New Podcast Compares Corn Ethanol with Carbon Markets

Cindy Zimmerman

“Corn Saves America” is the captivating title of the second installation of the podcast series from AEI Premium, the online community for agricultural decision makers.

The new podcast explores agriculture’s role in environmental solutions, comparing and contrasting the rise of corn ethanol with today’s carbon markets.

This season, hosts Sarah Mock, Brent Gloy, and David Widmar are back, along with a team of carbon and ethanol experts, investors, and farmers. Together, they will unpack how corn-based fuel united farmers, energy companies, and environmentalists to transform markets and eventually became a political flashpoint. And do their best to answer a big question: are carbon markets on a similar trajectory?

“The old adage ‘history doesn’t repeat itself but it often rhymes’ is useful to consider during times of uncertainty, including today,” said AEI Premium co-founder and “Escaping 1980” co-host David Widmar. ”Our podcast shares lessons learned from the corn ethanol boom era to help strategic agriculture professionals better navigate what lies ahead for carbon markets in 2021.”

“Corn Saves America” builds on themes from AEI’s first podcast, “Escaping 1980.” Episodes are available to stream now at aei.ag/season2 and cornsavesamerica.com, along with additional reading about the topics discussed on the show. “Corn Saves America” is available for download on iTunes, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts. Listeners can connect with AEI Premium on Twitter and Facebook to provide feedback.

Carbon, corn, Ethanol, Ethanol News, Podcasting

Ethanol Industry Applauds EPA SRE Denial

Cindy Zimmerman

One down, 65 to go.

Ethanol supporters were pleased Friday to see the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency deny one small refinery exemption (SRE) petition that had been filed for the 2019 compliance year.

“We are greatly encouraged by EPA’s decision to deny this bailout request from an oil refinery that has continually attempted to dodge its legal obligations to blend low-carbon renewable fuels,” said Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Geoff Cooper. “Our industry lost more than 4 billion gallons of demand due to the previous administration’s rampant abuse of the SRE program, and we are pleased to see that the days of EPA-induced demand destruction appear to be behind us.”

However, Cooper notes that 65 exemption petitions are still pending, according to the EPA dashboard and this is only the first SRE denial decision by EPA under the Biden administration. The agency has reversed three exemptions granted by the previous administration, and 15 pending SRE petitions have been withdrawn.

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

USDA Secretary Vilsack from COP26

Cindy Zimmerman

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack had a busy week at COP26 last week, participating in numerous events to underscore the administration’s commitment to climate action.

Vilsack held a media call Friday afternoon from COP26 in Glasgow, UK. He discussed COP26 events, the recently-announced partnership with the EU and the Agriculture Innovation Mission (AIM) for Climate.

Taking questions from reporters, Vilsack also commented on trade issues, importance of the Build Back Better act, “climate smart commodities,” methane emissions and livestock, biofuels talk at COP26, CSAF timeline now that comment period has ended, and where USDA is on federal vaccine mandate with deadlines this month. Today is the second dose deadline for Moderna and Pfizer vaccine and first (only) dose deadline for Johnson and Johnson, and federal employees are required to be fully vaccinated by November 22.

Vilsack media call from COP26 (25:33)

Audio, biofuels, Climate Change, Ethanol, Ethanol News, USDA

16th Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit

Cindy Zimmerman

Registration is open for the 16th Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit, which is returning to an in-person format.

“We look forward to welcoming friends and colleagues from across the biofuels sector as we meet in person again to dig into what is on the horizon for American ethanol and biodiesel,” said IRFA Marketing Director Lisa Coffelt. “Whether you’re new to biofuels or have been around since the beginning, there is something for everyone at the Summit.”

The 2022 Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit is taking place on January 25, 2022 in Des Moines, Iowa. Registration is free and required to attend.

Biodiesel, biofuels, Ethanol, Ethanol News, Iowa RFA

Midwest Governors Call for E-15 solution

Cindy Zimmerman

Seven Midwestern state Governors have sent a joint letter to EPA Administrator Michael Regan requesting immediate guidance on how they can continue to sell 15 percent ethanol-blended fuel (E15) year-round without restriction. Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds spearheaded the letter which was also signed by the governors of Nebraska, North Dakota, Minnesota, Missouri, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

The governors’ letter follows a recent D.C. Circuit Court decision that overturned EPA’s 2019 regulation allowing the year-round sale of E15 in conventional gasoline markets. The governors seek guidance from the agency on how best to pursue a specific provision of the Clean Air Act that allows states to establish a “level playing field” for E15.

“In the wake of the court decision, we are exploring all of our options to ensure retailers are able to sell E15 to consumers all year long without interruption,” the letter states. “Fuel marketers and retailers, renewable fuel producers, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and state governments have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in recent years to expand consumer access to low-cost, clean-burning fuels like E15. Not only does the recent court decision threaten to strand these public and private investments, but it also jeopardizes the progress we’ve made toward cleaning up our fuel supply and reducing emissions from transportation.”

Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Geoff Cooper said, “Ethanol producers and farmers stand with these governors, and we will leave no stone unturned in our pursuit of an open and competitive marketplace for E15 and other lower-cost, lower-carbon ethanol blends. We encourage EPA to expeditiously respond to the governors and open the dialog needed to remove the outdated and absurd regulatory barrier to summertime sales of E15 in these states.”

RFA notes that Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly sent a similar letter to EPA in recent weeks. “This bloc of eight contiguous states consumes approximately 13 billion gallons of gasoline annually. A universal move from E10 to E15 across these states would expand ethanol consumption by nearly 700 million gallons and boost corn demand by 225 million bushels.”

The governors proposed solution to the EPA under the Clean Air Act is a section that states “upon the request from the Governor of a State, the Administrator shall apply volatility limitations to gasoline-ethanol blends that exclude the benefit of the 1-pound per square inch (psi) Reid vapor pressure (RVP) waiver provided to E10.” Their understanding is that “such a request would result in a volatility limitation of 9 psi for both E10 and E15 in conventional gasoline areas, thereby establishing a level playing field and allowing retailers to use the same gasoline blendstock for both blends all year long.”

“Since 2019, E15 adoption at retail sites has rapidly expanded and extending the 1-psi RVP waiver to E15 only makes sense to reflect the realities of today’s motor fuel market and year-over-year track record of successful growth,” said American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) CEO Brian Jennings. “Losing E15 sales next summer would harm everyone through even higher pump prices and greenhouse gas and tailpipe emissions.”

“ACE stands by these Governors as they pursue all options to ensure E15, a clean and safe fuel with lower RVP emissions than E10 and straight gasoline, can still be sold next summer, and urges EPA to respond to this request in a timely manner,” Jennings said.

ACE, E15, EPA, Ethanol, Ethanol News, Renewable Fuels Association, RFA

Ethanol Production Just Shy of Record High

Cindy Zimmerman

U.S. ethanol production finished the week of October 29 just shy of the all-time record 1.108 million b/d produced the week ending Dec. 1, 2017.

According to EIA data analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association ethanol production edged higher by 2,000 barrels per day (b/d), or 0.1%, to 1.107 million b/d, or 46.49 million gallons daily. Production was 15.2% above the same week last year, which was affected by the pandemic, and 9.2% above the same week in 2019. The four-week average ethanol production volume increased 3.0% to 1.085 million b/d, equivalent to an annualized rate of 16.63 billion gallons (bg).

Ethanol stocks grew 1.0% to 20.1 million barrels, 2.3% above the year-ago level but 8.0% lower than the same week in 2019. Imports were back to zero for the week.

Ethanol, Ethanol News, Renewable Fuels Association, RFA

Biodiesel and Soybean Groups Dispute Soy Oil Concerns

Cindy Zimmerman

Soybean and biodiesel organizations say there is plenty of soy oil to serve all needs, despite some claims to the contrary.

With the food supply chain being impacted by a variety of issues, some food industry groups are claiming foodservice cannot get enough edible oil for cooking because oil is being diverted to biodiesel and a burgeoning renewable diesel market.

American Soybean Association CEO Stephen Censky says 86 million acres of soybeans are currently being harvested and a projected record 4.4 billion bushels. “Likewise, processors are gearing up to process more soy and assure adequate soy oil is available for food, feed and fuel: At least seven new oilseed processing plants are under development, and soybean oil production by the domestic processing industry is projected by USDA to reach a record level this year—on top of a 26% growth in supply over the last 10 years,” said Censky.

Donnell Rehagen, CEO of the National Biodiesel Board said, “Biodiesel and renewable diesel production consistently support 13% of the value of every U.S. soybean bushel. Sustainable growth in our industry is also supporting new investments in domestic soybean crush capacity, which will translate into additional value for U.S. farmers and rural economies. A misguided attack on the Renewable Fuel Standard will simply undercut a valuable, stable market for the record harvest that soybean growers are achieving this year.”

Both NBB and ASA also have concerns that blaming inflationary pressures impacting the food and agriculture sector across all cost categories on renewable fuels expansion could affect support of the Renewable Fuel Standard. More than a dozen agriculture groups recently sent a letter to the White House identifying the key supply issues affecting agriculture and related industries as being labor, barge shipments, ports and shipping containers, trucking and rail freight, fertilizer, chemical inputs, energy, equipment and parts, and water availability.

Biodiesel, NBB, Soybeans

Ethanol Groups Comment on USDA Climate Program

Cindy Zimmerman

Ethanol organizations provided comments to the U.S. Department of Agriculture this week on the Climate-Smart Agriculture and Forestry (CSAF) program.

According to the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), USDA should “prioritize projects that will help farmers and downstream processors -like ethanol biorefineries – measure, verify, and monetize carbon sequestration and emissions reductions that result from new technologies and more efficient practices.”

RFA’s comments highlighted the fact that renewable fuels already serve as an excellent example of how agriculture can reduce emissions and significantly contribute to the fight against climate change.

“Corn-based ethanol is the perfect climate-smart commodity; it already cuts GHG emissions in half compared when directly to gasoline,” wrote RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper. “The transportation sector is the single largest source of GHG emissions in the U.S. Although emissions from the sector are lower than they were in the mid-2000s, they still accounted for 29% of total U.S. emissions in 2019. Therefore, for the CSAF Partnership Program to have the greatest impact, projects that involve the transportation sector, specifically including biofuels, should be eligible for support.”

American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) CEO Brian Jennings sees the proposed CSAF Program “as an opportunity to expand upon the recently announced $7.5 million Expanding Soil Health Through Carbon Markets Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) project, which ACE is leading with project partners South Dakota Corn Growers, Dakota Ethanol, South Dakota State University, Cultivating Conservation, and collaborator Sandia National Labs.”

ACE’s feedback underscores that the key to gaining LCFS market access based on NRCS climate-smart conservation practices is by generating better localized quantification and verification of the GHG reductions achieved by these practices. In the case of ACE’s RCPP project, Dakota Ethanol estimates if California credited its farmers for adopting NRCS approved no-till practices with the LCFS program, it would mean between $10 and $12 million a year in premiums for their ethanol. This translates to an approximated $0.39 per bushel for corn grown using climate-smart agriculture practices.

“By providing CSAF payments to farmers who adopt climate-smart practices across a diverse cross-section of the corn belt — combined with CSAF funding for a non-proprietary quantification, verification, and modeling system — CSAF participating ethanol facilities will collect the localized data required to secure access to LCFS markets that includes on-farm contributions,” Jennings detailed in the comments, adding that “USDA should establish a program of GHG and carbon reduction price reporting to provide timely, accurate, and reliable market information, facilitate more informed farmer market decisions, and promote competition in GHG and carbon sequestration credit markets.”

ACE, Ethanol, Ethanol News, RFA, USDA

Growth Energy Intends to Sue EPA Over Biofuel Delays

Cindy Zimmerman

Growth Energy this week notified the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of intent to sue for failure to issue the 2022 Renewable Volume Obligation (RVO) and in turn, the potentially multi-year “set” rulemaking process for renewable fuel volumes for 2023 and beyond.

The RVOs for 2022 are due by November 30th, 2021, an annual deadline set by Congress in the RFS. As of today, 28 days before that statutory deadline, EPA has not even issued a notice of proposed rulemaking to establish those obligations. Additionally, the final “set” rulemaking was due on November 1, 2021, and EPA has not issued a notice of proposed rulemaking for that, either. The notice gives EPA 60 days to issue the 2022 RVO and the set rulemakings before risking a lawsuit in federal court.

Read the notice.

EPA, Ethanol, Ethanol News

Ethanol Report on RFA Message to COP26

Chuck Zimmerman

The 26th U.N. Climate Change Conference, better known as COP26, is now underway in Scotland and the Renewable Fuels Association wants to send a message to world leaders that ethanol is already available to help meet climate goals. A new one-page fact sheet spotlights recent research and data proving that ethanol is an immediate solution for cutting greenhouse gas emissions from transportation.

In this edition of The Ethanol Report, RFA president and CEO Geoff Cooper discusses how ethanol can serve as a zero-emissions fuel for cars and trucks while also helping to decarbonize the aviation, marine, and stationary power generation sectors. Cooper also comments on biofuels provisions in the Build Back Better spending bill, the current status of COVID relief aid for ethanol producers, and the 2022 National Ethanol Conference

Ethanol Report 11-1-21 (13:07)

The Ethanol Report is a podcast about the latest news and information in the ethanol industry that has been sponsored by the Renewable Fuels Association since 2008.

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Audio, biofuels, Environment, Ethanol, Ethanol News, Ethanol Report, RFA