Ethanol Report on 2019

Cindy Zimmerman

No one in the ethanol industry will be sorry to see 2019 in the rear view mirror. To say it has been a rough year would be an understatement. Renewable Fuels Association president and CEO Geoff Cooper says it was one of the worst years – if not the worst – the industry has seen in its relatively short history.

The best news of 2019 came at the beginning of June with the approval of year round E15 and President Trump’s visit to an Iowa ethanol plant. Besides that, in addition to weather woes and trade wars, the bad news of the year centered around the impact of small refinery exemptions on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), a battle between the industry and EPA that just culminated this week in a rule that Cooper says fails to deliver on President Trump’s commitment to farmers and producers.

In this edition of the Ethanol Report, Cooper takes a look back at 2019 for one last time before focusing forward on the future.

Ethanol Report on 2019 (17:50)

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 2009. Click here to subscribe.

Audio, biofuels, EPA, Ethanol, Ethanol News, Ethanol Report, RFA

Ethanol Industry Disappointed with EPA Final Rule

Cindy Zimmerman

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a final rule today that establishes required renewable volumes under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program for 2020 that is basically the same as the proposed rule that industry stakeholders say still falls short.

Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Geoff Cooper says the rule fails to deliver on President Trump’s commitment to restore integrity to the RFS. “While the final rule is an improvement over the original proposal, it still does not guarantee that the law’s 15-billion-gallon conventional biofuel blending requirement will be fully enforced by EPA in 2020,” said Cooper.

According to the rule released today, EPA will project SRE volumes based on historical Department of Energy (DOE) recommendations, rather than the actual volume of SREs issued by EPA. Ironically, however, EPA has generally chosen to ignore DOE’s recommendations regarding SRE petitions in recent years. For the 2016-2018 compliance years, the volume of required renewable fuel blending waived by EPA was almost double the amount recommended by DOE.

“After doing the exact opposite in recent years, EPA is now suggesting it will follow DOE’s recommendations on 2020 SRE petitions,” Cooper said.

Listen to Cooper’s comments on the final rule:
RFA CEO Geoff Cooper reacts to EPA final rule (1:21)

American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) CEO Brian Jennings says disappointed is an understatement. “Over the course of the past few months, we’ve gone from promises of a ‘giant package’ to the reality of a lump of coal…We are forced yet again to continue defending the RFS and fighting EPA’s mismanagement of the program in the third branch of government, but this is another painful reminder our industry needs to go on offense with a new plan to increase demand on ethanol’s low carbon and high octane advantages.”

The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) expressed its disappointment with the final rule, which maintains the 2020 overall advanced volume and 2021 biomass-based diesel volume at the same levels as the current year, blocking growth for the biodiesel industry. “EPA’s final rule for the 2020 RFS volumes is simply out of step with Congressional intent and President Trump’s promises,” said Kurt Kovarik, NBB’s VP of Federal Affairs. “This week, Congress and the president are extending the biodiesel tax incentive through 2022 and sending an unmistakable signal that they support continued growth of biodiesel and renewable diesel. At the same time, EPA Administrator Wheeler is doing everything he can to block that growth.”

National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) President Kevin Ross said, “The Administration has chosen to move forward with a final rule that corn farmers believe falls short of adequately addressing the demand destruction caused by EPA’s abuse of RFS refinery waivers. While using the DOE recommendations to account for waivers is an improvement over the status quo, it is now on corn farmers to hold the Administration to their commitment of a minimum of 15 billion gallon volume, as the law requires. We will use future rulemakings and other opportunities to hold the EPA accountable.”

Audio, Biodiesel, corn, EPA, Ethanol, Ethanol News, NBB, NCGA, RFA

RFA Technical Expert to Lead Safety Coalition

Cindy Zimmerman

Director of Safety and Technical Programs for the Renewable Fuels Association, Missy Ruff, has been selected to chair the executive committee of the National TRANSCAER Task Group, the managing body for the national outreach effort focused on assisting communities prepare for and respond to possible hazardous material transportation incidents. She assumes this key leadership role on January 1.

Ruff leads RFA’s award-winning safety initiatives and assists with numerous technical and regulatory initiatives, including rail issues. In addition to her work with TRANSCAER, she has planned and executed hundreds of ethanol safety seminars and workshops across the country, training thousands of attendees. In June, she received the 2018 TRANSCAER Chairman’s Award, given to a TRANSCAER team member who has contributed above and beyond the normal call of duty to advocate, demonstrate and implement TRANSCAER’s principles.

TRANSCAER members include volunteer representatives from the chemical manufacturing, transportation, distribution, hazardous material storage and handling, emergency response and preparedness, and related service industries as well as the government. The TRANSCAER acronym stands for Transportation Community Awareness Emergency Response.

Ethanol, Ethanol News, RFA, safety

Tax Extenders Also Help Ethanol and Advanced Biofuels

Cindy Zimmerman

The deal reached by congressional leaders Tuesday for renewing and extending important renewable fuel tax provisions helps the ethanol industry as well as biodiesel producers.

Specifically, the amendment would retroactively reinstate the second-generation biofuel producer credit, the special allowance for second-generation biofuel plant property and the alternative fuel refueling property credit for 2018 and 2019 and extend them through 2020. In addition, the biodiesel tax credit was reinstated for 2018 and 2019 and extended through 2022.

Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Geoff Cooper says this is welcome news for the entire renewable fuels industry. “While we continue to advocate for prospective, longer-term certainty for the second-generation biofuel producer credit and other relevant tax provisions, we are grateful this deal was reached to retroactively reinstate the lapsed second-generation biofuel provisions and extend them through 2020. We also appreciate the renewal and extension of the biodiesel and renewable diesel credit, as more than 2 billion pounds of corn distillers oil from ethanol plants are converted annually into the lowest-carbon source of biodiesel and renewable diesel available on the market today.”

The extensions are part of a $1.2 trillion spending package passed by the House yesterday.

advance biofuels, Biodiesel, biofuels, Ethanol, Ethanol News, RFA

NBB Encouraged by Biodiesel Tax Incentive Action

Cindy Zimmerman

Members of the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) are encouraged by the introduction in Congress of a multiyear extension of the biodiesel tax incentive. If passed, the credit would be available to biodiesel blenders through 2022 to help to expand markets and support expansion of biodiesel and renewable diesel production.

NBB Vice President of Federal Affairs Kurt Kovarik says the announced deal provides the policy certainty that the biodiesel industry has been seeking to support investments and continued growth of production. “We will continue to work with our champions to get this legislation across the finish line before the end of the year.”

Iowa Democrats Reps. Abby Finkenauer (IA-01) and Cindy Axne (IA-03) submitted two amendments to H.R. 5377 that would revive the expired biodiesel tax credit and extend tax credits for Iowa’s second generation biofuels.

“The biodiesel tax credit is important for Iowa farmers, producers, rural small businesses, and hard-working families. From day one, I’ve been working with colleagues on both sides for the aisle, and in both the House and Senate to get bring this credit back,” Congresswoman Finkenauer said. “I have stressed to House leadership how important this credit is to the First Congressional District, and to the entire state of Iowa. While I wish this is something that would’ve been resolved during the last Congress, I will keep working to make sure I get this done for Iowans. Today’s amendments are another push to get that done.”

Biodiesel, NBB

MN Biofuels Names Retailer of the Year

Cindy Zimmerman

The Minnesota Bio-Fuels Association has named Hutchinson Co-Op its Distinguished Retailer for 2019.

“Hutchinson Co-Op was a recipient of the highly successful Biofuels Infrastructure Partnership program. It began offering E15 at the end of 2018 and today E15 sales comprise nearly half of its fuel sales,” said Tim Rudnicki, executive director at MN Biofuels. Hutchinson Co-Op also offers E30 and E85.

MN Biofuels also released its annual report for 2019, highlighting the accomplishments of the organization as well as the challenges the industry faced in 2019.

biofuels, Ethanol, Ethanol News

Corn Yield Contest Winners Hit New Highs

Cindy Zimmerman

Despite adverse growing conditions that impacted most farmers around the country this year, National Corn Growers Association 2019 National Corn Yield Contest were able to attain some impressive yields, with a new overall record that will be hard to beat.

David Hula of Charles City, Virginia produced the highest yield on record at 616.1953 bushels per acre, beating his previous record of 542-plus bushels in 2017, which broke his 2015 record of 532 bushels per acre. Hula set his record this year in the Strip, Min, Mulch, Ridge-Till Irrigated category.

The 27 winners in 9 production categories had verified yields averaging more than 383 bushels per acre, compared to the projected national average of 167 bushels per acre in 2019. While there is no overall contest winner, yields from first, second and third place farmers overall production categories topped out at 616.1953 bushels per acre.

“Yield contest participants create and share information that shapes the future of the industry while participating in friendly competition,” said Roger Zylstra, chair of NCGA’s Stewardship Action Team. “Our contest emphasizes invention and improvement, both from growers and technology providers, that enables U.S. farmers to meet the growing demand for food, feed, fuel and fiber.”

The National Corn Yield Contest is now in its 55th year. The winners will be honored during Commodity Classic 2020 in San Antonio, Texas. See a list of all the winners.

corn, NCGA

Nebraska Ethanol Helps Fuel the Cure

Cindy Zimmerman

In the past two years, Nebraska fuel retailers and drivers have raised more than $13,000 for cancer research as part of Fuel the Cure, which has gone to fund efforts at centers in the state.

During October, when drivers chose higher blends of ethanol fuel like E15, E30 and E85 at participating retail locations, gas stations donated 3 cents for each gallon sold. The Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center in Omaha received $6,190.47 and the June E. Nylen Cancer Center received $500, thanks to a generous match from Siouxland Ethanol.

“Fuel retailers know that regular and premium gasoline is harmful to the air we breathe. By making higher ethanol blends available, they are empowering consumers to help make a difference. Supporting Fuel the Cure is a step beyond because the funds are directly impacting lives of patients at the Cancer Center,” said Roger Berry, administrator for the Nebraska Ethanol Board.

While 2019 Fuel the Cure has ended, the Nebraska Ethanol Board is already preparing for next year’s event and would encourage Nebraska fuel retailers who are interested in participating to reach out.

Ethanol, Ethanol News

Ethanol Industry Mourns Loss of Randy Ives

Cindy Zimmerman

Family and friends surround Randy Ives in August 2019

The ethanol industry lost a pioneer and a great friend this week as Randy Ives, 63, of Omaha, Nebraska has passed away after a courageous battle with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Ives was a U.S. Grains Council (USGC) delegate and a key figure in the development of distiller’s dried grain with solubles (DDGS) and ethanol market development programs. In the mid-90s, Ives became one of the co-founders of ICM with Dave Vandergriend, serving as vice president and then president of ICM Marketing. He went on to work with United Bio Energy, Hawkeye Gold, Gavilon, and Pellet Technology USA.

“Randy was a dear friend and mentor to many of us in the ethanol industry, and he will be remembered as a dedicated and passionate advocate for ethanol and value-added agriculture,” said Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) President and CEO Geoff Cooper. “He was one of the first people I met in the industry more than 15 years ago and I learned a great deal from him over the years. Randy’s tireless efforts to promote the value and benefits of distillers grains and other co-products were instrumental in creating new markets and growth opportunities for the ethanol industry. He will be sorely missed.”

In August, Ives was honored by the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) for his work on behalf of the ethanol industry and he accepted the award with his wife and daughter by his side and many friends who shared his impact on their lives and the industry.

Randy is survived by his wife Denise of 39 years, daughter Gabriella, son-in-law Alex and grandson Micah; son Grant, daughter-in-law Sabraand and granddaughter Sadie. His celebration of life will be on Saturday, Dec. 21 at 1:00 pm at Citylight Church (3401 Oakview Drive, Omaha, NE).

Listen to an interview with Randy conducted in August 2019.
Interview with Randy Ives at 2019 ACE Conference

ACE, Audio, Distillers Grains, Ethanol, Ethanol News, RFA, USGC

Corn Growers Seek Action on Ethanol and USMCA

Cindy Zimmerman

Leaders of the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) and state corn organizations held a news conference Wednesday morning to urge the Trump Administration and members of Congress to finish the job on outstanding trade and ethanol issues important to corn farmers.

The past year has presented a perfect storm of challenges for America’s corn farmers. While there have been positive developments, such as the trade agreement with Japan and the long-awaited approval of year-round E15, there are still outstanding issues that, if adequately addressed, would provide some much-needed certainty to corn farmers.

Corn grower leaders called on President Trump to follow through on his commitment to farmers and the RFS, conclude China trade negotiations with a positive outcome for agriculture, and for Congressional leaders to reach an agreement with the Administration and pass USMCA.

Participating in the press conference were NCGA president Kevin Ross of Minden, Iowa; Patty Mann, Ohio Corn & Wheat Growers Association; and Jim Greif, Iowa Corn Growers.

NCGA press call
Audio, corn, Ethanol, Ethanol News, Exports, NCGA, Trade