#RFS Hearing Scheduled by EPA

epa-150Concerned about the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) proposed 2017 rules? The industry has a chance to voice them on June 9, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri at a public hearing on the “Renewable Fuel Standard Program: Standards for 2017 and Biomass-Based Diesel Volume for 2018.” The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says those wishing to testify during the hearing must contact the EPA by May 31, 2016.

The hearing will begin at 9:00 am CDT and take place at Sheraton Kansas City Hotel at Crown Center, 2345 McGee Street, Kansas City, Missouri, 64108. The hearing will end after everyone who has been pre-registered to speak finishes. While EPA officials may ask clarifying questions, all written comments as well as presentations will not be addressed during this meeting; however, the EPA says it will review them prior to announcing the final rule.

For those who would like to testify, contact Julia MacAllister in the EPA’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality Assessment and Standards Division. She may be reached by phone at (734) 214-4131 or reached via email.

For those unable to attend the public hearing, comments are due July 11, 2016. Comments may be submitted online on Regulations.gov under Dock ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2016- 0004. You can learn more about the proposed rule and how to submit comments here.

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.

#Biodiesel Industry Calls 2018 RVO Shortsighted

The biodiesel industry is calling the required volumes of the advanced biofuels category under the Renewable Fuel Standard shortsighted in reaction to the EPA’s release of the 2018 RVO proposal. The amount of increase in biodiesel from 2017 to 2018 was a mere 100 million gallons. The Iowa Biodiesel Board is calling on the EPA to set volumes that more closely match the biodiesel industry’s potential.

IBB“We commend EPA for releasing their proposed biomass-based diesel volumes in a timely manner. But as the top biodiesel-producing state, those of us in Iowa know that the biodiesel industry can achieve much more significant growth in 2018 than what EPA currently calls for in this proposal,” stated IBB Executive Director Grant Kimberley. “Nationally, our industry already has the feedstock and the production capacity to reach 2.5 billion gallons in a sustainable manner, and we’re disappointed this proposal is quite far from that industry recommendation. The proposed number, 2.1 billion gallons, is still too low, especially since we are facing biodiesel imports, some of which have the benefit of foreign subsidies.

Kimberly noted that biodiesel offers a tremendous opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and assist the U.S. as well as other countries, in meeting climate goals. “In fact, under the RFS law, Advanced Biofuels must reduce lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50 percent compared to petroleum fuels, and according to the EPA, biodiesel reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 57 percent to 86 percent.”

REGThe country’s largest biodiesel producer, Renewable Energy Group (REG) put a positive spin on the proposal that calls for 2.1 billion gallons of biomass-based diesel for 2018. “We are pleased that EPA has again proposed continued growth of biomass-based diesel and overall advanced biofuel volumes. This proposal provides greater certainty in the marketplace, reflects the expanding usage and blend levels consumers want, and points towards continuing growth for the cleaner, lower carbon intensity fuel we produce,” stated REG President and CEO Daniel J. Oh.

“We are very appreciative of the advanced biofuel advocates within the Administration and on Capitol Hill for their consistent support.” Oh added, “We will continue to work alongside our industry partners to provide the EPA, OMB and other federal agencies additional market data that will support additional growth in the D4 (biomass-based diesel) and D5 (general advanced biofuel) categories, as we believe that there is a compelling basis for further increases over time.”

American Soybean Association (ASA) President Richard Wilkins took the opportunity to highlight the success of the biodiesel industry in not only meeting, but exceeding, RFS biodiesel targets, and calls on the EPA to reflect these achievements. He notes that the biodiesel industry provides a market outlet for surplus soybean oil as well as animal fats and other renewable ag feedstocks. Continue reading

Advanced #Biofuels Inch Upward in 2017 RVOs

The advanced biofuels categories were increased with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed 2017 renewable volume obligations (RVOs) that were released yesterday. The RVOs are part of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). While not on track as mandated by law in 2007, advanced fuels are gaining ground with an increase in volumes from 2016.

ABA logoSome in the industry see the increase as positive. “Today’s proposed RFS rule for 2017 is good news for the advanced biofuels industry with increases to the advanced, biomass-based diesel, and cellulosic pools. This shows great progress for the advanced biofuels sector,” said Michael McAdams, President, of the Advanced Biofuels Association. “We look forward to commenting on the proposed rule and are particularly encouraged by the growth of available renewable diesel and biodiesel to our country to achieve these targets.”

However not everyone producing or focused on the growth of second generation biofuels see the increasing numbers as enough of a step in the right direction including DuPont, who has an operational cellulosic ethanol biorefinery in Nevada, Iowa.

DuPont logo“DuPont is again disappointed with the EPA’s proposed rule on the 2017 Renewable Volume Obligations under the RFS. As raised in our comments on last year’s RFS rule for 2014 to 2016, the EPA has again injected infrastructure constraints into the calculation, rather than setting biofuels volumes based on the industry’s ability to supply fuel. This approach undermines fundamental principles of the RFS that have served as the foundation for the economic, energy security and environmental successes of the RFS.

Since 2013, the EPA has been inconsistent in issuing the annual RVOs, and when the agency delivered a rule, the methodology for setting volumes has created a high degree of policy uncertainty, almost eliminating biofuels investments, particularly for the advanced and cellulosic sectors in the United States. The renewable fuels industry is global in nature with substantial, long-term business potential. DuPont continues to vigorously pursue every opportunity to enable the growth of the biofuels industry here and around the world. We are committed to this industry and to bringing world-class technology and sustainable best practices to market to spur the growth of renewable industries worldwide.”

More 2017 RVO Reacts from #Ethanol Industry

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its draft proposed renewable volume obligations (RVOs) for 2017 as part of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) yesterday and the biofuels industry is reacting to numbers that remain under statute levels. For first generation biofuels, that includes corn-based ethanol, the numbers were increased from 2016 but still remain 200 million gallons below what is required by law.

AESI logoAmericans for Energy Security and Innovation (AESI) Chairman Jim Talent reacted to the proposed rules, “The Obama Administration’s proposed targets fall short of the goals for energy security that Congress outlined in the Renewable Fuel Standard. America’s domestic biofuels industry has already proven that it can surpass these targets, and our goal should be to maximize the renewable choices that consumers have at the pump. The EPA is moving in a positive direction, but we are leaving homegrown energy on the table, and that means more money and influence will flow to the foreign nations that seek to manipulate the global oil market.” (Click here to read Jim Talent’s full statement.)

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey, who has been a vocal opponent of the RFS stated, “While the RVO numbers released today allow for some growth in the renewable fuels levels included in our nation’s fuel supply, unfortunately they don’t meet the levels passed with bipartisan support in Congress and continue to use questionable justifications for not meeting those required levels. The EPA’s proposal starts another comment period, so it is important that Iowans take advantage of that opportunity and voice their support for the renewable fuels industry that is so important to our state.”

National Farmers Union logoPointing to the connection between reliable implementation of the RFS and achievement of the Administration’s climate goals, the National Farmers Union (NFU) stated, “Farmers and ranchers understand the impacts that climate change has on our planet, our environmental resources, and our ability to feed a growing world population. The investments made in renewable fuels and advanced biofuels have helped bridge a divide between our current environmental impact and the climate goals set forth by the Administration – goals that we cannot meet without the participation of our family farmers and ranchers. The oil companies have had plenty of time to build out the distribution infrastructure to deliver more biofuels to the consumer and commercial markets that seek this environmentally-friendly energy source. They have simply refused to do so, and EPA’s negligence in adhering to the statutory levels has significantly undermined the plan laid out by Congress in 2007.”

Novozymes_logoNovozymes said the proposal acknowledges crucial role of biofuels with higher blending volumes but still lets obligated parties off hook. “While President Obama is pushing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions on one hand, today’s proposal still allows the oil industry to pollute with carbon-intense fuels on the other. The only way the world will switch to renewable energy is if bold leaders make it happen,” said Adam Monroe, President, Americas. “The private sector is taking bold action: Investing millions of dollars in cutting emissions with our technology, turning biomass into biofuel and building facilities, like our $200 million enzyme manufacturing plant in Blair, Nebraska. We urge the Administration to be bold too, and get back to the original intent of the RFS. Other countries are already capitalizing on our lack of clarity.”

VoteVets_logoRetired Major General Paul D. Eaton, senior advisor to VoteVets focused on the energy security benefits of biofuels. Continue reading

RFA Reacts to EPA 2017 RFS Proposal

ethanol-report-adThe Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its draft Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) renewable volume obligations (RVOs) for 2017 on Wednesday proposing a total renewable fuel volume of 18.8 billion gallons, including four billion in advanced biofuels and 312 million gallons is cellulosic biofuel.

In this interview, Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) president and CEO Bob Dinneen says the proposal falls 200 million gallons short of the statute and that EPA is relying on an illegal interpretation of its waiver authority under the RFS. Dinneen does give EPA credit for releasing the proposal in a timely fashion and notes that the agency will be providing an opportunity for the industry to provide public comment during a hearing in Kansas City on June 9.

Listen here: Ethanol Report on EPA 2017 RFS Proposal

Slight Biodiesel Growth in Proposed 2018 #RFS Rules

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its proposed renewable volume obligations (RVOs) for the 2018 rules under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) today and only called for a slight growth in biodiesel volumes. As a result, the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) is calling on the Obama Administration to strengthen the proposal that only calls for a 100 million gallon increase in 2018. RVO requirements for the advanced biofuels category of the RFS are on a different schedule than other renewable fuel categories, and today the EPA also released its 2017 RVOs for renewable fuels such as ethanol.

nBBNBB Vice President of Federal Affairs Anne Steckel said that without stronger growth in the final rule, the administration would be missing an opportunity to reduce carbon emissions while helping to reshape America’s transportation sector. “We appreciate the EPA’s timeliness in releasing these volumes and its support for growing biodiesel use under the RFS, but this proposal significantly understates the amount of biodiesel this industry can sustainably deliver to the market. The total RVO for the advanced biofuels category that includes biodiesel is 2.1 billion gallons for 2018.” Steckel added, “We have plenty of feedstock and production capacity to exceed 2.5 billion gallons today, and can certainly do so in 2018.”

Biodiesel – made from a diverse mix of resources such as recycled cooking oil, soybean oil and animal fats – is the first and only EPA-designated Advanced Biofuel to reach commercial-scale production nationwide. The EPA proposal would establish a 2.1-billion-gallon Biomass-based Diesel requirement in 2018, up from the 2-billion-gallon requirement for 2017. However, NBB believes EPA can comfortably call for at least 2.5 billion gallons in 2018 after nearly 2.1 billion gallons of biodiesel were delivered under the RFS in 2015.

“We have made tremendous progress in cleaning up vehicle emissions but the fact remains that petroleum still accounts for about 90 percent of our transportation fuel,” Steckel continued. “This is dangerous and unsustainable, and the RFS is the most effective policy we have for changing it. Biodiesel specifically is the most successful Advanced Biofuel under the RFS. It is proving that Advanced Biofuels work. But we need meaningful RFS growth to continue making a real dent in our oil dependence and to continue driving investment. On the heels of the Paris climate accord, this is not the time for a piecemeal approach. We need bold action.”

In addition to calling for a higher Biomass-based Diesel volume, NBB is calling for a stronger overall Advanced Biofuel volume.

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.

EPA Gives OMB RFS Modification Proposal

epa-150The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has delivered a proposal to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) that would amend the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The “Renewable Enhancement and Growth Support Rule,” would resolve outstanding issues and provide clarification on certain RFS requirements.

The rule would also allow for feedstocks partially converted at a facility other than a renewable fuel production facility to be converted at such a facility and quality under the RFS. In addition, the rule would add new registration, recordkeeping and reporting requirements for various renewable fuel production facilities using carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies should the EPA all CCS as a lifecycle GHG emissions reduction technology as part of the RFS.

Among other changes, the rule proposes to implement fuel quality specifications for blends containing 16 to 83 volume percent ethanol. The EPA says this would provide substantial additional flexibility for ethanol flex fuel (EFF) producers that accommodate current market realities while continuing to ensure EFF quality is consistent with controlling pollution when used in flexible fuel vehicles, and could result in an increased use of ethanol in motor fuels, furthering RFS goals.

The OMB has also received and is reviewing a proposal from the EPA for the proposed 2017 RFS rules.

Bill Attempts to Cap Ethanol Blends

A new bill was introduced this week that would cap ethanol blends in the U.S. transportation fuel system to no more than 9.7 percent by volume. The legislation was introduced by Rep. Bill Flores (R-Texas), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Jim Costa (D-Calif.), all biofuel critics. This bill is in conflict to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), an energy policy designed to reduce the country’s dependence on foreign sources of oil.

Ethanol Pump Photo May 2016 Joanna Schroeder

Photo Credit: Joanna Schroeder

Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) President and CEO Bob Dinneen responded to the bill by saying, “Passage of this bill would represent a complete capitulation to the oil industry that steadfastly refuses to provide consumers higher octane, lower cost alternative fuels at the pump. They whine about a so-called blend wall even as they continue to build it themselves by denying consumer access to E15 and E85. The RFS was made necessary by oil company intransigence. It was intended to break the stranglehold oil companies have on the motor fuel market by forcing access. This bill would gut the RFS and send America’s energy and climate change policy back decades. Americans want choices at the pump, they want to see lower carbon fuels, they want to spend less on motor fuel, and they want to stimulate investments in new technologies and new fuels to drive our economy in a low carbon world. This bill would sacrifice all of that at the altar of Big Oil, and that is why it will never pass.”