Land Use Change Study Uses Incorrect Data

Cindy Zimmerman

When you do a study that claims biofuels are resulting in increased land use for agricultural production you should be sure the land you are counting is not actually a subdivision.

The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) points to a new study published in the academic journal Biomass and Bioenergy that exposes major methodological problems in recent studies paid for by the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), and concluded that U.S. biofuels expansion has not caused a detectable increase in the U.S. food prices.

The paper includes a captivating image showing how satellite tools mistakenly characterized large tracts of urban housing in Lemoore, Calif., as “cropland.”

“The real-world data showed no evidence of food price increases or other lands converting to agriculture because of biofuel,” according to the study, which was conducted by scientists at the University of Idaho and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The research was funded by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture and USDA Office of the Chief Economist.

The new analysis found that the type of satellite data relied upon by NWF is error-prone, unreliable, and “misleading.” According to the report, “The automated [satellite] land use classification errors were biased towards classifying ambiguous land as agriculture.”

Specifically, the authors manually inspected actual land uses to see if the satellite imagery used by NWF correctly classified the land use. The researchers found that 10.9% of actual non-agricultural land was misclassified as agricultural land by the satellite data. Further, while automated classification using the satellite data showed an 8.53% increase in agricultural land from 2011-2015, the manual classification indicated no significant land use change at all.

“The use of satellite data is prone to error in classifying certain land uses, such as distinguishing between cropland used to grow hay, and pasture land for grazing…Although an automated satellite image classification provides a convenient way to quantify land use change, the results could be misleading if not carefully verified,” the authors explained.

Read the analysis.

Ethanol, Ethanol News, RFA

Couple Takes Personal Ethanol Story to DC

Cindy Zimmerman

Phil Near and his wife Cheryl Werth Near were part of the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) annual DC Fly-in last week, participating for the first time and bringing their personal story about the health benefits and good value of ethanol to members of Congress.

The Nears operate ten Jump Start Convenience Stores in Kansas, offering their own brand of blended fuel to provide choice at the pump for their customers. Cheryl is a 10 year breast cancer survivor and an interior designer by trade who became an active ethanol advocate when she discovered all of the cancer-causing components in gasoline that can be replaced by using ethanol as a healthier alternative.

Listen to their story in this interview.

ACE19DC Interview with Phil Near and Cheryl Werth Near, Jump Start stores

2019 ACE Fly-in Photo Album

ACE, Ethanol, Ethanol News, Retailers

RFA Helps Ethanol Plants Celebrate Anniversaries

Cindy Zimmerman

The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) celebrated milestone anniversaries of three ethanol plant members this week.

RFA Vice President of Industry Relations Robert White attended the 10th anniversary of Homeland Energy Solutions, which operates a 200 million gallon per year ethanol plant in Lawler, Iowa. The facility also produces distillers grains, a valuable animal feed co-product, and corn oil. To date, the biorefinery has produced more than 1.4 billion gallons of ethanol, 275 million pounds of corn oil and purchased and ground just under 500 million bushels of corn.

RFA also congratulates member company Trenton Agri Products (TAP) on its 15th anniversary of continuous operations. TAP operates a 50 million gallon per year ethanol plant in Trenton, Neb., which also produces distilled corn oil and wet distillers grains, and has been an active member of RFA for all 15 years.

Also celebrating 15 years is Western Plains Energy (WPE), a 50 million gallon per year ethanol plant in Oakley, Kan., which uses 17.5 million bushels of corn and grain sorghum per year. The company, which has 45 employees, was also the first in the industry to trial ICM’s cold-cook process, to try ICM’s slurry grinding process and Syngenta’s Enogen corn.

Ethanol, Ethanol News, RFA

New Iowa Rep Introduces Biodiesel Tax Incentive Extension

Cindy Zimmerman

Freshman Democrat Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer of Iowa this week introduced the Biodiesel Tax Credit Extension Act, a two-year extension of the biodiesel tax credit. Congress had previously extended the tax credit retroactively for 2017 but left it expired for 2018 and beyond. Producers and businesses at every stage of the biodiesel production and consumption process rely on these tax credits to plan their investments, grow their businesses, and pass on the savings to consumers.

“This legislation extends the biodiesel tax credit vital to Iowa’s economy at a time when farm income is at its lowest point in more than a decade and farmers are bearing the brunt of ongoing trade disputes,” said Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer. “Biodiesel production supports over 60,000 jobs across the United States and generates an economic impact of over $11 billion. A low carbon source of energy, biodiesel is good for the environment and is a crucial part of a green economy.”

Joining Finkenauer introducing the bill were Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA), Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI) and Rep. Adrian Smith (R-NE). The legislation is co-sponsored by Reps. Angie Craig (D-MN), Cheri Bustos (D-IL), Cindy Axne (D-IA), Danny K. Davis (D-IL), Darin LaHood (R-IL), Dave Loebsack (D-IA), Jackie Walorski (R-IN), Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Bill Pascrell (D-NJ, and John Larson (D-CT).

National Biodiesel Board Vice President of Federal Affairs Kurt Kovarik said, “Biodiesel companies and their employees are facing an uncertain future because the biodiesel tax incentive has been expired for 15 months. The economic pressure is threatening the future of the industry, putting good-paying, blue-collar jobs and production of a low-carbon, domestic fuel at stake. It is adding economic pressure to farmers who have been hit from both sides by unfavorable weather and trade disputes. If enacted swiftly, this bill will provide the agricultural economy some certainty and relief for 2018 and 2019.”

Iowa Biodiesel Board Executive Director Grant Kimberley says they are “grateful that Rep. Finkenauer has stepped up to the plate for biodiesel so early in her Congressional career, showing she grasps the benefits biodiesel delivers to Iowa’s economy, farmers and all citizens. Her leadership couldn’t come at a more critical time, as the future of the U.S. biodiesel industry depends greatly upon reinstatement of the tax incentive, which Congress last addressed in February 2018, retroactively extending it for 2017 but leaving it expired for 2018 and beyond.”

The House legislative language mirrors the biodiesel tax incentive provision in Senate legislation introduced by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), chairman, and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee. The Senate legislation (S.617) would provide a two-year extension of expired temporary tax incentives, including the biodiesel and renewable diesel tax incentive.

Biodiesel, NBB

Ethanol Strong at ACE Fly-in

Cindy Zimmerman

The American Coalition for Ethanol‘s 11th annual fly-in was another great success, with nearly 75 grassroots members attending, including ethanol producers, retailers, investors, corn growers, service and product providers, and others from 14 states (including DC) as well as one from London, England. There were 23 new fly-in participants this year.

Split into teams of 2-4 people, the group visited the offices of over 120 members of Congress representing 45 states in just about four hours on Tuesday. ACE CEO Brian Jennings says they discussed three main issues with lawmakers – EPA’s proposed RVP waiver to allow year round sales of E15, the continuing problem of Small Refinery Exemptions, and how ethanol fits in climate change discussions.

Listen to my interview with Brian here:
ACE19DC Interview with ACE CEO Brian Jennings

ACE DC Fly-in Virtual Newsroom

2019 ACE Fly-in Photo Album

ACE, Audio, Ethanol, Ethanol News

Sen. Grassley Honored for Lifetime Achievement in Bioenergy

cindy zimmerman

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) was honored at the Advanced Bioeconomy Leadership Conference (ABLC) in Washington DC this week with the Holmberg Award for Lifetime Achievement in Bioenergy. Accepting the award, Grassley said he was honored, but noted that his “work’s not done yet.”

The Iowa senator, who has been a champion of renewable energy for decades, gave a fiery address to the conference culminating in a challenge to the fossil fuel industry to support the “all of the above” energy strategy. “If there’s anybody here, particularly from the oil industry, that disagrees with me, I’d like to remind you that I have supported your industry – all of the above!” ABLC2019 address by Sen. Chuck Grassley

The ABLC program started Thursday morning with a bioeconomy policy forum featuring many of those “all of the above” choices for transportation fuel, including advanced biofuels, ethanol, biodiesel and renewable natural gas (RNG).

The ABLC is actually six conferences in one place, including the 10th Annual Advanced Biofuels Summit. The Digest editor Jim Lane moderated the panel discussion which featured Mike McAdams, Advanced Biofuels Association; Geoff Cooper, Renewable Fuels Association; Emily Skor, Growth Energy; Kurt Kovarik, National Biodiesel Board, Brooke Coleman, Advanced Biofuels Business Council; and Anne Steckel, Coalition for Renewable Natural Gas.
ABLC2019 Bioeconomy Policy Forum

AgWired Energy, biobased, Biodiesel, biofuels, Energy, Ethanol

USDA Deputy Censky Addresses Ethanol Topics

Cindy Zimmerman

USDA Deputy Secretary Steve Censky addressed members of the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) meeting in Washington DC this week, just a day after the agency released a new study showing the significant greenhouse gas benefits of corn-based ethanol compared to gasoline.

Censky talked about that study, as well as many other topics of interest to the farmers and ethanol industry representatives who spent a day on Capitol Hill Tuesday talking with lawmakers about their concerns. Among those issues – E15, small refinery waivers, and trade.

ACE19DC USDA Deputy Secretary Steve Censky address

ACE19DC USDA Deputy Censky Q and A

2019 ACE Fly-in Photo Album

ACE, Audio, Ethanol, Ethanol News, USDA

USDA Study Shows Big Ethanol Benefits

Cindy Zimmerman

A brand new study out yesterday from USDA finds greenhouse gas emissions from corn-based ethanol are almost 40 percent lower than gasoline, and could be as high as 43 percent, when ethanol is refined at natural gas-powered refineries.

The study, led by Dr. Jan Lewandrowski of USDA’s Office of the Chief Economist, and published in the journal Biofuels, supports findings of other research that ethanol has a significantly better greenhouse gas profile than previously estimated.

The study, titled “The greenhouse gas benefits of corn ethanol—assessing recent evidence,” attributes much of these additional benefits to revised estimates of the impacts of land-use change as a result of demand for ethanol. Where previous estimates anticipated farmers bringing additional land into production as a result of increased corn prices, recent analysis finds only modest increases in crop acreage. Additional improvements at ethanol refineries, combined with on-farm conservation practices that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, such as reduced tillage and cover crops, have further decreased emissions associated with corn ethanol. The study projects that with added improvements in refineries and on farms, a reduction of over 70 percent in lifecycle emissions is possible by 2022.

“These new findings provide further evidence that biofuels from America’s heartland reduce greenhouse gases even more than we thought, and that our farmers and ethanol plants continue to become more efficient and effective,” said Secretary Sonny Perdue.

Perdue will address the Advanced Bioeconomy Leadership Conference (ABLC) today at 2:25 Eastern where he is likely to talk about the new study.

Ethanol, Ethanol News, USDA

Iowa Congressman Addresses ACE Fly-in

Cindy Zimmerman

After a full day of visiting the offices of more than 120 members of Congress, attendees of the American Coalition for Ethanol annual DC Fly-in were greeted by Rep. Dave Loebsack (D-IA) at their reception Tuesday evening.

The congressman is a strong supporter of the ethanol industry in his district and state and agrees with ACE members that the Small Refinery Exemptions (SREs) that have been granted by EPA are harming producers and farmers. “We need to reallocate those gallons as best we can,” said Loebsack, adding that EPA needs to be more accountable. “It’s really a matter of holding their feet to the fire.”

In this interview, Loebsack also comments on the flooding situation in Iowa.
ACE19DC Interview with Rep. Dave Loebsack (D-IA)

2019 ACE Fly-in Photo Album

ACE, Audio, Ethanol, Ethanol News

ACE Fly-in Comes at Critical Time for Ethanol

Cindy Zimmerman

The Midwest continues to experience the devastating impact of flooding, EPA has proposed a rule that would allow year-round sales of E15, and Small Refinery Exemptions are still being granted. That’s just a few of the critical issues facing corn farmers, ethanol producers and fuel retailers as the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) holds its 11th annual DC Fly-in.

ACE president Duane Kristensen, Chief Ethanol Fuels in Hastings, Nebraska, kicked off the event this morning, which also included a visit from EPA Air and Radiation assistant administrator Bill Wehrum. In this interview, he talks about the situation in Nebraska, and what the industry is taking to the Hill today.

ACE19DC Interview with ACE president Duane Kristensen, Chief Ethanol

2019 ACE Fly-in Photo Album

ACE, Audio, EPA, Ethanol, Ethanol News