Anti-Ethanol Bill Steps Consumers, Farmers Back

There is still buzz around a bill introduced last week by Representatives Bill Flores (R-Texas), Peter Welch (D-Verm.), Bob Goodlatte (R-Vir.) and Jim Costa (D-Cali.) that would cap ethanol blends in America’s transportation fuels at 9.7 percent by volume. This cap would be in direct opposition to the goal of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) that aims for 20 percent of all fuels to be renewable fuels by 2020.

Growth Energy co-chair, Tom Buis noted that the bill is flawed in many ways, one being the ethanol industry is already producing, and fuel retailers are already blending and selling, more than 10 percent ethanol by volume.

Ethanol Blends Photo Joanna Schroeder

Photo Credit: Joanna Schroeder

This bill is incredibly flawed because the ethanol industry is already producing over the bill’s 9.7 percent threshold and growing. Perhaps more importantly this bill would deal a blow to American consumers who have embraced ethanol as a less expensive, 21st century fuel that is higher performing and allows for consumer choice,” Buis stated. Today, E15 availability is growing and is now being sold in 23 states.

Paul Jeschke, a farmer from Mazon, Illinois, and chair of the Ethanol Committee of the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), called the bill a step backward for farmers and consumers. “Americans want cleaner air, affordable choices at the gas pump, and a strong economy that fosters investment in new technology and improves our energy independence. Meanwhile, American corn farmers are struggling, with prices below the cost of production and the largest carryover stock in two decades.” Jeschke added, “The Renewable Fuel Standard was created to promote American renewable energy while creating a steady market for corn. This bill would undercut the RFS and negatively impact corn farmers, and with it, the entire farm economy.”

As members of Congress head home for Memorial Day recess, Jeschke is urging farmers and consumers to use the opportunity to reach out to their elected officials and call on them to block the bill and share with them the benefits of ethanol.

EPA 2017 RFS Rules Sparks Inferno

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released its draft of the proposed Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) renewable volume obligations (RVOs) for 2017 and have sparked an inferno of unrest among the biofuels industry. EPA has proposed an RVO of 18.8 billion gallons (BG) of which 4 BG is advanced biofuels and 312 million gallons is cellulosic biofuels. The RVO for first generation biofuels, such as corn ethanol, is 14.8 BG, an RVO under mandated legislation. The ethanol industry has consistently and often called on the EPA to adhere to congressional intent by increasing blending targets, but has not done so. Today, the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), among several other biofuel associations and companies, are involved in litigation on the final 2014-2016 targets.

rfalogo1“For months, EPA has been saying it plans to put the program ‘back on track.’ Today’s proposal fails to do that,” responded RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen to the draft rules. “The agency continues to cater to the oil industry by relying upon an illegal interpretation of its waiver authority and concern over a blend wall that the oil industry itself is creating. As a consequence, consumers are being denied higher octane, lower cost renewable fuels. Investments in new technology and advanced biofuels will continue to languish and greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles will be unnecessarily higher.”

“The real frustration is that EPA seems to be artificially constraining this market,” continued Dinneen. “The RFA has demonstrated just how easy it would be for obligated parties to reach the 15 billion gallon statutory volume for conventional biofuels next year. The fact is with rising gasoline demand, increased E15 and E85 use made possible by USDA’s infrastructure grant program, continued use of renewable diesel and conventional biodiesel that also generate D6 RINs (renewable identification numbers), well more than 15 billion gallons will be used next year. All of that is in addition to the 2 billion surplus RINs available to refiners due to EPA’s tepid enforcement of the RFS in the past.” (Click here to read Bob Dinneen’s full statement.)

aceBrian Jennings, executive vice president of the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) highlights an excuse from EPA used to rein-in the RFS is data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) that shows gasoline consumption is falling. According to EIA, gasoline use rose to 9.2 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2015 – just shy of the 2007 record of 9.29 million bpd. In 2016, EIA predicts a new gasoline use record of 9.3 million bpd will be set and that trend will continue into 2017.

“EPA has claimed they can’t require oil companies to add more ethanol to a shrinking gasoline pool because of the so-called E10 blend wall. Under that logic, EPA’s ethanol blending volumes for 2017 should increase to statutory levels because gasoline use is on a steady rise and will set a new record this year. While we are pleased that EPA’s 2017 proposal increases ethanol blending levels from 2016, we remain disappointed that EPA falls back on the questionable E10 blend wall methodology which has disrupted implementation of the RFS for more than a year,” said Jennings. (Read Brian Jennings full statement here.)

NCGA-Logo-3Maryland farmer Chip Bowling, president of the National Corn Growers Association also acknowledged that the EPA has moved forward, but not enough and the result is to move America backward. “In the past, the EPA has cited a lack of fuel infrastructure as one reason for failing to follow statute. Our corn farmers and the ethanol industry have responded. Over the past year, we’ve invested millions of dollars along with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership to accelerate public and private investment in new ethanol pumps and fuel infrastructure. The fact is,” added Bowling, “today’s driver has more access than ever to renewable fuel choices.” (Read Chip Bowling’s full statement here.)

Ethanol supporters are in agreement that the EPA must be taken to task and reinstate mandated blending levels. The groups said they will continue to work to make this happen and encourage ethanol supporters to let their voices be heard in their local communities, and with state and federal legislators.

American Ethanol Kicks Off NASCAR Sweepstakes

American Ethanol has kicked off a NASCAR “We’ve Got the Power” sweepstakes to promote the benefits of ethanol and the use of E15 in vehicles 2001 or newer. The series will surpass 10 million miles of racing fueled by E15 this season. Fans who sign up for No. 3 American Ethanol Chevrolet driver Austin Dillon’s Green Army by sharing their American Ethanol-related experiences with Dillon on Facebook will qualify for a chance to win an ultimate NASCAR fan experience during a Sprint Cup race in October 2016.

Austin Dillion American Ethanol driver“NCGA’s [National Corn Growers Association] relationship with American Ethanol and NASCAR has given corn farmers an incredible platform in which to communicate the economic and environmental benefits of higher ethanol-blended fuels,” said NASCAR Advisory Committee Chair Jon Holzfaster. “With E15’s expanding availability at the pump, we have an even greater opportunity to assist consumers in living a greener lifestyle and dispel myths related to ethanol’s safety and performance.”

For engine technicians, auto dealers and fuel retailer professionals, American Ethanol has created the “Engine Insiders Talk Shop” sweepstakes to learn how E15 fuel works for cars on the road today. To participate, qualified individuals must register and participate in an American Ethanol event or audio conference. In addition to being entered into the sweepstakes to win an honorary NASCAR crew chief experience, two $1,000 scholarships will be awarded at each event and audio conference to participants.

For more information on the “We’ve Got the Power” and “Engine Insiders Talk Shop” sweepstakes, visit American Ethanol’s website.

NCGA Releases Ethanol Toolkit

NCGA-Logo-3In light of the long-term uncertainty of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) has created a new set of tools. The toolkit, available for state affiliates, was designed to assist the associations and their members in defending the RFS with consistent messaging targeted at policy leaders, environmental groups, businesses and general public.

NCGA says the goal of this toolkit is to help create a unified voice for the corn industry that reflects and capitalizes on the work that has already taken place in defense of the RFS. The kit contains information, trends and lessons learned from state organizations along with the NCGA Action App, material samples, timelines, checklists and messaging documents.

NCGA: Small Engine Industry Must Change

Small engines and the use of ethanol has been in the news lately with spring approaching. This week, National Corn Growers Association CEO Chris Novak published the following editorial.

The Small Engine Industry Needs to Change with the Times
By National Corn Growers Association CEO Chris Novak

NCGA-Logo-3The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI), which represents the small engine industry, just released their annual survey results concerning consumer knowledge of small engine fuel options. Based upon the results of the survey, corn farmers and small engine manufacturers can agree that consumers need and deserve more information about today’s fuel options. We know from our own consumer research that consumers are hungry for information about the positive effects of ethanol blended fuels.

Further, we agree with the OPEI on two other points: 1. The OPEI acknowledges that E10 is safe for use in small engines like motorcycles, lawn mowers, trimmers, boats and snowmobiles; and 2. The OPEI notes that federal law prohibits the use of higher ethanol fuel blends in outdoor power equipment. Beyond these points of agreement, however, lays a significantly different view of the future.

Our farmers believe that consumers having a choice of fuels is a good thing. Whether you choose renewable ethanol because you want cleaner air or because you like purchasing an American grown fuel or because higher blends of ethanol are frequently priced lower than gasoline-the bottom line is that you should have the choice if you want to kick your oil addiction. The OPEI’s press release suggests that you, as a consumer, can’t handle this choice-that you lack the ability to know the differences between regular gasoline and higher ethanol blends like E-15 or E-85. We trust consumers to make the right choice of fuel – whether it is for their cars or small engine.

Today, our farmers are working with the auto industry to examine how higher blends of ethanol, ranging from E-15 to E-25, can boost gasoline octane. Higher gasoline octane can improve engine performance and help the auto industry achieve higher Corporate Average Fuel Economy mileage targets. Likewise, it is time for the nation’s small engine manufacturers to stop fighting renewable fuels and, instead, begin working to ensure tomorrow’s small engines can run on tomorrow’s renewable fuels.

Rather than fighting choice and change, our nation’s small engine manufacturers should work to develop engines that can run safely on higher blends of renewable fuels. Perhaps then, instead of bemoaning the lack of consumer knowledge and issuing dire warnings-the OPEI can offer consumers something real: the opportunity to make a clean and renewable choice.

USDA Reports Positive for #Corn Supplies

USDAThe 2016 Prospective Plantings report out today from USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) shows farmers expect to plant more corn than expected this year.

U.S. corn growers expect to plant 93.6 million acres to corn this year, the first increase in corn planted acreage since 2012 and, if realized, will be the third largest corn acreage since 1944. Farmers in 41 out of the 48 states expect to either maintain or increase the number of acres they plant to corn. Growers in Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, and North Dakota expect to increase their corn acreage by 400,000 or more acres in 2016. Assuming the five-year average 91.3 percent harvest rate and the projected 25-year trend yield of 165.4 bushels per acre is achieved, farmers will harvest 14.13 billion bushels, nearing the production record of 14.2 billion bushels set in 2014, according to the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA).

In addition, the new grain stocks report increases corn stocks in all positions as of March 1 by one percent compared to this time last year. Stocks totaled 7.81 billion bushels and of the that, 4.34 billion bushels were stored on farms, down 1 percent from a year earlier. Off-farm stocks, at 3.47 billion bushels, are up 3 percent from a year ago.

“U.S. farmers produced an abundant crop in 2015. Given the strong carryover entering this growing season, we may see quite a large corn supply at harvest should weather prove favorable in 2016,” said NCGA President Chip Bowling. “While many factors may change the reality on the ground as planting progresses, American corn supplies should remain ample for the year to come. Given the impact this continues to have on prices, the work being done at NCGA to grow demand will prove even more important as we work to find markets for our product and remain profitable into the future.”

Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) president and CEO Bob Dinneen says the planting intentions show that American farmers are continuing to hold up their end of the deal when it comes to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). “They’ve made the investments and planting decisions necessary to provide adequate supplies of grain to meet all demands, including the feedstock needed to produce the 15 billion gallons of ethanol required in 2016 under the RFS statute,” commented Dinneen. “But by slashing the RFS requirements for 2016 below statutory levels, the Administration isn’t honoring its commitment to our nation’s farmers and is contributing to great economic uncertainty in the agriculture sector.”

Dinneen adds that the report underscores the importance of getting the RFS back on track and growing corn demand.

US and Nigerian #Corn Growers Talk #Ethanol

NCGA's Paul Bertels and Nigerian Corn Growers Association's Edwin Uche in front of the NCGA office.

NCGA’s Paul Bertels and Nigerian Corn Growers Association’s Edwin Uche in front of the NCGA office.

The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) staffers welcomed the director of the Nigerian Corn Growers Association for a series of meetings this week on how farmers in the two nations can work together to increase corn demand.

Edwin Uche, director of the Nigerian Corn Growers Association, reached out for a meeting during the recent Maize Genetics Conference in Florida and expressed his excitement for NCGA’s work and enthusiasm for doing similar for farmers in Nigeria. During his visit to the NCGA office, Uche met with Vice President of Production and Stewardship Paul Bertels, Director of Communications Ken Colombini and Director of Development Joe Hodes.

Through a series of in-depth discussions, Uche explored ways in which he could increase corn demand in Nigeria while fostering acceptance of biotechnology and growing the country’s ethanol industry. A proponent of biotechnology in agriculture, Uche also hopes to move more farmers toward this productive technology and away from an ongoing reliance upon open pollinated varieties currently hampering yield in Nigeria.

Discussions yielded insights for NCGA as well. Uche shared his confusion as to how the idea of food versus fuel took hold in the United States, expressing that he sees how corn clearly provides an excellent way to meet both demands simultaneously. Additionally, his pro-biotechnology and pro-ethanol stances fostered hope for potential market growth in Nigeria which could lead to growth in American corn exports to the region.

#FlexMyChoice Massages at #Classic16

classic16-rfaVisitors to the 2016 Commodity Classic had the opportunity to voice their support for Flex Fuel Vehicles (FFVs) and relax their aching muscles at the same time at the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) booth.

It was the first opportunity for RFA to get their recently launched “Flex My Choice” campaign in front of the agriculture industry and Vice President of Industry Relations Robert White says many of the people they spoke to at Classic had no idea that auto makers were cutting their production of FFVs. “It doesn’t matter what part of agriculture you’re coming from, the phasing out or elimination of flex fuel vehicles will be devastating to the advancement and growth of our industry,” said White.

Beginning this year, the fuel economy credits given to auto makers for building flex fuel vehicles were phased out. “Ironically, now we have incentives for natural gas vehicles, so we’re encouraging fossil fuel usage over an alternative like E85,” White said.

Classic attendees who visited the RFA booth were able to fill out post cards to be sent to the main three automobile manufacturers, as well as EPA. While doing that, they were also able to get a nice chair massage, which was welcome relief for many who spent the day walking through the huge trade show catering to corn, soybean, wheat and sorghum farmers.

Listen to Robert explain more about Flex My Choice in this interview: Interview with Robert White, RFA, at Commodity Classic

2016 Commodity Classic Photo Album

NCGA Identifies Ethanol as Driver for Demand

The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) held a press conference this week during 2016 Commodity Classic to discuss several key issues facing the corn industry and highlight the efforts currently in place to create solutions to the challenges that have been facing growers.

NCGA president Chip BowlingNCGA Present Chip Bowling, a corn grower from Newburg, Maryland, said that the most important action the organization is taking on behalf of its members is creating more demand for corn products. Ethanol, said Bowling, is an important element to increasing demand.

“Ethanol is the most important driver for future growth of corn demand,” said Bowling during his remarks. “We’re investing in fuel pump infrastructure that will give customers more access to higher ethanol blends. USDA has provided $100 million in matching grants to help us with this effort. We’re also pushing for changes that would give every American year round access to E15. At the same time we’re protecting the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), which provides renewable, clean energy and increases our nation’s energy independence.”

Bowling noted that in January, NCGA banded with other organizations in court to challenge the EPA’s renewable volume obligations (RVS) under the RFS, which are under statutory levels. “We’re pushing for our case to be heard before EPA announces 2017 RVO numbers that are supposedly coming out at the end of March.”

Listen to the full press conference here:
NCGA Press Conference at Commodity Classic

2016 Commodity Classic Photo Album

Ethanol Cmte Looks at Cal’s Green Fuel Industry

ethanolcal1California has an ethanol industry that is growing in size and importance. That’s why members of the National Corn Growers Association’s Ethanol Committee went to Sacramento last week to meet with California regulators and ethanol industry representatives in this important market. This news release from NCGA says the meetings focused on existing market conditions, modeling to calculate greenhouse gas emissions and efforts being made to expand higher blends of ethanol at the retail level.

Anil Prabhu of the California Air Resources Board’s Transportation Fuel Branch in Sacramento discussed the history behind CARB’s carbon emissions scoring and the criteria contained in the current Low Carbon Fuel Standard. According to Prabhu, there is potential for improving the methodologies for the models CARB uses. The Ethanol Committee will continue to serve as a resource for CARB as they seek to improve their scoring methodologies.

“California’s low carbon fuels standard presents an excellent opportunity for higher ethanol fuel blends to perform well in this market,” said Ethanol Committee Chair Paul Jeschke. “Although there have been improvements made in the GHG number assigned to corn ethanol by CARB, corn farmers feel there is more work to be done in order for CARB to recognize the true benefits of corn ethanol under California’s LCFS Program.”

The committee also met with Tom Koehler of Pacific Ethanol and Rob Elam, CEO of Propel Fuels, to discuss the E85 marketing efforts these companies are using in California. Pacific Ethanol supplies ethanol to Propel Fuels which is the largest E85 retailer in California. Low carbon fuels are more affordable than gasoline in this market. However, only three percent of the available market is being served. The keys to Propel’s success in capturing 75 percent of the current E85 market are ownership and maintenance of E85 infrastructure, extensive analytics and aggressive marketing to Flex Fuel Vehicle owners. After the presentation, the committee visited a retail station in a high FFV volume area where Propel has a canopy with dedicated pumps for higher blends.