NCERC Technician Awarded NEC Scholarship

Cindy Zimmerman Leave a Comment

A former steel mill worker pursuing a degree while working full-time in the U.S. ethanol industry is this year’s student scholarship winner to attend the Renewable Fuels Association’s National Ethanol Conference next week in San Antonio.

Christopher Wense is a full time Ethanol Plant Operations Technician at the National Corn-to-Ethanol Research Center (NCERC) at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and is working toward a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Management and Applied Engineering at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Ill.

“In April 2015, I was laid off from U.S. Steel in Granite City, Illinois,” said Wense. “Shortly thereafter, I returned to college, and after researching the growth potential of several industries, I decided to focus on the renewable fuels sector. I see endless growth opportunities for the U.S. ethanol sector, and providing people just like me with rewarding, long-term careers.” Read his story in this op-ed from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

This is the ninth year for the scholarship program by RFA and the Renewable Fuels Foundation awarding students enrolled in higher education with complimentary registration at the conference, giving scholarship recipients the chance to connect with hundreds of leaders, policymakers, and experts associated with the renewable fuel industry.

Ethanol, Ethanol News, National Ethanol Conference, RFA

The Future of Energy

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Onalytica, who specialises in providing Influencer Relationship Management software and supporting professional services to help brands, has identified the Top 100 Influencers, Brands & Publications in Energy.

Our team was excited to see Energy.AgWired.com made the list of influencing publications. Formally, Domestic Fuel, Energy.AgWired has been bringing you the news in renewable fuels since September 2005. We have just wrapped up coverage of the 2018 National Biodiesel Conference and will be heading to the 2018 National Ethanol Conference next week. The Ethanol Report and Driving Ethanol podcasts are other great ways to stay-up-to-date on the industry.

Thanks for the recognition Onalytica!

Agribusiness, AgWired Energy, Biodiesel, biofuels, Ethanol, Renewable Energy

Growth Energy Holds 9th Annual Leadership Conference

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Growth Energy is holding its ninth annual Executive Leadership Conference (ELC) this week in Boca Raton, Florida with more than 300 ethanol leaders and supporters in attendance.

CEO Emily Skor kicked off the event with her report to the membership. “This past year, we saw what can be accomplished when we refuse to let others steer the debate away from our goals. … We still have a lot of work to do, but our champions are mobilized and positioned to win,” said Skor. “This is our opportunity for a real conversation about how we are expanding domestic and foreign markets, forging new relationships with retailers, and shaping critical policies within the Trump administration and Congress.”

With the theme “In the Driver’s Seat,” the ELC is featuring a host of panel discussions exploring topics including the state of U.S. agriculture, the global marketplace, domestic and global E15 expansion, the political landscape, and Growth Energy’s efforts to reach consumers and key influencers through its NASCAR partnership and emerging mechanic education initiative.

Ethanol, Growth Energy

Iowa RFA Sends Message to EPA Administrator

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The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) has a message for EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to answer the question of how to reduce RIN prices associated with the Renewable Fuel Standard – grant E15 the same RVP treatment as all other ethanol-blended fuels.

On January 30th, while Administrator Pruitt was testifying before the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit attendees were signing a letter and a poster to the administrator asking him to grant E15 RVP parity. A copy of the letter summit attendees signed, and a photo of the signed poster was sent to Pruitt’s office Wednesday.

“From Harvard professors to Iowa retailers, the experts agree E15 RVP parity is the fastest way to lower RIN prices,” said IRFA Executive Director Monte Shaw. “It is simple supply and demand. Allowing retailers to blend E15 all year round would flood the market with RINs and reduce the price.”

During the Senate committee hearing, Pruitt said EPA is in the process of determining if the agency will provide E15 RVP parity “and we are working to get an answer as soon as we can.”

E15, EPA, Ethanol, Ethanol News, Iowa RFA

Senators Speak Out to Approve Northey Nomination

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After nearly four months of having the nomination of Iowa’s Bill Northey to the U.S. Department of Agriculture held up by Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) brought it up on the Senate floor Wednesday and called on other colleagues to back him up.

Northey was nominated to be USDA Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation in September and quickly confirmed by the Agriculture Committee, but Sen. Cruz put a hold on the nomination in October over the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and has refused to budge unless all stakeholders can meet together to agree on a “win-win” situation for both refiners and ethanol producers that would lower prices for Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs).

“Mr. Northey would have been confirmed long ago had the lobbyists for the ethanol industry been willing to come to the table and reach a commonsense solution,” said Sen. Cruz.

That struck a chord with Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) President and CEO Bob Dinneen. “Mr. Cruz is also being callously misleading in suggesting representatives of the ethanol industry (including the RFA) have refused to meet to discuss the issue,” said Dinneen. “We have received no invitation to talk, only media reports of his cynical proposed solution to cap the price of RINs.”

Both Dinneen and Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor point out that there is a very simple solution to lower the price of RINs – allow E15 to be sold year round. “Sen. Ted Cruz has held Mr. Northey hostage as a means to drag out his so-called ‘negotiation’ to lower RIN prices, when all this time there has been a solution staring us in the face – RVP relief,” said Skor.

RVP relief is one of two offers Sen. Grassley has made to appease Sen. Cruz. The other is transparency for the RINs market.

Listen to good friends Sens. Grassley and Cruz disagree with one another on this issue.
Sens. Cruz and Grassley comments

Listen to Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) support Bill Northey.
Sens. Stabenow, Ernst and Klobuchar comments

Audio, Ethanol, Ethanol News, Government, Growth Energy, RFA, RFS

Perdue Discusses State of Rural Economy

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Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue briefed members of the House Agriculture Committee Tuesday on the current state of the rural economy and USDA’s farm bill priorities.

“We’re in a very different situation than when you last contemplated a farm bill,” said Perdue in his opening remarks. “The state of the rural economy is fragile.”

Secretary Perdue was asked about a number of issues impacting different areas of the nation, including sorghum, nutrition programs, dairy, specialty crops, trade, FMD vaccine, getting undersecretaries approved by Congress, labor and immigration, broadband access, precision ag, citrus greening, renewable fuels, cotton, and lots more.

Listen to part of the hearing here: Sec. Perdue State of Rural Economy

AgWired Animal, AgWired Energy, AgWired Precision, Audio, Government, USDA

Harvard Professor Says RVP Parity Will Lower RIN Prices

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A professor of economics at Harvard University claims that providing RVP parity for E15 would be the most direct way to lower RIN prices.

A recent paper from economist Professor James H. Stock argues that providing RVP parity for E15 would facilitate increased ethanol blending, which in turn would drive increased generation and availability of RIN credits and ultimately lower RIN prices.

“Extending the RVP waiver to E15 (and higher blends) would facilitate additional corn kernel ethanol being blended into the fuel supply, as some E10 sales are converted to E15 sales,” Stock wrote, noting that current EPA regulations effectively prevent E15 from being sold year-round in most of the country. “This additionally blended ethanol would make it easier to comply with the RFS obligation for blending conventional fuels, because more D6 RINS [from conventional ethanol] would become available for compliance. …[T]hese additional RINs would exert downward pressure on RIN prices. Additional sales of E15, along with the continued expansion of total gasoline demand, would tend to stabilize RIN prices at a lower value, all else equal.”

Stock will be speaking at the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) National Ethanol Conference next week in San Antonio on a panel entitled “For Your RINformation: An Update on RIN Markets.” The impact of RVP parity for E15 on RIN prices will be among the topics discussed, along with other concepts.

Click here to read Prof. Stock’s paper

Ethanol, Ethanol News, National Ethanol Conference, RFA, RFS

Grassley Disputes Negative Impacts of RFS on Refineries

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Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) is challenging claims that the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) was responsible in part for the recent bankruptcy filing of Philadelphia Energy Solutions (PES).

Grassley released an internal memo produced by his energy policy staff who analyzed the situation and found that the biofuels blending requirement and the cost of Renewable Identification Number credits (RINs) “have little to do with the success of refineries and were not significant factors in the PES bankruptcy.”

“I’m concerned any time an American’s job could be lost,” Grassley said. “After I heard that the Renewable Fuel Standard was being blamed for the financial troubles of some refineries, I wanted to know more. So I asked my staff to get to the bottom of the situation. After reviewing the facts, I’m confident that the Renewable Fuel Standard isn’t harming refineries, that other factors are at work, and that the RFS law is working as Congress intended.”

In addition, Grassley notes that the University of Pennsylvania’s Kleinman Center for Energy Policy has published a blog series on the real story behind why the refinery was led to declare bankruptcy.

American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) CEO Brian Jennings says Senator Grassley’s analysis is spot on. “As more light is shone on the decisions PES management made between 2012 and today, it has become clear that they sacrificed RFS compliance for other investments which went bad…It would be outrageous for Congress or EPA to reform the RFS based on the mismanagement of one east coast refiner.”

Ethanol, Ethanol News, RFS

Summit Agricultural Group to expand FS Bioenergia

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Summit Agricultural Group has announced a $100 million expansion of FS Bioenergia, its corn ethanol production facility in Brazil. The expansion of the plant is forecast for completion in the first quarter of 2019 and will more than double annual corn ethanol production from 60 million gallons to 140 million gallons.

With this expansion, FS Bioenergia will annually process over 50 million bushels of corn and produce more than 14,000 tons of corn oil and 400,000 tons of valuable feed rations for Brazil’s growing livestock industry.

“This is a significant step for FS Bioenergia, but it’s even more important for the growth of corn ethanol production in Brazil,” said Bruce Rastetter, founder and CEO of Summit Agricultural Group. “When we began this project several years ago, we were confident of the opportunities in Brazilian renewables. Today, we’re more convinced than ever of the potential for corn ethanol in Mato Grosso.”

The FS Bioenergia expansion will utilize process technologies from ICM, Inc. of Colwich, Kansas, as it did for the original plant.

Brazil, corn, Ethanol, Ethanol News

Pruitt Open to Ethanol as Octane Enhancer

Cindy Zimmerman

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt appeared before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee last week for an oversight hearing that touched on a variety of issues, including ethanol.

Pruitt was questioned by Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS) about the advanced biofuel pathway for distillers sorghum oil and the comment period that just closed on that January 26, and Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) asked about a nationwide RVP waiver for 15% ethanol. “As you know, (the RVP waiver) is not really a policy issue, it truly is a determination about the legal authority on whether it can be granted nationally,” said Pruitt.
Audio file: Sen. Ernst and EPA Admin. Pruitt

Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD) asked about the use of corn ethanol as an octane enhancer. “I think the agency has long has not considered the fuel side of the ledger to achieve better outcomes…as we go through the CAFE process we are looking at those kinds of issues,” said Pruitt. “We’re agnostic about the source, it’s just a high octane approach generally.”
Audio file: Sen. Rounds and EPA Admin. Pruitt

American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) CEO Brian Jennings says they were encouraged by Pruitt’s comments. “Administrator Pruitt is to be commended for inviting comment on the role high-octane fuels can play in helping meet future vehicle fuel economy and emission standards,” said Jennings. “It is well-documented that blends in the range of E25-40 deliver meaningful efficiency and emission benefits at a low pump price. We continue to work with other stakeholders to make sure high-octane fuel containing ethanol becomes a reality.”

ACE, Audio, EPA, Ethanol, Ethanol News