Presidential Hopefuls and Agriculture

New Holland ZimmPollOur latest ZimmPoll asked the question, “Which potential presidential candidate would be best for ag?”

Of the 12 potential presidential candidates included in our poll, only one has officially declared. But two hopefuls have risen to the top of our poll. It seems many believe Hillary Clinton and Scott Walker might have the best interest of agriculture in mind, if elected.

Here are the poll results:

  • Joe Biden – 3%
  • Jeb Bush – 11%
  • Ben Carson – 5%
  • Chris Christie – 1%
  • Hillary Clinton – 22%
  • Ted Cruz – 7%
  • Mike Huckabee – 13%
  • Rand Paul – 4%
  • Rick Perry – 2%
  • Marco Rubio – 3%
  • Scott Walker – 19%
  • Elizabeth Warren – 10%

Our new ZimmPoll is now live and asks the question, What is best for GMO labeling?

Agricultural organizations are voicing support for the bi-partisan Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act introduced in the U.S. House recently. What do you think is best when it comes to the labeling of GMO’s? Should it be mandatory or voluntary? Should it include all foods? Should states decide? Let us know your opinion.

Retailer Takes Ethanol Story to Hill

ace15-goodFuel retailers who have had to fight battles with big oil companies to offer higher ethanol blends were among those joining the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) Fly-in on Capitol Hill this week.

Charlie Good has been in the fuel retailing business for 35 years as a convenience store operator and auto mechanic and he started offering higher ethanol blends at his Good and Quick store in Nevada, Iowa about 18 months ago. “And it’s just been a big boom for me, it’s added new gallons, it’s increased my customer base,” said Good.

The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) was the main topic of ethanol supporter meetings with lawmakers and their staff this week and Good says even those they met with who have actively opposed the RFS are unlikely to vote for repeal. “The three of the five that we met with that were against it came out and said we’re not actually going to vote to repeal it…they’re just going to remain low key,” said Good.

Interview with Charlie Good, ethanol retailer


2015 ACE Fly-In Photo Album

Motor Club Rep: No Ethanol-Related Claims

ace-flyin-15-hammondWhile AAA may be an outspoken critic of ethanol blended gasoline and E15 in particular, some other motor clubs think differently, and one of them was on Capitol Hill this week with the American Coalition for Ethanol to tell his story to lawmakers.

Mike Hammond with Association Motor Club Marketing and Travelers Motor Club, which represent 50 years in the business and over 20 million members, says they studied their claims over the past several years to see if there were any related to ethanol. “And what we discovered is that we have not had one ethanol-related claim where we’ve had to go out and tow,” said Hammond. “In fact, the opposite is true.”

Hammond explains that claims related to gasoline freeze used to be common in the northern part of the country, “but that’s gone away, we don’t have that anymore with ethanol.”

Hammond was pleased to join ethanol supporters in Washington this week for the ACE Fly-in to tell members of Congress and their staff his experiences with ethanol from an automotive standpoint. Interview with Mike Hammond, AMCM and Travelers Motor Club


2015 ACE Fly-In Photo Album

Appropriations Request Targets Corn Ethanol

A group of Congressional representatives wrote to the House Appropriations leadership this week specifically asking that any funding to help install blender pumps or promote corn ethanol exports be eliminated from the USDA budget.

growth-energy-logoIn response to the letter, Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis said “the request is neither helpful nor logical,” and also “unnecessary since there is already a prohibition on USDA funding blender pump grants in the 2014 Farm Bill.”

The letter was signed by 18 mostly Republican members of Congress, led by Reps. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), Peter Welch (D-VT), and Jim Costa (R-CA), who claim that “the federal government’s creation of an artificial market for the ethanol industry is negatively impacting American consumers, livestock farmers, food producers, retailers, air and water quality, and the ability to feed our nation’s hungry.”

“This request stems from a flawed and inaccurate argument that has been disproven time and again,” said Buis. “The government is not creating an artificial market for ethanol, but the RFS is seeking to level the playing field and ensure alternatives to fossil fuels have market access so consumers are given a choice instead of a de-facto mandate to use petroleum based products.”

The 18 members of Congress who signed the letter represent ten states – California, South Carolina, Texas, Florida, Georgia, Vermont, Virginia, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

US Troops in Afghanistan Getting Biodiesel Makers

BioPro 380EXU.S. troops in Afghanistan will soon get some small-scale biodiesel makers. Springboard Biodiesel has been selected to provide the turn-key equipment at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan.

Springboard Biodiesel’s BioPro™ 380EX and SpringPro™ T76 comprise a small-scale biodiesel processing system designed to inexpensively convert the base’s used cooking oil into ASTM-grade biodiesel that can then be used in diesel vehicles on base.

Springboard Biodiesel’s CEO, Mark Roberts, commented, “Springboard is excited to provide this made-in-the-USA, clean technology solution to the US military. In Afghanistan, the fully burdened cost of diesel fuel is extremely high. We’ve heard estimates North of $10/gallon. The BioPro™ systems made by Springboard will enable the base to produce high quality biodiesel fuel for less than $1.00 per gallon – not to mention, biodiesel made from used cooking oil burns up to 90% cleaner than regular diesel.”

Springboard Biodiesel hopes to see other military bases copy the Bagram model.

EPA Changes Cellulosic Waiver Credit Provisions

epa-150The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued final rulemaking this week to clarify the data sources and methodology used to calculate the Cellulosic Waiver Credit (CWC) price.

Under the rule, EPA has calculated the CWC prices for 2014 at $0.49 and for 2015 at $0.64. According to the EPA document, “The price of CWCs are determined using a formula specified in the Clean Air Act (CAA). The cellulosic waiver credit price is the greater of $0.25 or $3.00 minus the wholesale price of gasoline, where both the $0.25 and $3.00 are adjusted for inflation.”

The direct final rule also amends the regulations to remove the CWC prices from the code of federal regulations allowing them to be announced in a more timely fashion on EPA’s website.

Ethanol Advocate on a Mission

ace-flyin-15-couserIowa cattle producer and ethanol advocate Bill Couser was a man on a mission this week in Washington DC with the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) Fly-In.

Couser finally got a sit down with Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy to talk about the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and other issues. “I was able to schedule a half hour with her and I took the cattle industry and the ethanol industry in there and we sat down there as one,” said Couser. “The impression we got from Gina is that she’s there to work with us.”

Couser is co-chair of the Iowa-based America’s Renewable Future, which recently helped to sponsor the Iowa Ag Summit where potential presidential candidates were interviewed live about their views on important agricultural issues, including the RFS. At that event, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who just became the first to officially throw his hat in the ring for the Republican presidential race, stated his opposition to the RFS and Couser had a chance to speak with him about it. “He’s a man from Texas who is set in his ways,” said Couser. “We’re looking forward to the future and visiting with him more.”

Listen to an interview with Bill from the ACE fly-in here: Interview with Bill Couser, America's Renewable Future


2015 ACE Fly-In Photo Album

Ethanol Fly-In Focus on RFS

ace-fly-15-ronThe American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) and more than 70 of its members have been in Washington, DC this week meeting with lawmakers, administration officials, and top staff members as part of the group’s “Biofuels Beltway March” annual fly-in.

The group had 160 meetings with lawmakers or their staff representing 43 states scheduled during the two day event with a primary focus on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and ACE President Ron Alverson of Dakota Ethanol was pleased with how the meetings went Tuesday. “It was really a stark contrast to the last few years we’ve been out here in that these folks really know the RFS now,” he said.

Alverson noted in particular meetings that he had with senators from Arkansas and Delaware who had concerns about poultry feed costs, but they were able to find areas of common ground. “One of them is energy security and the other is the low cost fuel we produce,” he said. “I thought we had really constructive conversations.”

Listen to Jamie Johansen’s interview with Alverson here: Interview with ACE president Ron Alverson


2015 ACE Fly-In Photo Album

Standards Released for 20% Biodiesel Heating Oil

ASTMlogoNew standards have been released for up to 20 percent blends of biodiesel in heating oil. The National Biodiesel Board says ASTM International, an organization which sets industry consensus standards for fuels, released new performance specifications for blends of 6-to-20 percent biodiesel, a blend known as Bioheat fuel, with traditional heating oil. The existing No. 1 and No. 2 grades in ASTM D396 already cover 5 percent biodiesel or less.

“The oilheat industry is reinventing itself as a 21st century fuel by moving to higher blends of low carbon biodiesel and ultra low sulfur levels across the board,” said John Huber, president of the National Oilheat Research Alliance.

The new B6-B20 grade is a blend of all the parameters contained in the existing No. 1 and No. 2 oilheat grades, but adds parameters for stability and allows a slightly higher distillation temperature for the blends. The changes are the same as those for B6-B20 in on-and-off-road diesel fuel passed by ASTM in 2008.

“The data set behind these changes is one of the most extensive I’ve seen in more than 20 years at ASTM,” said Steve Howell of M4 Consulting, an ASTM Fellow who chairs the ASTM Biodiesel Task Force. “Having an official standard for higher biodiesel blends in heating oil will help foster consumer confidence, and give blenders and distributors a needed tool to incorporate more low carbon, ultra-low sulfur biodiesel into heating oil.”

Some Bioheat dealers say they have been selling B20 blend for a number of years already with no issues for their customers.

“The technical data with this ballot for the new B6-B20 grade verified what we have known for years — that B20 made with high quality biodiesel works well,” said Seth Obetz, president of Pennsylvania-based Bioheat distributor Worley and Obetz. “We have marketed high quality B20 for 14 years and our customers see fewer problems with B20 than with conventional heating oil.”

Growth Energy Points to Cruz Record on Biofuels

growth-energy-logoAs Texas Sen. Ted Cruz announces his candidacy for president, Growth Energy is reminding voters of what the ethanol group calls his “pro-fossil fuel, pro-drilling legislation attempts to kill the homegrown renewable fuels industry.” This news release points to Cruz’s American Energy Renaissance Act, which Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy, says will promotes Big Oil and deny consumer choice.

“The recent legislation introduced by Senator Cruz is not only shortsighted in terms of a comprehensive energy policy, but it seeks to stifle all production and growth of homegrown, sustainable biofuels that help create American jobs and reduce our dangerous dependence on fossil fuels. This legislation fails to factor in the important role biofuels play in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, while also providing consumers with a choice and savings at the pump.

“Senator Cruz seems to believe that he is exercising leadership by attacking the only energy policy that has contributed to our economic, energy and national security. Yet Senator Cruz fails to challenge or acknowledge the excessive subsidies oil companies have received for 102 years and counting at the expense of the American taxpayer. Let’s be clear – this is not ‘profiles in courage,’ this is pandering to Big Oil.

“He says there are no benefits from renewable fuels; however, the Renewable Fuel Standard has helped reduce our dependence on foreign oil by nearly 50 percent, from 60 to 33 percent, saved consumers at the pump, cleaned our air and revitalized our rural economy. Furthermore, his legislation is a direct attack on America’s farmers, the backbone of this nation, who are working overtime to feed the world and fuel America.”

Growth concludes that Cruz’s legislation would take away the freedom of choice for consumers to choose higher performing, less expensive fuel for which there is a demand.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • http://domesticfuel.com/category/bioenergy-bytes/European Wind Energy Association Chief Executive Officer Thomas Becker is stepping down as the head of the association for personal reasons after two years of service Following his appointment in December 2012, Mr. Becker outlined his vision for an industry group that placed renewed emphasis on how the wind energy sector could contribute to jobs, exports and green growth. EWEA’s Deputy CEO Malgosia Bartosik will lead the association and assume the responsibilities of the CEO during this transitional period.
  • Dyadic International, Inc. has announced today the appointment of Jack Kaye to the Board of Directors, effective April 1, 2015. Mr. Kaye will serve on the audit and compensation committees. With the addition of Mr. Kaye, there will be seven members on the Dyadic Board.
  • Developing Swaziland’s vast renewable energy resources would provide substantial socio-economic benefits for its population, according to a new report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). The report estimates that bagasse could meet half of all domestic electricity demand while solar power could contribute substantially to the remaining demand. More than 76 per cent of Swaziland’s current electricity supply comes from imports, predominantly from South Africa. Electricity import tariffs in Swaziland doubled between 2009 and 2012 and are expected to continue this upward trend.
  • Greenergy, one of Europe’s leading manufacturers of waste based biodiesel, has earned the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB) sustainability certification for the production of biodiesel from used cooking oil at its facilities in Immingham and North Cave. RSB is recognized by NGOs as the ” most comprehensive and ambitious” biomaterials sustainability certification program in the world. RSB provides a holistic approach towards sustainability assurance, covering social, environmental, economic and operational aspects in its analysis.

ICM Celebrates 20 Years of Ethanol Innovations

icm_anniversary_logo_01Kansas-based ICM, Inc. is celebrating 20 years of innovating in the ethanol and renewable fuels industry. The company credits the passion of its people for its longevity and its ability to design more than 100 ethanol plants.

“I think 20 Years of Innovation is an appropriate way to describe the life of the company,” says ICM President Chris Mitchell. “It started out as a small group of people who had to come together and figure out what they were going to do when they started the business. Over the years, it transformed into a larger family of people who’ve had to come together and figure out how to best meet the needs of an evolving industry.”

Some of these needs have led to the development of key innovations such as improved dryers, greenfield plants, Corn Oil Separation, Selective Milling Technology™, Fiber Separation Technology™, and Gen 1.5 Grain Fiber to Cellulosic Ethanol Technology™.

Reflecting on the company’s history, ICM CEO Dave Vander Griend says, “There was kind of a defining moment in time when a lot of things — like policy, public perception, and technology — all came together to help ethanol find its place. I feel fortunate to have been there, to have the background I had at the time, and to be surrounded by a good group of people and industry partners who could rally together and really grab ahold of the thing and help it grow.”

You can learn more about ICM on the company’s 20th anniversary web page.

EPA, Justice Settle with Utah RIN Violator

epa-150The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) have reached a settlement with a Utah-based company that was alleged to have generated more than 7.2 million invalid renewable fuel credits worth more than $2 million. This news release from the EPA says Washakie Renewable Energy, LLC generated the Renewable Identification Numbers, or RINs, from the company’s Plymouth, Utah facility in 2010.

During that time, however, Washakie did not produce any biodiesel at the Plymouth facility. The biodiesel associated with the 7.2 million RINs would have accounted for a reduction of emissions equivalent to more than 30,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide. Washakie has purchased and retired from the market an equivalent number of RINs, which achieved this reduction of emissions.

Renewable fuel producers and importers generate RINs for each gallon of renewable fuel in the U.S. market that meets greenhouse gas emissions reduction standards established under the Renewable Fuel Standard. Washakie will pay a $3 million penalty under the settlement, which was lodged today in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

“This case is another example of EPA’s commitment to maintain the integrity of the Renewable Fuel Standard program,” said Cynthia Giles, EPA Assistant Administrator for Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “Making sure producers are supporting their claims with production of actual renewable fuels is critical to reducing greenhouse gas emissions that are fueling climate change.”

“The defendant made quite a profit by failing to adhere to the requirements of the Renewable Fuel Program regulations,” said Assistant Attorney General Cruden. “The penalty here sends the message that renewable fuel producers will be held accountable for meeting all legal requirements. The Department of Justice remains committed to taking the profit out of illegal activity.”

The EPA says this is the first case under the second Renewable Fuels Standards in which, as a part of a settlement, EPA secured the replacement of invalid RINs by the producer of those RINs. That takes the burden off the buyers of the RINs who bought them to meet EPA compliance issues.

Biodiesel Imports Drop 36% in 2014

The amount of biodiesel and renewable diesel being imported into the U.S. dropped 36 percent in 2014 compared to the record-level year in 2013. This article from the Energy Information Administration says uncertainty about the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and no late-year influx of volumes from Argentina were two main factors in this decline.
2014biodieselimports1
The strongest drivers of the resurgence in U.S. biomass-based diesel demand since 2012 have been increasing RFS targets and the on-again, off-again biodiesel tax credit. Biodiesel and renewable diesel are valuable because they qualify for the two major renewable fuel programs in the United States: the RFS applied at the national level, and California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS). Biomass-based diesel fuels have additional advantages over other renewable fuels because of their relatively high energy content and low carbon intensity, which allow them to qualify for higher credit values in both renewable fuel programs.

While the RFS is meant to encourage the production and consumption of renewable fuels, obligations for 2014 still have not been finalized and those for 2015 have not yet been proposed. The initial proposal for the 2014 RFS program year, released in November 2013, stated that the 2014 biomass-based diesel obligation would remain unchanged from its 2013 value at 1.28 billion gallons, while the advanced biofuels obligation would be reduced to 2.2 billion gallons, down from 2.75 billion gallons in 2013. The uncertainty and proposed lower target levels have made it difficult for refiners to comply with the RFS recently, but the flexibility and value of biomass-based diesel volumes towards all obligation levels make it a strong driver of biodiesel consumption as long as the RFS is still active.

Two other factors help explain lower biomass-based diesel imports in 2014. In late 2013, there was a surge of biodiesel imports from Argentina as a result of European Union (EU) antidumping duties placed on Argentine biodiesel. This action by the EU temporarily diverted large volumes of Argentine biomass-based diesel that were previously destined to be exported to Europe, Argentina’s largest biodiesel export market, to the United States. U.S. imports of biodiesel from Argentina fell by 57% from 2013 to 52 million gallons in 2014.

The EIA also cited the end of the $1-per-gallon federal biodiesel tax credit at the end of 2013, despite the retroactive reinstatement at the end of 2014, as another factor in the decline.

Nearly half of the biodiesel imports coming into the U.S. come from Canada.

Sens Wyden, Risch Intro Geothermal Energy Bill

Senators Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Jim Risch, R-Idaho, have introduced legislation to encourage geothermal energy production on public lands. Coined the Geothermal Production Expansion Act, the bill would prevent speculative bidders from driving up the price of leases for developers seeking to use the land for geothermal projects. The bill streamlines the federal geothermal leasing program by allowing for the non-competitive leasing of a limited amount of federal land at fair market value to spur the expansion of geothermal energy on already identified “hot spots”. The bill passed the Senate last year. Senators Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, also cosponsored the legislation.

Sens Risch and WydenGeothermal projects are managed on Federal lands by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and it is estimated that 250 million acres contain geothermal power potential. Currently, geothermal energy projects that are producing geothermal power under the BLM’s management make up about half of the total geothermal generating capacity in the U.S.

“Geysers, volcanoes and hot springs – like Oregon’s own Neal Hot Springs – are reservoirs of the Earth’s enormous clean energy potential,” Wyden said. “By making these “hot spots” available to only serious developers, this bill protects taxpayer dollars and prevents speculators from holding hostage the enormous possibilities of geothermal energy.”

Risch added, “Reliable and lower-cost energy is the backbone of any successful economy and must be expanded to meet future needs. In Idaho and much of the west, geothermal energy is a largely untapped source of clean energy. This bill encourages its development and expansion by removing a layer of red tape that holds up production at geothermal facilities.”

Oregon and Idaho have the combined potential to produce at least 1,400 MW from geothermal resources – enough energy to power more than a million homes. U.S. Geothermal, Inc. operates geothermal power projects in both states.

“We thank Senators Wyden and Risch for their continued strong support of the geothermal industry with their introduction of the Geothermal Production Expansion Act,” said Doug Glaspey, President and COO of U.S. Geothermal, Inc. “This is an important piece that improves the federal leasing system and will help geothermal developers move projects toward production.”