Ethanol Report as Summer Begins

ethanol-report-adThe kickoff of summer this Memorial Day weekend finds beaches in Santa Barbara California closed as oil spreads off shore and workers try to clear up the mess left by the spill. Elsewhere, the oil industry continues to spread misinformation about ethanol, keeping RFA busy working to clear up misconceptions as fast as they happen.

In this Ethanol Report, Renewable Fuels Association president and CEO Bob Dinneen talks about a new report showing RIN credits have no impact on the price of gas, how E10 is safe for boaters, and when he expects to see the long overdue EPA proposal for volume obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Ethanol Report as Summer Begins

Ethanol Groups Promote Safe Boating on E10

With the Memorial Day weekend approaching fast, the ethanol industry is assuring boaters that 10% ethanol blended fuel is just fine for marine engines, despite what the American Petroleum Institute says.

In response to an API press call with the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) on Wednesday, Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis noted that “all major manufacturers of outboard and marine motors, as well as small engines, are approved for the use of gasoline blended with up to 10 percent ethanol.”

“What probably does concern boaters is the amount of time they spend dry docked as a result of oil spills, like the one that dumped 21,000 gallons of oil along four miles of coastline in Santa Barbara, California” this week,” said Buis.

rfa-nbra-3Renewable Fuels Association president and CEO Bob Dinneen adds that “E10 has been used successfully in marine engines for 30 years now” and that the higher octane in the fuel helps with summertime boating activities. “It’s gasoline on steroids, it doesn’t pollute, it’ll pull your jetskier, it’ll pull your tuber, it’ll get you to your favorite fishing hole, and you can know you’re supporting America’s farmers and clean water,” said Dinneen.

Dinneen’s simple advice to boaters concerned about using E10: “Take a look at your owner’s manual.” And check out RFA’s FAQs on ethanol and marine engines.

Listen to Dinneen’s comments about E10 and boating here: RFA CEO on E10 Safe for Boats

Study Shows No RINS Impact on Gas Prices

fuelsA new statistical analysis prepared for the Renewable Fuels Association shows that retail gas prices remain unaffected by the “RIN credit” system under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

According to the analysis, conducted by Informa Economics, Inc., prices for “RIN credits” (Renewable Identification Numbers) used to demonstrate compliance with the RFS had no impact on retail gasoline prices from 2013 through the first quarter of 2015.

Instead, the analysis shows that “…a majority of gasoline price movements can be explained by crude oil prices.” In fact, the study found that gas prices in recent years have been driven almost entirely by crude oil prices and vehicle miles traveled.

RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen says the study “disproves the faulty assertion by oil industry trade groups that RINs somehow negatively influence consumer gas prices.”

“The bottom line is that RINs are free for refiners who purchase and blend required volumes of ethanol with gasoline,” said Dinneen. “Only those refiners who stubbornly refuse to blend required ethanol volumes have a need to buy separated RINs on the open market; and in the highly competitive gasoline marketplace, there is no way they can pass those costs on to consumers and remain competitive with refiners and blenders who are blending more ethanol than required.”

The new Informa analysis also supports the findings of an April study by former White House economic advisor James Stock, who concluded that “…there is negligible estimated effect of RIN prices on pump E10 prices.” Dinneen notes that Stock is a former Office of Management and Budget official who was involved with the approval of EPA’s proposal in November 2013 that called for scaling back the RFS. “I wish he had that revelation when he was at OMB,” said Dinneen.

Dinneen comments on the new analysis in this interview: RFA CEO on RINs/Gas Price Analysis

BIO to EPA: Issue RFS Rule Consistent with Statute

biologoThe Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) today issued comments on the proposed consent decree to resolve oil industry lawsuits against the Environmental Protection Agency over delays in promulgating final rules for annual biofuel volume obligations.

“BIO is supportive of EPA’s commitments contained in the proposed consent decree, which would establish definitive deadlines this year for EPA to take final action on the 2014 RFS rule and proposed and final action on the 2015 RFS rule,” Brent Erickson, executive vice president of BIO’s Industrial & Environmental Section, wrote in the official comments. “EPA should withdraw its proposed 2014 RFS rule and reissue it by June 1, 2015, to include advanced and total renewable biofuel volumes that are consistent with the RFS statute.”

BIO recently released an analysis showing that instability in EPA’s administration of the RFS is responsible for chilling as much as $13.7 billion in investments that the advanced biofuel industry needed to build capacity to meet the RFS goals. The delays in rulemaking have also undercut the industry’s ability to create new employment opportunities, resulting in the loss of more than 80,000 direct jobs.

Ethanol Industry Launches RFS Campaign

fuels-rfs-adThe ethanol industry through Fuels America is launching a major advertising campaign in the nation’s capitol this week urging support for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) president and CEO Bob Dinneen says the campaign asks the EPA to choose whether to reward the oil industry for refusing to fulfill its obligations under the law, or to get the RFS back on track by proposing adequate Renewable Volume Obligation (RVO) levels. “We intend to make sure that the (EPA) administrator, members of Congress, and the president himself understand the very clear choice that will be made with this impending RVO decision,” said Dinneen during a morning press conference announcing the new campaign.

The campaign includes television advertising during morning news, Sunday morning talk shows, and cable television, as well as a digital campaign that includes a Politico homepage takeover, a Real Clear Politics Energy takeover, and banner ads on Roll Call’s Energy page.

“The question is, is EPA going to – for the first time – waive the RFS if the oil industry refuses to distribute renewable fuels?” said Advanced Ethanol Council executive director Brooke Coleman.

The campaign is in response to a letter from oil industry organizations to the EPA, and a responsive letter from biofuels industry leaders to the EPA last week. The letters agree on one thing: the EPA has a choice to make. Either choose to reward the oil industry for refusing to fulfill its obligations under the law, or choose to get the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) back on track by proposing Renewable Volume Obligation (RVO) levels that comport with the spirit and intent of the law.

Fuels America Campaign Launch

New Ad from ACE Uses ‘Power by People’ for RFS

Marietta1Looking to capitalize on President Obama’s visit to Watertown, South Dakota, the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) placed a full page advertisement in the May 8 Watertown Public Opinion. The ad uses the Power by People campaign which highlights the personal stories and persuasiveness of ACE’s grassroots members.

The ad features Marietta Lakness, a farmer, rancher, and investor in Glacial Lakes Energy, an ACE-member ethanol company that owns and operates facilities in Watertown and Mina, South Dakota. It focuses on how the RFS has supported Watertown’s economic growth and success. The text of the ad reads:

“Sometimes policy makers in DC get it right. Watertown, South Dakota is proof. So is Marietta Lakness. She raised a family in Hamlin County and has seen up close the challenges rural communities face. That’s why Marietta joined with her neighbors to build Glacial Lakes Energy, their very own home town biorefinery. Thanks to a policy called the Renewable Fuel Standard, today Watertown and places like it across the country produce clean renewable fuel for all Americans. The RFS also helped Marietta and 4,000 people like her who invested in Glacial Lakes Energy unleash a new chapter of hope and prosperity for the region. Today there’s a new market for her crops, new feed for her livestock, new fuel for her neighbors, and new dollars circulating throughout the region. It’s a jolt that’s plain to see all over town. Even though they live well outside the Beltway, the people of Watertown – folks like Marietta – are proof that good things come when Washington gets it right. And that’s worth keeping. Mr. President, help keep the RFS on track.”

You can read Marietta’s ethanol story here.

Senators Show Support for Biodiesel Industry

durbin-heidiSenator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) led a number of her Democratic colleagues in calling on Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to stop the continued delays of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) rule and highlighted the impact that the uncertainty of the past two years has had on biodiesel industry.

“We stand together as Democratic Senators who care about this industry, care about energy independence, care about farm country, and care about the diversity of our energy sources to plead with the President of the United States to participate in this discussion,” said Sen. Heitkamp. “If you really are serious about a diverse energy mix, why do what we’re doing to the biodiesel industry?”

Joining Sen. Heitkamp were Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Al Franken (D-MN), as well as biodiesel producers, who also stressed how the uncertainty caused by EPA’s misguided 2013 rule and delays on farmers and biodiesel workers.

adm-biodieselKent Engelbrecht, the manager of the biodiesel division at ADM, which has a biodiesel plant in Velva, North Dakota and is headquartered in Illinois, as well as Todd Ellis, vice president at Imperium Renewables near Seattle, Washington, discussed how the delays have impacted their own operations and others.

“2014 was poised to be a breakout year for biodiesel, until the 2014 RVO proposal intervened,” said Engelbrecht. “With the subsequent expiration of the biodiesel tax credit, we were forced to cease or slow production at all of our facilities.”

Listen to or download audio here: Comments from Senators and Biodiesel Industry on RFS Delays

The senators’ press conference was held as word came out Thursday that EPA has sent its new RFS volume obligation proposal, which is due to be released on June 1, on to the Office of Management and Budget for review.

National Biodiesel Board Vice President of Federal Affairs Anne Steckel thanked the senators for their support and was optimistic about news that EPA may be getting the RFS back on track. “What’s most important, however, is that we see volume growth in this pending proposal,” said Steckel. “The Obama Administration says regularly that it supports renewable fuels and wants America to lead, particularly in the development of Advanced Biofuels like biodiesel. This proposal will show if that’s true. The proof will be in the numbers.”

Biofuels Leaders Ask President for Meeting

A dozen organizations and companies representing biofuels interests this week sent a letter to President Obama asking for a meeting on proposed rules under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) due to come out next month.

fuels-americaThe letter comes on the heels of an analysis from the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) showing how EPA delays in setting volume requirements (RVOs) under the RFS have resulted in the loss of some $13.7 billion in investment in advanced biofuels like cellulosic ethanol. The letter was signed by BIO, the Renewable Fuels Association, Growth Energy, Advanced Ethanol Coalition, National Corn Growers Association, Association of Equipment Manufacturers, POET, DSM, Novozymes, and Abengoa.

“The EPA’s proposal in 2013 was an enormous disservice to you and your legacy, Mr. President,” the letter states. “Prior to the release of that proposal, we had asked to meet with the EPA, but were rebuffed. We would like to work with you to ensure that the mistake is not repeated.”

In addition to the letter and the analysis from BIO, the Fuels America coalition is running digital ads this week on Politico’s Environment & Energy section that say, “Will the next generation of biofuels be created in the United States or China? It’s up to you, Mr. President. Support the Renewable Fuel Standard.”

RFS Uncertainty Chills Advanced Biofuel Funding

biologoA new analysis from the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) finds delays in rulemaking for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) have chilled necessary investment in advanced and cellulosic biofuels.

According to the analysis, the industry has experienced an estimated $13.7 billion shortfall in investment over the past two years as the Environmental Protection Agency has delayed setting volume obligations for biofuels under the RFS.

(EPA) was nine months late issuing the 2013 RVOs and is more than 17 months late in issuing the 2014 rule. Further, the agency has made cellulosic biofuel producers wait an average of 29 months (more than two years) for approval of production pathways. Currently, 29 companies have unresolved petitions filed with EPA and they have been waiting on average more than 32 months for resolution. A majority of an estimated $13.7 billion shortfall in investment for cellulosic and new advanced technologies should therefore be attributed to EPA’s delays in issuing timely rules.

Brent Erickson, executive vice president of BIO’s Industrial & Environmental Section, notes that the situation came about just as plants were beginning to reach the commercial stage. “The chill in investment has had the heaviest impact on cellulosic biofuel developers,” said Erickson. “The delays in rulemaking have also undercut the industry’s ability to create new employment opportunities, resulting in the loss of more than 80,000 direct jobs.”

According to BIO, the industry has invested more than $5 billion in first-of-a-kind demonstration and commercial-scale biorefineries around the world. The analysis finds that as of April 2015, there are five commercial cellulosic biorefineries with a combined capacity of more than 50 million gallons within the United States and registered to meet the goals of the RFS, along with several pilot and demonstration plants. Additional commercial biorefineries are under construction.

NBB Talks Biodiesel Issues with NAFB

ww15-nbbThe National Biodiesel Board (NBB) took part in the annual National Association of Farm Broadcasting Washington Watch this week to talk with reporters from around the country about issues important to the industry, number one being get the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) back on track.

“We hope that they not only get it back on track but get those volumes out there, they need to be higher,” said NBB Vice President of Federal Affairs Anne Steckel, speaking about EPA’s plan to release overdue volume obligations under the law by June. “EPA has said they want 2014 volumes to be actual production, so for our industry that would be about 1.75 billion gallons.”

Steckel says they hope EPA will add several hundred million gallons to that each year going forward to support industry growth.

In this interview with Agri-Pulse reporter Spencer Chase, Steckel also talks about the status of the biodiesel tax incentive. Interview with Anne Steckel, NBB