USDA Deputy Secretary to Address National Ethanol Conference

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USDA Deputy Secretary Steve Censky will be a keynote speaker on the final day of the 24th annual National Ethanol Conference to be held Feb. 11-13 in Orlando.

“The U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Deputy Secretary Censky in particular, has been an effective voice and determined advocate for farmers and renewable fuel producers,” said Renewable Fuels Association president and CEO Geoff Cooper. “USDA and Deputy Secretary Censky played a key role in the Administration’s decision to allow the year-round use of E15 and promoting ethanol in countless countries around the globe.”

Earlier this week, Censky spoke at a Farm Foundation Forum about implementing the 2018 farm bill now that the federal government is back at work.

Censky said USDA is using a “Fitbit” type of approach to tracking goals. “We have our own ‘FBit’ we call a Farm Bit at USDA and it’s a Farm Bill Implementation tracker,” said Censky.

Censky chairs USDA’s Farm Bill Implementation Working Group that includes representation from each of the agency’s mission areas. “We have asked all of our agency’s to fill out this ‘FarmBit,'” said Censky. “We look forward to sharing more details of what the timelines are going to be in the next few weeks.”

Listen to Censky’s comments here:
USDA Deputy Secretary Steve Censky at Farm Foundation Forum

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EPA Nomination Advances to Full Senate

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The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) voted 11-10 along party lines Tuesday to advance the nomination of Andrew Wheeler to be administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.

“Mr. Wheeler has served as deputy administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency since April of 2018, when the Senate confirmed his nomination with bipartisan support,” said Committee Chair Senator John Barrasso (R-WY). “Just last week, 63 agricultural and forestry groups wrote in support of Mr. Wheeler’s nomination to be the administrator.”

Ethanol organizations are continuing to call on Wheeler to take immediate action on approving year-round E15 and reallocating ethanol blending obligations lost to small refinery exemptions. The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) sent Wheeler a poster-sized letter signed by hundreds of 2019 Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit attendees asking him to keep President Trump’s promises to rural America. IRFA Policy Director Nathan Hohnstein is pictured here holding the signed letter.

American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) CEO Brian Jennings wrote to senators last week urging them to get Wheeler’s promise he will finalize a legally-defensible RVP rule for year-round E15 by summer, and reallocate waived ethanol blending obligations. “As the full Senate takes up his nomination, it is critical for the Acting Administrator to repair the damage done to renewable fuels by his predecessor,” said Jennings.

Wheeler has been the acting administrator at the EPA since July of last year, when former administrator Scott Pruitt resigned.

ACE, EPA, Ethanol, Ethanol News, Iowa RFA

Next Gen Biodiesel Scientists Take One Small Step

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As we celebrate 50 years since that first small step for man on the moon, the Next Generation of Biodiesel Scientists (NGBS) are continuing to take that giant leap for mankind doing research here on Earth for the future.

NGBS co-chair Jennifer Greenstein, North Carolina State University, moderated a panel of four young scientists from around the world during the recent National Biodiesel Conference in San Diego. Haixin Peng, Auburn University is from China; Shyam Paudel, Missouri University of Science and Technology, grew up in Nepal and is another NGBS co-chair; Santhosh Poojary, NMAM Institute of Technology-Nitte in India; and Tatiana Melloa at Louisiana State University comes to us from Brazil. What they all have in common is a love for science and biofuels.

A few years ago, Jesse Mayer was NGBS co-chair during his studies at the University of Nevada-Reno. He now works in San Diego at Thermo Fisher Scientific, so when he heard the biodiesel conference was going to be there, Jesse wanted to come and share his story about how being involved with NGBS helped him in his job search. Watch the video below and check out the student activities at the conference in this photo album.

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Growth Energy Sues Over Small Refinery Exemptions

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Growth Energy has filed a federal lawsuit challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) failure to address small refinery exemptions in its 2019 renewable volume obligation (RVO) rulemaking issued late last year.

“EPA’s inaction on addressing lost gallons due to small refinery exemptions in this rulemaking is a clear violation of law,” said Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor. “In doing nothing to remedy these and other deficiencies, EPA has again failed to meet its statutory obligation to ensure that annual RVOs are met each year. Today’s filing calls for greater accountability from EPA to ensure that every renewable fuel obligation is fulfilled as the law intended.”

Despite repeated challenges by Growth and others in 2018, both in petitions and comments to the agency and before federal courts, EPA has steadfastly failed to make good its statutory obligation to ensure that RVOs established by the Agency are met each year. EPA explicitly refused to take up the issue of small refinery exemptions in its 2019 RVO rulemaking, stating that such exemptions were “beyond the scope” of the rulemaking.

Growth Energy filed extensive comments challenging EPA’s refusal to address the issue, in particular challenging EPA’s failure to reallocate renewable volume obligations of exempt refiners.

EPA, Ethanol, Growth Energy

Novozymes’ Bioenergy Business Grew in 2018

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2018 was a very good year for Novozymes’ Bioenergy business with 12% organic sales growth, on top of a strong 11% growth in 2017, according to the company’s latest annual report.

Tina Sejersgård Fanø, Executive Vice President, Agriculture & Bioenergy says growth in the sector was driven by the launch of new yeast products – Innova Drive and Lift – for conventional biofuels. Novozymes also saw good performance in Latin America with producers expanding into corn-based ethanol production.

“We´re happy to see continued discussions supporting expanded use of biofuels. In the U.S. we are awaiting clarity on E15, which is expected sometime before summer,” said Fanø. “In Brazil, the RenovaBio framework should support the continued expansion of corn-based ethanol production. China is investing in new capacity, and the REDII directive has been adopted in the EU, with Member States now working on the implementation process”

The company estimates that U.S. and global ethanol production was up around one percent in 2018, ethanol producer margins were under pressure and inventory levels were elevated.

enzymes, Ethanol, Ethanol News, Novozymes

Deere Showcases Biodiesel Gator and Mower

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John Deere took part in the 2019 Biodiesel Vehicle Technology Showcase to highlight biodiesel-friendly vehicles in its consumer lineup.

For one, there is the diesel powered 865M XUV Gator, which is approved for up to B20. New this year is the diesel Z994R Commercial ZTrak™ zero-turn mower.

Learn more in the video below from Steve Geick with John Deere who presented at the National Biodiesel Conference.

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Ethanol Production Lower, Stocks Higher

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For the week ending January 25, ethanol production was lower while stocks were higher.

According to the latest Energy Information Agency (EIA) data analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association, ethanol production decreased 1.8% (down 19,000 barrels per day, or b/d) to an average of 1.012 million b/d—or 42.50 million gallons daily. The four-week average for ethanol production remained at 1.023 million b/d for an annualized rate of 15.68 billion gallons. Weekly production was 2.7% lower than the level a year ago, while the four-week average was 1.6% lower.

Stocks of ethanol increased 2.1% to a 15-week high of 24.0 million barrels. The stocks build occurred primarily on the Gulf Coast.

Ethanol, Ethanol News, RFA

Iowa Biofuels Industry “Hurting but Hopeful”

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Iowa Renewable Fuels Association Executive Director Monte Shaw told the 2019 Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit last week that 2018 was his toughest year yet working for the biofuels industry.

“With forces inside of EPA and the West Wing trying to convince President Trump to gut the RFS, there were months when I went to sleep wondering if a tweet the next day would undo the last 19 years of our work,” he said. “The other side never stopped trying to push President Trump into a so-called deal on the RFS. But our champions never wavered. Yes, we wanted year-round E15, but not at the cost of gutting the RFS.”

Shaw emphasized that despite the policy challenges, the biofuels industry fought hard and victory was won when President Donald Trump announced on October 9th in Council Bluffs, Iowa that he had ordered the EPA to begin a rulemaking process for year-round E15.

“While the White House announced year-round E15 would be coupled with some RIN transparency reforms, those reforms will not impact RFS volumes,” Shaw said. “No point of obligation. No 10-cent RIN price cap. No RIN export scheme. Just year-round E15. In the midst of a very tough year, we really should take a moment to savor that victory.”

As 2019 ramps up, Shaw said the state of the biofuels industry is “hurting but hopeful.”

Listen to Shaw’s full speech on Iowa Agribusiness Radio Network.

Ethanol, Ethanol News, Iowa RFA

RFA Asks EPA to Use Reset Rule to Restore Lost RFS Gallons

Cindy Zimmerman

With the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee scheduled vote next week on the nomination of Andrew Wheeler to be administrator of EPA, Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) CEO Geoff Cooper sent a letter to Wheeler this week to provide input on the agency’s upcoming RFS reset proposal.

RFA is asking Wheeler to use the reset rule as an opportunity to restore the RFS volumes that were “inappropriately erased” by granting numerous small refinery exemptions and other actions, including:

The 500 million gallons of renewable fuel improperly waived from the 2016 standards, as required by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals’ remand in Americans for Clean Energy v. EPA;
The approximately 232 million Renewable Identification Number (“RIN”) “write-off” as part of the Philadelphia Energy Solutions Refining and Marketing, LLC bankruptcy settlement; and
The 2.25 billion RINs attributable to 48 small refinery exemptions granted for compliance years 2016 and 2017, of which approximately 1.8 billion RINs were for conventional biofuel.

“As a result of these waivers or exemptions from required volumes, many ethanol plants have recently idled, shut down, or announced layoffs. These compliance exemptions also have hurt demand and prices for American farmers. At a time when trade disputes are dampening export market opportunities, the EPA-induced disruption in domestic ethanol and corn demand is devastating,” Cooper wrote.

Cooper explains that the “reset” provision of the RFS is triggered when EPA waives certain volumes of the RFS by 20% or more in two consecutive years or 50% in one year. “So we’ve hit that point and EPA is working on a proposal to reset the 2020-2022 volumes,” said Cooper.

Listen to his explanation here: RFA CEO Geoff Cooper explains reset provision of RFS

Audio, EPA, Ethanol, Ethanol News, RFA, RFS

Advanced Biofuels USA’s Ivancic Appointed to MD Clean Energy Group

Cindy Zimmerman

The Maryland Clean Energy Center (MCEC) appointed Advanced Biofuels USA executive director Joanne Ivancic to serve on its 2019 Advisory Council. The council consists of 50 energy industry representatives and exists to develop a work plan for the Maryland Clean Energy Center (MCEC) and set the framework for activity of the organization,

“I look forward to doing just that here in Maryland as part of the Maryland Clean Energy Center’s Advisory Council,” said Ivancic. “People think of solar and wind when they think of clean energy. My goal will be to help them understand that we also need clean energy for transportation and that biofuels can fill that need in the near term by fueling cars, trucks, planes and trains that we use today.”

The Maryland Clean Energy Center was created in 2008 to encourage the transformation of the energy economy. MCEC works to implement financing solutions that catalyze the growth of business, create jobs, and make clean energy technologies, products and services affordable and accessible for Maryland consumers.

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