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

Iowa RFA President at American Ethanol 200

Iowa RFA president Brian Cahill (right) interviewed by KMA radio at American Ethanol 200

Iowa RFA president Brian Cahill (right) interviewed by KMA radio at American Ethanol 200

Iowa Renewable Fuels Association president Brian Cahill of Southwest Iowa Renewable Energy was at the NASCAR American Ethanol 200 presented by Enogen last Friday to support ethanol and this week he will be in Kansas City, Kansas to do the same.

Iowa RFA members will be among those testifying at a public hearing on Thursday to explain what is wrong with EPA’s latest proposal to set volume obligations for biofuels under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). “We’ll be testifying to show the benefits that ethanol provides to the whole country and also get the message across that EPA just can’t change the law,” said Cahill, who says that having the hearing in the Midwest will allow many RFS supporters to attend. “There’s more than just ethanol involved in this so hopefully we’ll see a good show of support for the biofuels industry in Kansas City.”

In this interview from the race on Friday, Cahill also talks about why growers who supply corn for his plant grow Syngenta Enogen, a corn trait designed specifically for ethanol production. Interview with Iowa RFA president Brian Cahill

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

Iowa RFA Polls Show Importance of RFS

IowaRFAlogoNew polls from the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) show support for the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and those presidential candidates friendly toward the RFS. This news release from the group says the RFS and renewable fuels will be key issues for Iowans in the 2016 general election.

The poll, conducted by The Tarrance Group, shows “Iowa voters have an exceptionally favorable view of ethanol, with 72 percent favorable and only 11 percent unfavorable,” stated Tarrance Group President and CEO Ed Goeas. “This is virtually a universal opinion across geography and voter groups. Not a single subgroup of the electorate fails to hold a majority favorable opinion.”

Additionally, the poll results find that 57 percent of Iowa voters are less likely to support a candidate for public office who opposes an increase in ethanol use through the RFS. Similarly, 56 percent of voters oppose EPA’s recent proposal to reduce the RFS. Goeas noted, “Amazingly, not a single subgroup of the electorate favors this action.” He added, “[O]ur findings indicate that once voters hear the facts, the coalition against this is likely to grow.”

Meanwhile, this news release from the group shows that the top five Republican presidential candidates in the state are all backers of the RFS, with Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker leading the pack with 19 percent, followed by Ben Carson at 13 percent, Jeb Bush at 11 percent, Marco Rubio at 9 percent and Mike Huckabee at 8 percent.

“As we have seen in other credible surveys of Republican caucus goers, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker continues to set the pace in Iowa,” stated TheIowaRepublican.com Editor-in-Chief Craig Robinson. “In one way or another, each the top five candidates in the poll have either publicly expressed support of leaving the current RFS in place or have backed an infrastructure grant program that would help ensure that consumers are allowed choice at the gas pump. These are vital issues to Iowa’s economy and it should no surprise that the 2016 candidates who understand the importance of renewable fuels issues are in the top tier of the poll.”

Iowa RFA Praises State Legislature

irfaAs the Iowa Legislature wrapped up the 2015 legislative session last week, the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) praised several key pieces of legislation that were passed to expand use of higher ethanol and biodiesel blends.

Before the gavel went down on the 86th General Assembly, Iowa lawmakers passed key legislation that allows E15 infrastructure investments to become eligible for Iowa Renewable Fuels Infrastructure grants. Previously, the funds were only available for blender pumps and dispensers offering E85. Additionally, the Iowa legislature passed a bill that will establish a new grant program for fuel retailers to replace old underground storage tank (UST) equipment with new components that are UL listed to be fully compatible with E85.

“After a long, spirited session, we sincerely thank the Iowa Legislature for remaining committed to increasing the use and availability of higher ethanol and biodiesel blends,” stated IRFA Policy Director Grant Menke. “With an uphill climb for renewable fuels ahead in terms of federal policy, forward-thinking state initiatives are a must to continue to build upon the successes of Iowa’s nation-leading renewable fuels industry.”

Earlier in the session, the Iowa Legislature included a 3-cent per gallon differential tax rate for B11 and higher biodiesel blends in its road infrastructure legislation. Iowa RFA says this provision, which takes effect for five years on July 1, will help encourage the increased use and availability of higher biodiesel blends.

E15 Goes on Summer Vacation – Again

Ankeny-MagRd1On the heels of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) cutting of the amount of ethanol required to be mixed into the nation’s fuel supply, the agency’s inaction on another front means 15% ethanol blended fuel is going on summer vacation again as the government forces retailers in many areas to needlessly restrict E15 sales to flex-fuel vehicles (FFV) only from June 1 through September 15.

The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) Executive Director Monte Shaw calls June 1 Petroleum Monopoly Day. “Iowans want to buy E15 and retailers want to sell it, but the EPA has yet again put the power in the hands of Big Oil to restrict the option of E15,” said Shaw. “This blatant market manipulation is proof positive that we need a strong RFS to crack the petroleum monopoly.”

“EPA continues to refuse to treat E10 and E15 the same during the summer. As a result, EPA prevents consumers from purchasing a cleaner-burning, lower-cost fuel and thereby actually helps buttress the artificial ‘blend wall’ that Congress has directed them to tear down,” Shaw added. “It’s almost comical that for three and a half months a year, EPA hands the fuel market over to Big Oil resulting in higher prices, more smog forming emissions, and more carbon emissions. How does that make sense?”

EPA has refused to equalize the vapor pressure regulations for E10 and E15 during the summer driving season, running from June 1 through September 15. This allows the petroleum industry to provide Iowa wholesale suppliers and retailers with only the E10 blendstock, cutting E15 out of the market. Ironically, according to Iowa RFA, adding the extra five percent ethanol to summertime E10 actually lowers the vapor pressure and reduces evaporative and tailpipe emissions.

New Iowa E15 Station Having $1.99/Gallon Event

kum-and-go1Not only does it burn green, but this coming Monday at Iowa’s newest E15 station, the higher blend of ethanol will save you some green. The Kum & Go in Windsor Heights near Des Moines will sell E15 for $1.99 per gallon from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM on Monday, May 11. This news release from the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) says the promotion also coincides with Kum & Go’s announcement last week that the company plans to add E15 to an additional 65 locations in Iowa and six other states over 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,” stated Kum & Go Vice President of Fuels Jim Pirolli. “Having E15 in our portfolio allows Kum & Go to offer our customers a quality product at a great value.”

“Motorists have been clamoring for wider availability of E15, and we applaud Kum & Go for providing Iowans with yet another low-cost, cleaner-burning fueling option,” stated IRFA Managing Director Lucy Norton. “E15 is the most extensively tested fuel in history, is safe for use in all 2001 and newer vehicles, and will be priced at a great money-saving discount through this special promotion. That’s a win-win-win for Iowa’s motorists.”

“The American farmer is a backbone of the renewable fuels industry. Thanks to partners like Kum & Go, Iowans can fill up with more American-grown fuels like E15 and E85 that are better for our environment, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and create new Iowa jobs,” stated Iowa Corn Promotion Board Director of Marketing and Communications Shannon Textor. “E15 is five percent more Iowa-grown fuel that supports Iowa’s farmers.”

The Kum & Go Windsor Heights store is located at 7229 University Avenue.

E15 Could Save Iowa Drivers $50 Mil Per Year

irfaIowa drivers could save a lot of money if they had better access to E15. This news release from the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) says a new report from the Iowa Department of Revenue shows that if the higher blend of ethanol was widely available, Iowa drivers could save more than $50 million per year in fuel costs.

In its annual report on retail fuel sales, Iowa Department of Revenue data shows Iowa motorists purchased more than 1.2 billion gallons of E10. E15 is approved for use in model year 2001 and newer passenger vehicles and flex-fuel vehicles (FFVs), representing more than 80 percent of the fuel consumed in the U.S. On average, E15 is typically sold at a 5-cent discount to E10 in Iowa.

An IRFA analysis found that even with abnormally low petroleum prices:

· If only 20 percent of Iowa motorists used E15, Iowans could save $12.7 million per year

· If a modest 50 percent of Iowa motorists used E15, Iowans could save $31.7 million per year.

· If 80 percent of Iowa motorists used E15, Iowans would save $50.7 million per year.

“The economics are simple: the more Iowa motorists that have access to and are able to take advantage of low-cost E15, the more money consumers save,” stated IRFA Executive Director Monte Shaw. “Price is a big motivator when it comes to buying fuel, and cleaner-burning E15 is consistently priced at a discount to E10. If motorists across the state were able to utilize this safe, economical fuel, Iowa drivers would literally save millions of dollars of their hard-earned money, enabling them to spend it elsewhere in the state.”

IRFA reminds drivers that more than 100 million miles have successfully been driven on E15, and the higher blend of the green fuel is approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for use in all 2001 and newer passenger vehicles, as well as flex-fuel vehicles (FFVs).

Biodiesel Use on the Rise in Iowa

irfaBiodiesel continues to be a pretty popular fuel in Iowa. This news release from the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) says the state’s revenue department data shows pure biodiesel (B100) sales in 2014 increased by more than 15 percent over 2013 to an all-time-high of 33.3 million gallons and now accounts for 4.6 percent of Iowa’s total diesel supply, up slightly from 2013.

Additionally, biodiesel is blended into almost 50 percent of all diesel sold, with an average blend level that climbed to 9.4 percent. The increased average blend level is largely due to a sizeable shift amongst retailers from B10 (10 percent biodiesel) in 2013 to B20 (20 percent biodiesel) in 2014.

“In the face of severe federal policy uncertainty, Iowa’s retailers and diesel users remained committed to cleaner-burning biodiesel in 2014,” stated Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) Executive Director Monte Shaw. “With the expiration of the federal biodiesel tax credit and uncertainty over the RFS, the increases in biodiesel sales and blending rates demonstrates the effectiveness of Iowa’s forward-thinking state policies. Policy makers in Iowa have wisely decided that cracking the petroleum monopoly cannot be left to federal policies alone – too much is at stake for Iowa’s economy and consumers. If the feds can reinstate the blenders’ tax credit and reenergize the RFS, Iowa will no doubt see even bigger gains in replacing foreign oil with homegrown biodiesel.”

Iowa has also shown its commitment to biodiesel by providing a tax credit to retailers selling B5 and higher blends, and starting this summer, Iowans buying B11 and higher blends will pay 3 cents per gallon less in state fuel taxes.

Record Amount of E85 Ethanol Sold in Iowa

IowaRFAlogoThe high blend of ethanol, E85, had a big year in Iowa last year. The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) says a new record of nearly 12 million gallons was sold in the Hawkeye State in 2014, more than a million-gallon increase over 2013.

“Another year, and another E85 sales record in Iowa,” stated IRFA Executive Director Monte Shaw. “The most impressive aspect of this record is that retail gasoline prices dropped significantly in the second half of the fourth quarter of 2014, yet Iowa motorists remained committed to the homegrown, cleaner-burning fuel by setting a new fourth quarter record for E85 purchases. This fourth quarter data proves that not only is E85 being purchased at a record rate where available in Iowa, but consumers are realizing the benefits of this more locally-produced, environmentally-friendly fuel, beyond simply its cost advantages.”

The nearly 3 million gallons sold in the fourth quarter of 2014 was also a fourth quarter record.

IRFA: Iowa ‘Gas Tax’ to Boost Biodiesel

IowaRFAlogoThe Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) has joined the Iowa Biodiesel Board in welcoming a state gas tax that is awaiting the governor’s signature that will create a 3-cent per gallon differential tax rate for 11 percent biodiesel and higher blends. The IRFA says the measure would boost the availability and sales of cleaner-burning, locally-produced biodiesel.

Under the legislation, diesel fuel will be taxed at a rate of 32.5 cents per gallon. However, if diesel fuel is blended with 11 percent or more of biodiesel, the state excise tax is reduced to only 29.5 cents per gallon. The 3-cent per gallon differential for B11 and higher blends will go into effect on July 1, 2015.

“The biodiesel community thanks the Iowa Legislature for its commitment to increasing the use and availability of higher biodiesel blends,” stated Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) Policy Director Grant Menke. “The 3-cent differential for blends containing at least 11 percent biodiesel will be a useful tool to build upon the progress we’ve made in cleaning up our air and supporting our economy through the use of homegrown Iowa biodiesel. The B11 differential further demonstrates Iowa’s policy leadership in expanding market access and consumer choice for renewable fuels.”

“With no end in sight on the federal policy uncertainty for biodiesel, I am grateful the Iowa Legislature took this opportunity to drive sales of higher biodiesel blends,” stated IRFA Vice President and Western Dubuque Biodiesel General Manager Tom Brooks. “This 3-cent differential for B11 and higher blends represents another step forward for the economic, environmental and energy security benefits that come along with a strong Iowa biodiesel community.”

Iowa produced 227 million gallons of biodiesel in 2014, about 16 percent of total U.S. biodiesel production for the year.