ARF Reacts to Hillary Clinton’s Ag, Energy Plan

Presidential candidate Sec. Hillary Clinton (D) made another visit to Iowa this week where she unveiled her agriculture and rural policy plan. She called for strengthening the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) so that it continues to drive the development of advanced cellulosic and other advanced biofuels. Clinton called for more consumer choice at the pump with better access to ethanol blends such as E15 and E85 as well as biodiesel. She also called for more renewable energy to be phased into the electricity sector.

Sec Hillary ClintonAmerica’s Renewable Future (ARF), who is meeting with candidates to discuss the benefits of biofuels, released the following statement in response to the plan.

“We thank Sec. Clinton for her commitment to Iowa’s farmers, consumers, and investors with her call of a strengthened RFS. We enthusiastically echo that call, especially in light of President Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) disastrous Renewable Volume Obligation (RVO) proposal. The EPA’s proposal is another example of conceding to the oil industry’s demands at the expense of clean, domestic renewable fuels and American jobs.

Billions of dollars were invested by famers and local investors to produce biofuels with the promise of a strong RFS. Reducing the RVO will strand capitol and punish the pioneers who invested in clean, homegrown renewable energy. The RFS has created 73,000 jobs here in Iowa and hundreds of thousands more around the country that cannot be outsourced, reduced our dependence on foreign oil, helped clean our air, and provided consumers savings at the pump.

Iowa’s rural communities and economy depend on the RFS for stability and growth and the EPA must get it back on track and focus on protecting the jobs and economic progress it has yielded.”

#ACE15 Success, Jennings Highlights What’s Next

The 28th Annual American Coalition for Ethanol’s (ACE) Ethanol Conference was a huge success. At times the room was stand-up only and the content was engaging and informational for attendees. I had a chance to sit down with Executive Vice President Brian Jennings who kicked off the conference and closed the conference and he said that there were a few presentations that really stood out.

The first was the retailer panel that featured Kum & Go and what they are doing to promote the use of E15 and other ethanol blends to consumers in the Midwest, along with Protec and what they are doing in a totally different way and different part of the country (South/Southwest) to bring ethanol to consumers.

Brian Jennings EVP of ACE“There are a lot of smart, progressive companies out there that see the advantage, that see the price advantage, see the other advantages that E15 and higher blends bring to the table,” said Jennings. “I know it’s frustrating for some in our industry because the progress of E15 is going as quickly as any of us like but progress indeed is being made and it’s a testament to the work that ACE and others are doing with the Kum & Gos in the world and the Protecs of the world.”

Another panel that was very informative, noted Jennings, was the panel of ethanol producers who are adopting new technologies and becoming pioneers of emerging technologies. These plants, he said, are leading the way in production improvements, in new product developments, bring in new revenues and help them diversify. Jennings hopes that other ethanol producers both at their conference and not, will look to these plants as examples and also embrace these new technologies and co-products.

The conference really focused on emerging technologies and wins in the industry but none the less talk of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) was common among attendees. I asked Jennings what the next step was for ACE, on behalf of the industry, to keep the fight for the RFS front and center. He said that the industry has until November 30th to continue engaging with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and they will continue to do just that. “They have mountains of comments they have to sift through and we’re proud of ACE and the ethanol industry on how many comments were submitted.”

“I am enormously frustrated with the EPA,” said Jennings. “I have to be honest. We try to be constructive, we try to be helpful, and they just really want to continue to base this thing on the blend wall. So we have our work cut out for us.”

ACE hopes to engage in a Power to the People campaign this fall in the beltway and around the country to educate consumers about the benefits of ethanol.

To learn more about the Ethanol Conference and what’s next for ACE, listen to my interview with Brian Jennings here: ACE's Brian Jennings Conference Review

2015 ACE Annual Meeting Photos

Fuels America Ad Targets President Obama

Screen Shot 2015-08-26 at 8.04.06 AMIn conjunction with the National Clean Energy Summit that took place in Las Vegas, Fuels America published a full-page ad in the Las Vegas Review-Journal aimed at President Obama. The theme of the ad is the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and a call to action to uphold the law as signed in 2007 by then President Bush. Obama was a keynote speaker at the event and the ad was accompanied by a Review Journal homepage takeover, as well as banner ads geotargeted at the conference.

The ad touts the progress under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) – passed 10 years ago this month by Senator Reid and a bipartisan coalition – including the creation of more than 850,000 American jobs and the reduction of America’s oil imports by nearly two-thirds.

The ad describes how the EPA caved to pressure from the oil industry and changed the law midstream with its latest proposal that would let oil companies continue to ignore their obligations under the law and block market access to renewable fuel for American consumers.

Fuels America notes in the ad that American biofuel innovators have invested billions of dollars in the next generation of biofuels – fuels that is cleaner and helps curb climate change, cutting carbon emissions by 88-108% compared to petroleum – under the promise of the RFS that it would end the oil industry’s chokehold on fuel distribution and market access, create American jobs, and give consumers a choice at the pump.

MO Lawmakers Support RFS

During a visit to the Missouri State Fair last week, two members of the state’s Congressional delegation were asked their opinions on the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed volume obligations for biofuels under the Renewable Fuel Standard.

msf-15-72-editedSen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) hopes EPA will listen to the concerns of the industry. “I think it’s important that we become as energy self-sufficient as we can and renewables are an important part of that,” said Blunt during an interview at the fair. “We have great potential in more American energy of all kinds and the potential of how much we can add to that in renewables and what that does to the ag economy and production agriculture generally in terms of that product being available not just for fuel but for food is important.”

Sen. Blunt also comments on EPA’s Clean Water Rule and other issues in this interview: Interview with Senator Roy Blunt

msf-15-101-editedRep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) says EPA tried to come up with a compromise with the proposed rule. “It was better than we hoped in some ways, but it was worse than we had hoped,” said Hartzler. “I think they should have just followed the law and continued on allowing a greater percentage of our fuel to come through renewables. I’m hopeful that we’ll somehow be able to increase that level.”

In this interview, Hartzler also comments on other issues important to farmers in her state. Interview with Congresswomen Vicky Hartzler

Reign in the EPA Say Republican Candidates

The last batch of Republican presidential candidates took the Soapbox stage during the last weekend of the Iowa State Fair.

Chris ChristieNew Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R) took a different approach and only answered questions. His overall statement was that the government needs to enforce the laws currently in place – not just the laws we like- but all laws. Speaking of a law he doesn’t like: the Clean Power Plan. His state has submitted a request to end the program and believes that each state should set their own legislation and develop their own plans. For example, he noted that Iowa is a land of wind, but in the most dense state in the country, solar works better. New Jersey uses solar, natural gas and nuclear and has already met their 2020 clean power goals.

When asked about the Renewable Fuel Standard (#RFS), he said he supports the RFS. The problem is that the Obama Administration along with the EPA is not enforcing the law. He stressed that he is a huge supporter of more energy options and the RFS provides just this and he called out to other candidates to make up their mind on their RFS position.

Listen to why New Jersey Governor Chris Christie wants to be president: Chris Christie at the Iowa State Fair

U.S. Senator from Texas Ted Cruz (R) took much of his time to crack jokes about the Democrats andTed Cruz the rest of his time to talk about all the U.S. government executive orders he would rescind along with government organizations he would dismantle including the IRS, Department of Education and all the other ABCs. And Cruz promised he will reign in the regulatory agencies that “descend like locusts on farms and ranches and small businesses.” As for energy, not sure if reigning in the EPA includes revisions (or trying to overturn) the Renewable Fuel Standard, Clean Power Plan or WOTUS.

Listen to why Texas U.S. Senator Ted Cruz wants to be president: Ted Cruz at the Iowa State Fair

Bobby JindalLouisiana Governor Bobby Jindal (R) went back to the “by the bootstraps” message. He said this election is all about the American dream, like most other candidates, and how to bring it back. He wants to evolutionize the economy, stop illegal immigration, buff up our military power and curb the power of regulatory agencies such as the EPA who is regulating the “water in our backyards”. He concluded, “I ask you to believe again. Let’s rescue the idea of America before it slips away.”

Listen to why Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal wants to be president: Bobby Jindal at the Iowa State Fair

Mark EversonThe very last presidential candidate to take the stage was Mark Everson (R) who is the former IRS Commissioner. Who better to call for tax reform than the person who knows it best. He said that this campaign, this country, needs a new type of politician (one could argue Donald Trump and Ben Carson are proving this to be true). In that he meant one who isn’t a life-long politician but rather one who knows how to run a business. He stressed that tax reform would get the economy going.

Listen to why Mark Everson, former IRS Commissioner wants to be president: Mark Everson at the Iowa State Fair

And thus concludes our #Energy and #Ag coverage of the Des Moines Register’s Presidential Soapbox series at the Iowa State Fair. The election is long so the candidates (especially the Democratic candidates) who chose not to address these concerns head on will have some time to get their messages straight before the caucus tentatively scheduled for Monday, February 1, 2016.

Study Shows Biofuel Use Saves Carbon Emissions

bio-logoA new study from the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) shows that use of biofuels over the past decade has saved nearly 590 million tons of carbon emissions.

According to the study, the requirement under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) over the past 10 years to substitute biofuels for fossil fuels has displaced nearly 1.9 billion barrels of foreign oil and reduced U.S. transportation-related carbon emissions by 589.33 million metric tons.

“The Renewable Fuel Standard was signed into law ten years ago this month by President George W. Bush. The law’s purpose was to end America’s addiction to oil, reduce reliance on foreign oil and lower carbon emissions from the transportation sector,” said Brent Erickson, executive vice president of BIO’s Industrial & Environmental Section. “The RFS program has demonstrably achieved those goals. The total reduction in carbon emissions achieved under the program is equal to removing more than 124 million cars from the road over the decade.”

The study also finds that EPA’s recent proposed rules for the RFS would cut short achievable future carbon emission reductions. In 2015 alone, the proposal would add 19.6 million tons of CO2e for the year, equal to putting 7.3 million cars back on the road, compared with achievable levels of biofuel use.

“It is unfortunate that the Environmental Protection Agency has delayed issuing new rules for the program and is now proposing to halt growth in the biofuel market,” said Erikson. “The agency’s delay will continue to allow fossil fuels to be used when cleaner, lower carbon biofuels are available, reversing some of the progress made in the past ten years.”
Read the study here.

#Biodiesel Update at Biodiesel & Bioheat Forum

During the Bioheat and Biodiesel Forum in Mankato, Minnesota, attendees learned about the benefits and opportunities of Bioheat, and also heard an update on the biodiesel industry. Bioheat is heating oil that is blended with biodiesel to reduce its carbon emissions. Bioheat has been on the rise with state legislation that has passed in many northeastern states in an attempt to reduce emissions from all forms of energy. The result of great Bioheat demand? Greater biodiesel demand.

biodiesel-bioheat-15-session-2The second portion of the Forum kicked off with a call-in from Larry Schafer with the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) who gave a state and federal policy update that included a behind-the-scenes look at the political winds in Washington, D.C. He also discussed the fate of the biodiesel tax credit and reviewed policy initiatives in Minnesota.

Listen to Larry Schafer’s remarks here: Larry Schafer, NBB

Doug Root with the Ag Utilization Research Institute and Steve Howell with MARCIV Consulting took the stage next to discuss how the evolution of the industry paired with emerging technologies and the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) has spurred the biodiesel industry to improve its optimization strategies. Remaining competitive, said Root and Howell, is an integral aspect of keeping domestic biodiesel production competitive.

Listen to Doug Roots remarks here: Doug Root, Ag Utilization Research Institute

Listen to Steve Howell’s remarks here: Steve Howell, MARCIV Consulting

The session was rounded out by Gary Koch with Gislason & Hunter LLP who discussed what’s happening in the marketplace when it comes to investing in biodiesel production ranging from venture capital markets to private companies.

Listen to Gary Koch’s remarks here: Gary Koch, Gislason & Hunter

Biodiesel/Bioheat Forum Photo Album

#ACE15 Honors America’s Renewable Future

L-R: Absolute Energy CEO Rick Schwark, ARF co-chair Bill Couser, ARF coordinator Eric Branstad, and ACE EVP Brian Jennings

L-R: Absolute Energy CEO Rick Schwark, ARF co-chair Bill Couser, ARF coordinator Eric Branstad, and ACE EVP Brian Jennings

America’s Renewable Future (ARF) is less than one year old, but what the coalition has accomplished in that short time has been so impressive that the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) recognized them with the organization’s policy and legislative leadership award this year. The coalition was established in January of this year for the sole purpose of educating 2016 presidential candidates about agriculture, biofuels and the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

Accepting the award at the ACE annual meeting in Omaha this week were two Iowa ethanol advocates – Rick Schwark of Absolute Energy and Bill Couser with Couser Cattle Company who serves as ARF co-chair, as well as the son of Iowa’s governor who was instrumental in the formation of the coalition.

Eric Branstad says right now they are focused on the Iowa caucuses in February. “We are building a team of pledged supporters…pledging to come and caucus for an RFS supporting candidate,” he said. “Right now we have surpassed 25,000 caucus goers and our goal by November 1 is to have 50,000.”

ARF has been very busy this past week at the Iowa State Fair talking to visiting candidates, including Republican front runner Donald Trump. “We had a 40 minute, one-on-one meeting with him,” said Branstad, who added that Trump’s knowledge about ethanol going into the meeting was negligible. By the end of the meeting, after getting a short course on the history and advancements of the industry, Branstad felt they had made an impression. “He said ‘I want to invest!’ so I guess that’s the best compliment we could get from Mr. Trump,” said Branstad.

Listen to my interview with Eric Branstad here: Interview with Eric Branstad, America's Renewable Future

I also talked with ARF co-chair Bill Couser about the organization’s first eight months. “I think one thing we’ve been able to bring out in these candidates is ‘who are you really?’,” said Couser. “You talk about their wives and their kids – we want to know that here in the Midwest.”

Couser says he still wants to get Hillary Clinton out to his operation near Nevada, Iowa. “To get her out on our farms and ranches and actually show her about corn production and show her where ethanol’s made and show her what that’s done for our schools and our roads and how important that is for our country,” he said.

In this interview, Couser also talks about his testimony at the EPA hearing on the Renewable Fuel Standard, his unique perspective as a cattle producer and ethanol advocate, and why he is so involved with the American Coalition for Ethanol: Interview with Bill Couser, America's Renewable Future

2015 ACE Annual Meeting Photos

RFA to AMA: Stop Propagating E15 Untruths

As the biofuels industry celebrates the 10th anniversary of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) is calling on consumers to support legislation to stop the use and sales of E15 (15 percent ethanol/85 percent gasoline). In a press release AMA states, “The first 10 years under the Renewable Fuel Standard, established in 2005, represent a decade of misinformation from the ethanol lobby concerning safe fuel for your motorcycle.”

sturgis-15-1The Association is calling on motorcyclists to contact their representative and ask him/her to cosponsor the RFS Reform Act of 2015 (H.R. 704) sponsored by U.S Reps. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Peter Welch (D-VT). The bill would amend the RFS and prohibit the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from allowing any station to sell gasoline containing more than 10 percent ethanol (E10) and require those selling E15 to stop.

In response to AMA, the Renewable Fuels Association’s (RFA) Vice President of Industry Relations Robert White said, “Once again, the AMA is engaging in scare tactics and spreading misinformation about E15. It’s nothing we haven’t heard before. AMA’s claims that E15 will suddenly become available at every fuel station in the country and replace E10, so that there will no longer be any legal fuel for motorcycles to use, are patently false. E15 has been on the market for three years and no motorcycle has misfueled using the higher ethanol blend or has been denied a warranty claim. Plus, the AMA ignores the fact that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires that the fuel dispenser label clearly identify what vehicles can and cannot use E15. Does the AMA believe that motorcyclists can’t read?”

White said that the availability for motorcycles to use E10, which is approved for use in motorcycle engines, increased last year, and that more E10 than E0 was sold last year than in the previous year. Earlier this month, RFA was at the 75th Anniversary of Sturgis where they spoke with bikers about ethanol.

“The AMA has gone to great lengths to confuse what the RFS means for consumers,” White continued. “The law states that gasoline refiners and importers must purchase and blend renewable fuels with gasoline and diesel, or purchase credits. Most producers choose to blend renewable fuels because ethanol is cheaper than gasoline and has an octane rating of 113, but the availability of credits assures no marketer will ever have to offer higher level ethanol blends if they don’t want to.” Continue reading

ACE Chairman Optimistic About Ethanol Future

ace15-alversonThe chairman of the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) is encouraged about the future for the ethanol industry, despite the continued challenges.

Ron Alverson of Dakota Ethanol says a lot has happened in the 10 years since the first Renewable Fuel Standard became law. “There were three legs of support for the RFS. It was cheap corn, high priced and scarce fuel, and the better environmental footprint of renewable fuels – we’ve had ups and downs since then,” said Alverson. Ultimately he thinks ethanol will keep moving forward because “we’ve got a really great product and a really great priced product.”

Listen to my interview with Ron here: Interview with ACE chairman Ron Alverson, Dakota Ethanol

2015 ACE Annual Meeting Photos