Iowa Biofuel Plants Donate Raw Products for Hand Sanitizer

Cindy Zimmerman

Absolute Energy employees prepare totes of ethanol for shipment to be used in hand sanitizer production.

On Monday, two Iowa biofuel plants sent the first donated shipments of ethanol and glycerin to be used by Iowa Prison Industries for the production of hand sanitizer during the national shortage.

The donation was made by ethanol producer Absolute Energy and biodiesel producer Western Iowa Energy. The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) worked with Iowa Prison Industries to secure the shipment of these products and other necessary ingredients from . Templeton Rye is also providing distilled water for the project. The finished product will be distributed free of charge by the state of Iowa for priority use.

IRFA notified Governor Kim Reynolds’ office early last week that Iowa biofuel producers would be willing to help with hand sanitizer production if needed and her team worked hard to help ensure the project’s success.

“Governor Reynolds and her team deserve credit for making this happen,” said IRFA Executive Director Monte Shaw. “Even during this time of emergency, a number of regulatory technicalities crossing multiple federal agencies stood in our way. Thanks to the efforts of staff in Governor Reynolds’ and Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst’s offices, we were able to overcome these hurdles that could have otherwise prevented this production of much-need hand sanitizer. Knocking down these barriers will have impacts beyond Iowa. In fact, we already know other states have heard about Iowa’s project and are working with their biofuel producers to implement similar programs.”

Similar stories are coming from around the country, such as Kentucky, where Lexington Brewing & Distilling Co. is using its alcohol supply to produce hand sanitizer and provide it free of charge.

Biodiesel, Ethanol, Ethanol News, Iowa RFA

Ethanol Report 3-23-20

Cindy Zimmerman

Coronavirus is making its presence felt in the ethanol industry.

Many ethanol plants are on the verge of closing as margins have become non-existent with lower gas prices and declining demand for transportation fuel nationwide.

In this episode of The Ethanol Report, we hear from Renewable Fuels Association Chief Economist Scott Richman about the price and demand picture, three ethanol producers provide perspective on how coronavirus is impacting them, and RFA CEO Geoff Cooper discusses actions Congress and the administration should take now to avoid a potential collapse in the ethanol industry. Ethanol producers included are Jeanne McCaherty, CEO, Guardian Energy Management; Randy Doyal, CEO, Al-Corn Clean Fuel; and Chad Friese, General Manager, Chippewa Valley Ethanol Company, representing plants in Minnesota, South Dakota, and Ohio.

Ethanol Report 3-23-20 (21:32)

The Ethanol Report is a podcast about the latest news and information in the ethanol industry that has been sponsored by the Renewable Fuels Association since 2008.

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Audio, Ethanol, Ethanol News, Ethanol Report, RFA

Ethanol Plants Can Shift to Produce Hand Sanitizer

Cindy Zimmerman

Ethanol plants are now able to shift to the manufacture of hand sanitizer without permits from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB).

According to the public guidance issued Wednesday, industrial denatured ethanol can be used “to manufacture hand sanitizer consistent with World Health Organization (WHO) guidance without first obtaining formula approval.”

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson welcomed the announcement. “Expanding the operations making hand sanitizer grows the need for ethanol at a time when farmers need that,” he said.

Some ethanol plants, like Chippewa Valley Ethanol Company (CVEC) in Benson, Minnesota, were already approved to supply industrial grade ethanol for human use, but most plants are not designed for it. “Pharmaceutical grade is what you need because it’s coming in contact with humans, so it’s a big shift,” said CVEC General Manager Chad Friese. “It’s a lot of additional cost and most plants will not be able to make that conversion.”

Friese says beverage grade alcohol producers are more suited to make the transition to pharmaceutical grade than fuel ethanol producers, and “there’s not enough growth to supply the volumes that the fuel side needs.”

Friese discusses the difference between fuel and industrial ethanol production in this audio:
Chad Friese, Chippewa Valley Ethanol Company (3:25)

Ethanol, Ethanol News

Coronavirus is Latest Threat to Ethanol Industry

Cindy Zimmerman

The impact that coronavirus is having on the energy markets is just the latest threat to the solvency of the U.S. ethanol industry, coming on top of weather, trade disputes and small refinery waivers that hurt producers last year.

In a media conference call Thursday, Renewable Fuels Association leaders discussed the impact of these hits on ethanol producers and the communities and customers they serve.

Geoff Cooper, President and CEO, Renewable Fuels Association
Jeanne McCaherty, CEO, Guardian Energy Management; Vice Chairman, RFA
Randy Doyal, CEO, Al-Corn Clean Fuel; Board Member, RFA
Chad Friese, General Manager, Chippewa Valley Ethanol Co.; Board Member, RFA.
Scott Richman, Chief Economist, RFA

RFA call ethanol industry coronavirus impact (54:33)

Audio, Ethanol, Ethanol News, Renewable Fuels Association, RFA

Coalition Launches Drop the Appeal Campaign

Cindy Zimmerman

The Trump Administration needs to make a decision by March 23 whether to appeal the unanimous 10th Circuit Court decision against the EPA’s small refinery exemption program, and the coalition that brought the case has launched a new social media campaign urging the administration to drop the appeal.

The coalition, made up of the Renewable Fuels Association, National Corn Growers Association, American Coalition for Ethanol and National Farmers Union, took the EPA to court and won over several exemptions it granted to small refineries, releasing them from their renewable fuel obligations in 2016 and 2017. The Trump administration sought and secured an extension of the appeal deadline until Tuesday, March 24.

“With the renewable fuels industry reeling from coronavirus, trade disputes and small refinery exemptions, now is certainly not the time for the Trump administration to take any action that would cause further pain for ethanol producers or the farmers that supply them,” the coalition said. “The best thing they could do to support our industry and keep ethanol plants open is to announce immediately that they will not appeal.”

Watch a video created by the four organizations below:

ACE, biofuels, corn, Ethanol, Ethanol News, NCGA, NFU, Renewable Fuels Association, RFA

NBB Kicks Off 2020 Biodiesel Branding Program

Cindy Zimmerman

It’s National Biodiesel Day, in honor of Rudolf Diesel’s birthday, and the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) is celebrating with its 2020 vehicle branding program designed to showcase biodiesel’s sustainability and emissions reduction benefits with the theme “Biodiesel: Better. Cleaner. Now!”

“When Rudolf invented the diesel engine in the 1890s, it was designed to run on peanut oil and he envisioned the prominent role plant oils could play in fueling vehicles of the future,” said Kaleb Little, NBB director of communications. “Our industry has come a long way since then and we are excited to highlight numerous fleets advertising their biodiesel use right on their vehicles.”

NBB is also launching the 2020 branding program to help biodiesel users across the country share their stories of sustainability and emissions reductions.

“Our new tagline, “Biodiesel: Better. Cleaner. Now!”, tells the biodiesel story simply,” said Little. “Biodiesel is better and cleaner than petroleum diesel – with proven environmental, health and economic benefits – and is ready to use now, unlike some other options that require massive infrastructure or retrofit investments.”

NBB encourages biodiesel users to promote their use of biodiesel and share its benefits by applying for matching funds to be used for vehicle branding initiatives which may include wraps, stickers, or other innovative efforts. Applications are available online and are due by April 30, 2020. Last year, NBB provided matching funds to six biodiesel users – Roslin Enterprises; Cape Cod Biofuels; The City of Moline, Illinois; G&D Integrated; CityLink, Greater Peoria Mass Transit District; and Al Warren Oil.

NBB held a webinar Wednesday to discuss the vehicle wrap program. Listen below to part of the webinar with Kaleb Little of NBB and Tim Keaveney of Hero BX, who talks about how the program has worked for them.

NBB Branding vehicle wrap program (10:07)

Biodiesel, NBB, Promotion

IRFA Announces Partnership with ISU BioBus

Cindy Zimmerman

The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association is announcing a partnership with Iowa State University’s BioBus program, an on-campus, student-run organization that collects used cooking oil from Iowa State’s campus dining facilities and uses it to make biodiesel to be used in the school’s CyRide buses.

“We are excited to partner with a group of your scientists who recognize the power and potential of biodiesel,” said Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) Marketing Director Lisa Coffelt. “BioBus provides students a platform where the next generation of scientists can learn not only about the science behind biodiesel but see its benefits play out in the real world.”

In addition to providing a donation to the program, IRFA intends to work alongside the group and help support their growth, enabling them to achieve their goals to expand production and student participation.

“We are thankful to IRFA for their support,” said John Cramsey, President of the BioBus club. “Our club looks forward to expanding our reach here on campus in terms of both biodiesel production and student awareness of the benefits of biodiesel.”

Biodiesel, Iowa RFA

RFA Calls on Administration as Ethanol Prices Drop

Cindy Zimmerman

As gas prices go, so goes the price of ethanol, and right now the industry is being adversely affected by the economic constraints caused by the coronavirus, the oil price war, ongoing trade disputes and EPA’s small refinery waivers.

“While the policy response to turbulence in the energy markets has so far focused largely on supporting crude oil producers, we urge the Administration to recognize that biofuel and agricultural commodity markets are suffering as well,” said Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) president and CEO Geoff Cooper. “Ethanol futures prices hit a record low in recent days, as the coronavirus is expected to negatively impact domestic and international fuel demand in the near term. With many ethanol plants on the verge of shutting down, we implore the Trump administration to take action that equitably supports all liquid fuel industries, including ethanol producers, during this time of unprecedented market uncertainty and unrest.”

Cooper suggests one important step the President could take immediately would be to announce that EPA will not appeal the recent 10th Circuit court decision on small refinery waivers and will implement the 500 million gallon remand as ordered by the D.C. Circuit Court in 2017. “Given the robust financial assistance the Trump administration is planning to provide to oil producers, immediate actions to ensure EPA abides by these court decisions can help soothe concerns among those whose livelihoods depend on agriculture and renewable fuels,” said Cooper.

Ethanol, Ethanol News, RFA

Ethanol Report 3-16-20

Cindy Zimmerman

What a difference a month can make!

A month ago, the ethanol industry was celebrating the 10th Circuit Court decision that would require EPA to severely limit its small refinery exemptions, and coronavirus was still a problem somewhere else. Last week, just as COVID-19 started to fully hit the fan here in the United States, the Trump Administration snatched defeat from the jaws of victory and decided to ask the court for two weeks to consider an appeal of the unanimous ruling.

This episode of The Ethanol Report features comments from from Badger State Ethanol CEO Erik Huschitt, National Corn Growers Association president Kevin Ross, USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue, and Renewable Fuels Association Senior Strategic Advisor Bob Dinneen.

Ethanol Report 3-16-20 (12:57)

The Ethanol Report is a podcast about the latest news and information in the ethanol industry that has been sponsored by the Renewable Fuels Association since 2008.

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Audio, Ethanol, Ethanol News, Ethanol Report, NCGA, RFA

Ethanol and Biodiesel Continue to Power Iowa Economy

Cindy Zimmerman

Despite the challenges of 2019, Iowa biofuel production continued to have a significant impact on Iowa’s economy, supporting over 48,000 jobs and more than $2.4 billion in household income, according to the latest study commissioned by the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA).

The study, authored by John Urbanchuk of ABF Economics, also found that biofuels continue to account for over $5 billion of Iowa’s GDP, or about three percent.

The study looked at the many challenges the industry faced in 2019, including the lapsed biodiesel tax credit and the demand destruction caused by excessive Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) refinery exemptions. The study found Iowa biofuels production could have supported over 4,000 more jobs and $200 million more in household income in 2019 had the exemptions not been granted.

“We are encouraged to see that despite the hard times and policy uncertainty Iowa producers faced in 2019, the economic benefits are still strong. It is, however, disheartening to know how much greater the benefits could have been to Iowa had EPA not granted over a billion gallons worth of demand-destroying RFS exemptions,” said IRFA Executive Director Monte Shaw.

Looking forward, the study concludes that growth of the biofuels sector “through new technologies and feedstocks” will only serve to enhance the economic impact of the industry, but “policy stability is essential to maximize these benefits. Uncertainty surrounding issues like RFS refinery exemptions, tax credit extensions, and trade with China, will impede the ability of the industry to provide these societal benefits.”

Read the study.

Biodiesel, biofuels, Ethanol, Ethanol News, Iowa RFA