REG Restarts Texas Biodiesel Plant

John Davis

REG New Boston1Biodiesel-producing giant Renewable Energy Group (REG) restarted an idled biodiesel plant in Texas. According to Biodiesel Magazine, the Iowa-based green energy producer re-opened the former North Texas Bio Energy, a commercial scale biodiesel production facility near New Boston, Texas, acquired by REG in October 2012:

[N]ow named REG New Boston, [the plant] employs 25 people and can produce 15 MMgy of biodiesel from recycled fats, oils and greases. The company scheduled a ribbon-cutting ceremony for June 28.

REG says the facility was idle for about four years and underwent some repairs and minor upgrades before the new start-up. The company also points out that besides the 25 workers at the plant, there will be indirect jobs, including truck drivers for the hundreds of inbound and outbound trucks that will channel through the plant each month.

Biodiesel, REG

Groups React to FAO Biofuels Study

Joanna Schroeder

Emotions are mixed regarding the findings in a recent report published by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) that was released in Rome during a meeting with ambassadors. The report found that biofuel from crops has a significant and direct impact on food prices and food availability. In response, ActionAid said the report shows how Europe’s biofuel targets are driving up food prices and increasing hunger among the world’s poorest people.

Screen Shot 2013-06-27 at 8.35.14 AMThe report comes several weeks before a final decision is made by the Environment Committee, part of the European Commission, on how much fuel will be allowed to be made from feedstocks used to produce food.

“It is a wake-up call to the EU to get its house in order on food and fuel. This means some hard work ahead for MEPs and Member States who are working on redefining EU biofuels policy,” said Anders Dahlbeck, ActionAid’s biofuels policy advisor. “However as we speak, the biofuels industry is lobbying hard against new proposals before the Parliament and Council to limit the use of food crops for biofuels. MEPs and member states must not bow to industry pressure – they must end the use of food for fuel.”

The global biofuels industry has in fact taken issue with the report and the Global Renewable Fuels Association (GRFA) says that there are several methodological and factual errors in the report including the omission of key co-products in calculating the net benefits of biofuels; the overly prescriptive policy recommendations; and the inclusion of unproven land use methodologies. It should be noted that the EU biofuels policy that is under review specifically does not take in to account indirect land use in its calculations.Read More

Agribusiness, biofuels, corn, food and fuel, Indirect Land Use

Biofuels & Iowa Pork – A Swinetiffic Relationship

Joanna Schroeder

Today is Iowa Swine Day (June 27) and the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) is taking a time to show how renewable fuels production is boosting the profitability of raising hogs in Iowa.

DDGs“On Iowa Swine Day, it’s important to remember that a strong renewable fuels industry means a strong hog industry here in Iowa,” said IRFA Executive Director Monte Shaw. “IRFA members have developed solid relationships with Iowa’s pork producers and the numbers show it. Whether it’s purchasing choice white grease for biodiesel production or supplying affordable distillers grains for feed, Iowa renewable fuels and Iowa pork production have a symbiotic relationship.”

IFRA says that ethanol production helps Iowa pork producers by providing an affordable, high protein feed called distillers grains (DDGS). The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and ProExporter Network recently noted that Iowa hogs are the number one in-state consumer of DDGS, utilizing approximately 1.2 million tons of each year.  This represents 61 percent of in-state DDGS consumption.

In addition, biodiesel production not only lowers the cost of soybean meal, it also increases the value of animal fats benefiting Iowa’s pork producers. A recent study by Cardno ENTRIX found that an Iowa hog producer realizes a $4 per head boost in profitability because of Iowa’s biodiesel industry. Therefore, an Iowa farmer raising both crops and hogs would see nearly a 20 percent increase in net income because of Iowa biodiesel production.

Agribusiness, Biodiesel, biofuels, Iowa RFA

Propel Moves Biodiesel, Ethanol Forward

John Davis

Propel biodiesel pumpPropel Fuels is not just selling biodiesel and ethanol, alternatives to non-renewable petroleum, but it is doing it in an alternative fashion. This article from Convenience Store News says the California-based purveyor of the green fuels is doing something a bit different at most of its locations in California and Washington State.

At 36 of the locations, Propel partners with existing gas station retailers to operate its renewable fuel pumps at their stores. These pumps, which Propel calls a “Clean Fuel Point,” reside under a single canopy and are branded with the Propel name.

Propel pays rent to the station owners in return for the fuel sales from its pumps. Since Propel offers pay-at-the-pump technology, once a consumer turns on its pump to buy E85 or biodiesel, Propel — not the convenience store operator — accepts the payment and processes the transaction. All other fuel transactions at these 36 stores are handled by the c-store operator.

“The thinking in America is changing. The vehicles we have are changing as well. Those two things together helped with the idea to form a different type of fuel company that’s focused on bringing renewable fuels to the marketplace,” Chris LaPlante, director of marketing for Propel, told CSNews Online.

The two other Propel locations, in Fresno and Fullerton, Calif., are owned by Propel and have been dubbed “Clean Mobility Centers.” While the locations also sell petroleum-based gasoline, they also let customers buy a carbon offset of $1 a tankful right there at the pump.

So far, Propel’s blueprint seems to be one for success or at least growth. This year, they’ve added nine sites to their retail network, with more on the way soon. The article says Propel is even considering getting into the compressed natural gas and electric vehicle charging station markets.

Biodiesel, E85, Ethanol, News

EPA: Biodiesel, Ethanol Numbers Up

John Davis

The latest numbers from the EPA say biodiesel and ethanol production is up. For May, biodiesel production hit 135 million gallons, putting it on target to hit more than a billion gallons this year and to exceed annual volume requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Weekly ethanol production averaged 885,000 barrels per day or 37.17 million gallons daily, up 12,000 barrels per day from the week before and tied for highest weekly average of the year to date. The ethanol industry is projected to hit 13.52 billion gallons of production this year. The news was welcomed by the green fuels’ respective industries.

From the National Biodiesel Board:

nbb-logoBiodiesel, an EPA-designated Advanced Biofuel that has surpassed RFS targets for two consecutive years, is reported under the Biomass-based Diesel category under the RFS.

The numbers show a total of nearly 140 million gallons of Biomass-based Diesel for May, but that total also includes production of renewable diesel. The biodiesel portion of the total was 135 million gallons – putting year-to-date biodiesel production through the end of May at nearly 504 million gallons.

And the Renewable Fuels Association:

RFA-logo-13Stocks of ethanol stood at 16.3 million barrels. That is a 1.0% decrease from last week. Imports of ethanol were 38,000 b/d, down from last week. Gasoline demand for the week averaged 373.5 million gallons daily. Expressed as a percentage of daily gasoline demand, daily ethanol production was 9.95%

The RFA also points out how it is supporting corn farmers, using 13.419 million bushels of corn to produce ethanol and 98,769 metric tons of livestock feed, 88,053 metric tons of which were distillers grains.

NBB says its industry is supporting some 50,000 jobs across the country.

Biodiesel, Ethanol, Government, NBB, RFA

House Subcommittee RFS Hearing

Cindy Zimmerman

The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power held a hearing Wednesday on the “Overview of the Renewable Fuel Standard: Government Perspectives.” The hearing featured testimony from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

rfs-hearing-eiaAdam Sieminksi with the EIA, made several points during his testimony regarding the RFS. “The RFS program is not projected to come close to achievement of the legislated target that calls for 36 billion gallons of renewable motor fuels use by 2022,” he noted first, adding that “Substantially increased use of biofuels can only occur if they can be used in forms other than the low percentage blends of ethanol and biodiesel that account for nearly all of their current use.”

Read Sieminski’s testimony – listen to opening statement here: Adam Sieminksi, EIA

rfs-hearing-epaChristopher Grundler, Director of EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, noted that the agency has expanded the number of approved fuel pathways to help meet the RFS “including the recent finalization of a rule that includes certain renewable fuels from camelina, ethanol from energy cane, and renewable gasoline from various feedstocks” adding that they have also “proposed a rule that will expand the opportunity for use of additional new advanced biofuels, including cellulosic fuels from landfill biogas and advanced biobutanol from corn.”

Read Grundler’s testimony – listen to opening statement here: Christopher Grundler, EPA

rfs-hearing-usdaUSDA Chief Economist Dr. Joe Glauber focused his testimony on the impact of the RFS on agriculture. “Driven by a combination of favorable market forces and government biofuel policies, including the RFS, the increase has spurred corn production and corn use for ethanol and has been one of the factors in the recent grain price boom and overall improvements in farm balance sheets including record farm incomes over the past few years,” said Glauber. Noting that while livestock, dairy and poultry producers have “faced more uneven, and in some cases, declining returns” since 2005, Glauber said the ethanol co-product DDGS has increased as a livestock feed and USDA anticipates pressures on corn prices to continue to mitigate as more alternative feedstocks are used for biofuel production.

Read Glauber’s testimony – listen to opening statement here: Joe Glauber, USDA

advance biofuels, Audio, Biodiesel, Ethanol, Ethanol News, Government, RFS, USDA

Consumer Opinion Poll On Gas Prices

Joanna Schroeder

FA_SummerGasPoll_National_062513aSummer driving season is in full swing and with it comes grumbling over fluctuating gas prices. A new poll commissioned by Fuels America asked consumers their thoughts on gas prices and renewable fuels. The survey, conducted by Research Now, identifies specific budget items families give up when they are faced with high gas prices, and their attitudes around oil, renewable fuel and the impacts both have on the economy and environment.

Eighty percent polled think the nation (U.S.) should be using more renewable fuel and 73 percent support the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) that is helping this to happen. The poll also found that four of the top five things consumers give up when faced with high gas prices are social or family related activities. Other findings include:

  • 55% said that if gas prices go up, they would likely take fewer road trips to visit friends and family
  • 27% responded they would enjoy fewer meals out at restaurants
  • 17% would cut back on clothes shopping
  • 12% would spend less on gifts for birthdays and holidays.

Fifty-nine percent of respondents blamed the oil industry for high gas prices. In addition four in five said they want the nation to use more renewable fuel and three in four said they want more renewable fuel options at gas stations. “Oil companies will do anything to keep competition from cutting into their profits,” said Brooke Coleman, executive director of the Advanced Ethanol Council.

“That’s why they’ve launched an all-out assault on homegrown oil-alternatives like renewable fuel. Consumers aren’t being fooled, however. They know oil companies are to blame for high gas prices and demanding choices at the pump. The poll also looked at self-indentifying environmentalists and their opinion of these issues as well,” added Coleman.

Listen to the Fuels America gas price and renewable fuel poll conference call here: Consumer Opinion Poll on Gas Prices Read More

advance biofuels, biofuels, Environment, Oil, RFS

CFS Releases New Biofuels Studies

Joanna Schroeder

HLPE Biofuels and Security ReportSeveral new studies have been released on biofuels and investment needs of small-scale farmers released by the High Level Panel of Experts (HLPE) of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS). Report no. 5: Biofuels and Food Security finds that world biofuel production increased five-fold in the decade between 2001-2011. As a result, the report attempts to identify the impacts that biofuel policies and the development of biofuel markets are having on food security.

The report studies several specific issues including:

  • To what degree does the sector divert crops from food to fuel?
  • How does biofuel production factor into high food prices?
  • Is the biofuel development model pro-poor?
  • What are the implications for land availability and use and what do they mean for rural communities and the environment?

Report no. 6: Investing in Smallholder Agriculture for Food Security looks at how to HLPE Report Smallholder Ag,jpgpromote greater investment in small-scale agriculture. This study finds that “a vast majority of the hungry people in the world are, paradoxically, small farmers” and calls for a “new deal” for smallholder farmers. This type of farmer constitutes the majority of farm families in the world and make crucial contributions to household, national and global food security.

The report examines:

  • The diversity of smallholder agriculture in the world
  • The constraints to investments
  • What types of investments are needed at farm and broader levels

It also proposes the development of national strategies for investment in smallholder agriculture.

Agribusiness, biofuels, food and fuel

DIRECTV Expands Propane Fleet

Joanna Schroeder

DIRECTV is expanding its propane autogas fleet. The company currently operates 77 ROUSH CleanTech Ford E-250 propane autogas vans and will increase that number over the next year. After comparing alternative fuel options, DIRECTV said they chose propane autogas due to its low cost and accessibility of fuel; vehicle return on investment; domestic nature of the fuel source and vehicle supply chain; and accessibility to high occupancy vehicle lanes.

direcTV-van“The addition of more propane autogas fueled vehicles to the DIRECTV fleet strengthens our commitment to reducing the company’s overall gasoline usage,” said Brandon Morris, director of Fleet Services for DIRECTV. “We have learned a lot from analyzing our current propane fleet, and the benefits we are seeing from using propane as an alternative to gasoline include the lower cost of propane, ease of implementation, distribution network, and the high quality conversion kit produced by ROUSH CleanTech.”

Since its propane autogas vehicle deployment in November 2011, DIRECTV has reduced gasoline consumption by 75,000 gallons and saved nearly 50 percent on a cost per gallon basis compared to gasoline.

“For over a year and a half, DIRECTV’s service vans fueled by reliable, cost-competitive propane autogas have met the company’s goals — to cut back on high-priced gasoline with the use of a domestic, cleaner fuel solution,” added Todd Mouw, vice president of sales and marketing for ROUSH CleanTech. “With DIRECTV’s plan to increase the size of its propane autogas fleet, they’ll experience even greater cost-savings with this alternative fuel technology and further strengthen their position as a leader in alternative fuel initiatives.”


Worried About Government Collecting Private Data

Talia Goes

Before we get to our new Zimmpoll let’s look at the results of our latest one which asked the question, “How concerned are you about the government having your private data?” Our poll results read loud and clear this week. Over half of you are now more worried that the government sees private data.

Our poll results: Sixty-nine percent said More Worried, twenty-four percent said Not Concerned, four percent said Other and two percent said Less Worried. Many agriculturalists have converted to digital data systems in order to become more efficient. Knowing the government is actively collecting private data is causing concerns in all sectors of business and that includes farming.


Our new ZimmPoll is now live and asks the question, “Do you listen to satellite radio?” Satellite radio has become more and more popular over the years. Not only is it included in many new vehicles but you can even access it over your smartphone. So do you subscribe? Has it changed your listening habits? Will this affect “regular” farm radio? Let us know.

ZimmPoll is sponsored by New Holland Agriculture.