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

Sen Klobuchar: Time to Govern by Opportunity

Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) keynoted the opening session of the BioEnergy 2015: Opportunities in a Changing Energy Landscape conference in Washington, D.C. During her remarks, she noted it isn’t an easy time to be in Washington in terms of Sen Amy Klobuchar BioEnergy 2015energy policy and the country has “lost opportunities” in energy policy since 9-11.

Sen Klobuchar explained that in the summer of 2008, right before the downturn, energy legislation was pushed through but legislators were unable to push through a federal Renewable Electricity Standard (RES). Instead, President Obama, during the worst downturn since the Great Depression, opted to move forward with failed Cap and Trade legislation.

“We’ve been governing by crisis,” said Klobuchar who stressed that now is the moment to govern by opportunity. She quoted Pope Francis who recently released his Encyclical on climate change who asked, “What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us?” A better world, said Klobuchar.

Klobuchar ended her remarks focusing on ways the country can build on the progress of the past few years, including the success of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

Listen to Senator Amy Klobuchar’s remarks: Senator Amy Klobuchar Remarks

View the 2015 BioEnergy 2015 photo album.

(Note: two days after her presentation the EPA held a public comment hearing in Kansas City where hundreds of people from across the country came together to support the RFS. Coverage can be found here.)

Citizen Testimony at EPA RFS Hearing

epa-hearing-austinOf the more than 240 stakeholders who testified at the EPA hearing last week on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), at least 35 were citizens who spoke about why they felt it was important for our nation to continuing increasing the use of biofuels.

One of those was Austin Ludowese (pictured far left) of Stewart, Minnesota, who was raised on a family farm and is a senior at the University of Wisconsin-Stout majoring in business administration. “I was here representing a lot of young farmers who have the desire to come back to the farm,” said Ludowese who told EPA how the RFS encouraging ethanol production has helped his small community.

Ludowese says he was encouraged by the turnout at the hearing. “It really is overwhelming to see all the different supporters come from all the different areas, whether it’s an ethanol plant or just a simple farmer,” he said. “It’s a lot of the same message just expressed in different ways.”

He added that he does believe the EPA is listening and paying attention to what the stakeholders have to say about the RFS.

Interview with EPA hearing witness Austin Ludowese

EPA RFS Public Hearing photo album

Coverage of EPA RFS Hearing is sponsored by
Coverage of EPA RFS Hearing sponsored by RFA

EPA’s Grundler Visits #RFSWorks Rally

rfs-rally-grundlerThe EPA official in charge of last week’s hearing on proposed volume obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) proved to be open and engaged and truly interested in listening to what stakeholders had to say about the proposal.

Chris Grundler, EPA Office of Transportation and Air Quality Director, even left the hearing for a time and walked down the street to listen at the #RFSWorks rally and spend some time talking one on one with those in attendance, including Renewable Fuels Association chairman Randy Doyal.

In his opening statement, Grundler said EPA set the volume levels lower than the RFS statute requires because the law allows reductions under certain circumstances. “We believe those circumstances are upon us,” he said, noting specifically the fact that cellulosic biofuel has not come on line as fast as hoped. “Simply setting the standards at the levels targeted by Congress and trusting this will sufficiently incentivize the market to achieve the mandates … would be irresponsible.”

At the same time, Grundler acknowledged that the statutory volume targets “were intended to be ambitious” and EPA believes the standards they have proposed for 2014, 2015 and 2016 are “ambitious but within reach of the responsive marketplace.”

Grundler listened attentively to testimony presented by stakeholders at the hearing and also encouraged written comments to be sent in to the agency by July 27.

Listen to Grundler’s opening remarks here: EPA's Chris Grundler remarks at RFS hearing

EPA RFS Public Hearing photo album

Coverage of EPA RFS Hearing is sponsored by
Coverage of EPA RFS Hearing sponsored by RFA

EPA Hearing Turnout to Show #RFSWorks

The public hearing in Kansas City, Kansas last week on EPA’s proposed volume obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard was a who’s who of the biofuels industry and then some.

epa-hearing-panelA total of 254 people on 43 panels testified in two different rooms for about seven and a half hours. It was over twice as many people who testified at a public hearing in Arlington, Virginia in December 2013 on EPA’s first proposed RVO for 2014 that was ultimately withdrawn.

The vast majority of those testifying at the hearing were biofuels supporters, less than a dozen represented the oil industry or others opposed to increasing use of biofuels. Ethanol and biodiesel producers, corn growers, agribusiness interests and fuel retailers from across the nation testified, in addition to several state lawmakers, two governors and their agriculture secretaries.

The very first panel consisted of representatives from the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE), American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, American Soybean Association, National Farmers Union, National Biodiesel Board and the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA).

RFA senior vice president Geoff Cooper urged the agency to implement the statute as Congress intended and abandon its blend wall methodology in setting the 2014–2016 renewable volume obligations.

“We continue to believe EPA is overstepping the bounds of its legal authority by proposing to partially waive the RFS based on perceived distribution capacity constraints,” Cooper said. “Nothing in the statute allows EPA to set the renewable volume obligations (RVOs) based on the so-called ‘blend wall’ or alleged infrastructure limitations. Congress considered measures that would have allowed waivers based on distribution infrastructure. But they rejected those concepts because they knew allowing such off-ramps would allow oil companies to hold the RFS program hostage.”

Listen to Cooper and others on the first panel here: EPA RFS Hearing panel 1

EPA RFS Public Hearing photo album

Coverage of EPA RFS Hearing is sponsored by
Coverage of EPA RFS Hearing sponsored by RFA

Retailers Counter EPA Blend Wall Beliefs

Many fuel retailers were on hand at the EPA public hearing last week on volume obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) to tell their stories about selling higher ethanol blends.

epa-hearing-retailerAmong those who testified at the hearing and also spoke at the #RFSWorks rally was Cheryl Near, who owns Jump Start gas station in Wichita, Kansas with her husband Phil. The couple is featured in the movie PUMP, a documentary about America’s addiction to oil and the monopoly of the oil companies that works to prevent consumer choice at the pump.

“We need to be supporting homegrown renewables, we need be blending more ethanol into our fuel supply, not less,” said Near at the rally, who added that oil companies are controlling the price of higher ethanol blends. “We need blender pumps, we need to buy direct from the ethanol plants, and then we can pass our savings on to the consumers.”

Listen to Near’s rally comments here: Fuel retailer Cheryl Near at RFS Rally

Other retailers who testified at the hearing included Scott Zaremba, owner of Zarco USA, and Charlie Good, owner of Good and Quick convenience store in Nevada, Iowa. “We have seen our ethanol sales numbers increase as we educate the public on the higher ethanol blends,” said Zaremba, who was the first retailer to offer E15 in the United States. “Renewable blends make up 98% of my gasoline sales mix, and almost 30% of the fuel I sell is in renewable blends above ten percent,” added Good.

Dave Sovereign, owner and operator of the Cresco Fast Stop, summarized the thoughts of many retailers, telling EPA, “When consumers have a choice, there is no blend wall.”

Other stories of higher blend fuel retailers can be found on the American Coalition for Ethanol website Flexfuelforward.com.

EPA RFS Public Hearing photo album

Coverage of EPA RFS Hearing is sponsored by
Coverage of EPA RFS Hearing sponsored by RFA

Corn Growers Testify and Rally for RFS

Corn growers from across the nation were in Kansas City, Kansas last week to testify and rally in support of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

rfs-hearing-ncgaLeaders of the National Corn Growers Association were among over 200 stakeholders to provide comments on the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to reduce the volume of ethanol required to be used in the nation’s fuel supply under the RFS.

NCGA President Chip Bowling of Maryland, NCGA Ethanol Committee chairman Jeff Sandbourn, and NCGA Chairman Martin Barbre of Illinois testified that EPA’s proposal would cut nearly 4 billion gallons of ethanol from the RFS through 2016, representing nearly a billion and a half bushels in lost corn demand.

rfs-rally-chip“We simply cannot afford – and will not tolerate – efforts to cut the demand for corn, and that’s exactly what your proposal will do,” Bowling told the EPA. “We cannot let this stand. We’ve done our part, and our allies in the ethanol industry have done their part. It’s time the EPA sided with those of us supporting a domestic, renewable fuel that’s better for the environment.”

Corn growers also led a rally near the hearing in support of the RFS. “We have never before seen so much grassroots interest in a particular issue,” said Bowling. “The many who came here today had to set aside important work back home, with delayed planting or other important field work. They are here because they know what’s at stake.”

Listen to the corn growers testimony here:
NCGA testimony at RFS hearing

Listen to the rally speakers here:
RFS Works Rally

EPA RFS Public Hearing photo album

Coverage of EPA RFS Hearing is sponsored by
Coverage of EPA RFS Hearing sponsored by RFA

RFA Chairman to EPA: Tear Down the Blend Wall

rfs-rally-doyleTestifying at a public hearing on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and rally in Kansas City, Kansas Thursday, Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) board chairman Randy Doyal urged EPA to “tear down the blend wall” and implement the statute as Congress intended.

In his testimony at the hearing, the CEO of Minnesota-based Al-Corn Clean Fuel said that even though gasoline consumption might be slightly lower today than Congress anticipated when it adopted the RFS, it was always the intent of the program to push beyond the blend wall and increase the share of renewable fuels in our nation’s fuel supply.

“…the Clean Air Act statute does not permit EPA to take into account ‘factors that affect consumption,’ such as purported infrastructure constraints or the so-called ‘blend wall,’ in determining whether to grant a general waiver of the RFS,” Doyal noted. “By embracing the ‘blend wall’ concept, the EPA proposal not only violates the law, but also undermines the incentive to expand biofuel production and distribution capacity, and allows oil companies to only blend as much renewable fuel as they are comfortable using.”

Doyal also made remarks at the #RFSWorks rally. RFA chair Randy Doyal at RFS rally

EPA RFS Public Hearing photo album

Coverage of EPA RFS Hearing is sponsored by
Coverage of EPA RFS Hearing sponsored by RFA

Governors Tell EPA the #RFSWorks

The governors of Iowa and Missouri both spoke out in bipartisan support of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) during a hearing and rally Thursday in Kansas City.

rfs-hearing-branstadIowa Republican Governor Terry Branstad drew applause several times during his testimony at the public hearing on EPA’s proposed volume obligations under the RFS. “We are pleased to be here and get outside the Beltway where Big Oil’s army of well-paid lobbyists seem to have so much undue influence,” said Branstad to applause. While Branstad acknowledged the positive changes EPA made in the proposal for biodiesel, when it comes to ethanol “the agency seems to have bought Big Oil’s faulty arguments hook, line, and sinker.”

rally-nixon“By setting the RFS below the Congressional targets, the EPA caps the amount that will be produced,” said Missouri Democrat Governor Jay Nixon. “It is counter intuitive for the agency charged with enforcing the clean air laws to impose a defacto limit on ethanol, a product which so clearly emits fewer greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.”

“Quite frankly, I’m not seeing how it’s going to hurt our economy to produce cheaper, better, cleaner fuel, and it’s certainly not going to hurt our environment,” said Nixon.

Both governors went from the hearing across the street to a Rally for Rural America to support the RFS and both had their state agriculture directors with them as well. Listen to or download their testimony and rally speeches below.

Iowa and Missouri Governors at EPA Hearing IA and MO governors and ag directors at RFS rally

EPA RFS Public Hearing photo album

Coverage of EPA RFS Hearing is sponsored by
Coverage of EPA RFS Hearing sponsored by RFA

EPA Official Ready for Long Day

rfs-hearing-agritalkHundreds of stakeholders are gathered in Kansas City, Kansas for a public hearing on the proposed volume obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

Chris Grundler, Director of EPA’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality, is the official in charge and he took a few minutes this morning to sit down with AgriTalk and discuss the proposal and his expectations for the hearing. In a quick interview with Domestic Fuel, Grundler talked about what he learned during his visit to East Kansas Agri-Energy “What struck me is that this plant was built by a bunch of neighbors and now ten years later it’s very successful,” said Grundler.

The hearing is now underway and Grundler says “we will be here until the last person speaks.”

Interview with Chris Grundler, EPA

EPA RFS Public Hearing photo album

Coverage of EPA RFS Hearing is sponsored by
Coverage of EPA RFS Hearing sponsored by RFA