RFA Promotes Ethanol Safety with Illinois Seminars

rfalogo1The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) is offering some seminars on ethanol safety. This news release from the RFA says the group is partnering with the Sangamon Valley Local Emergency Planning Committee as well as the Springfield and Taylorville Fire Departments in Illinois to hold two free Ethanol Safety Seminars on Aug. 10.

The first seminar is only open to Springfield Hazmat personnel and will take place from 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the Springfield Fire Department in Springfield; the second seminar is open to the public and will be held from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the Taylorville Fire Department in Taylorville.

The seminars, which RFA has co-sponsored since 2010, are designed to educate first responders, hazmat teams, safety managers, and local emergency planning committees on proper ethanol emergency response training techniques that they can immediately put to use in the field and pass along to other first response teams. Seminar materials are largely based on the “Training Guide to Ethanol Emergency Response,” which was created by the Ethanol Emergency Response Coalition (EERC) and has been distributed throughout the United States and to several countries worldwide.

“Ethanol is the number one fuel commodity transported by rail in our district each year,” said David Butt, chairman of Sangamon Valley LEPC. “We want to be certain that on those rare occasions that our men and women are called on to respond to ethanol emergencies, they are fully prepared to tackle the challenges that come with them. Providing this training is part of our committee’s effort to ensure they are.”

“Focusing on emergency measures in the event of an ethanol-related incident is an important part of pre-planning,” added Mike Crews, chief of the Taylorville Fire Department. “We are happy to be able to help provide this training to those responsible for the safety of our community so they can be prepared should an incident occur.”

More information is available at www.EthanolResponse.com.

Ethanol Education for Motorcyclists

sturgis-15-robertAn expanded schedule for free fuel happy hours at the Sturgis Buffalo Chip this year is giving the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) even more opportunity to educate motorcyclists about ethanol.

“We here on two different levels,” said RFA VP of Industry Relations Robert White. “The first is to make sure everyone knows they shouldn’t use more than 10 percent ethanol in their bikes.”

“On the next level, all of these people have engines at home – car, truck, SUV, lawn mower, chainsaw, weed eater, whatever – we want them to know that should be either 10 percent in their smaller engines, E15 in newer vehicles or E85 in flex-fuel vehicles,” said White. “Match the engine with the right fuel.”

sturgis-15-harleyWhile all motorcycles can use E10, White has a custom motorcycle of his own that can actually use higher blends. “My particular motorcycle is a 2009 Road King Classic Harley Davidson,” he said. “All I did was change the computer to allow a wider fuel ratio band so I can use anything from E0 to E85 intermittently, and the bike has run seamless.”

The reason White made the modification on his own bike was in part to show motorcycle manufacturers it could be done. “If they did this at the factory it would cost 100 bucks, just like a flex fuel vehicle,” said White. Additionally, it was to show that motorcycle engines are capable of running on higher blends. “I’ve run 85 percent ethanol on it for over 10,000 miles multiple years now,” he said. “These motorcycles are a lot stronger than people give them credit for.”

No matter what, White says all major motorcycle manufacturers warranty the use of 10 percent ethanol and that is the main message during the free fuel happy hours at the Sturgis Buffalo Chip Campground from 1-4 pm through Thursday this week.

Listen to White explain more in this interview: Interview with Robert White, RFA

2015 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally with RFA at the Buffalo Chip Photos

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

Ethanol to Help Fuel 75th Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

rfa-sturgis14-fuelThe Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) will once again partner with the Buffalo Chip Campground at the 75th annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, which will be held Aug. 3-9 in Sturgis, South Dakota. More than 1.5 million motorcycle enthusiasts are expected to attend the event this year for the big anniversary and RFA Vice President for Industry Relations Robert White the event offers a perfect venue to dispel some of the misconceptions about the use of ethanol blended fuel in motorcycles.

“We do that around the “Free Fuel Happy Hours,” said White. “From Sunday August 2nd through Thursday August 6 from 1 to 4 pm, any motorcyclist can come up and fuel for free with 93 octane 10 percent ethanol.” This is the fourth year that RFA has sponsored the free fuel happy hours and White says it also offers them the opportunity to talk one on one with bikers and provide them with information about ethanol.

sturgis-guideIn addition, White says messages about ethanol can be found throughout the Buffalo Chip Campground during the rally. “We have everything from banners to commercials on the Jumbotron at the main stage and we sponsor the Essentials Guide that goes out to every camper this year,” said White.

The event sponsorship has become more important in the last 2-3 years as the oil industry has worked with the motorcycle association to spread misinformation about 15% ethanol, which is not approved for use in motorcycles – a fact which is stated clearly on all pumps that sell E15. But White says the information they provide goes beyond motorcycles. “If there is 1.6 million or more people there, they all own lawnmowers, cars, trucks, SUVs, boats back at home,” he added.

Listen to this edition of “The Ethanol Report” where White talks about what they will be doing in Sturgis to connect with those attending and help them come away with a better understanding of ethanol. Ethanol Report Preview of 2015 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

Comment Deadline for RFS Proposal is Monday

The deadline for submitting comments to the Environmental Protection Agency on the proposed Renewable Fuel Standards for 2014, 2015, and 2016 is Monday, July 27.

EPA administrator Gina McCarthy encouraged members of the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) meeting in Washington DC last week to make their voices heard during the comment period. “Keep talking, keep communicating, take advantage of the public comment process,” she said. “This was a proposal, this was not a final rule, so tell us what you think. That way we’ll be able to produce a final standard that is based on all of the best information and data available.” EPA administrator encourages comments

rfs-mess-2NCGA has made it a priority to get growers involved in commenting on the EPA proposal, sponsoring rallies at the EPA’s public hearing last month in Kansas City, Kansas and on Capitol Hill last week. NCGA president Chip Bowling says they are doing everything possible to help their farmers make their voices heard. “Anyone out there in the countryside can send their comments to EPA,” said Bowling, who notes that they can also send your comments to the EPA through the corn growers website ncga.com/rfs. “We don’t have a whole lot of time to get your comments in but we could really use them.” NCGA president urges farmers to comment

Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) president and CEO Bob Dinneen says everyone who has a stake in the ethanol industry should send in comments on the proposal. “EPA needs to be hearing from farmers, from consumers, from renewable energy advocates across the country,” said Dinneen. “We made a difference before when we got EPA to not finalize a flawed program. We need to make a difference again.” RFA CEO on EPA comment deadline

Comments can be submitted directly to the EPA by going to the Federal eRulemaking Portal.

RFA Sponsors Ethanol-Powered Boat Race

RFAboats1Boat racers were able to show the power of ethanol recently. This news release from the Renewable Fuels Association says the group, along with East Kansas Agri-Energy and the Kansas Corn Commission, sponsored the National Boat Racing Association’s (NBRA) annual Garnett Ethanol Hydroplane Shootout in Garnett, Kansas, running on Lake Garnett with ethanol-powered hydroplanes.

The Shootout is a popular family attraction that also demonstrates the benefits that ethanol brings to the performance of a marine engine. E10 is approved for use by all boat manufacturers for their engines. The NBRA, which represents more than 250 drivers in 30 states, has used E10 as its primary fuel source for years and has a long history of breaking records with the fuel blend.

“We were happy to again sponsor this event to help dispel any myths boat owners might have had about using ethanol in their engines,” said Robert White, RFA’s vice president of industry relations. “E15 has become a negative buzzword in the marine world, but it is a fuel not approved for boats. Many people still don’t know that E10 is a perfectly safe fuel for boats, and this event by the NBRA demonstrates that. We always tell boaters to review their owner’s manuals and to read fuel dispenser labels — hopefully the same practice they have with their cars, trucks and SUVs. Consumers can have the same high performance outcome as these racers if they just follow this advice.”

“EKAE is a proud supporter of this national event. The Garnett Ethanol Hydroplane Shootout proves to ethanol newcomers that E10 is great not only for the average motorboat, but for high-performance marine engines like the ones showcased on Lake Garnett,” said Jeff Oestmann, president and CEO of East Kansas Agri-Energy. “These races cast an important spotlight onto an industry significant to both the state of Kansas and our entire nation. Ethanol and boats do mix, and we’re excited so many people turned out to witness it for themselves.”

Senate Committee Advances Tax Credits Extension

The Senate Finance Committee Tuesday approved a two-year extension of various tax credits that expired at the end of 2014, including those for biodiesel, cellulosic ethanol, and wind energy.

The bill contains a two-year extension of the Second Generation Biofuel Producer Tax Credit, the Special Depreciation Allowance for Second Generation Biofuel Plant Property, and the Alternative Fuel Mixture Excise Tax Credit.

rfalogo1Renewable Fuels Association president and CEO Bob Dinneen commended the committee’s leadership for recognizing how important these tax credits are for the continued growth and innovation of the U.S. biofuels industry. “Stability in the marketplace is crucial to encouraging development in second-generation biofuels, like cellulosic ethanol,” said Dinneen. “By extending these incentives, the Committee has helped to provide that needed stability. We look forward to working with the Senate Finance Committee specifically and Congress generally on comprehensive tax reform.”

Dinneen says passage of the tax credit extensions, which will be retroactive, still has a long way to go. “Still needs to get through the floor of the Senate and be conferenced with a bill from the House side,” said Dinneen. “But it’s progress.”

Last year Congress passed retroactive tax credits for 2014 in December, two weeks before they expired again.

Listen to Dinneen’s comments here: RFA CEO Bob Dinneen comments on tax credits progress

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.

Ethanol Report on RFS Hearing and Rally

rfs-worksHundreds of ethanol supporters turned out for a rally and public hearing in Kansas City, Kansas last week on the EPA’s proposed volume obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). In this edition of the Ethanol Report, we hear from some of those who attended.

ethanol-report-adThe report includes comments and testimony from Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) senior vice president Geoff Cooper, RFA chairman Randy Doyal of Al-Corn Clean Fuel in Minnesota, Jeff Oestmann of East Kansas Agri-Energy and Chris Grundler, Director of EPA’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality.

Listen to or download the Ethanol Report here: Ethanol Report from EPA RFS Hearing and Rally