Ethanol Plays Key Role in Iowa Campaigning

caucusSen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) won the Republican ticket in Iowa last night with Donald Trump coming in second despite Cruz’s ambiguity on ethanol and the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). However, compared to the campaigning four years ago, ethanol has gained a significant amount of positive ground according to a press conference held by Growth Energy. The Iowa Caucus kicks off the beginning of the nomination process for the next U.S. president.

Tom Buis, co-chair of Growth Energy, noted on the call that the oil industry is calling the results proof that Iowans don’t care about ethanol. However, he says the facts are, “Over 80 percent of the votes yesterday in Iowa were cast for candidates that are in favor for the RFS.” The results find that there were more pro-RFS votes made in Iowa this year than in 2012.

For example, in 2012 in Iowa, anti-RFS candidate votes were cast for Ron Paul: 21.5 percent; Rick Perry: 10.4 percent; and Michele Bachmann: 5 percent for a total of 36.9 percent. Whereas in 2016, anti-RFS votes were for Ted Cruz: 27.7 percent and Rand Paul: 4.5 percent for a total of 32.2 percent.

According to Paul Tewes, political strategist, who has been a keen observer of the campaigning process, said he has never seen ethanol more talked about, perform better as a whole, or have a politician like Ted Cruz be more contorted about how to talk about it than this one. “This was a race here where ethanol was put on the map, where candidates had to talk about it and most of the candidates moved either completely for it, or the few that didn’t, moved towards it.”

He also noted that if Cruz is the Republican nominee, then he believes Democrats will take the state in November.

Monte Shaw, executive director for the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) added that the effort to support the RFS in Iowa has always been more than about one candidate. “It was about trying to get candidates to understand the reality of the support oil gets from the government and how the RFS cracks through that monopoly.”

To learn more about Iowa voter support for ethanol and the RFS, listen to the full press conference including the Q&A here: Iowa Caucus Results Press Conference

Reynolds, Naig Highlight Fueling Our Future 100

During the 10th Annual Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit, Iowa Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds, along with Mike Naig, deputy secretary of agriculture, highlighted the new “Fueling Our Future 100” program. In round one, the program has allocated $2.49 million dollars to help Iowa gas retailers install 107 blender pumps and 8 underground storage tanks to store high blends of ethanol. Naig said applications for the 2nd round of funding are due February 1, 2016.

Kim Reynolds and Mike NaigReynolds noted that each blender pump installed benefits Iowa’s agricultural economy and supports good jobs for Iowa families. Adding blender pumps also gives consumers more choices at the pump, she added.

“Thanks to the support of our federal partners at the USDA, the ‘Fueling our Future 100’ program is going to ensure that consumers in our state have greater access to biofuels.  We’re appreciative of companies like Five Star Coop, New Century Farm Services, Kum & Go, STAR Energy and Three Rivers Farm Services Company for their efforts in continuing to put Iowa on the forefront of an even greater renewable future.”

The  Fueling Our Future 100 received a $5 million competitive grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership (BIP) program.  All funds must be matched by non-federal funds, including up to $2.5 million from the Iowa Renewable Fuels Infrastructure program. The fueling sites applying for assistance will also be required to provide a minimum of $2.5 million.

Listen to Iowa Lt. Governor Kim Reynold’s remarks here: IA Lt Gov Kim Reynolds' Remarks

Listen to Iowa Ag Deputy Secretary Mike Naig’s remarks here: Mike Naig's Remarks

10th Annual Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit Photo Album

Iowa Delegation Urges EPA to Get RFS on Track

The entire Iowa congressional delegation this week urged the EPA to propose 2017 ethanol and 2018 biodiesel Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) Renewable Volume Obligations (RVOs) consistent with enacted law.

A letter signed by Iowa Congressmen David Young, Rod Blum, Steve King, and Dave Loebsack, and Iowa Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst, was sent to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy encouraging her to commit to getting the RFS back on track.

“Our agricultural base in Iowa, serving as feedstock for ethanol and biodiesel production, has near record supplies of excess corn,” the members of Congress wrote. “We believe the statutory levels are more than achievable in the coming year.”

irfa-iowa-delegationReps. Loebsack, Young and King all appeared Tuesday at the Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit to discuss the letter and the importance of the RFS.

“We’ll see if we get any results,” from the letter, said Rep. King. “But we’ve been saying consistently and persistently that the RFS is in statute – follow it.”

“It’s not totally out of the question for us to work together,” said Loebsack, the only Democrat of the three. “And on this issue it’s a complete no brainer … it’s about our economy, it’s about our farmers, it’s about national security, it’s about a lot of things.”

“We have farm income down about 35% and we have the EPA which seems to be on a warpath at times,” said Young. “We’re just asking the EPA to obey the law.”

Listen to the press conference here: Iowa congressmen at Iowa RFA

10th Annual Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit Photo Album

Four GOP Candidates Address #Ethanol

Four Republican presidential candidates addressed the 10th annual Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit on Tuesday, putting a major national spotlight on the importance of ethanol to the nation.

irfa-santorumFirst up was former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, the only candidate who had been there before, making his third appearance to the group. He stressed his long support for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). “I am not a newbie to the RFS world,” he said. “I’m the only person in this race who actually voted for the RFS when I was in the United States Senate in 2005.”

Alluding to Senator Ted Cruz, who was not invited to speak at the summit but who has strong support in Iowa, Santorum encouraged ethanol supporters to “Stand up for someone who supports the RFS.”

Listen to Santorum’s remarks here: Rick Santorum at Iowa RFA

irfa-trumpFront runner Donald Trump was next up, reading from prepared remarks and also stressing his support for the RFS. “The RFS is an important tool in the mission to achieve energy independence for the United States,” Trump said. “I will do all that is in my power as president to achieve that goal.”

Trump also noted remarks that Iowa Governor Terry Branstad made in a press conference at the event that “it would be a big mistake for Iowa to support him.”

Listen to Trump’s remarks here: Donald Trump at Iowa RFA

irfa-huckabeeFollowing Trump was former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, who stressed the importance of farmers in the goal of energy independence, saying people don’t appreciate “that our agricultural system not only provides the food and fiber for our tables, but now is doing something truly remarkable – helping provide fuel for our energy needs.”

Huckabee said the RFS created investment in renewable fuels and “something magic happened – the program actually worked!”

Listen to Huckabee’s remarks here: Mike Huckabee at Iowa RFA

irfa-fiorinaLast to take the stage was businesswoman Carly Fiorina who talked about the EPA’s final rule for biofuels volume obligations under the RFS made last year that is lower than Congress intended.

“What’s going on with renewable rule standards, what’s going on with EPA, are an example of what’s wrong with our government,” she said. “They are one of the reasons why I’m running for the presidency of the United States.”

Listen to Fiorina’s remarks here: Carly Fiorina at Iowa RFA

10th Annual Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit Photo Album

IRFA’s Shaw: We Will Not Retreat

“Today, Iowa’s renewable fuels industry – the entire renewable fuels industry quite frankly – is at a fork in the road. We must decide whether to retreat, or whether to fight for victory. I know we will not retreat. It is simply not in the farmers DNA. So we fight,” said Monte Shaw, executive director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) during the opening session of the 10th Annual Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit referring to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). This legislation, said Shaw, is the key to long-term success of renewable fuels.

IRFA Executive Director Monte Shaw“I know the renewable fuels industry will not waiver or retreat or surrender,” said Shaw. “It will continue to battle for market access and to tear down the bogus ‘blend wall.’ I know this because the renewable fuels industry has fought the odds for 35 years – and won.”

He continued, “Keeping the RFS intact is key to near term biodiesel growth, the ability for cellulosic ethanol to have a chance to develop, and to pulling corn ethanol above 15 billion gallons per year. When the RFS finally breaches the artificial blend wall and major markets add the distribution infrastructure necessary for E15, ethanol use won’t increase by just that prescribed amount. Once the hole is in the dam, the octane value of corn ethanol will burst through – pulled by the RFS just as certainly as cellulosic ethanol and biodiesel.”

He also noted there is not a consensus to repeal nor modify the RFS in D.C. Do buy in to the narrative and choose the path of retreat because Big Oil is trying to win, he added.

To view Shaw’s selected prepared remarks, click here.

Biodiesel Production Record Set in Iowa

Iowa-RFA-logo-new1Already the nation’s leader in biodiesel production, production of the green fuel in Iowa hit record levels in 2015. This news release from the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) says despite policy uncertainty for nearly all of 2015, Iowa biodiesel production set a new annual record of 242 million gallons, topping 2013’s record of 230 million gallons.

“It must be said that Iowa’s record biodiesel production in 2015 is a testament to the efficiency of Iowa’s plants and to the effectiveness of Iowa’s state level policies promoting the production and use of biodiesel,” stated IRFA Executive Director Monte Shaw. “Considering neither the federal Renewable Fuel Standard nor the federal biodiesel blenders’ tax credit were in effect for the vast majority of 2015, the resiliency of Iowa biodiesel producers really shone through in 2015. With the federal RFS and tax credit in place for 2016, we are hopeful for big things.”

The amount of Iowa biodiesel produced from soybean oil decreased in 2015, but remains the largest feedstock in Iowa, accounting for 66 percent of production. Animal fats held steady at 19 percent of biodiesel feedstocks. With changes to some biodiesel plants’ technology, distillers’ corn oil made a big jump to 10 percent of production, up from just 2 percent last year. Used cooking oil and canola oil accounted for the remaining 5 percent.

IRFA says Iowa has 12 biodiesel facilities with the capacity to produce nearly 315 million gallons annually.

Prez Candidates to Speak During Iowa Fuels Summit

Pres CandidatesSeveral presidential candidates are making the 10th Annual Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit a campaign stop to discuss their views on biofuels. Donald Trump, Carly Fiorina and Rick Santorum have committed to speak on January 19, 2016 in Altoona, Iowa. Twelve pro-RFS presidential candidates from both parties were invited to speak at the Summit so more candidates may confirm to attend. These candidates will be joining U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary and former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack along with Iowa Governor Terry Branstad on stage.

“With the Iowa Caucuses just weeks away, we’re very excited to have these special guests on hand to discuss their respective visions for the future of renewable fuels like biodiesel and ethanol,” said Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) President Tom Brooks. “Recent events have proven that renewable fuels and agriculture are vital to Iowa’s future and are a key issue in this year’s Iowa Caucuses. We look forward to hearing these candidates’ plans on important renewable fuels issues.”

A recent poll conducted by The Des Moines Register reported that 77 percent of likely Democratic caucusgoers and 61 percent of likely Republican caucusgoers support the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

The Summit is free to attend and open to the public.

Ethanol Industry Responds to API’s State of Energy

Yesterday American Petroleum Institute’s (API) Jack Gerard delivered the 2016 State of American Energy Address. During the presentation he made remarks about the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), federal energy legislation that API has been a vocal opponent of since it’s inception in 2007.

API Jack Gerard,jpgCiting impediment of environmental improvement and cost to consumer Gerard remarked, “For example, ignoring clear consumer preference and in spite of the current record levels of domestic crude oil production, EPA continues to push the Renewable Fuel Standard, a relic of our nation’s era of energy scarcity and uncertainty.

A 2014 Congressional Budget Office study projected that the RFS could raise the cost of fuel prices because “Given the design of the RFS, the cost of encouraging additional sales of high-ethanol fuel falls on the producers and consumers of gasoline and diesel.”

What’s more, there is very little consumer demand for high ethanol fuels….It is well past time that we end or significantly amend the RFS.”

The ethanol industry responding to API’s continued attack on the RFS. Tom Buis, Growth Energy co-chair said, “API’s ‘State of American Energy’ speech, brought to you by Big Oil, is nothing new. While oil companies talk about the future of energy in this country, they seem fixated on a finite resource and fail to acknowledge that renewable fuels play a critical role in meeting the nation’s growing energy needs.

growth-energy-logo1“Year after year, API attempts to drive the narrative that the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) must be reformed or repealed. This argument is fundamentally flawed. The claims that renewable fuels will increase the cost of energy or that they are worse for the environment are simply ridiculous. Countless independent studies have shown that renewable fuels like ethanol help drive down the cost of fuel. Furthermore, when it comes environmental damage, no one has a worse record than oil companies. Their record of ecological disasters is extensive and deeply troubling.Between 2008 and 2014, more than 25,000 oil spills accounted for more than 217 million gallons of oil and petroleum based products being dis­charged into U.S. navigable waterways, territorial waters, tributar­ies, the contiguous zone, onto shoreline, or into other waters and land that threaten the environment. That’s an average of more than 30 million gallons spilled a year. In contrast, ethanol is biodegradable and no beaches have ever been closed due to an ethanol spill…

API notes the importance of consumers in their speech, yet seems to believe the American consumer is best served by denying them a choice. Furthermore, they attempt to distort the truth saying there is no demand for renewable fuels. Yet major retail chains like Sheetz, Kum & Go, MAPCO and others are adopting higher blends and offering them to consumers and seeing tremendous success and growing demand.

The bottom line is that API wants to kill any competition that may threaten their bottom line and record profits….The RFS is a win-win for America, as it is an essential part of a true ‘all of the above’ energy strategy needed to meet the growing energy demands of the 21st century.” (Click here for Buis’ complete remarks.)

Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) President and CEO Bob Dinneen soundly rejected API’s claims. “I’m not sure what reality Jack is living in, but it is clear that he believes API’s actions and policies are making our nation more energy secure when nothing could be rfalogo1further from the truth. Perhaps he has convinced himself that fracking will provide the answer to all of our nation’s energy needs. What Jack conveniently failed to mention is that as oil prices have crashed, so has the rig count. The number of active U.S. oil rigs has plunged 67 percent from its peak in 2014. Last week’s rig count was actually the lowest since May 2010, according to the oil field services firm Baker Hughes. If Jack spent time living in the real world, instead of his revisionist reality, he would find himself whistling past the graveyards of shuttered wells that have been abandoned in the bust that inevitably follows a temporary boom of an oil well. Continue reading

IA Gov. Branstad to Speak Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit

Once again, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad along with Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds will be discussing Iowa’s leading role in biofuel production and development during the 10th annual Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit hosted by the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA). The free event takes place January 19, 2016 in Altoona, Iowa.

Iowa-RFA-logo-new1“Under Gov. Branstad’s proactive leadership, Iowa has become the nation’s number one renewable fuels producing state,” said Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) President Tom Brooks. “When you combine Gov. Branstad’s successful biofuels track-record with the fact he is the nation’s longest-serving Governor, we’re excited to have him provide his unique perspectives on biofuels at the upcoming Summit.”

The Summit is free to attend and open to the public. Registration is required. Registration deadline is January 12, 2016. The 10th Annual Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit will take place at The Meadows Conference Center at Prairie Meadows in Altoona, Iowa on Tuesday, January 19, 2016. To register to attend and learn more about the 2016 Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit, click here.

Iowa Tops 4 Billion Gallons of Ethanol in 2015

Iowa-RFA-logo-new1It’s been a record-breaking year for ethanol production in Iowa. The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) says the state’s 43 ethanol plants produced more than 4 billion gallons during 2015, up slightly from 3.9 billion gallons in 2014. Iowa continues to be the number one ethanol producing state, accounting for more than a quarter of all ethanol produced in the U.S.

“While Iowa took a modest step forward in production this year, we have the corn supplies to really expand ethanol production,” said IRFA Executive Director Monte Shaw. “What we don’t have is access to the market for higher ethanol blends. The USDA blender pump grant program will help move the needle forward in 2016 and we hope the EPA will get the RFS back on track when they propose the RFS levels for 2017. If we can crack the petroleum monopoly on fuel choice, it will benefit consumers, farmers and the environment.”

IRFA credits the increase to efficiency gains and debottlenecking at existing plants, as well as ethanol production from cellulosic feedstocks such as corn stover and corn kernel fiber.