EPA Extends RFS Compliance Deadlines

Cindy Zimmerman

The first decision by the new administration that impacts biofuels is a disappointment to the industry. Late Tuesday afternoon, the Environmental Protection Agency extended compliance deadlines for the Renewable Fuel Standard, a move proposed under the Trump Administration that is opposed by biofuels supporters.

EPA finalized a rule to extend the renewable fuel standard (RFS) program’s compliance deadlines for 2019 and 2020. Under the extended deadlines, obligated parties must submit 2020 compliance documentation by January 31, 2022; and the associated attest engagement reports by June 1, 2022. EPA also extended the deadline for obligated parties to submit attest engagement reports for the 2021 compliance year to September 1, 2022. The deadline for obligated parties to submit compliance documentation for 2021 is unchanged.

Finally, EPA extended the deadlines for small refineries to comply with 2019 volume standards. Under the extended deadlines small refineries must submit 2019 compliance documents by November 30, 2021; and the associated attest engagement reports by June 1, 2022.

In comments on the proposal made earlier this month, Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Geoff Cooper said it was unnecessary and the timelines excessive. “All that the extensions would do is compound problems that the EPA itself created under the last administration: the massive and unjustified increase in small refinery exemptions and the failure to finalize the 2021 renewable volume obligations by the statutory deadline. The rationale that the EPA laid out is either not valid or not sufficient to extend the RFS compliance deadlines.”

EPA, Ethanol, Ethanol News, Renewable Fuels Association, RFA, RFS

Nebraska Ethanol Emerging Issues Forum This Week

Cindy Zimmerman

The annual Nebraska Ethanol: Emerging Issues Forum will be held virtually this week, March 25-26.

The forum, organized by the Nebraska Ethanol Board and Renewable Fuels Nebraska, brings together ethanol producers and others integrally involved in production, technology, policymaking and marketing of biofuels and its co-products. The event runs from 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Thursday and 9 a.m. to noon Friday.

Topics include an overview and discussion of the most pressing federal policies, regulatory actions, and markets affecting ethanol demand. The federal policy panel includes industry leaders from the Renewable Fuels Association, Growth Energy, National Corn Growers Association, and the American Coalition for Ethanol.

Speakers will also address the future of FFVs, carbon capture and sequestration in Nebraska, biocampuses, and University of Nebraska-Lincoln engineering researchers will share detailed results of their E30 Demonstration, which showed that the higher blend was as safe to use as E15 in non-flex fuel vehicles.

Check the schedule and register here.

Ethanol, Ethanol News

RFA Urges New EPA Admin to Support RFS

Cindy Zimmerman

The Renewable Fuels Association is urging new EPA Administrator Michael Regan to “stay the course” on the Renewable Fuel Standard, as the policy faces renewed attacks from oil refiners.

In a letter to Regan, RFA responds to several assertions about the RFS and RIN credits made by the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM).

“Contrary to the refiners’ claim that higher RIN values are a sign the RFS program is ‘broken,’ elevated RIN values are, in fact, a sign that the RFS is finally being allowed to work as intended to transform the transportation fuels marketplace,” wrote RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper. “Even with the variety of compliance options available to obligated refiners, AFPM is asking EPA to ‘adjust’ (i.e., waive) the renewable fuel volumes required in 2021 based on the false premise that the fuel market cannot absorb the required amounts of conventional renewable fuel. However, even if AFPM’s arguments were legitimate, the Courts have rejected past attempts by EPA to reduce annual renewable fuel obligations based on supposed market barriers to increased biofuel consumption. They would most assuredly do so again.”

Cooper asks Regan to ensure the upcoming 2021 and 2022 RVO proposed rules include conventional renewable fuel volumes of at least 15 billion gallons per year, as required by the statute, along with the court-ordered 500 million gallons illegally waived from the 2016 standards.

“As you begin your tenure as Administrator, we respectfully encourage you to stay the course on the Renewable Fuel Standard,” the letter concluded. “Even in the face of continued attempts by the oil refining industry to undermine the program, the RFS has been an incredibly effective tool for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, cutting criteria tailpipe pollutants, reducing petroleum imports, and boosting rural economies.”

Read the letter here.

EPA, Ethanol, Ethanol News, Renewable Fuels Association, RFA, RFS

U.S. Biodiesel Celebrates 3 Billion Gallons

Cindy Zimmerman

The National Biodiesel Board is pleased to celebrate National Biodiesel Day by announcing that the industry has reached a milestone of 3 billion gallons in operating capacity.

National Biodiesel Day is celebrated on March 18 in honor of Rudolf Diesel who invented the diesel engine, which was originally designed to run on renewable peanut oil.

Three billion gallons is significant because it is halfway to the National Biodiesel Board goal set last year to grow to over 6 billion gallons by the year 2030, and by 15 billion gallons by 2050 with advancements in feedstocks. Announced expansions and new projects could potentially add over 3 billion gallons of capacity as early as 2023.

“To see a concept like Rudolf Diesel’s get us to a 3-billion-gallon industry is remarkable,” National Biodiesel Board CEO Donnell Rehagen said. “Our industry has seen its challenges, but for nearly 30 years into commercial biodiesel production, our association never took no for answer. With a mindset like Diesel’s and a better, cleaner product like biodiesel, we are well on our way to meeting our 6-billion-gallon goal.”

advance biofuels, Biodiesel, NBB

Kansas City Gets Approval for Year Round E15

Cindy Zimmerman

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced the approval of the removal of the low Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) gasoline requirements in the Kansas City metro area, which allows for E15 fuel to be sold in the area year-round.

The Kansas Corn Growers Association (KCGA) and Missouri Corn Growers Association (MCGA) welcomed the news after working with government agencies in both states on modeling studies that showed no ozone exceedances are expected to occur in the area due to E15 use.

American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) Senior Vice President and Market Development Director Ron Lamberty says this is good news for consumers and retailers in the KC metro area. “Right now, low ethanol prices and high RIN credit values make E15 the lowest cost gasoline at the rack, and whether they sell it as UnleadedE15, Unleaded88, or something else, retailers can offer the lowest price on the street and still earn some extra margin.”

Lamberty says it’s very likely most retailer’s current equipment is compatible with E15 and if EPA’s recent proposed E15 labeling and underground storage tank compatibility rule is finalized, it will be even easier for station owners to prove this to be true.

EPA’s proposed rule references ACE’s Flex Check E15 compatibility tool as a place station owners can get an idea how compatible their station might be.

ACE, E15, EPA, Ethanol, Ethanol News

RFA Opposes Proposal to Extend RFS Deadlines

Cindy Zimmerman

The Renewable Fuels Association submitted comments this week to oppose an EPA proposal to extend the deadlines for demonstrating compliance with the Renewable Fuel Standard for 2019 and 2020.

“This proposal is unnecessary, and the timelines are excessive,” wrote RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper. “All that the extensions would do is to compound problems that the EPA itself created under the last administration: the massive and unjustified increase in small refinery exemptions and the failure to finalize the 2021 renewable volume obligations by the statutory deadline.”

Cooper pointed out that it is reasonable to assume refiners and other obligated parties were already preparing to meet the March 31 regulatory compliance deadline when the EPA’s proposal was issued in January. Those refiners that did not prepare for compliance should not be rewarded for their bad behavior, Cooper said.

The RFA called on the EPA to reject the proposed extensions and re-establish integrity in its implementation of the RFS.

EPA, Ethanol, Ethanol News, Renewable Fuels Association, RFA, RFS

Broad Coalition Supports MN Clean Fuels Standard

Cindy Zimmerman

A broad coalition representing automakers, biofuel producers, farmers, electric vehicles, and conservation advocates is endorsing new legislation that would implement a clean fuels standard statewide in Minnesota, which would be the first for a Midwestern state. The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) and the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) are both members of the coalition, which is facilitated by the Great Plains Institute.

The 25-member Minnesota Future Fuels Coalition is throwing its support behind the Future Fuels Act, which would direct the Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Commerce with developing a rule to implement a clean fuels standard at the state level to achieve a 20 percent reduction in carbon intensity for all transportation fuel supplied in the state by the end of 2035.

The lead authors of the legislation are Minnesota House of Representatives Assistant Majority Leader Todd Lippert (DFL) and Senate Energy and Utilities Finance and Policy Committee Chairman David Senjem (R). The MN House Climate and Energy Finance and Policy Committee held a virtual hearing on Thursday to hear comments on the bill.

“Minnesota is behind schedule in achieving bipartisan transportation greenhouse gas reduction and clean fuel adoption goals and we believe that a clean fuels policy, such as the proposed Future Fuels Act, can help get the state back on track,” said Brendan Jordan, vice president for transportation and fuels at the Great Plains Institute during the hearing.

The Future Fuels Act requires reductions in transportation greenhouse gas emissions but is technology and fuel neutral and rewards a fuel’s greenhouse gas reduction based on actual performance. It would establish a process for evaluating the lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions from any transportation fuel and allow transportation fuel providers to compete in offering lower carbon fuels at lower cost.

Listen to comments from coalition representatives during Thursday’s hearing, beginning with an introduction of the legislation from Rep. Lippert.
MN House committee hearing on Future Fuels Act (23:45)

ACE, Audio, Biodiesel, biofuels, Ethanol, Ethanol News, Renewable Fuels Association, RFA

Michael Regan Confirmed as EPA Administrator

Cindy Zimmerman

Michael Regan has officially been confirmed as Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency with a 66-34 vote Wednesday by the U.S. Senate. Regan comes to EPA after serving as Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality.

During his confirmation hearing, Regan emphasized that the “RFS is definitely a priority for this administration.” U.S. biofuels organizations are thrilled with his confirmation.

Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Geoff Cooper said, “In his previous position, Mr. Regan built a strong track record of listening to all stakeholders to find practical, science-based solutions to the environmental issues impacting the people of North Carolina. We welcome a similar approach to problem-solving as he takes the helm at EPA, and we appreciate the outreach he has already conducted to renewable fuel stakeholders.”

American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) CEO Brian Jennings said they look forward to working with Regan “to address the long to-do list he inherits with respect to the RFS, including reining-in Small Refinery Exemptions, restoring 500 million gallons remanded to EPA by the D.C. Circuit Court from the 2017 Americans for Clean Energy Inc. decision, and promptly moving forward on the 2021 and 2022 Renewable Volume Obligations.”

National Biodiesel Board (NBB) Vice President of Federal Affairs Kurt Kovarik added, “The Renewable Fuel Standard is a vital supportive policy for U.S. biodiesel and renewable diesel producers. Every year, these fuels meet more than 90 percent of the RFS’s goals for advanced biofuel production and use, achieving measurable reductions in transportation sector carbon emissions. As our industry pursues a vision to sustainably increase production over the next decade and support emergence of sustainable aviation and marine fuels, we look forward to working with Administrator Michael Regan.”

ACE, Biodiesel, biofuels, Ethanol, Ethanol News, NBB, Renewable Fuels Association, RFA, RFS

Dakota Ethanol Surpasses One Billion Gallons

Cindy Zimmerman

Dakota Ethanol has surpassed one billion gallons of ethanol production at its 90 million-gallon-per-year facility in Wentworth, South Dakota.

Dakota Ethanol began production in September 2001 with a nameplate capacity of 40 MGY by its parent company Lake Area Corn Processors, with a membership of over 1,000 local farmers, investors, and community members. The expansion to running at a 90-million-gallon rate has allowed for improved operational efficiencies, which have been important in improving the plant’s carbon intensity (CI) score. The plant continues to focus on operational efficiencies to reduce costs and improve CI revenues the plant receives from shipping its ethanol to low carbon markets in the western U.S.

“I’m proud of how Dakota Ethanol has been able to utilize and monetize its lower-than-average CI through plant efficiencies,” said Ron Alverson, a Dakota Ethanol board member and former president of the American Coalition for Ethanol. “There’s more opportunities ahead for the plant to further reduce its CI, including proving our area growers produce corn more efficiently than the default CI the marketplace currently assigns to raising a bushel of corn. I have no doubt many producers can achieve zero carbon ethanol in the future if properly accredited for their contributions to decreasing lifecycle greenhouse gases.”

Dakota Ethanol produces 90 million gallons of ethanol from 30 million bushels of locally grown corn each year. The plant employs 45 full-time individuals, many who have been with the company since startup.

ACE, Ethanol, Ethanol News