Bipartisan Defend the Blend Bill Introduced

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Representative Ashley Hinson (R-IA), together with Reps. Rodney Davis (R-IL), Angie Craig (D-MN) and Ron Kind (D-WI), introduced bipartisan legislation in the U.S. House this week that would keep blend levels under the Renewable Fuel Standard from being reduced after they are finalized.

The “Defend the Blend” bill would prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from reducing the minimum applicable volume of biofuels into transportation fuel once the Renewable Volume Obligations (RVO) levels are finalized for any given year. This would prevent the EPA from retroactively reducing 2020 RVO levels, which is an action the administration has been rumored to be considering.

“Rumors abound that the EPA is going to retroactively reduce biofuel blending requirements for 2020—before they’ve even set levels for 2021 and 2022; this would be detrimental to Iowa’s biofuel industry. My bipartisan bill will hold the Administration accountable for maintaining the integrity of the Renewable Fuel Standard and give biofuel and ethanol producers the certainty they deserve,” said Rep. Hinson.

Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Geoff Cooper said they strongly support the bill. “The Renewable Fuel Standard was intended to provide long-term market certainty and predictability for our nation’s ethanol producers, farmers, fuel retailers, and other market participants. Retroactively slashing renewable volume obligations long after they have been set would throw the RFS program into turmoil and reward a small group of defiant oil refiners for their bad behavior.”

American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) CEO Brian Jennings said, “The way the program has been carried out over the past few years has created uncertainty for not only biofuel producers and farmers, but for fuel retailers and oil refiners. The RFS was a well-written piece of legislation, and this bill would help keep EPA from continuing to play politics when it comes to administering the program.”

Additional co-sponsors of the bill include Reps. Dusty Johnson (R-SD), Adrian Smith (R-NE), Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA), Mike Bost (R-IL), Randy Feenstra (R-IA), Cindy Axne (D-IA), Jim Baird (R-IN), Michelle Fischbach (R-MN), Jake LaTurner (R-KS), and Darin LaHood (R-IL).

ACE, Ethanol, Ethanol News, RFA

Groups Pleased with Biofuel Provisions in BBB Act

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Farm and biofuel organizations are grateful this Thanksgiving Day week for key provisions in the Build Back Better (BBB) Act, which passed the House on Friday and was sent to the Senate.

The Renewable Fuels Association, Growth Energy, the National Biodiesel Board, National Corn Growers Association, and National Farmers Union sent a joint letter to the chairs of the House and Senate agriculture committees thanking them for efforts to “build new markets for farmers and biofuel producers and help lower the carbon intensity of agriculture.”

“One of the most pressing challenges facing biofuel producers is ensuring that consumers have consistent access to higher-level ethanol and biodiesel blends, which are lower carbon and lower cost than petroleum fuels. The Biofuel Infrastructure and Agriculture Product Market Expansion provision in the BBB Act helps address this issue and contains much needed funding to ensure consumers have access to these fuels,” they wrote in reference to $1 billion allocated to upgrade refueling and distribution infrastructure meant for higher blends of ethanol.

Advocates also pointed to lifecycle analysis illustrating how improved farm practices continue to drive down the carbon intensity of farming, and therefore the overall carbon intensity of biofuels.

Ag group, Biodiesel, Ethanol, Ethanol News, Renewable Fuels Association, RFA

Muckenhirn Excited About Expanded Role with ACE

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The American Coalition for Ethanol‘s new Vice President of Public Affairs Katie Muckenhirn is excited about her expanded role with the organization to support the nation’s ethanol producers.

Muckenhirn, whose maiden name is Fletcher, will continue to manage the organization’s media relations, while assuming a larger role in ACE’s public policy efforts and planning of ACE’s Washington, D.C. fly-in and annual conference. She has been with ACE since 2017 after nearly three years of writing and editing for BBI’s Ethanol Producer Magazine, Biomass Magazine and Pellet Mill Magazine and providing event support for the International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo.

Chuck Zimmerman interviewed Katie at last week’s National Association of Farm Broadcasting (NAFB) annual Trade Talk about her new role.
Interview with Katie Muckenhirn, ACE (2:11)

ACE, Audio, Ethanol, Ethanol News

Ag Secretary Expects “Certainty” From EPA for Biofuels

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On the day last week that the Environmental Protection Agency proposed extending the deadlines for refiners to comply with Renewable Fuel Standard volume obligations, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack told farm broadcasters that the biofuels industry can expect “certainty” from the Biden EPA.

Answering a question about what role renewable fuels can play in climate change, considering EPA has yet to issue proposed Renewable Volume Obligations (RVOs) and E15 is essentially back to being banned in the summer, Vilsack said it’s an important role and producers will see support coming from Washington in a number of ways. “I think you’re going to see it in the certainty of the RVOs that basically the EPA puts out,” said Vilsack. “In the past, the previous administration set a number but that number, you could never trust it because there were waivers being granted in a very significant way…which significantly reduced that number.”

Vilsack continued that he believes, from statements Administrator Michael Regan has made, that “when they fix a number, they’re not going to provide a lot of waivers in the way in which the previous administration did.”

The secretary also mentioned COVID aid still expected from the administration, and resources for the industry in the Build Back Better bill.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack biofuels comments 3:53

Audio, Ethanol, Ethanol News, NAFB, USDA

Biofuels Groups Frustrated by EPA RFS Delays

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The Environmental Protection Agency announced Thursday additional extensions for oil refiners to comply with already delayed Renewable Fuel Standard obligations from 2019 and 2020, which were previously extended in April, further frustrating biofuels organizations still waiting for the agency to issue 2021 and 2022 RFS rules or the 2023 volumes or announced decisions on pending small refinery exemptions.

Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Geoff Cooper says it’s long past time for refiners to demonstrate compliance with their 2019 and 2020 renewable volume obligations. “There’s no good reason for EPA to kick the can down the road again, which only adds uncertainty and instability to the marketplace. Refiners and the EPA need to respect and meet deadlines, and we likewise call on EPA to immediately publish the long-overdue renewable volume obligations for 2021 and 2022. We had hoped things would be different under this administration, but EPA continues to miss its deadlines and create confusion in the marketplace.”

Cooper spoke to farm broadcasters meeting in Kansas City Thursday about this and other issues the ethanol industry is facing.
Interview with RFA CEO Geoff Cooper (10:50)

American Coalition for Ethanol CEO Brian Jennings was also at NAFB Thursday where he said the announcement from EPA is an enormous disappointment. “It’s hard at this stage to hide the frustration we have with the EPA,” said Jennings. “There’s a growing sense of frustration that the RFS continues to be mismanaged, (and) politicized.”

Listen to an interview with Jennings from NAFB here:
Interview with ACE CEO Brian Jennings (6:18)

National Biodiesel Board Vice President of Federal Affairs Kurt Kovarik added, “The Biden administration and EPA are sending the wrong signals on fuel availability and gas prices. The uncertainty they are creating for the RFS will undermine biodiesel and renewable diesel producers, blow up demand for cleaner fuels, and derail the nation’s progress toward carbon reductions. This is simply a gift to refiners who have ignored the RFS obligations for more than a year and a half and are demanding the administration bail them out. EPA needs to finalize RFS rules now.”

ACE, Audio, Biodiesel, Ethanol, Ethanol News, NBB, Renewable Fuels Association, RFA

National Biodiesel Board elects new Governing Board

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The National Biodiesel Board returned to in-person meetings this week in Washington, D.C. and elected a new Governing Board.

Following a vote by NBB members, the following individuals will serve two-year terms:

• Chad Stone, Renewable Energy Group, Inc.
• Chris Hill, Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council
• Dave Walton, Iowa Soybean Association
• Harry Simpson, Crimson Renewable Energy LLC
• Kent Engelbrecht, ADM
• Mike Devine, World Energy
• Ryan Pederson, North Dakota Soybean Council

Greg Anderson, Tom Brooks, Tim Keaveney, Gary Louis, Mike Rath, Rob Shaffer, Robert Stobaugh and Paul Teta remain on the board. The board elected Chad Stone as Chair, Mike Rath as Vice Chair, Rob Shaffer as 2nd Vice Chair, Harry Simpson as Treasurer, and Ryan Pederson as Secretary. Kent Engelbrecht continues his role as Past Chair.

Biodiesel, NBB

National Ethanol Conference Scholarships Available

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The Renewable Fuels Association and the Renewable Fuels Foundation (RFF) are offering scholarships for young adults interested in attending the 27th annual National Ethanol Conference, scheduled for Feb. 21-23 in New Orleans. Members of RFA’s Young Professionals Network are also eligible for consideration for the first time, in addition to college students.

Now in its 13th year, the program is named in honor of Robert “Bob” Sather, an educator who helped found RFA member company Ace Ethanol in Wisconsin. Sather was a past Chair of the Renewable Fuels Foundation. The aim of the Bob Sather Memorial Scholarship is to reach young adults aspiring to a career related to ethanol and open new doors and present new perspectives on biofuels’ place in our world today and beyond. The program provides eligible applicants with opportunities to hear from and engage with top industry leaders, policymakers, and academic and technical experts.

“As we prepare to gather once again at the U.S. ethanol industry’s most widely attended annual conference, we want to continue to provide young adults the opportunity to experience the educational and networking benefits of the National Ethanol Conference,” said Bill Pracht, chairman of RFF and CEO of East Kansas Agri-Energy. “We highly recommend this scholarship to any student studying in the fields of agriculture, economics, marketing or renewable energy, and we are likewise pleased to now offer assistance to young professionals in the industry who otherwise would not have been able to attend.”

The scholarships fully cover the registration fee, hotel, and up to $500 in airfare; a total of five will be awarded. Interested college students are asked to submit a 500-word essay explaining how their attendance at the NEC will help them achieve their future goals. They should also submit two letters of recommendation and an up-to-date resume, as well as a current college transcript.

Interested members of the RFA Young Professionals Network need to complete the application questions and provide a resume and letter of recommendation from a supervisor or someone else familiar with their qualifications. They also need their supervisor’s signature on the application.

For complete application details and to apply, visit www.nationalethanolconference.com/scholarships. Applications are due Jan. 14.

Ethanol, Ethanol News, National Ethanol Conference, Renewable Fuels Association, RFA

NBB Testifies to Value of Biodiesel in Rural Economies

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The National Biodiesel Board this week submitted written testimony to the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Commodity Exchanges, Energy, and Credit for the hearing, “A Look at the Renewable Economy in Rural America.” The testimony outlines the contribution of the clean fuels industry in terms of jobs and value-added markets for agricultural as well as improved environmental health and reduced associated costs for both rural and urban communities.

NBB CEO Donnell Rehagen wrote that because our industry’s clean fuels are made from an increasingly diverse mix of resources, they “add value to fats, oils and greases that might otherwise lead to costs for other sectors of the bioeconomy.”

Moreover, “clean fuel production contributes to the bioeconomy by reducing the impacts and costs of carbon and particulate emissions,” Rehagen writes. Biodiesel and renewable diesel immediately and substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions in difficult-to-decarbonize transportation. And, they significantly reduce criteria pollutants from diesel transportation and other end uses, which can have direct benefits for both rural and urban communities, according to the testimony.

Read the testimony.

Biodiesel, NBB

RFS Revisit Rumors Resurface

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Rumors that the Biden Administration is looking at lowering biofuel blending obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) resurfaced this week, prompting the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) to send a letter to the White House explaining why that would be a bad idea.

“To be clear, lowering biofuel blending requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) would not reduce the cost of gasoline for American households,” wrote RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper in a letter to National Economic Council Director Brian Deese. “In fact, cutting RFS volumes would most assuredly have the exact opposite effect on consumer gas prices. Reducing the domestic usage of low-cost renewable fuels like ethanol would increase demand for petroleum at a time when global oil inventories are already strained and prices are at seven-year highs.”

Instead, Cooper encouraged him to follow through on President Biden’s pledge to “double down on the liquid fuels of the future,” which includes “immediately proposing strong RFS volumes for 2021 and 2022, and taking swift regulatory action to facilitate the rapid expansion of E15 availability nationwide.”

RFA noted that ethanol presently extends the U.S. gasoline supply by nearly 1.1 million barrels per day, equivalent to the combined crude oil production from Alaska, California, Utah, and Wyoming.

Read the letter.

Ethanol, Ethanol News, Renewable Fuels Association, RFA, RFS

ACE Supports Policies to Help Ethanol Reach Net-Zero

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The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) Board of Directors voted this month to support new policies that credit farmers and ethanol producers for activities helping ethanol reach net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050.

The resolution supports the adoption of policies at both the state and federal level that “recognize ethanol is part of the climate and health solution while crediting farmers and ethanol producers for these activities, which will help ethanol reduce lifecycle GHG emissions by at least 70% on average compared to gasoline by 2030 and reach net-zero lifecycle GHG emissions by 2050.”

This resolution aligns with ACE’s ongoing work to highlight how climate-smart farming practices, efficiencies at ethanol plants, and the capture and sequestration of biogenic CO2 from facilities puts ethanol on a unique trajectory to reach both net-zero and net-negative emissions. It also aligns with ACE’s advocacy of new technology-neutral clean fuel policies at the state and federal level that will ensure a growing market for low carbon ethanol even as overall petroleum use declines.

ACE, Carbon, Ethanol, Ethanol News, Farming