Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis to Assume New Role

growth-energy-logo1Growth Energy has announced today that CEO Tom Buis has been named as co-chairman of the organization’s Board of Directors, joining POET Founder and Executive Chairman Jeff Broin in that role.

In his new role Buis will remain actively involved in member activities and policy matters important to the industry. Buis will continue overseeing the day-to-day operations of the organization until a new CEO has been appointed.

buis“I love this job and I love advocating for an industry that means so much for America,” Buis said. “As co-chair, I will remain engaged in growing membership and advocating for policies that benefit American farmers and consumers, but I’m also at a point in life where I’m ready to assume more of a guiding role as a leader on the board. I am proud of the accomplishments we have had at Growth Energy, as it has grown from a startup to the largest trade association representing the ethanol industry in America.”

Growth Energy has retained Korn/Ferry International, the world’s largest executive search firm, to lead a nationwide search for its next CEO.

Grains Council Presents Ethanol Export Strategy

During this week’s 55th Annual Board of Delegates Meeting in Montreal, Canada, the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) unveiled an ethanol export promotion strategy. The program was developed with input from the ethanol industry including U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), Growth Energy and the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA).

U.S. Grains Council Chairman Ron Gray.

U.S. Grains Council Chairman Ron Gray.

“In 2014, the Council and its partners completed in-depth market assessments in Southeast Asia, Peru, Panama, Japan and Korea that produced valuable information used develop this strategy,” said USGC Chairman Ron Gray. “Our plans in these markets continue to develop, and we are carrying on market assessment work in places like Canada and the European Union. However, we are also moving forward aggressively with market development and policy-focused work in countries like the Philippines that have the potential to increase demand for U.S. ethanol in the near term.”

Ethanol was the subject of a general session panel at the meeting, including input from Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis, RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen and Green Plains Renewable Energy Executive Vice President for Ethanol Marketing Steve Bleyl, moderated by USGC’s Chief Economist Mike Dwyer, a leading global biofuels analyst.

Ethanol export plans were explored in more depth during the Ethanol Advisory Team meeting, comprised of members from throughout the value chain, and a breakout session focused specifically on USGC’s ongoing ethanol-focused programs.

“U.S. ethanol exports are becoming increasingly vital to our stakeholders’ bottom line, which makes finding new markets for U.S. ethanol is a priority for the Council,” Gray added. “This plan shows our and our partners’ commitments to making that happen.”

Among other activities, two trade teams in the United States and three missions traveling overseas are scheduled to focus on ethanol in the remainder of 2015.

RFS Comments Piled High at EPA Doors

Boxes upon boxes of comments relating to the Renewable Fuel Standard were delivered to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) doors yesterday as the comment period ended for the final 2014/2015 rule. Despite clear legislation on the amount of renewable volumetric obligations (RVOs) for all facets of renewable fuels, the EPA lowered the amount of corn-ethanol required to be blended in America’s fuel supply. During the timeframe allocated for comments, the biofuels industry came together not only in support of the industry but to call on the EPA to “get back on track” and put the RVOs at minimum at the levels set by legislation.

Leaders from the National Farmers Union and I Am Biotech delivered more than 200,000 comments on behalf of Fuels America to the EPA.

Leaders from the National Farmers Union and I Am Biotech delivered more than 200,000 comments on behalf of Fuels America to the EPA.

Fuels America collected more than 200,000 written comments while VoteVets.org turned in nearly 47,000 petition signatures calling on the EPA to strengthen the RFS.

“It is absolutely crucial, for the wellbeing of our military, and our national security, that we lessen our dependence on oil,” said Jon Soltz, Iraq veteran and chairman of VoteVets.org.  “A strong RFS is a key part of that equation.  It is very simple – every drop of renewable fuel in our gasoline means one less drop of oil.  The EPA should listen to those who love and support our military, and care about our national security, and strengthen the RFS.”

Last week the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) held an RFS rally where hundreds of corn growers from across the country called the EPA to task and told them to “stay the course”. A letter submitted by NCGA states, “The RFS has spurred growth in agriculture, increased energy diversity and decreased GHG emissions from fossil fuels through the development of renewable energy resources. We urge the Agency to stay the course and support this important piece of transformational energy policy, and we request it reconsider its proposed reduction in the 2014, 2015 and 2016 renewable volume obligations.”

Also submitting a letter along with comments was the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA). The letter, authored by President and CEO Bob Dinneen, called the proposal “surprising” and imprudent” and he charged the EPA with buying into the oil industry’s false narrative regarding the so-called blend wall. By doing so, he wrote, “EPA has unnecessarily and illegally curtailed the unprecedented evolution occurring in the transportation fuels market that was delivering technology innovation, carbon reduction, and consumer savings.”

The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE0 also submitted comments that included E15 sales data demonstrating that consumers are choosing ethanol at the pump. Executive Vice President Brian Jennings wrote, “The RFS is intended to reduce the GHG emissions of motor fuel and provide consumer access to E15 and flex fuels which are less expensive and cleaner than gasoline. These sweeping goals will not be realized if EPA continues to ride the brakes on the RFS. Issuance of the final RFS in November has consequences beyond trying to get the program back on track.  The decision will come at the same time the President prepares to negotiate an international agreement to reduce GHG emissions in Paris.  What an embarrassment it will be if EPA betrays the Administration’s commitment to curb climate change by restricting the use of low carbon biofuels in the U.S.” Continue reading

Hope for Renewable Energy Tax Credits

The Senate Finance Committee is set to vote Tuesday on a two-year extension of tax benefits, including the production tax credit for wind power, and credits for biodiesel and cellulosic biofuels production.

wyden-hatch“This markup will give the Committee a timely opportunity to act on extending a number of expired provisions in the tax code that help families, individuals and small businesses,” Hatch said. “This is the first time in 20 years where a new Congress has started with extenders legislation having already expired, and given that these provisions are meant to be incentives, we need to advance a package as soon as possible.”

“The tax code should work for, not against, Americans,” Wyden said. “We need to extend these tax provisions now in order to provide greater certainty and predictability for middle class families and businesses alike. However as we look beyond next week, it’s critical we all recognize and take action to end this stop and go approach to tax policy through extenders.”

A group of biofuel trade organizations have sent a letter to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR) encouraging extension of the critical advanced biofuel tax incentives. The incentives include the Second Generation Biofuel Producer Tax Credit, the Special Depreciation Allowance for Second Generation Biofuel Plant Property, the Biodiesel and Renewable Diesel Fuels Credit, and the Alternative Fuel and Alternative Fuel Mixture Excise Tax Credit. Groups supporting the extensions are the Advanced Ethanol Council, Advanced Biofuels Association, Algae Biomass Organization, Biotechnology Industry Organization, Growth Energy, National Biodiesel Board, and Renewable Fuels Association.

Enogen Press Conference at Iowa Speedway

Engine Press ConferenceToday Syngenta announced a major donation to the Prime the Pump fund, an industry initiative to help early retail adopters of high-level ethanol blends through grants to reduce their initial investment in infrastructure. On the pane (l-r) are Chris Tingle, Syngenta; Ray Defenbaugh, Prime the Pump; Kelly Manning, Growth Energy; Delayne Johnson, Quad County Corn Processors and Chris Soule, Iowa farmer and star of ABC’s The Bachelor and Dancing With the Stars.

Syngenta says it will donate approximately $600,000 to the initiative by contributing $1 for every acre planted with Enogen corn enzyme technology. This effort stated in 2013 and is being extended to 2016. Besides the money being raised for the Prime the Pump initiative, the FFA students here today helping collect money for the fund will be receiving matching dollars for the money they raise. So, when you look at the value to the ethanol plants of Enogen corn which already has a vital enzyme for processing which saves the plant money; the fact that farmers growing Enogen corn are receiving a significant bonus incentive on the price of their corn; the fact that this initiative is helping expand the market and use of ethanol and local FFA chapters are benefitting, it seems like a win-win for everyone.

I have recorded the full press conference for you to listen to here: Syngenta Enogen Press Conference

2015 American Ethanol 200 Presented by Enogen Photo Album

Coverage of the American Ethanol 200 sponsored by Enogen
Coverage of the American Ethanol 200 is sponsored by Enogen

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

America’s Renewable Future Announces Partners

ARF-LogoAmerica’s Renewable Future (ARF) today announced its diverse coalition of partners that includes state and national ethanol and biofuels associations and companies committed to educating presidential candidates in both parties about the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

The partners include organizations such as the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA), Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA), Iowa Biodiesel Board, Iowa Ethanol Producers Association, Iowa Soybean Association, Iowa Biotechnology Association, Iowa-Nebraska Equipment Dealer Association, Growth Energy, Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) and companies such as POET, DuPont, Stine Seed Company, Archer Daniels Midland, and Novozymes.

“We’re involved because over a third of our corn crop goes directly into the ethanol industry,” said ICGA CEO Craig Floss, during a conference call today with representatives of several partners. The corn growers were one of the coalition’s founding partners, along with Iowa RFA. “We are very excited to see support (for ARF) grow and I think we’ll see more in the future,” said IRFA executive director Monte Shaw. “It really shows this is not just about farmers, or ethanol and biodiesel plants, it’s something that really affects every one of us.”

During the call, representatives of ARF discussed reaction to the EPA’s new proposed volume obligations under the RFS. Others on the call included former Iowa Lt. Gov. and ARF Co-Chair Patty Judge, Lincolnway Energy Director and ARF Co-Chair Bill Couser, and Iowa farmer Mark Recker. America's Renewable Future partners press conference

Growth Energy and New Holland at #FEW15

few15-buisGrowth Energy is attracting attention at the 2015 Fuel Ethanol Workshop with a beautiful blue New Holland Boomer as a centerpiece.

FEW attendees have had the opportunity to register for a chance to win the New Holland Boomer 47 tractor equipped with a 4 cylinder diesel engine and American Ethanol Racing decals, courtesy of New Holland. Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis says New Holland is a big supporter of the ethanol industry. “New Holland really understands what drives the rural economy and they’ve been a valuable partner,” said Buis. “People are going to buy farm equipment if they make a profit from the marketplace.” New Holland has also been a strong supporter of the American Ethanol NASCAR program.

In this interview with Tom, he also talks about the EPA proposed RVO and the importance of the ethanol industry to stand up and make its voice heard during the comment period. Interview with Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis at FEW

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

Ethanol Industry Blasts EPA RFS Proposal

Ethanol industry groups are blasting the EPA proposal for volume obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) for what they see as siding with the oil industry.

rfalogo1“Today’s announcement represents a step backward for the RFS,” says Renewable Fuels Association president Bob Dinneen, noting that the EPA continues to cling to the “blend wall” methodology. “The EPA plan fundamentally places the potential growth in renewable fuels in the hands of the oil companies — empowering the incumbent industry to continue to thwart consumer choice at the pump with no fear of consequence for their bad behavior.”

ACElogo“EPA is yet again proposing to circumvent the RFS by limiting ethanol use to the amount oil companies are willing to blend with the gasoline they refine and not one gallon more,” said American Coalition for Ethanol executive vice president Brian Jennings. “If EPA is willing to let oil companies disregard Clean Air Act requirements to clean up motor fuel, how does it expect power plants to comply with their Clean Air Act proposal to curb carbon pollution?”

growth-energy-logo1“It is unfortunate that EPA chose to side with the obligated parties who have deliberately refused to live up to their obligation to provide consumers with a choice of fossil fuels or lower cost, higher performing, homegrown renewable energy at the pump,” said Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis.

NCGA-Logo“Once again, the EPA has chosen to ignore the law by cutting the corn ethanol obligation 3.75 billion gallons from 2014 to 2016. This represents nearly a billion and a half bushels in lost corn demand,” said National Corn Growers Association president Chip Bowling. “The only beneficiary of the EPA’s decision is Big Oil.”

EPA will hold a public hearing on the proposal June 25 in Kansas City, Kansas. The public has until July 27 to comment on the proposal.

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.