority at every step in the process for finalizing this rule, which is a significant improvement over the current regulations and requirements and will make transporting flammable liquids safer,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.

Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association, believes the new rule strikes “a fair balance in setting comprehensive standards while at the same time being sensitive to the limitation of retrofit capacity by giving less hazardous flammables — like ethanol — additional time to retrofit railcars.”

“We applaud the Department of Transportation for working to harmonize these regulations with Canada; for adopting a risk-based approach that prioritizes the most dangerous and highly-volatile flammables like crude oil while giving medium hazard liquids like ethanol additional time to come into compliance, for recognizing the limitations of the retrofit capacity, and, for establishing a regular reporting process for the retrofit schedule,” added Dinneen.

Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis, however, expressed disappointment with the new rule. “Although we are pleased that this rule begins to acknowledge the difference between cars in ethanol and crude service, we are extremely disappointed that regulators are requiring extensive changes to the ethanol rail fleet, while seemingly ignoring the number one cause of these accidents – broken rails and poor track condition,” said Buis.

The new rule requires a phase out or retrofit of all DOT-111 railcars transporting crude oil and ethanol by May 2023. Specifically, the rule requires a phase out or retrofit of all unjacketed CPC-1232 railcars used to ship ethanol by July 2023. Additionally, a new tank car standard has been put in place that establishes the DOT-117 as the new railcar to ship oil and ethanol. The DOT-117 includes a 9/16 inch steel hull, roll over protection, full height head shields, top fitting protection, and jacketing with thermal protection.

Kum & Go to Offer E15

kum-and-go1Iowa-based convenience stores Kum & Go will begin offering E15 as a fuel option. The first station will be in Windsor Heights, Iowa on April 30 with 65 stores in Iowa, Nebraska, Arkansas, Colorado, Missouri, Oklahoma, and South Dakota planning to offer the higher blend within the next two years.

“We have a strong tradition in our company to implement sustainability within our business and at our locations. From our 100 LEED-certified stores, to our selection of alternative fuels, E15 was a natural addition to our fuel offering,” said Jim Pirolli, Vice President of Fuels, Kum & Go. “Having E15 in our portfolio allows Kum & Go to offer our customers a quality product at a great value.”

The news was welcomed by the ethanol industry.

Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy, issued the following statement:

growth-energy-logo1“We are thrilled to hear that Kum & Go will be offering E15, providing motorists with a choice and savings at the pump. Kum & Go prides themselves on their exemplary service and a drive to give the customer more than what they expect, and this latest announcement underscores their role as an innovator and leader in the convenience store marketplace. Furthermore, this announcement shows that customer demand for higher blends of homegrown, renewable fuels, such as E15, is growing and Kum & Go is taking the necessary steps to deliver what the marketplace demands and what the consumer wants.”

The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) pointed out that that this action will bring the total number of states offering E15 to 20.

rfalogo1“RFA would like to thank Kum & Go for their continued leadership in ethanol,” said Robert White, vice president of industry relations at the Renewable Fuels Association. “They have been offering E85 to consumers for years, and this addition of E15 in these seven states just makes sense. These continued E15 announcements demonstrate that the business case is solid for higher blends, and should lead other retailers to explore their options.”

American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) Senior Vice President Ron Lamberty offered congratulations and thanks to Kum & Go for making E15 more widely available.

ACElogo“Kum & Go has been a leader in offering E85 as a fuel choice at most of the locations they’ve built in the last several years – it seems fitting that they would now be the first large Midwest retailer to announce the addition of E15 as a fuel option. In the c-store business, everyone “wants to be first to be second,” so other retailers will take notice when a chain like Kum & Go is added to the list of E15 retailers that includes Mapco, Murphy Oil, Protec, Sheetz, and other smaller chains and single stores that have been offering E15 for two years or more. E15 is real, and with the number of vehicles built and warrantied for E15 growing by 10 million or more a year, it’s a smart option for stations to offer in the future,” said Lamberty.

American Ethanol Finishes 5 Years with NASCAR

am-ethanol-carOver the weekend at Richmond International Raceway, American Ethanol and NASCAR officially celebrated five years and seven million miles of running on 15% ethanol blended Sunoco Green E15, unveiling a new paint scheme with E15 prominently located on the hood of Austin Dillon’s No. 3 Chevrolet SS.

Dillon, who has been advocating the benefits of ethanol for three years now, drove his first American Ethanol paint of the 2015 racing season in the Saturday Toyota Owners 400 race, which was delayed by rain until Sunday. While he finished 27th in the race, ethanol still came in first.

“This has been a tremendous partnership,” said Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy. “Since NASCAR switched to Sunoco Green E15 five years ago, we have seen a very a substantial change in the national dialogue regarding ethanol – when people see NASCAR rely on ethanol week after week in all three of its national racing series, they understand that it is a fuel that they can rely on as well.”

American Ethanol driver Austin Dillon, National Corn Growers Association president Chip Bowling, Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis, RCR Racing owner Richard Childress

American Ethanol driver Austin Dillon, National Corn Growers Association president Chip Bowling, Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis, RCR Racing owner Richard Childress

During a press conference on Saturday, National Corn Growers Association President Chip Bowling talked about what the American Ethanol partnership has meant for American farmers. “E15 American Ethanol turns our unrivaled ability to produce corn into a national asset. Consumer demand for ethanol is good for family farmers and fans appreciate that,” said Bowling. “We have grown the 12 largest corn crops in history in the last 12 years so ethanol demand is critical. It means farmers can pay their bills, reinvest in the broader economy and keep family operations like mine viable for future generations.”

Bowling added that according to a 2014 study, NASCAR fans are over 75 percent more likely than non-fans to support the use of ethanol blended with gasoline to fuel their own car.

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.

Farmers Live #EarthDay Every Day

earth-day-2015This year marks the 45th anniversary of Earth Day but farmers have been living the spirit of stewardship for natural resources for generations and have been leaders in the generation of renewable energy sources like biofuels, wind and solar.

“For hundreds of years, America’s farmers have been working our land and providing the country and the world with high quality food, feed, fiber and fuel,” said Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis. “Today, on Earth Day, we are proud that our industry will keep getting cleaner, keep farming more efficiently and keep discovering new ways to fuel America with biomass and waste products that represent a smarter, cleaner, homegrown alternative to foreign oil.”