Study Finds Propane School Buses Decrease Harmful Emissions

Carrie Muehling Leave a Comment

A West Virginia University study shows emissions measured from propane school buses are much lower than those from diesel buses.

West Virginia University researchers studied nitrogen oxides (NOx), highly damaging emissions that are federally regulated due to their negative impact on human health and the environment. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, exposure to NOx exhaust can trigger health problems like asthma, bronchitis, and other respiratory issues. The primary source of NOx is motor vehicles — including school buses.

“This study is monumental from an emissions and health perspective for students, schools, and communities across the country,” said Tucker Perkins, president and CEO of the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC). “Children arriving to school in propane buses aren’t exposed to harmful NOx emissions; they feel better and are more prepared to learn.”

In this comprehensive study commissioned by PERC, West Virginia University’s Center for Alternative Fuels Engines and Emissions (CAFEE) completed two types of tests at different times during 2018 on four Blue Bird school buses. Test routes included both city and highway roads, and a stop-and-go route similar to standard school bus operation. Researchers installed a portable emissions measurement system to measure exhaust emissions on each vehicle and performed test runs on each bus with both cold and hot starts, for a total of 36 test routes.

The study’s results demonstrated that distance-specific NOx emissions measured from the diesel bus were significantly higher than those measured from the propane bus for tests conducted in early 2018.

As a nonprofit research center that works extensively on emission reduction research, CAFEE also conducted research that exposed the Volkswagen emissions violations in 2015, resulting in a $14.7 billion settlement. Nearly $3 billion is set aside for the sole purpose of funding transportation projects in each state that reduce NOx emissions, like adoption of propane school buses. About 1 million students in more than 900 school districts across the nation ride to school in propane school buses each day.

Propane, when used in on-road engines, is commonly referred to as autogas. The full study, entitled “In-Use Emissions and Performance Testing of Propane-Fueled Engines,” can be found here.

autogas, PERC, Propane

MN Data Shows More E15 Sales in June

Cindy Zimmerman Leave a Comment

Sales of E15 in Minnesota totaled 6.29 million gallons in June, the first month following elimination of the summertime E15 restriction, according to data from the Minnesota Department of Commerce, the highest volume ever recorded for the month of June.

The Renewable Fuels Association says the data released Wednesday prove that the marketplace is already responding to President Trump’s elimination of a decades-old regulatory barrier severely limiting the sale of E15 in the summertime. That’s the good news. However, RFA notes, the Minnesota data also show that the wave of Renewable Fuel Standard compliance exemptions granted to oil refiners is suppressing more rapid expansion of E15 and other higher-level ethanol blends.

In recent months, E15 sales volumes per station have been slightly below year-ago levels due to weakened RFS requirements and lower prices for the RFS compliance credits known as RINs. From December 2018 through May 2019, E15 sales per station per day were 13% lower, on average, than the average during the same period the year before. Not coincidentally, RIN prices were three times lower in the period of lower E15 sales.

“These data provide further evidence that EPA’s rampant issuance of RFS small refiner exemptions is suppressing growth in E15 and other higher-level blends,” RFA president and CEO Geoff Cooper said. “The bailouts given to refiners in recent years led to a collapse in the price of RFS compliance credits, which provide the marketplace with a powerful incentive to expand E15 availability. That incentive is greatly diminished when credit values are very low—as is currently the case. This is more proof that EPA’s reckless use of small refinery waivers is resulting in lost demand for ethanol producers.”

Minnesota is the only state that consistently reports sales volumes of E15 and flex fuels like E85. With a volume of 6.29 million gallons in June, the total volume of E15 sold in Minnesota for the first half of 2019 amounted to 36.6 million gallons. On an annualized basis, E15 sales in Minnesota would hit 73 million gallons this year, well above the 59.4 million gallons achieved in 2018.

E15, Ethanol, Ethanol News, RFA

California Approves B20 Biodiesel in Underground Storage Tanks

Cindy Zimmerman Leave a Comment

A decade of work by the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) has finally paid off as California has cleared the way for storing biodiesel blends of up to 20 percent (B20) in underground storage tanks, removing the last major barrier to mainstream use in the state.

NBB worked with several member companies and the California Advanced Biofuels Alliance to provide the State Water Board with data necessary to demonstrate B20 compatibility in underground storage tanks.

Biodiesel, a renewable fuel for diesel engines, significantly reduces greenhouse gases compared to fossil fuels. This makes biodiesel use an important strategy in meeting the state’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard. The California Air Resources Board affirms biodiesel reduces greenhouse gases by at least 50 percent, and often by as much as 81 percent compared to petroleum. This gives biodiesel some of the best carbon scores among all liquid fuels.

The vast majority of diesel fuel is stored in underground storage tanks, particularly at retail fueling locations. Although biodiesel biodegrades in water as fast as sugar, regulators had concerns that any degradation of UST materials could allow diesel fuel to compromise the water supply.

The California State Water Resources Control Board amended California Underground Storage Tank (UST) Regulations on August 6. The regulations now say that diesel containing up to B20, meeting the ASTM standard for B20 (D7467), “shall be recognized as equivalent to diesel for the purpose of complying with existing approval requirements for double-walled USTs, unless any material or component of the UST system has been determined to not be compatible with B20.”

The language reverses the previous wording of the regulation, which in effect required tank owners to prove that every component of the tank was compatible.

Biodiesel, NBB

Lallemand VP Joins RFA at Sturgis

Cindy Zimmerman Leave a Comment

Craig Ammann is a motorcycle enthusiast who has been going to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally for about 15 years, but this year he has been able to work for the first time with the Renewable Fuels Association to help educate bikers about ethanol.

“This whole initiative is very near and dear to me as a long term motorcyclist myself,” said Ammann, who is Vice President of Sales, North America at Lallemand Biofuels & Distilled Spirits. “Education is key and there’s so much misinformation floating out there.”

Listen to this interview with Craig from Sturgis.

Interview with Craig Ammann, Lallemand Biofuels

2019 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally with RFA at The Chip photo album

Audio, Ethanol, Ethanol News, Motorcycle, RFA, Sturgis

REG Reports 2019 Q2 Financial Results

Carrie Muehling Leave a Comment

Renewable Energy Group, Inc. (REG) announced a net loss for the second quarter ended June 30, 2019.

Revenues for the second quarter were $560.6 million on 197.4 million gallons of fuel sold. Net loss from continuing operations attributable to common stockholders was $57.6 million in the second quarter of 2019, compared to net income from continuing operations attributable to common stockholders of $28.3 million in the second quarter of 2018. Adjusted EBITDA in the second quarter was negative $42.3 million, compared to Adjusted EBITDA of $44.3 million in the second quarter of 2018.

“The challenging margin environment continued in the second quarter as a result of uncertainty around both the BTC and small refinery exemptions,” said Cynthia (CJ) Warner, President and Chief Executive Officer. “Within this context, our underlying performance was strong with a 15.0% increase in gallons sold and a 2.0% increase in gallons produced. We continue to believe that the BTC will be reinstated, which will reward our strong operational performance.”

Warner continued, “On the non-operating front, we are pleased that we finalized the sale of our Life Sciences business and paid off our 2019 convertible notes without financing, primarily from cash on hand.”

Read the entire news release here.

AgWired Energy, REG

Twisted Sister’s Dee Snider Appreciates Ethanol

Cindy Zimmerman Leave a Comment

Dee Snider, lead singer for Twisted Sister, known for the popular bikers song “Ride To Live, Live To Ride”, served as Captain for the 12th annual Legends Ride at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, sponsored by the Renewable Fuels Association and the Sturgis Buffalo Chip Campground.

The “We’re Not Gonna Take It” singer had some nice things to say about ethanol prior to the ride. “Renewable fuels, ethanol is amazing and the more we use, the better,” said Snider. “I’ve been an environmentalist forever and driving muscle cars and motorcycles isn’t the friendliest so it’s nice to have an alternative.”

Listen here:
Interview with Dee Snider, Twisted Sister

2019 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally with RFA at The Chip photo album

Audio, Ethanol, Ethanol News, RFA, Sturgis

RFA Stands by Facts in Ad

Cindy Zimmerman 1 Comment

The American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) took offense at an ad recently run by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) in Morning Consult comparing the effects of year-round E15 vs refinery exemptions and what each means to the renewable fuels industry and consumers. As a way of “fact-checking” the RFA ad, AFPM wrote a blog post “scribbling things on Post-it Notes and marking up the ad with a red pen,” according to RFA in a response blog post.

There were very few facts in AFPM’s response, except one, which they got wrong. AFPM claimed the blend rate of ethanol has gone up each year. But the ethanol blend rate dropped from 10.13% in 2017 to 10.07% in 2018. Even more striking is that in January 2018 EIA had forecast that the blend rate would increase to 10.26% in 2018, which did not happen. The practical impact of the lower blend rate was a loss of hundreds of millions of gallons of ethanol demand.

RFA Communications Director Ken Colombini concludes simply, “Here’s a fact for AFPM: We stand by our ad.”

Read the whole post.

Ethanol, Ethanol News, RFA

Educating #SturgisRally Bikers about E10 Once Again

chuck zimmerman Leave a Comment

RFA at Sturgis Buffalo ChipFrom the Ag Media Summit and IFAJ Congress to the Sturgis Rally at the Sturgis Buffalo Chip. There is quite a difference in the local flora and fauna if you know what I mean.

Here’s the Renewable Fuels Association team with Rusty Wallace of racing fame and Rod Woodruff, owner of the Buffalo Chip. We’ll be doing on-stage promotions and free fuel happy hours this week as we help motorcycle enthusiasts learn more about using E10 in their machines which all manufacturers warranty.

This annual event has been a valuable opportunity for RFA to overcome mis-information about this renewable fuel. I’ve been working RFA’s Robert White and team for years now and we have many repeat visitors to the free fuel happy hours to fill their motorcycles with a high octane E10 blend of gas so they can go ride all they want. I’ve interviewed countless riders who have used E10 and never had a single problem with it. We’re also doing on-stage promotions each night prior to the big name entertainment which this year features Disturbed, Snoop Dog and Toby Keith. Now that’s a contrast in music! It’s going to be fun and of course, educational.

2019 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally with RFA at The Chip photo album

AgWired Energy, biofuels, Ethanol, RFA

Ethanol Report on Plans for 2019 Sturgis Rally

Cindy Zimmerman

The Renewable Fuels Association is back for the 11th year at the 79th annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally Aug. 2-11 in Sturgis, S.D., once again partnering with the Buffalo Chip Campground to provide free 10% ethanol for bikers along with the facts about ethanol use in motorcycles.

In this edition of The Ethanol Report podcast, RFA Vice President of Industry Relations Robert White talks about plans for this year’s rally and why this event is important for ethanol education.

Ethanol Report on 2019 Sturgis Rally plans

Subscribe to the podcast via iTunes

Audio, Ethanol, Ethanol News, Ethanol Report, Motorcycle, RFA, Sturgis

Coalition Goes to Court Over Biofuel Waivers

Cindy Zimmerman

A coalition of seven agricultural and biofuels organizations is seeking court action to force the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to account for lost biofuel volumes resulting from small refinery exemptions granted by the agency.

The coalition consisting of the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE), Growth Energy (Growth), National Biodiesel Board (NBB), National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO), and National Farmers Union (NFU) had petitioned EPA for redress on this issue in June 2018 but has received no response from the agency. In the petition filed this week, they are asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to lift a stay it placed on the joint 2018 petition asking the court to protect the renewable fuels industry from undue harm caused by EPA.

The coalition had asked for the stay to give EPA time to review its request to reconsider its current regulations. EPA’s response never arrived, but EPA’s statements and actions over the past 13 months indicate that EPA has effectively denied the request. Not content to wait further, the coalition asked the court to step in and restart proceedings.

“Thirteen months have passed since the filing of the petition, without even a proposed substantive response from EPA,” the motion states. “Meanwhile, the Agency has shown through various actions that it is not genuinely considering the Coalition’s administrative petition and has in effect denied it.”

The coalition wants EPA to revise its Renewable Fuel Standard regulations for setting annual percentage standards of renewable fuel to account for small refinery exemptions the Agency issues retroactively. EPA’s current regulations factor in only future small refinery exemptions granted prior to the compliance year, despite the fact that most of the exemptions granted in recent years have been for compliance periods that had already ended.

ACE, Biodiesel, biofuels, corn, EPA, Ethanol, Ethanol News, NCGA, RFA, RFS