Governors Tell EPA the #RFSWorks

The governors of Iowa and Missouri both spoke out in bipartisan support of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) during a hearing and rally Thursday in Kansas City.

rfs-hearing-branstadIowa Republican Governor Terry Branstad drew applause several times during his testimony at the public hearing on EPA’s proposed volume obligations under the RFS. “We are pleased to be here and get outside the Beltway where Big Oil’s army of well-paid lobbyists seem to have so much undue influence,” said Branstad to applause. While Branstad acknowledged the positive changes EPA made in the proposal for biodiesel, when it comes to ethanol “the agency seems to have bought Big Oil’s faulty arguments hook, line, and sinker.”

rally-nixon“By setting the RFS below the Congressional targets, the EPA caps the amount that will be produced,” said Missouri Democrat Governor Jay Nixon. “It is counter intuitive for the agency charged with enforcing the clean air laws to impose a defacto limit on ethanol, a product which so clearly emits fewer greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.”

“Quite frankly, I’m not seeing how it’s going to hurt our economy to produce cheaper, better, cleaner fuel, and it’s certainly not going to hurt our environment,” said Nixon.

Both governors went from the hearing across the street to a Rally for Rural America to support the RFS and both had their state agriculture directors with them as well. Listen to or download their testimony and rally speeches below.

Iowa and Missouri Governors at EPA Hearing IA and MO governors and ag directors at RFS rally

EPA RFS Public Hearing photo album

Coverage of EPA RFS Hearing is sponsored by
Coverage of EPA RFS Hearing sponsored by RFA

Abe Hughes Joins POET

Abe HughesCongratulations to our good friend Abe Hughes for his new career opportunity with POET. I just spoke with Abe by phone to find out more about what he’s doing now as POET Senior Vice President of Business Development. From the release:

In this role, Hughes will help guide POET’s strategies for continued growth, whether through independent initiatives or partnerships, both in the U.S. and abroad.

“I’m excited to join the experienced and visionary leadership team at POET to help further shape the future of the biorefining and alternative energy industry,” Hughes said. “I look forward to helping POET continue its leadership, innovation and growth through unique partnerships, mergers and acquisitions, licensing and international expansion opportunities.”

“Abe’s experience and his personality are a great fit at POET,” CEO Jeff Lautt said. “There are exciting opportunities ahead in this industry, and I know Abe will help us make the most of them.”

Prior to joining POET, Hughes was Vice President North America for New Holland Agriculture and Construction, a world leader in the manufacture and sale of tractors, combines, hay tools and other agricultural and construction equipment.

Listen to the excitement in Abe’s voice as he tackles this new challenge with POET: Interview with Abe Hughes, POET

Enogen ‘Primes the Pump’ for Ethanol Infrastructure

syngenta-enogen-nascar-15-tingleSyngenta’s Enogen seed corn, specially bred just for ethanol production, is “priming the pump” for infrastructure to keep the green fuel flowing. Previously, Syngenta announced a major donation to the Prime the Pump fund, an industry initiative to help early retail adopters of high-level ethanol blends through grants to reduce their initial investment in infrastructure. During an interview with Chuck at the American Ethanol 200 in Iowa, Chris Tingle, Head of Marketing for Enogen said approximately $600,000 will be raised for the initiative by contributing $1 for every acre planted with Enogen corn enzyme technology.

“[This allows for] the adding of equipment and enabling the use of ethanol more broadly,” he said, adding they’re getting some help from FFA students there. “We’re happy to partner with the FFA to support Prime the Pump. For every dollar the local FFA chapter collects here at the race, we’ll match.”

Chris went on to explain that the valuable enzyme in Enogen corn adds value for the ethanol plants and the farmers who grow it. Another important feature to know about Enogen is it doesn’t have to be a 100 percent blend of the variety when ethanol is made for it to be effective. “It’s really only about 15 percent of the overall corn that needs to be Enogen corn that needs to go into that [ethanol] plant to make the [maximum efficient use of the enzyme].”

Listen to more of Chuck’s interview with Chris here: Chris Tingle, Head of Marketing for Enogen

2015 American Ethanol 200 Presented by Enogen Photo Album

Coverage of the American Ethanol 200 sponsored by Enogen
Coverage of the American Ethanol 200 is sponsored by Enogen

EPA Official Ready for Long Day

rfs-hearing-agritalkHundreds of stakeholders are gathered in Kansas City, Kansas for a public hearing on the proposed volume obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

Chris Grundler, Director of EPA’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality, is the official in charge and he took a few minutes this morning to sit down with AgriTalk and discuss the proposal and his expectations for the hearing. In a quick interview with Domestic Fuel, Grundler talked about what he learned during his visit to East Kansas Agri-Energy “What struck me is that this plant was built by a bunch of neighbors and now ten years later it’s very successful,” said Grundler.

The hearing is now underway and Grundler says “we will be here until the last person speaks.”

Interview with Chris Grundler, EPA

EPA RFS Public Hearing photo album

Coverage of EPA RFS Hearing is sponsored by
Coverage of EPA RFS Hearing sponsored by RFA

Soules Supports Ethanol & Ag at American Ethanol 200

syngenta-enogen-nascar-15-soules1He’s been a guy handing out roses to the ladies on “The Bachelor” and wowing everyone with his fancy footwork on “Dancing with the Stars.” Now, Chris Soules says he just a “normal famous guy” back home in Iowa supporting agriculture and getting back to what he loves: farming. He recently served as the grand marshal for the American Ethanol 200 and talked to Chuck at the race about the importance of ethanol and how Syngenta’s Enogen corn seed, bred especially for ethanol production, is an key part of the food and fuel products coming from American farms.

“This is an exciting event for me,” he said. “We’re promoting Enogen corn that’s helping build the ethanol industry and adding value back to the farmers. It’s exciting to have a platform that helps farmers connect with the consumer and tell the story of ethanol and how important it is to Iowa’s and the entire U.S.’s economy.”

Soules knows firsthand how much value ethanol has added to corn. He remembers the days when we had $1.30 a bushel corn, and while the prices are down a bit now, they’re still better with the ethanol market. He also pointed out how farmers are making feed and fuel for America and the world. “Having that diversity in our energy is really important. Keeping that market is something we need to work hard to do.”

Listen to Chuck’s interview with Chris Soules here: Chris Soules at American Ethanol 200

2015 American Ethanol 200 Presented by Enogen Photo Album

Coverage of the American Ethanol 200 sponsored by Enogen
Coverage of the American Ethanol 200 is sponsored by Enogen

Minnesota Gov Signs E15 Dispenser Bill

MnBiofuelsMinnesota’s governor has signed into law a measure that will help fuel retailers sell the 15 percent blend of ethanol, E15. This news release from the Minnesota Bio-Fuels Association says the new law kicks in on July 1 and will provide funds for the retailers to convert their pumps to handle the higher blend.

The Minnesota Bio-Fuels Association played a key role in getting the E15 Dispenser Bill included in the Agriculture and Environment bill and generated support for it from members of the Minnesota Senate and House of Representatives.

Under the bill, $500,000 in grants will be disbursed over a two-year period to help fuel retailers make simple upgrades to their fuel dispensers so that they can offer E15.

These upgrades include simple calibrations, meters, valve assembles, seals, hanging hardware and in some limited cases, a new dispenser.

The measure is part of a larger piece of legislation that has the state setting a goal to reduce GHG emissions to 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. E15 produces fewer GHG emissions and could save the state 358,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year, the equivalent of removing 75,368 cars from the road.

EPA Officials Visit Kansas Ethanol Plant

EPA officials visit East Kansas Agri-Energy plant

EPA officials visit East Kansas Agri-Energy plant

In advance of a public hearing in Kansas City on the proposed volume obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials visited East Kansas Agri-Energy (EKAE) in Garnett, Kansas Wednesday.

Federal and regional EPA personnel toured the 45 million gallon per year corn ethanol plant, examined progress on EKAE’s co-located renewable diesel project, and discussed the importance of the RFS with plant management and local investors. EPA also hand-delivered a letter to EKAE approving the company’s efficient producer pathway petition, which certifies that the company’s ethanol reduces GHG emissions by 27.2 percent compared to petroleum.

“Today’s event provided an excellent opportunity for key EPA officials to see firsthand the ethanol industry’s innovation and ingenuity,” said Jeff Oestmann, CEO of EKAE. “We were honored to host EPA, and we thank them for spending a few hours with us to learn more about the ethanol process, renewable diesel, and the importance of the biofuels industry to the Garnett community. We had a very productive discussion and hope they left here with a new appreciation for both the challenges and opportunities facing ethanol producers today.”

EKAE, which was founded by local farmers and business leaders, produced its first gallon of ethanol one month before the original RFS was adopted in 2005. In 2014, the company broke ground on a bolt-on renewable diesel facility, which will convert the corn distillers oil already produced at the plant into low-carbon advanced biofuel.

RFA Senior Vice President Geoff Cooper, who also attended the tour, said EKAE is proof that the RFS is working. “EKAE is an excellent example of how the RFS provided the stability needed for first-generation biofuels like corn ethanol to succeed and flourish, then delivered the investment certainty required to develop second-generation biofuels like renewable diesel from corn distillers oil,” he said.

Both Oestmann and Cooper will be testifying today at the EPA hearing in Kansas City, along with more than 250 other industry stakeholders.

Listen to an interview with Oestmann and Cooper about the plant tour and hearing here: Interview with Jeff Oestmann, EKAE and Geoff Cooper, RFA

EPA RFS Public Hearing photo album

Will EPA Change RFS Volume Proposal?

New Holland ZimmPollOur latest ZimmPoll asked the question, “How will a ban on antibiotics impact your livestock operation?”

Our poll results clearly state that producers are not sure how the change in federal antibiotic guidelines will impact their operations. The livestock industry is currently working with producers to help with his transition and working closely with your veterinarians to create a health plan designed for your operation will be key.

Here are the poll results:

  • It won’t – don’t use them – 7%
  • Positively with correct health plan – 27%
  • Big financial impact – 13%
  • Unsure – 53%

Our new ZimmPoll is now live and asks the question, Will EPA change RFS volume proposal?

The EPA recently released a new proposal for biofuels volume obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard – one that has made no one happy but particularly corn farmers and ethanol producers who note that the agency is not implementing the law as intended. EPA is holding a public hearing to get comments on the proposal but will it lead to a change?

Biodiesel Supports to Testify at EPA Hearing

In addition to corn farmers and ethanol producers, EPA officials will also hear from the biodiesel industry at the public hearing Thursday on the agency’s latest proposal establishing volumes under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

nBBAccording to the National Biodiesel Board, about two dozen biodiesel representatives from across the country are slated to testify at the hearing to thank the EPA for increasing volumes in the latest proposal while calling for further growth in the final rule set to be released in November.

Bob Morton, co-owner of Newport Biodiesel in Rhode Island and a member of the National Biodiesel Board’s governing board, planned to highlight biodiesel’s success as an Advanced Biofuel under the RFS and to emphasize biodiesel’s potential for significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions under the RFS.

“We appreciate that EPA has improved the numbers and that the volumes increase with time; however, the volumes remain well below what the industry can produce and they are far from an aggressive approach to expanding biodiesel production and thereby significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” Morton says in his prepared testimony. “There is little we can do regarding 2014 and 2015, but we can take a more aggressive stance in 2016 and 2017.”

NBB Vice Chairman Ron Marr, director of government affairs at Minnesota Soybean Processors, planned to emphasize the industry’s strong potential for growth with the right policy.

“Our message to EPA is simple,” Marr says in his prepared testimony. “The biodiesel industry has, can and will deliver on the goals of the RFS, particularly those for Advanced Biofuels. We are poised to expand production and continue building this industry with the right policy signals, but we need stronger biodiesel and Advanced Biofuels volumes in the final rule to make that happen.”

Brazilian Tariff on Imported Ethanol Increases

The Brazilian government this week increased the tariff on imported ethanol from 9.25 percent to 11.75 percent, effective immediately.

unicaThe Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA) issued a statement regarding the changes to Brazil’s tax policy signed into law by Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff Monday.

Ethanol produced in Brazil is subject to a range of federal taxes with revenue allocated to social security, including the social participation program (PIS) and social security financing contribution (COFINS) on domestic production. Today’s action by President Rousseff will level the playing field between Brazilian sugarcane ethanol and imported biofuels by subjecting foreign renewable fuels to comparable taxation and should not be confused with an importation tariff.

It is important to note the PIS and COFINS paid on ethanol imports will turn into a credit for the importer, which may then be used to pay other tax debts or be reimbursed by the Brazilian government, having the effect of anticipated taxes that would already be collected.

“Brazilian sugarcane producers have long been strong advocates of removing trade barriers and creating tax parity for renewable fuels,” said Elizabeth Farina, UNICA President. “Working together, the United States and Brazil have built a thriving global biofuels trade benefiting both countries, and we look forward to continued progress toward shared environmental and economic goals.”