#RFANEC 2024 Wraps Up in California

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The Renewable Fuels Association wrapped up its 2024 National Ethanol Conference Wednesday in San Diego with RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper calling it one of the most successful ever.

“This has been a great event, lots of energy, lots of enthusiasm coming out of this conference for the opportunities that lie ahead,” said Cooper. “We had the most people here than we have had in 8 or 9 years.”

While at the conference in California this week, RFA submitted comments to the California Air Resources Board on proposed amendments to that state’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard.

“One of the particular areas of concern that we have is around new what they are calling sustainability requirements for crop-based biofuels,” said Cooper. “We think that would put unnecessary and complex new burdens on ethanol producers without any benefits whatsoever to the program.”

In addition, Cooper says they urged CARB to approve sales of the lower-carbon E15 fuel blend. “This is the last state out of all 50 states that has yet to approve E15 and if they care about reducing carbon emissions, the simplest, lowest cost way to do that in the near term is approve E15.”

Hear more about the 2024 NEC in this interview.
NEC24 RFA CEO Geoff Cooper, interview 9:58

Find audio from all the panels and presentations and hundreds of photos from the NEC in the virtual newsroom for the event.

2024 National Ethanol Conference Photo Album

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RFA Honors Argonne Scientist Michael Wang

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At the 2024 National Ethanol Conference in San Diego, the Renewable Fuels Association presented its 2024 Award of Excellence to Dr. Michael Wang, an Argonne National Laboratory distinguished fellow, senior scientist, director of the Systems Assessment Center, and “Father of the Greet model.”

At Argonne, Dr. Wang has led the development and applications of the GREET model for life-cycle analysis of transportation fuels for ethanol, and many other uses. His work in the life-cycle analysis area has been used extensively and often cited in research and academic fields. As of 2023, there were more than 55,000 registered GREET users worldwide. Dr. Wang also is a faculty associate at the Consortium for Advanced Science and Engineering at the University of Chicago and a senior fellow at the Northwestern Argonne Institute of Science and Engineering of Northwestern University.

Listen to the presentation and Dr. Wang’s remarks here.
NEC24 Dr. Michael Wang, Argonne 5:01

2024 National Ethanol Conference Photo Album

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USTR Ag Negotiator Provides Ethanol Trade Outlook

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The Chief Agricultural Negotiator for the U.S. Trade Representative spoke to attendees at the National Ethanol Conference this week about the trade outlook for ethanol.

Ambassador Doug McKalip said had just returned from Guatemala where he spoke with government officials about ethanol. “It was clear to me that the government of Guatemala is very much dedicated to meeting its goal of getting to E10 by early 2025,” said McKalip. “Throughout the course of 2024 there will be very close coordination with the Guatemalan government to help them through the process.”

McKalip says he has also been in discussions with Brazilian officials to get the 18% tariff on U.S. ethanol eliminated and open that market back up for the industry. “Last week I had the Brazilian secretary of agriculture in my office…and we had a very frank discussion about this,” said McKalip. “The secretary promised to me that he would go back, meet with the Brazilian CAMEX (Chamber of Foreign Trade), and put together a proposal for us on how they might change their direction.”

Listen to his remarks and press availability below.
NEC24 USTR Ambassador Doug McKalip - remarks 21:00
NEC24 USTR Ambassador Doug McKalip - press 4:36

2024 National Ethanol Conference Photo Album

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RFA Honors USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack

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RFA CEO Geoff Cooper presents award to Secretary Vilsack

Following his remarks at the National Ethanol Conference today in San Diego, the Renewable Fuels Association presented its 2024 Industry Award to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in recognition of his many years championing renewable fuels both in Washington and at home in Iowa.

In his time at USDA, Sec. Vilsack has been a strong and effective proponent of the Renewable Fuel Standard and greater consumer access to lower-carbon fuel blends like E15. His leadership helped the renewable fuels industry recover more quickly from the COVID-induced collapse of energy and ag markets in 2020. He also led the effort to secure an unprecedented investment in infrastructure for higher biofuel blends. More recently, Sec. Vilsack has played a pivotal role in advancing sustainable aviation fuel initiatives through collaborative efforts with industry stakeholders and federal agencies.

Vilsack spoke to attendees at the conference about the opportunities for the ethanol industry in the future with sustainable aviation fuel, and he confirmed a news report out today that E15 will be approved for use nationwide in 2025, while waivers will be once again needed for sales this summer.

Listen to his remarks here:
NEC24 Secretary Tom Vilsack Address 32:19

Vilsack press availability
NEC24 Secretary Tom Vilsack press availability 12:19

2024 National Ethanol Conference Preview Activities Photo Album

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RFA Provides Free E85 in San Diego for Military Community

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The Renewable Fuels Association used the opportunity this week of the National Ethanol Conference in San Diego to partner with Pearson Fuels and offer free fill-ups of E85 fuel for flex fuel vehicles (FFVs) driven by military veterans, active-duty servicemembers and spouses with an ID on Monday. The event put a focus on RFA’s new Veterans for Renewable Fuels initiative started last year.

In addition to offering free E85 fuel to the 240,000 veterans living in the San Diego area, all drivers were invited to stop by for a tank of E85 fuel for a discounted price of $1.85 per gallon.

RFA Senior VP, Industry Relations & Market Development Robert White, himself a veteran, says the event was very successful. “What was fun to watch was the older FFVs come in, the people that really needed a little help in the budget,” said White. “We got to talk to them and remind them of the connection with the veterans and renewable fuels.”

Besides White, RFA CEO Geoff Cooper and Environment, Health & Safety Director Justin Schultz, are military veterans, in addition to a good percentage of the industry as a whole. The percentage of ethanol industry workers who are vets is triple that of the national workforce and higher than the petroleum fuels and general energy workforce.

Learn more in this interview.

NEC24 Robert White, RFA 2:51

2024 National Ethanol Conference Preview Activities Photo Album

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Partnerships Move the Ethanol Industry

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Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) President and CEO Geoff Cooper this week addressed the biggest crowd for the National Ethanol Conference since before 2020, stressing the importance of partnerships and the need for critical questions to be answered soon.

The theme of this year’s NEC is “Powered by Partnerships” and Cooper reflected on the ethanol industry’s many victories and advancements over the past 50 years and noted that “None of those successes would have been possible without the industry’s valuable partnerships and ability to work together with a diverse group of stakeholders.”

However, he noted that several critical policy decisions expected in next three to six months “will shape the future course of the ethanol industry for years—and perhaps decades—to come.”

Specifically, Cooper addressed looming questions about the implementation of the Inflation Reduction Act’s sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and clean fuel production tax credits, year-round E15, light-duty vehicle tailpipe GHG standards, and other important policy issues.

Commenting on the Biden administration’s soon-to-be-released SAF carbon footprint model, Cooper said, “The modified GREET model will either help open the door for U.S. agriculture and ethanol producers to participate in the SAF market, or it will lock out the highest-volume, lowest-cost feedstocks and assure the failure of the administration’s ambitious SAF goals.”

On EPA’s tailpipe GHG standards, Cooper noted that the agency’s proposal “…would force automakers to dramatically increase the production of battery electric vehicles and strongly discourage them from pursuing other technologies that could achieve the same—or even better—environmental performance at a lower cost to American consumers.”

As EPA prepares to finalize its tailpipe regulation, Cooper said RFA continues to call for a level playing field. “If given the same opportunity and a fair regulatory framework, we are confident that higher ethanol blends—and the vehicles designed to use them—can play an instrumental role in affordable decarbonization of the nation’s auto fleet,” he said.

Cooper also highlighted the importance of year-round E15. “Not only does E15 slash harmful tailpipe pollution, reduce carbon emissions, and lower pump prices, but it gives ethanol a chance for modest growth in an otherwise declining gasoline market,” he said. “It helps us hold the line on demand as other new markets—like aviation, maritime, and heavy-duty—are emerging.”

Listen to Cooper’s remarks here:
NEC24 RFA CEO Geoff Cooper address 32:15

2024 National Ethanol Conference Photo Album

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RFA Study Shows Ethanol Continues Positive Economic Impact

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As ethanol producers gather this week in San Diego for the 2024 National Ethanol Conference, they can celebrate a great year for the industry in 2023.

As inflationary pressures eased and demand boomed for low-carbon ethanol and its co-products, the ethanol industry’s contribution to the U.S. economy remained strong in 2023, according to the latest economic impact analysis conducted for the Renewable Fuels Association by ABF Economics.

In 2023, more than 72,400 U.S. jobs were directly associated with the ethanol industry, with an additional 322,000 indirect and induced jobs supported across all sectors of the economy. The industry created $32.5 billion in household income and contributed just over $54.2 billion to the nation’s gross domestic product—the second-highest GDP contribution ever. As a result, an estimated $10.4 billion in tax revenue was generated for federal, state and local governments. Returns over operating costs averaged an estimated $0.47 per gallon, almost doubling the average operating margin from 2022, according to the report.

RFA Chief Economist Scott Richman says the industry is very close to total recovery from the hit it took in 20202 due to the pandemic. “Consumption and production are not quite at their peaks but they have gotten pretty close,” said Richman. “But demand both domestically and internationally was pretty strong last year and hopefully this year we’ll get national E15 and that will continue.”

In this interview from the National Ethanol Conference, Richman also discusses the 2022 Census of Agriculture released last week and how it confirms not only the decline of cropland in the U.S., but also the adoption of environmental practices, which he wrote about in a blog post last week.

NEC24 Scott Richman, RFA 9:29

2024 National Ethanol Conference Photo Album

2024 National Ethanol Conference Preview Activities Photo Album

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ACE Elects 2024 Executive Committee

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The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) Board of Directors last week elected its Executive Committee for 2024.

Re-elected to serve as officers on the 2024 Executive Committee are:

Dave Sovereign, President – Chairman of Golden Grain Energy’s Board in Mason City, Iowa and also serves on the board of Absolute Energy in St. Ansgar, Iowa.
Troy Knecht, Vice President – South Dakota farmer, representing Redfield Energy in South Dakota.
Ron Alverson, Secretary – represents Dakota Ethanol in Wentworth, South Dakota.
John Christianson, Treasurer – Founding partner and director of Christianson PLLP.
Chris Studer, East River Electric Power Cooperative, a founding member of ACE dating back to 1987.

Newly elected to serve on the 2024 Executive Committee is Bill Dartt, Chief Financial Officer for Cardinal Ethanol in Union City, Indiana. “I am grateful for the opportunity to be nominated and elected to serve on ACE’s Executive Committee,” said Dartt. “I look forward to begin this new endeavor and to be a part of such a wonderful team.”

Chris Wilson, who served on ACE’s Executive Committee for several years, is stepping down as an officer but keeping his seat on the ACE Board. Wilson is the General Manager of Mid-Missouri Energy in Malta Bend, Missouri.

ACE, Ethanol, Ethanol News

Lawmakers Urge Use of Sound Science in SAF Carbon Modeling

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As the Treasury Department March 1 deadline nears to update the GREET model, a bipartisan, bicameral group of lawmakers have written to the working group in charge of the changes to asking them to ensure they are basing them on sound science, current data, and methodologies that properly recognize modern practices in agriculture and biofuel production.

U.S. Representatives Angie Craig (D-MN), Mark Pocan (D-WI), Dusty Johnson (R-SD) and Adrian Smith (R-NE), and U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), John Thune (R-SD) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) led the effort to write the Biden Administration’s Sustainable Aviation Fuels Lifecycle Analysis Interagency Working Group, urging a timely finalization of the Department of Energy’s update of the Greenhouse Gases, Regulated Emissions and Energy Use in Technologies (GREET) modeling for the sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) market.

“As you continue to develop a model to determine eligibility, we ask that you take measures to permit every participant in the SAF lifecycle to appropriately participate in the carbon reduction process,” the lawmakers wrote. A total of 42 signed the letter.

“We thank these lawmakers for urging the administration to utilize the best available science and data when determining eligibility for the SAF tax credit established in the Inflation Reduction Act. A transparent and scientifically sound approach is crucial to stimulating investment in domestic SAF production, fostering innovation and creating American jobs,” said Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Geoff Cooper.

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Ethanol Worth $2.5 Billion to Minnesota Economy in 2023

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Minnesota Bio-Fuels Association has just released a new study by the University of Minnesota Extension shows the ethanol industry contributed $2.5 billion to Minnesota’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2023.

According to the study, the industry produced 1.35 billion gallons of ethanol in 2023, resulting in $6.6 billion in economic activity and supported 20,914 jobs. The industry also generated $1.3 billion in income for Minnesota residents and paid $182.9 million in state and local taxes last year.

In 2023, the industry also produced 3.99 million tons of dried distillers grains with solubles (DDGS) and 426 million pounds of corn oil, which is used to produce biodiesel and renewable diesel.

Read the study

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