Ethanol Report: 10 Years of California’s LCFS

Cindy Zimmerman

2021 marks the 10th anniversary of the California Low Carbon Fuel Standard being implemented with the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the state’s transportation sector, while also lessening dependence on petroleum by using alternative fuels, like ethanol.

A new Renewable Fuels Association white paper looks at how, for the past decade, ethanol has been the go-to fuel to decarbonize transportation in the Golden State. The use of ethanol under California’s low-carbon fuel standard has generated over a third of the state’s greenhouse gas savings since implementation of the program began in 2011—more than any other low-carbon fuel used in the state.

In this edition of the “Ethanol Report” podcast, we hear from Renewable Fuels Association president and CEO Geoff Cooper about how the relationship between ethanol and the California LCFS has resulted in a program that provides an example for other states and the nation of how to combat climate change.

Ethanol Report 5-13-21 (16:35)

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, Climate Change, Ethanol, Ethanol News, Ethanol Report, Low Carbon Fuel Standard, Renewable Fuels Association, RFA

Corn Use for Ethanol Forecast Increased

Cindy Zimmerman

USDA’s May World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report is forecasting corn use for ethanol to increase this year with greater production and domestic use.

The corn crop is projected at 15 billion bushels, up from last year on higher area and a yield projection of 179.5 bushels per acre assuming normal planting progress and summer growing season weather.

Total U.S. corn use in 2021/22 is forecast to decline relative to a year ago as greater domestic use is more than offset by lower exports. Food, seed, and industrial (FSI) use is projected to rise 220 million bushels to 6.6 billion. Corn used for ethanol is projected to increase based on expectations of higher U.S. motor gasoline consumption. Corn feed and residual use is unchanged, as a larger crop is offset by increased corn used for ethanol and higher expected season-average farm prices received by producers.

The season-average corn price received by producers in 2021/22 is projected at $5.70 per bushel, up $1.35 from a year ago.

corn, Ethanol, Ethanol News, USDA

Iowa Fleets Make ‘100 Best’ List with Biodiesel

Cindy Zimmerman

This year’s National Fleet Management Association 100 Best Fleets in the Americas list includes two fleets in Iowa that rely on biodiesel – Ames Fleet Services Department and Iowa State University.

Ames has achieved greenhouse gas emissions reductions by deploying snowplows with 100% biodiesel as its primary fuel – a first for any midwestern city. With support from biodiesel producer REG, Ames equipped several trucks to run on the pure biodiesel in a pilot project. At ISU, students collect used fryer oil from dining centers on campus and convert it into biodiesel using their own reactor. The biodiesel helps fuel the university’s bus system on campus and in the Ames community.

Iowa Biodiesel Board executive director Grant Kimberley said, “Not only are these fleets using homegrown products that support Iowa’s economy, but they are also empowering our state to tap into a larger energy shift. As major corporations make net-zero commitments, and states coast-to-coast introduce legislation to drastically cut carbon, Iowa should not only participate in this transportation revolution, but help lead it. Increasing our own state’s use of biofuels positions Iowa to continue to lead in promoting high-performance liquid renewable fuels with low carbon intensity.”

Biodiesel, Fleet

Ethanol Could Help Ease Pipeline Pain

Cindy Zimmerman

The fuel supply challenges being faced by some states due to the Colonial Pipeline shutdown could be helped by increasing use of 15 percent ethanol (E15), according to the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA).

In a letter to EPA Administrator Michael Regan, RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper specifically asked EPA to suspend certain regulatory requirements that otherwise would impede and delay retailers from expanding the use of E15 to help offset fuel supply shortages. Cooper noted that some 180,000 barrels per day of ethanol production capacity is currently idle and could be “quickly activated or reoriented to help alleviate impending fuel shortages on the East Coast.”

EPA has issued a waiver of the requirements for low volatility conventional gasoline and Reformulated Gasoline for the affected areas until May 31.

Cooper noted that the pipeline shutdown highlights the risks of heavy dependence on a single fuel source. “As the Biden administration pursues initiatives to expand and fortify our nation’s energy infrastructure, the Colonial pipeline shutdown serves as a poignant reminder that ethanol biorefineries are strategic assets that can and should play a larger role in powering America forward.”

While Colonial has announced a goal of “substantially restoring operational service by the end of the week,” experts are expecting the supply disruption could impact the East Coast market for weeks and lead to the highest retail gas prices in at least seven years.

Listen to comments from Cooper in this interview:

RFA CEO Geoff Cooper - Colonial Pipeline (7:01)

Audio, Ethanol, Ethanol News, Oil, RFA

RFA Comments on Oregon Clean Fuels Program

Cindy Zimmerman

The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) is expressing some concerns related to a planned expansion of the Oregon Clean Fuels Program.

The Oregon CFP currently requires a 10% reduction in the carbon intensity (CI) of transportation fuels by 2025, and the state intends to expand the reductions to 20% by 2030 and 25% by 2035. In anticipation of the expansion, Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality recently released a set of illustrative scenarios showing different ways that compliance in 2030 and 2035 could beT achieved.

The RFA is supportive of the program and its expansion, but identified some areas of concern related to specific aspects of the scenarios.

First, the scenarios do not assume any reduction in ethanol’s carbon intensity between 2024 and 2035, which is contrary to past experience as well as research on the carbon intensity of ethanol. Going forward, market signals from the Oregon program and the California Low Carbon Fuel Standard can be expected to provide incentive for ethanol producers to reinvest in technologies and processes that further reduce carbon intensity, thereby allowing ethanol to contribute even more substantial greenhouse gas reductions under the program.

Second, while the scenarios take into account extensive use of E15 in Oregon, that blend is not approved for sale in the state at this time. Thus, RFA is encouraging legislative or regulatory solutions to this problem that would allow the sale of lower-carbon E15 and help ensure the volumes reflected in these scenarios can be met. The ability of E15 consumption to ramp up and help meet CFP compliance targets is supported by recent market and regulatory developments, with the examples of Iowa and Minnesota showing growth in E15 demand. At the same time, some state and federal governments are not only providing matching grants for higher-blend infrastructure but seeking ways to remove regulatory burdens on potential retailers.

“RFA supports the expansion of Oregon’s Clean Fuels Program, provided that it is technology- and feedstock-neutral and is based on performance toward reducing carbon emissions,” said RFA Chief Economist Scott Richman. “We hope that the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality will take our concerns into consideration as it moves forward in the rulemaking process.”

Read RFA’s full comments here.

Ethanol, Ethanol News, Renewable Fuels Association, RFA

Biodiesel Group Requests Meeting with EPA Admin

Cindy Zimmerman

The National Biodiesel Board is asking EPA Administrator Michael Regan for an opportunity to present the findings of a new study, “Assessment of Health Benefits from Using Biodiesel as a Transportation Fuel and Residential Heating Oil.”

The study from Trinity Consultants quantifies the public health benefits and resulting economic savings of using 100% biodiesel in U.S. communities near heavy transportation corridors, which is an emerging area of concern for EPA.

“We believe that including biodiesel and renewable diesel in the administration’s plans to address carbon is fully consistent with your agency’s focus on environmental justice,” Kurt Kovarik, NBB Vice President of Federal Affairs wrote in a letter to Regan.

“We appreciate Administrator Regan’s commitment to ensuring that biofuels play a role in achieving the nation’s carbon reduction goals,” Kovarik adds. “While the Biden administration has not yet explicitly included biofuels in the American Jobs Plan or the Nationally Determined Contribution to the Paris Accord, we believe it should. We would like the opportunity to show Administrator Regan how biodiesel and renewable diesel can support EPA’s goals to address climate change and environmental justice issues.”

NBB’s newly published study shows that switching to 100% biodiesel for home heating oil and transportation could annually bring the 13 communities studied:

340 fewer premature deaths.
46,000 fewer lost workdays.
$3 billion in avoided health care costs.
203,000 fewer or lessened asthma attacks for communities near heavy-duty transportation corridors.
17,000 fewer lung problems for communities that rely primarily on oil for home heating.

Additionally, the switch would bring a 45% reduction in cancer risk for communities near heavy-duty transportation corridors and an 86% reduction in cancer risk for communities that rely primarily on oil for home heating.

Biodiesel, EPA, NBB

EPA to Provide GAO With SRE Info

Cindy Zimmerman

The Environmental Protection Agency announced this week it will provide requested information to the Government Accountability Office related to small refinery exemptions under the Renewable Fuel Standard. \

The EPA announcement published in the Federal Register says it will provide the GAO with “…all documents, information, and data related to all small refinery exemption petitions received by EPA from the start of the RFS program through the present.”

In 2019, then-Rep. Abby Finkenauer (D-IA) and 11 other members of the House Biofuels Caucus formally requested that GAO investigate the previous administration’s secretive process for reviewing and deciding small refinery exemption petitions. GAO announced in January 2020 that it would conduct the requested investigation, and in May 2020 the organization asked EPA to provide information related to small refinery exemptions. However, EPA under the previous administration refused to turn over the requested information to GAO, despite three separate requests.

Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) President and CEO Geoff Cooper calls the announcement a win for transparency and accountability. “Ethanol producers look forward to the results of GAO’s investigation and believe it will shine much-needed light on the previous EPA’s dark and secretive management of the exemption program,” said Cooper.

Cooper also noted that RFA sued the previous administration’s EPA for its failure to properly respond to Freedom of Information Act requests filed by RFA and others. RFA’s FOIA requests sought agency records regarding small refinery exemptions—similar to those now being provided to GAO.

On the legislative front this year, the RFS Integrity Act, H.R. 1113, sponsored by Rep. Angie Craig (D-MN) and the CLEAN Future Act, H.R. 1512, sponsored by Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), each includes provisions that set a deadline for annual submission of petitions to extend small refinery exemptions and increase transparency by making certain information from those petitions subject to public disclosure.

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

Analysis Confirms Ethanol’s Low Carbon Benefits

Cindy Zimmerman

A new analysis by scientists at the Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory has determined that the carbon footprint of corn ethanol improved by 23% between 2005 and 2019, and by 2019 was reducing lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions by 44-52% compared to gasoline.

The research, published in the academic journal Biofuels Bioproducts and Biorefining, also determined that “corn ethanol alone reduced transportation-related GHG emissions by nearly 550 million metric tons between 2005 and 2019.”

“Our study shows that while the corn ethanol industry has experienced significant volume expansion, it has reduced the GHG intensity of corn ethanol through improved US corn farming and ethanol biorefinery operations. Corn yield has increased, and chemical and energy use intensities of corn farming have decreased. In ethanol biorefineries, ethanol yield has increased, and energy use has decreased significantly,” according to the researchers. “Biofuels, including corn ethanol, can play a critical role in the U.S. desire for deep decarbonization of its economy.”

Renewable Fuels Association president and CEO Geoff Cooper said, “We encourage the White House and Environmental Protection Agency to consider the findings of this study as they examine policy and regulatory opportunities for reducing carbon pollution. We also urge EPA to incorporate the Argonne results and other recent research as the agency considers updating its 12-year old GHG analysis of ethanol and other renewable fuels.”

Learn more about the analysis from RFA.

Ethanol, Ethanol News, Renewable Fuels Association, RFA

Export Exchange 2022 Dates Set

Cindy Zimmerman

The biennial Export Exchange had to be cancelled last year, and again this year, due to the pandemic, but it will get back on its every even year schedule in 2022.

The event, sponsored by the Renewable Fuels Association, U.S. Grains Council and Growth Energy, will be held next Oct. 12-14, 2022, in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

“COVID dictated we cancel Export Exchange in 2020, and sadly, we have officially canceled it once again for 2021. However, we are excited to offer Export Exchange in 2022. This premier event allows overseas attendees the opportunity to build relationships with U.S. suppliers of distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS), corn, sorghum, barley and other commodities, resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars in grain sales. We look forward to addressing issues facing U.S. exports, including market dynamics, trade policy, risk management and other timely topics as we educate global buyers and build awareness of U.S. grains and co-products.”

The 2022 Export Exchange is expected to bring together 200 international buyers and end-users of coarse grains and co-products, including distiller’s dried grains with solubles), with approximately 300 U.S. suppliers and agribusiness representatives. There have been five Export Exchange events since 2010, with the last being in 2018.

More information will be distributed in the coming months and will be available online at www.exportexchange.org.

Distillers Grains, Ethanol, Ethanol News, Export Exchange, Exports, Renewable Fuels Association, RFA

RFA’s Davis Reappointed to Commerce Advisory Committee

Cindy Zimmerman

Renewable Fuels Association Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Kelly Davis has been re-appointed to the U.S. Department of Commerce Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Advisory Committee (REEEAC), which provides direction on issues related to the exportation of U.S. renewable energy and energy efficiency products and services.

“I look forward to continuing the good work of the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Advisory Committee with the Department of Commerce,” Davis said. “Continued export growth is essential to maintaining the U.S. leadership role in providing competitive, and sustainable products to our customers around the globe.” Davis noted that in recent years roughly 10 percent of the ethanol produced in the United States has been exported to countries around the world, often to help those nations achieve goals related to greenhouse gas reduction and air quality improvement.

Established in 2010, the REEEAC is composed of senior private sector representatives that provide advice to the Secretary of Commerce on the development and administration of programs and policies to expand the export competitiveness of U.S. renewable energy and energy efficiency products and services.

The next meeting of the committee will be on Wednesday, May 26.

Ethanol, Ethanol News, Renewable Fuels Association, RFA