Ethanol Report on Final 2018 RVOs

Cindy Zimmerman

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its final Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) renewable volume obligations (RVOs) for 2018 as scheduled on November 30, with relatively little change from the July proposal, keeping the statutory 15 billion gallon requirement for conventional renewable fuels like corn ethanol.

While that is good news, there is disappointment with volumes decreased or flatlined for cellulosic biofuels and biomass-based biodiesel. In this edition of The Ethanol Report podcast, Renewable Fuels Association president and CEO Bob Dinneen discusses the final numbers and what they mean for the industry going forward.

Listen to it here: Ethanol Report 11-30-17

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Ethanol, Ethanol News, Ethanol Report, RFA, RFS

Biofuels Industry Reacts to Final RVO Numbers

Cindy Zimmerman

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released today its final Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) renewable volume obligations (RVOs) for 2018.

The agency finalized a total renewable fuel volume of 19.29 billion gallons, including 4.29 billion advanced biofuel – a slight increase from the proposal – and 288 million gallons of cellulosic biofuel. The agency maintained the requirement for conventional renewable fuels like corn ethanol at 15 billion gallons. EPA also kept the requirement for biomass-based diesel at 2.1 billion gallons again for 2019.

Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Bob Dinneen says they are pleased that the final rule maintains the statutory requirement for ethanol. “The final rule is a marked improvement, increasing both total renewable fuel and cellulosic biofuel volumes by 50 million gallons over the proposed levels. Still, we would encourage EPA to closely monitor the commercialization of new cellulosic technologies, particularly regarding corn kernel fiber conversion, because we believe greater cellulosic production is likely. The RFS needs to remain a forward-looking program, driving investment in these new technologies.”

Hear Dinneen’s comments: RFA CEO Bob Dinneen comments on Final RVO

Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor – “The EPA’s on-time announcement upholds the statutory targets for conventional biofuels, which will provide much-needed certainty for hard-pressed rural communities. We would like to have seen a boost to the target blending levels for cellulosic biofuels, and we will continue to work with the administration to advance the RFS goal of further stimulating growth and showing U.S. leadership in 21st century fuels.”

Skor’s comments: Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor comments on Final RVO

American Coalition for Ethanol CEO Brian Jennings says the advanced biofuel volume of 4.29 billion gallons “represents a modest step in the right direction for the RFS” to “reassure retailers that it makes sense to offer E15 and flex fuels.”

Jennings’s comments – ACE CEO Brian Jennings comments on Final RVO

National Biodiesel Board chief operating officer Doug Whitehead says the industry is disappointed in the final numbers but optimistic moving forward “to right this wrong for future volumes.”

Whitehead’s comments – NBB's Doug Whitehead comments on Final RVO

Audio, Biodiesel, Ethanol, Ethanol News, RFA, RFS

Waiting for the Numbers

Cindy Zimmerman

The biofuels industry is eagerly awaiting the highly anticipated release of 2018 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) renewable volume obligations (RVOs) expected today.

In July, the agency proposed a total renewable fuel volume of 19.24 billion gallons (BG), maintaining the conventional biofuel (corn ethanol) requirement at the 15 billion gallon level but reducing advanced biofuels (mostly biodiesel) to 4.24 billion gallons, including 238 million gallons of cellulosic. The EPA proposal also maintained just the minimum required biomass-based diesel volumes at 2.1 billion gallons for 2019, far below the industry request of 2.75 billion gallons.

It’s been a roller coaster ride for the industry over the past two months, starting with EPA taking the unprecedented action in September of issuing a Notice of Data Availability (NODA), seeking comment on the potential for further reductions in the volumes, after the comment period on the proposal had already closed. Then came the October show of unity by biofuels supporters like Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, ultimately causing EPA to back down from any proposed changes. Backlash from oil state lawmakers, including Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), have since held up the nomination of Iowa agriculture secretary Bill Northey to a USDA Under Secretary position.

The administration has promised to release the final rule by today’s deadline and no matter what the numbers are, they will be news.

Ethanol, Ethanol News, RFS

Biodiesel Advocates Storming the Hill

Cindy Zimmerman

With EPA set to release final volume obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), and Congress back at work on tax legislation, this week is a perfect time for members of the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) to put biodiesel on the front burner in Washington D.C.

Nearly 100 NBB members are storming the Hill to talk with lawmakers about the importance of renewing the biodiesel tax credit, which expired in December 2016, and increasing the RVOs to at least 4.75 billion gallons for advanced biofuels next year and at least 2.5 billion gallons for biomass-based diesel in 2019. The proposed rule earlier this year called for a reduction in advanced biofuels (which is 90 percent biodiesel) and no growth in biomass-based diesel volumes.

“Biodiesel has played a major role in our energy portfolio for the United States,” said Tom Verry, NBB Director of Outreach and Development, during an interview earlier this month. “We used almost three billion gallons last year and we are anticipating in 2017 to exceed that by quite a bit.”

Biodiesel advocates have a great story to tell being nation’s first domestically produced, commercially available advanced biofuel that now supports roughly 64,000 jobs across the country and has helped add value to soybeans and soybean oil. Verry talks more about the benefits of biodisel in this interview. Interview with Tom Verry, NBB

Audio, Biodiesel, NBB

Corn Harvest Wrapping Up

Cindy Zimmerman

The corn harvest is not quite finished, but weekly USDA crop progress reports are done for the year.

According to the last report issued on Monday, 95 percent of the corn crop nationwide is in the bin, less than the 98 percent average for the end of November. Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin are dragging behind with less than 90 percent harvested, while Missouri is the only corn belt state reporting 100 percent.

Iowa, at 96 percent harvested, is down about three percent from normal. “Overall, many farmers have reported better than expected yields, despite the challenges of the growing season. Dry weather, particularly in southern Iowa, stressed crops and did negatively impact yields in some areas,” said Mike Naig, Iowa Deputy Secretary of Agriculture.

During the first two weeks of December, NASS will survey approximately 90,000 United States producers in one of USDA’s largest survey efforts to provide the final information about the 2017 U.S. row crops focusing on harvested acreage, production, and storage. The survey will also be used to help establish county level estimates used by the Farm Service Agency for the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) program and the Risk Management Agency to administer insurance programs.

corn, USDA

Ethanol Production Hits Weekly Record

Cindy Zimmerman

Weekly U.S. ethanol production hit a new record high this month.

According to Energy Information Administration data analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), ethanol production for the week ending November 17 averaged 1.074 million barrels per day (b/d)—or 45.11 million gallons daily, up 20,000 b/d from the week before. That is the highest rate of output ever recorded, beating the previous record set the week of Jan. 27, 2017 by 13,000 b/d. The four-week average for ethanol production increased to a record 1.06 million b/d for an annualized rate of 16.25 billion gallons.

Stocks of ethanol were 21.9 million barrels, up nearly 2 percent from the previous week and a 22-week high. There were zero imports recorded for the second week in a row.

Ethanol, Ethanol News, Production, RFA

Industry Thankful for EPA Obligation Point Decision

Cindy Zimmerman

The ethanol industry got something extra to be thankful for the day before Thanksgiving as the Environmental Protection Agency followed through on the promise made by Administrator Scott Pruitt to deny a petition to change the point of obligation for compliance under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

“Based on a wide range of stakeholder input and information provided as a part of the public comment period, the agency has determined that changing the regulatory point of obligation for compliance with the RFS program is not appropriate,” EPA noted in its response.

“We commend the EPA for laying to rest a year of attempts from a small group of oil refiners who have been using every trick in the book to change the established rules for tracking compliance with the Renewable Fuel Standard,” said Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor. “This one-sided handout would have added regulatory red tape, created havoc in the marketplace, and denied consumers access to more affordable fuels with higher blends of biofuels like E15.”

“The RFS credit trading framework (RINs) has proven to be a powerful incentive that has allowed some of the most respected independent retailers in the country to offer cleaner, higher octane fuels such as E15 to their customers at lower prices,” said American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) CEO Brian Jennings. “A RIN credit is a reward for RFS compliance. Companies complying with the RFS or blending more ethanol than required are able to use the additional RINs to discount prices of ethanol-blended fuels…It would be wrong to take away that incentive and give it to those few refiners who have made no effort to improve the fuels in our country.”

This week, EPA is expected to release its final rule for volume obligations under the RFS for the coming year, which the previous administration chose to do last year on the day before Thanksgiving. Thanks to the EPA for waiting until afterward this year!

EPA, Ethanol, Ethanol News, Growth Energy, RFS

Medford Celebrates 20 Years of Biodiesel School Buses

Cindy Zimmerman

When it comes to using cleaner burning biodiesel in school buses, Medford Township Public Schools in New Jersey goes to the head of the class, as they celebrate 20 years this month, making Medford the nation’s longest continuous user of biodiesel in a student transportation fleet.

The school district’s use of biodiesel has eliminated more than 123,376 pounds of smog-forming emissions, 2,408 pounds of diesel particulate matter and reduced its fleet operation costs by over $170,000.

“Medford’s 20-year commitment to powering its school bus fleet with biodiesel is benefiting a new generation of students by reducing harmful emissions and contributing to cleaner air,” said National Biodiesel Board CEO Donnell Rehagen. “Some of the children who rode the bus back in 1997 are now parents themselves whose children will enjoy the same air quality benefits in Medford today.”

“Utilizing biodiesel fuel in our school bus fleet is the cornerstone of our district’s overall commitment to sustainability,” said Medford Schools Superintendent Joseph Del Rossi. “We are proud to be a lead district for this initiative, especially serving as a positive role model for our school community and the Township of Medford.”

Medford filled its first school bus with B20 on November 17, 1997. When that bus was retired in 2011, it had logged 190,000 miles without any major engine work and still had its original fuel injectors and pump.

Biodiesel, NBB

Understanding the Farmers of Tomorrow

jamie johansen

OsbornBarr has rounded up ag thought-leaders from across the country to discuss and tackle issues impacting the agricultural community. The first challenge they collectively believe is imperative is understanding farmers of tomorrow.

Chairman of the newly formed O+B Agricultural Advisory Council, Richard Fordyce, former Missouri Director of Agriculture, attended the 2017 National Association of Farm Broadcasting’s Trade Talk to talk about the research they conducted on Generation Z’s (18-22-year-olds) future in agriculture.

How do the children of today’s farmers view their role in agriculture’s future? How do their perceptions of brand and industry compare to those of their parents and grandparents? Can the answers to these questions shape the future of farming?

The results centered around four major factors shaping the future of our industry: Farm Succession Expectations Differ, View of Government Involvement, Agricultural Technologies Tops List, Preference of Peers Over Brand Names.

Richard reminded us that all those surveyed are currently somehow involved in agriculture. A glimpse of the results: 54% plan to take over their family farm, 77% are still active on their family farm and 71% of farmers believe their kids want to take over the family farm.

The council will continue to digest these results and conduct further research on areas of particular interest and make all findings available to the public. Visit RuralSpirit.com to learn more.

Listen to my complete conversation with Richard to learn more :Interview with Richard Fordyce, O+B Ag Advisory Council Chair

2017 NAFB Convention Photos

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