Nebraska Ethanol Emerging Issues Forum Next Week

Cindy Zimmerman

Biofuel stakeholders from across the country will be in Omaha next week for the 14th annual Nebraska Ethanol: Emerging Issues Forum on March 7-8, kicking off with a welcome from Governor Pete Ricketts.

The Nebraska Ethanol Board organizes the forum, which brings together ethanol producers and others involved in production, technology, policymaking and marketing of biofuels and its co-products. Topics include an overview and discussion of the most pressing federal policies, regulatory and legal actions, and markets affecting ethanol demand. Speakers will also discuss navigating the introduction and expansion of E15, as well as opportunities in emerging renewable chemical and co-product markets. The federal policy panel includes industry leaders from the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, Growth Energy, National Corn Growers Association, Novozymes and the Renewable Fuels Association.

More than 150 ethanol industry stakeholders are expected to attend the forum. Online registration and a detailed agenda are available on the Nebraska Ethanol Board website.

Ethanol, Ethanol News

Bioleap, Inc. Supports Ethanol Industry

Carrie Muehling

Bioleap, Inc. CEO Wayne Mitchell (far left) with other members of the Bioleap team at the NEC golf tournament.

The 2019 National Ethanol Conference had a new golf tournament sponsor in Bioleap, Inc. CEO Wayne Mitchell said the full-service engineering company is currently focused on reducing the carbon footprint and energy use of ethanol plants, making them more efficient and helping them to be lower cost producers. Mitchell sees a strong future for the ethanol industry.

“The ethanol industry started out with kind of one vision as to where it was headed with energy security,” he said. “That’s changed with the U.S. becoming the largest exporter of energy now, but now there is a new role for ethanol in terms of octane. And that’s something that’s going to be a need and it’s going to keep this industry in business for a long time and continue to grow.”

Listen to Chuck’s interview with Wayne here: NEC19 Interview with Bioleap CEO Wayne Mitchell

2019 National Ethanol Conference Golf Tournament Photo Album

Audio, Ethanol, National Ethanol Conference

Perdue Doubts E15 Rule will be Ready by Summer

Cindy Zimmerman

Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue appeared before the House Agriculture Committee on Wednesday to update members on the current state of the farm economy and what USDA is doing about it.

Among the many topics Secretary Perdue addressed was whether EPA would get a rule allowing the year-round use of E15 ethanol-blended fuel in time for the summer driving season.

“Unfortunately, those rules probably will not be out for the driving season,” Perdue said in answer to a question from Rep. Don Baker (R-NE), adding that they are expecting EPA to commit to “discretionary enforcement” come summertime for those who want to continue to sell E15.

Answering a later question from new Rep. Cindy Axne (D-IA), Perdue added, “Had the shutdown not occurred I think we’d been able to see the E15 rules before driving season, now it won’t happen.”

Shortly after Perdue made those comments, EPA released the following statement:
“EPA is planning on releasing its RVP/RIN market reform proposal in March, and working expeditiously to propose and finalize the rule consistent with the President’s direction before the start of the summer driving season.”

Listen to Perdue’s comments here:
House Ag hearing exchange between Rep. Bacon and Sonny Perdue

House Ag hearing exchange between Rep. Axne and Sonny Perdue

Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Geoff Cooper says they believe the so-called ‘RIN reforms’ sought by oil refiners are slowing down the rulemaking process. “Thus, I reiterate the request we formally made last month to split RIN reform and year-round E15 into two separate rulemakings and expedite the E15 rule,” said Cooper. “The year-round E15 provisions are straightforward, and there is no reason they could not be promulgated by this summer, particularly as President Trump made the commitment to resolve this red-tape regulatory barrier nearly five months ago.”

Ethanol and the E15 rule are already big topics of discussion at Commodity Classic this week, where Secretary Perdue is scheduled to speak on Friday.

Audio, E15, EPA, Ethanol, Ethanol News, Government, RFA, RFS, USDA

Rock House Advisors Announces Expansion

Cindy Zimmerman

Rock House founder Joe Jobe

Rock House Advisors, the business consulting firm founded by former National Biodiesel Board CEO Joe Jobe, has announced the addition of Mike Marsch as Senior Vice President.

Marsch will help lead an expanded national and international network of strategic partners who serve as Rock House Associates. This network of experts collaborates on projects to expand the scope of business services and the level of expertise to Rock House clients in North America and globally.

Mike Marsch, Rock House Senior VP

Marsch has decades of experience in the electric utility industry which will round out Rock House’s focus on the energy, transportation and technology sectors. The company expansion brings with it an expansion of the company’s client base which includes renewable fuel clients, petroleum refiners, electric utilities, agricultural commodity groups, private equity funds and autonomous technology companies.

This new corporate alliance marks the 45th year of successful collaborations between Jobe and Marsch. They met on their first day of kindergarten in 1974 in their small hometown of Russellville, Missouri, home of Rock House Bridge the namesake of the company they now lead.

Biodiesel, bioenergy

NEC Retailers Panel Talks Marketing Higher Blends

Carrie Muehling

(L to R) Moderator: Robert White, VP of Industry Relations, Renewable Fuels Association; Bryan Goforth, EVP, Home Service Oil Company; Sam Odeh, President, Power Energy Corp.; Steve Walk, COO, Protec Fuel Management, LLC

Retail representatives on a panel at the National Ethanol Conference discussed how market drivers, federal policies and state program are driving the increased availability of E15 and flexible fuels. They also shared some personal experiences when it comes to offering higher blends of ethanol at their locations. Education was the biggest factor for Bryan Goforth with Home Service Oil Company.

“That really made a big difference for us, just beginning that educational process. Because we had some of those same thoughts and maybe myths or stereotypes that might have been out there because I just wasn’t educated and I didn’t know,” said Goforth. “I’ve never been part of that message. So, the education process was what really allowed us to understand the product and bring it to retail.”

Steve Walk with Protec Fuel Management said he believes blender pumps are key to the future of selling higher ethanol blends.

“[We’re] looking at E85 as not only a fuel but also as a feedstock. Let that station have the ability to blend the fuel at a level that makes sense for them,” said Walk, who talked about the process of upgrading infrastructure that is necessary in order to offer higher blends.

Power Energy Corporation President Sam Odeh agreed that infrastructure can present challenges. He also agreed with the idea that educating the consumer is vital, and achievable.

“What we found out is there is a whole homegrown pride. It was easy to engage with the customer to talk about the product and to talk about giving back to the community,” said Odeh, who noted that adding renewable fuels to their locations did help the company to grow overall sales.

Listen to the entire panel discussion here: NEC19 Retailer panel

2019 National Ethanol Conference Photo Album

Audio, Ethanol, Ethanol News, National Ethanol Conference, Retailers

New Review of Argentina Biodiesel Policy Concerns Senators

Cindy Zimmerman

A bipartisan group of 14 Senators, led by Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA), sent a letter to Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross this week regarding his agency’s recently launched “changed circumstances” review of U.S. duties on biodiesel imports from Argentina. The Senators are asking for the department to develop a complete record of Argentina’s biodiesel trade actions before determining whether revisiting the U.S. duties is warranted.

Early last year, the Commerce department issued countervailing duty and antidumping orders on imports of certain biodiesel products from Argentina after an extensive trade investigation. Then in December 2018, Commerce initiated “changed circumstances” reviews to assess Argentina’s most recent modification to its export tax regime and whether it warrants changing the antidumping and countervailing duty orders issued only months before.

“In the short period since the antidumping and countervailing duty orders were imposed, U.S. biodiesel producers have been able to compete on a more level playing field and the U.S. biodiesel industry has begun to recover from the injury caused by the unfair trade practices of the Argentine government and industry,” they continue.

Domestic biodiesel production increased by 17 percent or more in 2018 compared to 2017.

The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) praised the senators for raising concerns with Secretary Ross. “Over the past two years, Argentina has made more than a dozen changes to its export tax rates and has continued to massively subsidize its biodiesel industry,” said Kurt Kovarik, NBB Vice President of Federal Affairs. “Given this history, Commerce should understand that Argentina is very likely to continue subsidizing its domestic biodiesel industry in the future. Commerce’s changed circumstances reviews must take into account a full record of Argentina’s actions since the closing of Commerce’s prior investigation.”

Biodiesel

Platts Proposes Chicago Ethanol Price Assessment Revision

Cindy Zimmerman

S&P Global Platts has made a proposal to revise the methodology for its Ethanol Chicago (terminal) price assessment to expand the delivery (offtake) options to include barge, rail and truck loading, effective May 1, 2019.

“By this proposal, we will expand delivery options for our Ethanol Chicago price assessment, reflective of the extensive feedback we received from market participants through our hosted events, in-person discussions and other dialogues,” said Ian Dudden, Global Content Director for Metals & Agriculture at S&P Global Platts, which is the leading independent provider of information and benchmark prices for the commodities and energy markets.

S&P Global Platts is also proposing to revise the standards of incrementablity for its Ethanol Chicago (terminal) assessment during the Market-on-Close (MOC) price assessment process, to better reflect current trading and pricing granularity. Platts is proposing that effective May 1, bids and offers may be improved by a maximum of 10 points per 15 seconds, from the current 25 points per 30 seconds.

All other aspects of the pricing methodology for the Ethanol Chicago (terminal) assessment would remain the same, including the specification, volume, timing and Renewable Identification Number (RINs) transfer mechanism.

S&P Global Platts is accepting feedback or questions via: americas_ags@spglobal.com and pricegroup@spglobal.com by March 30, 2019.

Learn more from S&P Global Platts.

Ethanol, Ethanol News, Markets, Price

Targray Opens European Biodiesel Trading Desk in Geneva

Cindy Zimmerman

Biodiesel marketer Targray has announced the opening of its EU biodiesel trading desk in Geneva, Switzerland as part of a broader investment plan to meet demand for low-carbon fuels in the EU.

Targray’s EU biofuels business will be led by biodiesel trader Vincent Cariou. Prior to joining the company in 2019, Vincent worked for nearly 10 years at agricultural commodities company Cargill, helping optimize procurement and logistics for biodiesel, vegetable oil and soybean meal customers in the European Union.

The Targray Biofuels Division is a major international supplier of bio-based fuels with an extensive network of rail cars and fuel terminals to serve fuel retailers, distributors, traders and transportation firms in the U.S. and Europe.

Biodiesel, International, transportation

Ethanol’s Role in Securing a Low Carbon Future

Carrie Muehling

(L to R) Moderator: Chris Hessler, AJW, Inc.; Richard W. Corey, California Air Resources Board; Stefan Unnasch, Life Cycle Associates; Jonathan Male, U.S. Department of Energy; Brendan Jordan, Great Plains Institute

A panel discussion at the National Ethanol Conference tackled the topic of Ethanol’s Role in Securing a Low Carbon Future.

California Air Resources Board Executive Officer Richard W. Corey weighed in, sharing that there is no single solution to reducing emissions, but that he believes ethanol has been and will continue to be part of the answer.

“From an air quality standpoint, transportation in California represents 50 percent of our GHG emissions, 80 percent of our NOx emissions, and 95 percent of our diesel emissions,” said Corey. “We can’t get to our health-based air quality targets, we can’t get to our community-based safety standards, health-based standards in communities, or our GHG targets without effectively working in the transportation space.”

Corey said there has to be a multiple focus strategy when dealing with air quality and climate challenges, and collaboration and partnerships will be key moving forward. Great Plains Institute Vice President Brendan Jordan said carbon capture is a current focus within the ethanol industry.

“Capturing CO2 from an ethanol plant and storing it offers anywhere from a 40 to 60 percent carbon intensity reduction. For those of you selling ethanol into the California market or another market that’s involved in an LCFS or clean fuels policy, you know what economic value that can offer in addition to the economic value from selling the CO2.”

Jordan said infrastructure is the next hurdle for carbon capture as pipelines are necessary to move CO2 from ethanol plants to places that can use it. He said this is another area where public/private partnerships will be necessary to ensure progress.

Both speakers were part of a larger panel that also included Stefan Unnasch of Life Cycle Associates and Jonathan Male with the U.S. Department of Energy.

Listen to the entire panel discussion here: Panel Discussion at National Ethanol Conference

2019 National Ethanol Conference Photo Album

Audio, Ethanol, National Ethanol Conference

SD Farmers Union Challenges GM on Higher Octane

Cindy Zimmerman

The president of the South Dakota Farmers Union took issue with remarks made by a General Motors executive at the recent National Ethanol Conference that 98 RON (Research Octane Number) or higher gasoline was not feasible.

In a letter to General Motors Chair and CEO Mary Barra, Doug Sombke challenged GM vice president Don Nicholson’s claim that “98 RON fuel was a bridge too far” and urged the company to look at their own historical position of identifying 100 RON fuels as the right fuel for the 2020-2025 time frame.

With the Safe Affordable Fuel Efficiency (SAFE) rule currently being developed by EPA, the opportunity to raise the minimum octane standard and achieve significant mileage increases can be realized with a 100 RON/E30 fuel according to Sombke. Furthermore, he said the requirement that these fuels reduce carbon emissions is easily met with higher ethanol blends that are increasingly recognized as low carbon fuels. In his letter, he cited previous positions of GM and other automakers that a 100 RON fuel in optimized conventional vehicles could provide a 7% mileage increase while reducing CO2 emissions.

“The internal combustion engine is going to be the primary propulsion technology for decades, and the octane in today’s fuel is increasingly toxic and polluting”, said Sombke. “Ethanol is the most cost-effective and cleanest source of octane available and automakers need to join us in calling for higher blends, not lower.”

Sombke also cited the E30 challenge in South Dakota, and Governor Kristi Noem directing the state fleet to use E30 as evidence that higher blends are already being produced, distributed, and utilized.

Read more from SDFU.

Car Makers, Ethanol, Ethanol News, Octane