ACE Submits Regulatory Reform Comments to EPA

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The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) was one of the first in line to submit comments to the Environmental Protection Agency on regulatory reform.

Last month, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt established a Regulatory Reform Task Force to evaluate how existing regulations might be repealed or modified and the agency formerly began a 30 day public comment period April 11.

ACE provided the EPA with recommendations on a number of regulatory burdens which “unnecessarily limit the production and use of ethanol and stall job creation and economic growth in rural America,” including:
– Allow Reid vapor pressure (RVP) relief to E15 and higher ethanol blends.
– Update the lifecycle analysis of corn ethanol.
– Streamline the approval process for high-octane fuels such as E25-40 blends.
– Adjust CAFE compliance to allow incentives for flex fuel vehicles

During the recent ACE DC Fly-in, Iowa feedlot operator and ethanol plant investor Bill Couser visited with officials at EPA – something he does every year. “I’ve working with EPA the last ten years and I’ve never been more optimistic leaving the EPA building,” said Couser. “The staff person we met with was an Iowa person, it was like preaching to the choir.”

Couser also comments on the Trump administration roll back of the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule in this interview: Interview with Bill Couser, Lincolnway Energy

ACE DC 2017 Fly-in Photo Album

ACE, Audio, EPA, Ethanol, Ethanol News

Meet the Ethanol Crappie Masters Teams

Cindy Zimmerman

Corn growers and ethanol producers have both seen an opportunity to educate serious anglers on the ethanol industry and the performance of 10 percent ethanol fuel in boat motors.

Terry Richard and Casey Rayner were chosen as the Renewable Fuels Association team in the Crappie Masters Tournament Trail this year as RFA became a title sponsor.

“We’ve always used ethanol fuel in our boat,” said Richard, who says they are glad to represent ethanol in the tournament and grateful for the sponsorship because fishing tournaments are “fun, but it’s an expensive hobby!”

Listen to an interview with Richard and Raynor here: Interview with RFA Crappie Masters Team

The Missouri Corn Growers got on board with the Crappie Masters as a sponsor for the 2015 tournament season to help showcase ethanol’s performance power on the water with Billy Don Surface and Kevin Jones as their team.

Jones says they do get lots of questions from people when they see their American Ethanol wrapped boat about using ethanol in boat engines. “A lot of people are curious,” about using ethanol blended fuel in their boats, says Jones, but most don’t even know that they probably are using it already. “About 95 percent of the people, once you explain it to them they realize they do too, they just didn’t know it.”

The Missouri Corn team towed their boat about 23,000 miles last year on the tournament trail. “We hit a lot of states… we impact a lot of people,” said Jones. “When most people listen and find out the facts, they’re not scared of ethanol.”

Listen to an interview with Jones and Surface here: Interview with MO Corn Crappie Masters Team

2017 Crappie Masters Grenada Tournament

American Ethanol, Audio, Boats, corn, Ethanol, Ethanol News

Corn Planting is Underway

Cindy Zimmerman

#Plant17 is officially underway now with the latest crop progress report issued yesterday from USDA.

Corn planting at three percent nationwide as of April 9 is a point behind last year at this time but exactly on target with five-year average.

Texas, where National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) president Wesley Spurlock farms, is well ahead of both last year and the five year average with 59 percent planted. Four percent of the corn has been planted in Kansas and Kentucky, where this photo was taken, with ten percent in North Carolina, seven percent in Tennessee, and five percent in Missouri.

The I states are running behind schedule with only Illinois making any progress and that only one percent. “Wet weather kept farmers from the field for most of the week, but the dryer weather and warmer temps late in the week allowed some field work and fertilizer applications to take place. We will need some more warm and dry weather before we start see widespread fieldwork,” Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey said.

The 2017 Prospective Plantings report based on farmer surveys estimates that corn planted area for all purposes in 2017 will be 90 million acres, down 4 percent or 4.0 million acres from last year.

corn, USDA

Ethanol and DDGS Exports Up in February

Cindy Zimmerman

Exports of U.S. ethanol in February were the highest in a single month since late 2011, at 138.0 million gallons (mg), according to government data analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association research analyst Ann Lewis.

RFA research analyst Ann Lewis

Brazil was again the top customer, taking in more than one-third of all U.S. ethanol exports (50.8 mg, or 37%) but 14% less than record shipments to Brazil in January. Canada also decreased its purchases in February with 24.7 mg (18% of total exports) entering the country. Sales to India, however, nearly doubled from the prior month, increasing from 13.2 mg to 24.3 mg. The United Arab Emirates (10.1 mg) and the Philippines (7.0 mg) were other significant importers in February. Year-to-date exports stood at 259.8 mg, up nearly 70% from the year-ago total of 154.1 mg.

Also in February, exports of U.S. distillers grains (DDGS) totaled 1.07 million metric tons (mt), the highest monthly total in six months and up 14% over January. Mexico was the number one destination, increasing its purchases by 36% to make up 23% of total U.S. exports. The Turkish market saw a 21% increase in DDGS purchased in February to take 14% of U.S. exports. Other top markets included Thailand, China, Japan, Indonesia, and Spain. Year-to-date exports stood at 2.01 million metric tons as of the end of February.

Ethanol imports continue to be virtually non-existent with only marginal volumes of foreign-produced fuel ethanol entering the U.S.

Ethanol production has started to slow down some in recent weeks, but still staying above a million barrels per day average. For the last week of March, production just squeaked over a million barrels and was the lowest in 18 weeks. At the same time, stocks of ethanol increased to a new record high of 23.7 million barrels.

Distillers Grains, Ethanol, Ethanol News, Exports, RFA

Ethanol Plants Hold Annual Meetings

Cindy Zimmerman

ACE executive vice president Brian Jennings speaks at Absolute Energy recent annual meeting

In a world of mega mergers and company buy outs, farmer-owned facilities remain the back bone of the ethanol industry, with many in operation today for over 20 years.

American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) executive vice president Brian Jennings has been attending many of the annual member meetings for these ethanol plants this spring to help them celebrate another year. “Our plant members work hard to provide a meaningful return to local shareholders, and I’m honored to speak at their annual meetings to congratulate them for the operational and financial progress they’ve made,” Jennings said. “Ethanol plants grow more efficient every day, which is a real testament to the folks who have dedicated their careers to innovation and to being wise stewards of their shareholder’s investments.”

Jennings has visited Cardinal Ethanol, Absolute Energy, Ace Ethanol, and Badger State Ethanol annual meetings so far this year and will be at Dakota Ethanol’s upcoming meeting in South Dakota this week.

ACE

Ethanol Industry Discounts API Poll

Cindy Zimmerman

The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) is calling results of yet another American Petroleum Institute (API) push poll released today “skewed” and based on misleading questions. API claims its poll results show a majority of Americans are “concerned about the government requiring increased amounts of ethanol in gasoline” under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

RFA notes that API historically frames its polling questions to be biased against the RFS, providing a question from API’s April 2016 poll as an an example:

“As you may know, much of the gasoline in the U.S. market currently contains up to a 10% ethanol blend. Most auto manufacturers have said they will not cover vehicle damage caused by higher ethanol fuel blends over 10% if the vehicle is not specifically designed for it. Given that situation, how concerned are you about government requirements that would increase the amount of ethanol in gasoline?”

RFA also notes that a recent survey conducted on their behalf by Morning Consult found a more than 3:1 margin of support for the RFS.

“The RFS has been an unmitigated success, stimulating growth in domestic renewable fuels, creating a value-added market for farmers and providing choice at the pump for consumers,” said RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen. “It’s no wonder that API, which represents petroleum producers, wants to obfuscate the success of a program that boosts the production and use of renewable fuel. Consumers want a choice at the pump and the RFS helps ensure that choice exists. API can release all the push polls it wants, but the truth speaks for itself.”

Ethanol, Ethanol News, RFA, RFS

Syngenta Touts Potential for Cellulosic Ethanol

Cindy Zimmerman

Developments in cellulosic ethanol technology are creating opportunities for American ethanol producers.

Miloud Araba, head of Enogen® technical services at Syngenta, says cellulosic innovation could enable dry grind ethanol producers to meet the increasing Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) volume requirements for cellulosic biofuels, which are up 35 percent for 2017.

“Approximately 10 percent of the corn kernel dry weight is fiber, and converting corn kernel fiber feedstock to cellulosic ethanol has been possible for some time,” Araba said. “However, recent advances in technologies can enable commercial deployment today. In fact, the approximately 12 million tons of corn kernel fiber feedstock already available at U.S. dry grind ethanol plants each year could produce a potential 1.5 billion gallons of additional, cellulosic ethanol.”

Araba added that the California Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) offers further opportunities for corn kernel fiber. “Low carbon intensity fuel that puts out fewer emissions will be increasingly needed in California to meet the goals of the LCFS program and the demand for LCFS credits,” he said. “Looking ahead, cellulosic ethanol from corn kernel fiber will be in demand because long-term objectives of the LCFS cannot be met with D6 ethanol at 10 percent.”

Araba discussed the potential during the recent National Ethanol Conference.

Cellulosic, Enogen, Ethanol, Ethanol News

Coalition Formed to Protect Point of Obligation

Cindy Zimmerman

A coalition made up largely of fuel retailers has been formed to oppose efforts to change the point of obligation requirement under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

The Main Street Energy Alliance (MSEA) includes the National Association of Convenience Stores, NATSO (representing truck stops and travel plazas), the Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers of America, as well as Shell and BP. MSEA spokesman Michael Steel says refiners would benefit from the point of obligation change at the expense of consumers and small businesses. “Shifting the point of obligation would add complexity for businesses, decrease the use of biofuels, and potentially increase costs for consumers. Many energy businesses and consumers on Main Streets across this country could be negatively impacted by this effort to reward just a small few,” said Steel.

The RFS system currently places compliance requirements on the parties that control the composition of fuels – refiners and their investors – which creates a strong incentive for downstream fuel blenders, retailers, and marketers to blend renewable fuels into the supply chain while lowering prices at the pump.

biofuels, Ethanol, Ethanol News, Retailers, RFS

RFA Disputes NWF Study with USDA County Data

Cindy Zimmerman

It is undisputed that the amount of land dedicated to crop production overall in the United States has been on the decline for decades, dropping 12 percent just between 1997 and 2012, according to USDA census data. At the same time, corn acreage and ethanol production have increased significantly, which is also undisputed.

What is disputed is whether increased ethanol production has come at the expense of “grasslands at the fringe of the Corn Belt within close proximity of refineries” as alleged in a recent study funded in part by the National Wildlife Federation (NWF).

The NWF study claims satellite data shows “pockets of conversion” around ethanol plants bringing new croplands into production. Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) senior vice president Geoff Cooper says actual USDA census data at the county level disproves that theory. “The USDA data reveal that consistent with the national trend, the overwhelming majority of counties with ethanol plants witnessed reductions—not expansions—in cropland between 1997 and 2012,” Cooper says of the analysis that examined cropland data for the 180 counties where 199 grain ethanol plants were located in 2016.

According to RFA’s analysis, in the 2007 to 2012 time period examined by the NWF study, total cropland in counties with ethanol plants fell by 454,000 acres, or 0.8 percent overall. Of the 180 counties, there were 16 percent where 2012 cropland was higher than in 1997, 2002, or 2007. The increase averaged about three percent and “coincided with reductions in Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) land and pastureland.”

Read the analysis here.

corn, Ethanol, Ethanol News, Indirect Land Use, RFA

More Iowa Retailers Carrying Biodiesel Blends

Cindy Zimmerman

BiodieselpumpKumGo1_0EFFDCA366A05Over half of Iowa’s fuel retailers carried biodiesel last year, up six percent from 2015 according to the Iowa Biodiesel Board (IBB).

The Iowa Department of Revenue released the 2016 Retailers Fuel Gallons Annual Report this month. The report shows during 2016, the amount of on-road biodiesel sold equaled 344.8 million gallons, or 54.7 percent of total on-road diesel fuel sales reported. This is up from 308 million gallons, or 48.7 percent of total on-road (clear) diesel fuel sales the previous year.

Also of significance, the report showed twice as many gallons of 11 – 20 percent biodiesel (B11-B20) were sold than of lower blends. In addition, 471 on-road retailers now carry biodiesel in Iowa, up from 405 in 2015.

“These milestones at the retail level show that Iowa’s progressive biofuels policies are working as intended to increase production and consumption,” said Grant Kimberley, Iowa Biodiesel Board executive director. “This industry is a powerful economic driver, benefiting the rural economy and consumers alike.”

Iowa is the number one biodiesel producer in the country, with a record 305 million gallons produced by plants in the state last year.

Biodiesel