NBB Cites Biodiesel Benefits of RFS

The comment period has officially ended for the final 2014 and 2015 final Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) rule as set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The National Biodiesel Board submitted comments but has a different take on how to keep the legislation moving forward and successful.

Biodiesel at the pumpBiodiesel falls under the Biomass-based Diesel category of the RFS, which is a subset of the overall Advanced Biofuels category. The EPA proposal, which is slated to be finalized in November, would gradually raise biodiesel volumes by about 100 million gallons per year to a standard of 1.9 billion gallons in 2017. The overall Advanced Biofuel standard would rise to 3.4 billion gallons in 2016.

NBB wrote in their comments, “The growth and expansion of the U.S. biodiesel industry in recent years represents a tremendous success story under the RFS. Today, nearly 2 billion gallons of biodiesel and renewable diesel displace an equivalent amount of petroleum diesel. This has resulted in significant reductions in pollution and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, while creating thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in economic impact across the nation.”

“The industry now has production plants in nearly every state in the country making fuel from an increasingly diverse mix of feedstocks, including recycled cooking oil, plant oils such as soybean oil, and animal fats,” the comments state. “In short, the biomass‐based diesel program has exceeded expectations and is achieving the goals that Congress outlined in creating the RFS. As a result, it warrants additional volume growth to meet the objectives of Congress in expanding renewable fuel use in the diesel market and in promoting advanced biofuels under the program.

NBB’s comments follow a letter from 36 U.S. senators last week calling for increased biodiesel volumes, and add to thousands of comments submitted by biodiesel supporters to the EPA in recent weeks. The comment period on the EPA’s pending proposal closed at midnight Monday.

“The EPA’s proposal is an improvement over its initial draft, but the agency can and should do much better,” said Anne Steckel, NBB vice president of federal affairs. “We have presented credible, compelling reasons for increasing biodiesel use under the RFS, and we hope the EPA carefully reviews our comments and those of thousands of other biodiesel supporters who have weighed in.”

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

Neb Gov Ricketts Rallies for RFS

On Friday, Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts rallied for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) in Blair, Nebraska at Novozymes’ biofuel enzyme facility. Also in attendance was Iowa Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds, Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson and Kyle Nixon, Novozymes general manager. According to speakers, should the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) final rule that slashes the required volumes of corn ethanol by more than one million gallons move forward, it will threaten thousands of jobs and billions of dollars of investments by ethanol producers in Nebraska and Iowa.

Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts speaks about the RFS during a rally held at Novozyme's enzyme facility in Blair, Nebraska. Photo Credit: Novozymes

Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts speaks about the RFS during a rally held at Novozyme’s enzyme facility in Blair, Nebraska. Photo Credit: Novozymes.

“Agriculture is Nebraska’s number one industry, and ethanol is one of the key agricultural growth industries that have added billions in revenue and thousands of jobs over the past decade to our state,” said Gov. Ricketts. “These efforts were undertaken in expectation that such efforts would meet the commitment of this nation to renewable fuels established by the Renewable Fuel Standard. Nebraskans have cause for concern because the EPA’s proposal to slash billions of gallons of biofuels from the RFS has the potential to negatively impact the future growth of our state. The RFS is an achievable and ambitious target and must be maintained.”

Today is the last day for public comment on the rule and more than 200,000 comments alone were submitted today by Fuels America. Earlier this year the association released an economic study citing the RFS driving $184 billion in economic activity, 850,000 jobs and $46 billion in wages across the country. This activity, found the report, creates a ripple effect as supplier firms and employees re-spend throughout the economy. The local impact for Nebraska is $11.1 billion and nearly 40,000 jobs. Likewise, the impact for Iowa is $19.3 billion and 73,000 jobs.

Today the U.S. biofuels industry produces 14 billion gallons of ethanol and biodiesel.

According to Nixon, enzymes from Novozyme’s Blair, Nebraska plant allow agricultural products like corn starch and corn stover to be converted into conventional and advanced biofuels. He noted the facility has helped realize two of the Obama Administration’s key goals for renewable energy; creating short-term construction and long-term professional jobs; and helping move the U.S. away from foreign oil and towards homegrown renewable fuel, energizing the economy and increasing domestic security. Continue reading

Fuels America Submits 200k+ Pro RFS Comments

More than 200,000 Americans took a stand for biofuels by submitting written comments in support of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Today is the final day of the comment period following the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) releasing its final renewable fuel volumes for 2015 and 2015. Fuels America, during a press call this morning, said these comments only paint a partial picture – tens of thousands of additional pro-biofuels comments are expected by the close of business today.

During an interview with DomesticFuel.com, Roger Johnson, president of the National Farmers Union, noted that the only industry that is not benefited by the biofuels industry is the oil industry, and those most hurt when biofuels are not in the marketplace are the consumers when they pay more money at the pump.

rfs-works“The Renewable Fuel Standard represents a promise to rural America—a promise that, when kept, helped rural economies across America make a strong comeback,” said Johnson, whose organization is a Fuels America member and who himself dropped comments off at the EPA this morning. “Today’s tremendous show of support for a strong RFS shows that it is time for the EPA to stop choosing foreign oil over rural America, and start getting the RFS back on track.”

Fuels America said that the comments were just one element of the widespread activism and support from Americans, and they collectively, they tell a story of outrage toward EPA’s proposal to, “allow oil companies to take charge of our renewable fuel supply, and effectively permit them to block competition from cleaner, less expensive, homegrown fuel”. These actions, stressed Johnson, could potentially weaken a biofuels industry that has helped enhance our national security, strengthened rural economies, and improved America’s climate impact.

Erick Lutt, Director of Industrial and Environmental Policy at the Biotechnology Industry Organization, who was also on the call today added, “Today, Americans are sending a strong signal to the EPA that its proposal to lower RVOs under the RFS is unacceptable. The EPA’s misfires and delays have pulled the rug out from the American investors and innovators who have brought the next generation of biofuels online in the U.S. The EPA is already responsible for $13.7 billion in frozen investment in advanced and cellulosic biofuels, and we’re risking sending jobs, innovation, and investment overseas. We can’t afford any more setbacks. The EPA must set RVOs consistent with Congress’ original intent in order to bring investment back to America and allow our country’s innovators to continue developing clean, secure American energy.”

Listen to my interview with Roger Johnson: NFU's Roger Johnson Discusses Importance of RFS

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.

NFU to Obama Admin – Comply with RFS

The National Farmers Union (NFU) is calling on the Obama Administration to comply with the Renewable Fuel Standard volume obligations as set forth by the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) statutory levels.

President Roger Johnson sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) writing, “The volume standards issued in EPA’s proposed rule for RFS target levels are unacceptable and will further hurt investment in a renewable fuel sector that has already been damaged by significant delays in issuing the standards,” said Johnson. “NFU strongly urges the administration to comply with the RFS levels already provided in the popular, bipartisan EISA statute.”

National Farmers Union logoJohnson noted that the volume standards in the proposed rule do not match the goals EPA claims to pursue through its execution of the RFS, and that EPA needs to set volume standards to those provided in the EISA in order to alleviate this problem.

“The proposed, lower volume standards demonstrate to industry that taking steps to increase consumer choice and pursue worthwhile environmental goals can be avoided, even when mandated by Congress,” wrote Johnson. “Instead, holding industry to the proposed targets would demonstrate the Administration’s stable, reliable commitment to biofuels and allow the biofuels and transportation fuels industries the certainty required to attract capital investment and build out the infrastructure needed to offer consumers higher-level ethanol blends.”

Johnson said the proposed rule hurts the administration’s goals for climate resiliency – important steps that mitigate the threats climate change poses to family agriculture. He said that transportation fuels promoted by the RFS have immense potential to reduce climate-influencing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the transportation sector.

“EPA should pursue GHG emission reductions at every opportunity to try to mitigate climate change as much as possible,” Johnson’s letter continued. “The RFS offers tremendous capacity to reduce GHGs by encouraging the use of transportation fuels that emit fewer GHGs than petroleum-based transportation fuels.”

The letter concluded, “NFU respectfully asks EPA to issue a final rule implementing volume standards that match those Congress set in EISA. Those standards will drive investment in advanced biofuel production and rural communities and contribute to climate resiliency. NFU stands ready to offer any support and assistance EPA may find helpful regarding these matters.”

Bi-Partisan Group of Senators Want Biodiesel Growth

nBBThirty-six U.S. senators from both sides of the political aisle urged the Obama administration to strengthen biodiesel volumes in a pending Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) proposal from the EPA. The National Biodiesel Board welcomed the call.

“While the proposal is a positive step for biodiesel, we remain concerned that the proposed biodiesel volumes for 2016 and 2017 fail to adequately recognize the domestic biodiesel industry’s production capacity and its ability to increase production,” the senators wrote in a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and other administration officials. “Biodiesel is the first EPA-designated advanced biofuel under the RFS to reach commercial scale production nationwide. It is exceeding the goals that Congress envisioned when it created the RFS with bipartisan support in 2005, while creating jobs, generating tax revenues, reducing pollution, and improving energy security. We urge you to support continued growth in the domestic biodiesel industry by making reasonable and sustainable increases in the biodiesel volumes for 2016 and 2017 in the final rule.”

Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) led the letter, which was signed by Democrats and Republicans from 24 states.

“We want to thank Sens. Grassley, Murray, Blunt and Heitkamp for their leadership on this effort, as well as all of the senators who supported it,” said Anne Steckel, vice president of federal affairs. “It’s not every day that you have Republicans and Democrats from such a diverse group of states uniting around an issue like this. We hope the EPA and the White House will listen and improve this proposal before it is finalized later this year.”

The current RFS proposal calls for a gradual rise in biodiesel volumes by about 100 million gallons per year to a standard of 1.9 billion gallons in 2017. NBB had requested more aggressive growth to a biodiesel standard of 2.7 billion gallons by 2017, along with additional growth in the overall Advanced Biofuel category.

EPA Chief Defends RFS Proposal to Corn Growers

ginaSpeaking to members of the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) meeting in Washington DC this week, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy defended her agency’s proposed volume obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) while at the same time thanking farmers for their strong voice on the issue.

“I know RFS matters deeply to corn growers,” said McCarthy. “You know we held a hearing in Kansas and I know you knew it because you showed up. Last month you were there in force. And I want to thank you for being out there.”

McCarthy told the farmers that “EPA is deeply committed to the RFS” and to the industry. “You might have heard that we are trying to shrink or kill this program, but the truth is we are committed to growing it,” she said. “The volumes we’ve proposed for 2015 and 2016 are designed to bust through any blend wall – even if you don’t believe it exists!”

McCarthy was invited to address the summer Corn Congress session by NCGA President Chip Bowling, a farmer from Newburg, Maryland. “I invited her to Corn Congress because I wanted farmers to hear from her directly,” said Bowling. “To her credit, she had the courage to show up and talk to farmers face to face.”

In her address, McCarthy also talked about the EPA’s Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, which is also a major issue of concern for corn farmers. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy at NCGA Corn Congress

Corn Growers Rally for RFS in DC

Hundreds of corn farmers from across America were in Washington D.C. today to rally for the cuts to corn ethanol in the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFs) to be overturned. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed cutting corn ethanol by 3.75 billion gallons through 2016. According to the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), which sponsored the rally, this represents nearly 1.5 billion in lost corn demand.

NCGA RFS Rally“Our message to the EPA is clear and unequivocal: Don’t mess with the RFS,” said NCGA Chairman Martin Barbre, a farmer from Carmi, Illinois. “We are gathered here today because we all understand what’s at stake.”

Barbre spoke with DomesticFuel.com from the Hill this afternoon and said that legislators really don’t understand how the RFS works. When corn growers and others who support the RFS sit down with them and their staff and walk them through the legislation, he explained, and get a better understanding that corn growers can meet the demand for food, fiber and fuel, they support the RFS returning to levels in which they were intended to be as set forth by the legislation.

Rally attendees heard from Senator Mark Kirk, Representative Tammy Duckworth, farmers, and ethanol industry leaders on the importance of ethanol to strengthening rural economies and protecting our environment and national security. Following the rally, corn farmers visited their congressional offices to spend some one-on-one time in dialogue about the RFS, its importance to rural America, and to assure them, stressed Barbre, that the industry will continue to meet and exceed national and global demands.

Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill) note during his rally remarks, “Illinois farmers export more than a billion bushels of corn annually. That is why I supported them on trade and will continue to support them in the fight for a fair Renewable Fuel Standard.”

Representative Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill) added, “American investors and consumers at the gas pump are better off supporting American jobs and access to clean, secure American energy, rather than Middle Eastern oil. As a veteran and a Member of the House Armed Services Committee, I see renewable, home-grown fuel as not only critical for our environment and our economy, but also as a national security imperative.”

To close the rally NCGA President Chip Bowling, a farmer from Newburg, Maryland, urged farmers to stand up and make their voice heard. “Now is the time for farmers to stand up for your farms, your families, your communities, and our country,” said Bowling. “We must hold Congress to its promises – and hold the EPA to the law.”

Hear more about the rally and why the EPA shouldn’t mess with the RFS by listening to my interview with Martin Barbre here: Martin Barbre RFS Rally Interview

Corn Growers Rally for the RFS Again

rfs-worksCorn growers will be rallying for rural America on Capital Hill Wednesday, July 15 at Upper Senate Park to support the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).  More than 250 corn growers will be on hand and have invited all others who support the RFS) to join them.

The main goal of the rally is to call on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to raise the RFS volumes for corn-based ethanol that were cut in the final rules for 2016. According to the National Corn Growers Association, biofuels such as ethanol strengthen and support American farmers and rural economies.

Featured speakers will include U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp, U.S. Representative Tammy Duckworth, and NCGA President Chip Bowling.