Push Poll Push Back

The American Petroleum Institute has unveiled yet another anti-biofuel poll. The latest released during a media call today was conducted by Harris Poll. According to the poll, 77 percent of registered voters are concerned that breaching the so-called  ethanol blend wall would drive up the cost of gasoline for consumers and reduce the nation’s fuel supply (85 percent Republicans, 75 percent of Democrats and 71 percent of independents).

“Across the political spectrum, voters are concerned about the significant damage the RFS mandate and higher ethanol blends could cause to automobiles, motorcycles and almost every type of gasoline powered engine,” said API Downstream Group Director Frank Macchiarola during the media call. “Regardless of their party affiliation, voters are concerned with mandates that try to force too much ethanol into our fuel supply.

Listen to the API media call here: API Media Call on Anti-Ethanol Push Poll

In response to the news, Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Bob Dinneen said, “It’s no surprise that API, an organization which has made its top priority to get rid of the RFS, is trotting out a phony faux poll to support its antediluvian narrative about biofuels. This push poll, which uses opinionated statements to elicit a negative responIowa-RFA-logo-new1se to biofuels, is not reflective of reality. For example, the renewable fuel standard (RFS) has not raised food prices 25 percent, as API claims, but instead food prices have risen by an average of just 2.7 percent per year since 2005, the year RFS was adopted. In fact, only 17 cents of every dollar spent on food pays for the raw farm ingredients in the food item. The other 83 cents pay for processing, transportation, labor, packaging, advertising and other costs.

“If you want to know what the American public really thinks, with direct questions and no spin, look no further than a Morning Consult poll conducted April 1–3, on behalf of RFA, in which nearly six in 10 registered voters (57 percent) support the RFS. Conversely, only 19 percent oppose the RFS. Additionally, 64 percent of those polled have a favorable opinion of biofuels and two-thirds (66 percent) have a favorable opinion of corn-based ethanol. This data is consistent with the findings from the approximately 18,000 registered voters we have polled over the past year.

“With these growing levels of support for biofuels, it’s no wonder that API President Jack Gerard told Politico’s Morning Energy last month that the organization was pivoting its strategy toward reforming, rather than repealing, the RFS. API can’t continue to support repeal because Americans want more fuel choice, not less,” Dinneen concluded.

The Morning Consult poll included results from 2,004 registered voters, with a margin of error of +/-2 percent. To view a copy of the poll results, click here.

U.S. Industry Starting Brazilian Corn #Ethanol Plant

Brazil-ethanol-markerIowa-based Summit Agricultural Group recently broke ground on the first large-scale corn ethanol production facility in Brazil.

The $115 million plant is an international collaboration between Iowa-based Summit Agricultural group and Brazilian agribusiness Fiagril which will utilize process technologies from ICM, Inc. of Colwich, Kansas. The facility is being built near Lucas do Rio Verde in Mato Grosso, a preeminent agricultural state in west central Brazil and the country’s largest producer of corn and soybeans.

Summit CEO Bruce Rastetter speaks at groundbreaking

Summit CEO Bruce Rastetter speaks at groundbreaking

“This is a significant day for renewable fuels, Brazil and Summit Agricultural Group,” said Summit CEO Bruce Rastetter at the March 29 groundbreaking. “Through Summit’s expertise in sustainable agriculture, investment and renewable energy, we will further realize the enormous corn growing potential of a region that is poised to become a global leader in corn ethanol production.”

Rastetter says the plant will provide value to Brazil by helping to offset the country’s increasing demand for domestic ethanol, which can’t be met by the existing sugarcane ethanol production. In addition, the new corn ethanol production facility will introduce the use of distillers grains for livestock feed to the region.

The plant is expected to be complete by mid-2017.

Latest #Ethanol Trade Statistics

The latest ethanol and distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) export numbers show Brazil is importing more U.S. ethanol as exports of DDGS continue to decline.

rfa-annAccording to Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) analyst Ann Lewis, exports of U.S. ethanol totaled 67.0 million gallons in February, down 23% from January’s 14-month high. “Brazil overtook recent leaders Canada and China as the top destination for U.S. product in February,” Lewis reports. Brazil imported over 22 million gallons of U.S. ethanol in February while exports to Canada were 14.5 mg, up 6% over January volumes and exports to China totaled 8.9 mg, down from 29.4 mg in January. On the import side, only marginal volumes of foreign-produced fuel ethanol have entered the United States so far this year.

Exports of DDGS continued to fall in February, to 785,383 metric tons with China remaining the top destination. Exports of U.S. DDGS to Mexico were down 26%. Other top customers were Vietnam, Thailand, Canada, and South Korea.

NCGA: Small Engine Industry Must Change

Small engines and the use of ethanol has been in the news lately with spring approaching. This week, National Corn Growers Association CEO Chris Novak published the following editorial.

The Small Engine Industry Needs to Change with the Times
By National Corn Growers Association CEO Chris Novak

NCGA-Logo-3The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI), which represents the small engine industry, just released their annual survey results concerning consumer knowledge of small engine fuel options. Based upon the results of the survey, corn farmers and small engine manufacturers can agree that consumers need and deserve more information about today’s fuel options. We know from our own consumer research that consumers are hungry for information about the positive effects of ethanol blended fuels.

Further, we agree with the OPEI on two other points: 1. The OPEI acknowledges that E10 is safe for use in small engines like motorcycles, lawn mowers, trimmers, boats and snowmobiles; and 2. The OPEI notes that federal law prohibits the use of higher ethanol fuel blends in outdoor power equipment. Beyond these points of agreement, however, lays a significantly different view of the future.

Our farmers believe that consumers having a choice of fuels is a good thing. Whether you choose renewable ethanol because you want cleaner air or because you like purchasing an American grown fuel or because higher blends of ethanol are frequently priced lower than gasoline-the bottom line is that you should have the choice if you want to kick your oil addiction. The OPEI’s press release suggests that you, as a consumer, can’t handle this choice-that you lack the ability to know the differences between regular gasoline and higher ethanol blends like E-15 or E-85. We trust consumers to make the right choice of fuel – whether it is for their cars or small engine.

Today, our farmers are working with the auto industry to examine how higher blends of ethanol, ranging from E-15 to E-25, can boost gasoline octane. Higher gasoline octane can improve engine performance and help the auto industry achieve higher Corporate Average Fuel Economy mileage targets. Likewise, it is time for the nation’s small engine manufacturers to stop fighting renewable fuels and, instead, begin working to ensure tomorrow’s small engines can run on tomorrow’s renewable fuels.

Rather than fighting choice and change, our nation’s small engine manufacturers should work to develop engines that can run safely on higher blends of renewable fuels. Perhaps then, instead of bemoaning the lack of consumer knowledge and issuing dire warnings-the OPEI can offer consumers something real: the opportunity to make a clean and renewable choice.

Groups Ask for Advanced Biofuel Tax Extension

As the advanced biofuel tax credits get closer to expiring, six biofuel trade associations have called on federal legislators to pass a multi-year extension of the credits. In 2015, through the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015, several programs were extended including: the Second Generation Biofuel Producer Tax Credit; the Special Depreciation Allowance for Second Generation Biofuel Plant Property; the Biodiesel and Renewable Diesel Fuels Credit; the Alternative Fuel and Alternative Fuel Mixture Excise Tax Credit; and the Alternative Fuel Vehicle Refueling Property. While these were extended through 2019, the advanced biofuels tax credit is set to expire at the end of this year.

The letter sent today to Senate and House leaders, the Senate Committee on Finance leaders and the House Ways and Means Committee leaders and was signed by The Advanced Biofuels Business Council, Algae Biomass Organization, Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO), Growth Energy, National Biodiesel Board, and Renewable Fuels Association.

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 12.29.51 PMThe letter stated, “This short-term expiration of tax incentives is jeopardizing the long-term investment necessary for advanced biofuels. This creates uncertainty for investors and industry about the availability of these credits in the future. As leaders in a critical innovation sector in the United States, we are well aware of the financial constraints facing this country. However, as Congress works on developing energy tax extenders legislation, we urge you to ensure that advanced biofuels are part of the package. Extending some 2016 expiring energy tax provisions and not others creates a piecemeal approach and investment uncertainty across the energy sector and distorts the playing field for biofuel producers.”

Additional comments were made by each of the six organizations that signed the letter. These comments can be found below.

Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association said, “Short-term tax incentives are akin to new drivers in a stick shift vehicle. The cars haltingly lurch forward for a time, but suddenly stall. The advanced biofuel industry needs certainty if it is to remain commercially viable, as it continues to bring new facilities and technologies online. Longer term incentives would go a long way to making sure the industry continues its growth, and don’t leave consumers stalled along the way.” Continue reading

EIA Begins Tracking Biofuels by Rail

Ethanol tank. Photo credit: Joanna Schroeder

Ethanol tank. Photo credit: Joanna Schroeder

This week marked new data being compiled by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) including data on ethanol and biodiesel being transported by railroads. With this addition, EIA now reports on monthly rail movements for crude oil, ethanol and biodiesel.

According to EIA, adding movements of ethanol and biodiesel by rail to existing movements between Petroleum Administration for Defense Districts (PADDs) by pipelines, tankers, and barges provides more complete data on inter-PADD movements of biofuels. In addition, incorporating ethanol and biodiesel movements into regional volumetric balances also improves supply estimates for finished motor gasoline and distillate fuel oil.

The first reportable data was the March report that included both January data and also included monthly rail movements of ethanol and biodiesel back to January 2014.

REG Begins Ames Lab Expansion

Renewable Energy Group has begun its expansion of its laboratory at its Ames, Iowa headquarters. The upgraded lab will enable the company to further enhance renewable chemical related biotechnology research, development and commercialization including the installation of fermentation equipment and significant analytical capabilities. Once complete, full-time positions will be added to focus on commercialization and integration of products to be developed by REG in South San Francisco into production and delivery platforms.

REG“This expansion is simply one of many examples of REG’s commitment to innovation and economic development in Iowa and in particular Ames which is a cornerstone of Iowa’s Cultivation Corridor,” said REG President and CEO Daniel Oh. “These upgrades will allow us to increase our midwestern focus on product development for renewable chemicals.”

Oh said renewable chemicals legislation is expected to be signed soon by Governor Terry Branstad, a bill that will provide tax credits for the renewable chemical industry. Oh believes these credits will provide extra momentum for REG’s investments. “The state’s efforts to promote and grow renewable chemicals are a natural extension of the state’s support of agriculture and renewable fuels. This bill shows commitment and purpose and demonstrates that the investment is desired here in Iowa, and we are thankful for the support of our elected officials in getting it done. ”

Intrexon’s Pilot Isobutanol Plant Online

Intrexon Corporation has announced that its pilot plant for the production of natural gas-to-liquids is online. Located in San Fransisco, the facility will be producing isobutanol, a drop-in fuel. Intrexon says that isobutanol has several advantages over other biofuels including cleaner burning combustion, less corrosion, more energy content and compatibility with existing pipelines.

INTREXON logo“Reaching operational status with our pilot plant is one of several important milestones we expect to reach this year as we continue to move closer to commercialization of our ground-breaking bioconversion platform for the production of isobutanol,” said Robert F. Walsh, Senior Vice President, Head of Intrexon’s Energy Sector and Industrial Products Division. “Data from the pilot plant will be utilized to further refine our commercial scale facility design.”

The company reports that it has been refining its process and improving the output of isobutanol from its engineered microbes including greater than 50 percent increase since its investor day last November. Intrexon also reports that with the pilot plant operational, they are closer to achieving the yields needed to move to commercial scale later this year and anticipate its first commercial plant will be online in 2018.

ACE Ready for Annual Fly-in

ace16-flyin The 8th annual American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) legislative fly-in is coming up next week, April 13-14, and some 70 members of the organization from about 15 states are planning to attend this year.

“It’s really important that we show the human face of ethanol and renewable fuels,” said ACE Executive Vice President Brian Jennings. “We spend a lot of time with our participants to get them to think about the personal side of ethanol and what it has meant to them and we ask them to convey that when they sit in these meetings.”

Jennings says they have meetings set up with over 100 members of Congress or staff during the two days of the event. “We try to seek as many meetings out with so-called opponents of renewable fuels as we can (because) we want our folks to have an opportunity to change hearts and minds, and we know that’s not always easy…we think it’s really important to not just preach to the choir.”

The 2016 election year will definitely play a part in what ethanol supporters will be discussing next week on Capitol Hill. “Not only are we electing a president, but every member of Congress is up for re-election and about one-third of the U.S. Senate,” said Jennings. “The message we want to convey to members of Congress is that it’s in your best interest to continue to support renewable fuels if you have, or give renewable fuels another look if you haven’t been a supporter.”

In addition to meeting with Congressional representatives, fly-in participants will also hear from administration officials and there will be a briefing for Senate staffers by fuel retailers who sell higher blends. “We continue to get attacked on the so-called blend wall…and this is our attempt to have the most effective, persuasive messengers when it comes to the blend wall, retailers who are actually selling E-15 and flex fuels to consumers,” Jennings said.

Fly-in registration information is available at this link on the ACE website. And if you can’t be there in person, stay tuned here for photos and interviews from the event.

Learn all about the ACE Fly-in here: Interview with ACE Executive Vice President Brian Jennings

GRFA Commends Countries for Biofuels Leadership

GRFA logoThe Global Renewable Fuels Alliance (GRFA) is commending the leadership of 13 countries that highlighted biofuels as part of their Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) plans at the recent Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21) in Paris.

GRFA president Bliss Baker sent letters to leaders of the 13 nations thanking them for recognizing the significant contributions that ethanol-supportive policies have made, and continue to make, in reducing CO2 emissions in the transport sector. “If the enormous potential of biofuels as the only commercially viable technology available to significantly offset emissions in the transport sector is to be achieved, strong policies must be put in place to increase global production, innovation and consumption of ethanol,” said Baker.

In the letters, Baker offered the expertise of GRFA members to work with government leaders in the development of policies that “maximize the advantages of biofuel technologies that are demonstrated to be effective, affordable and immediately available.”

The 13 countries are Angola, Argentina, Brazil, China, Fiji, India, Malawi, Malaysia, Mozambique, Nigeria, Philippines, Uruguay, and Zimbabwe.