About Cindy Zimmerman

Cindy has been reporting about agricultural topics since 1980 when she graduated with a degree in broadcasting from the University of Florida. She is an emeritus member of the National Association of Farm Broadcasters and 1991 Oscar in Agriculture winner. She and her husband Chuck started ZimmComm New Media in 2003. They have three beautiful daughters and live near white sand beaches of Pensacola, Florida.

RINs Around the Rosy

Renewable Identification Numbers, better known in the renewable energy world as RINs, are serious business, but there’s actually an app on the market to make them a bit more fun.

rins-appThe Energy Policy Research Foundation, Inc. (EPRINC) introduced the RFS compliance calculator earlier this year as a free download on Apple’s App Store, allowing you to “model various RFS and refined product market scenarios until your thumbs fall off.”

RINs Around the Rosy enables you to take on a variety of roles, from EPA Administrator to gasoline blender, in an attempt to guide the refined products market through the Renewable Fuels Standard whilst avoiding a crash into the blendwall. Think of it as an RFS compliance calculator.

This app serves as a model of the RFS and refined products (gasoline and diesel) market. It gives you control over nearly two dozen variables, enabling you to set an infinite number of volumetric mandates and product demand forecasts, measure RIN carryover, test various gasoline and diesel blending options, and examine the impact of custom waiver scenarios. RINs Around the Rosy will track your inputs and assumptions and let you know if you have met the mandate you set or if and how you fell short.

To download the app, just search in the app store for RINS Around the Rosy.

Corn Fiber Approved as Cellulosic Feedstock

epaThe Environmental Protection Agency issued final rules Wednesday to qualify additional fuel pathways for the production of cellulosic biofuel, including crop residue such as corn fiber.

EPA has now determined that crop residue does meet the lifecycle greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction requirements for cellulosic biofuel under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) provided that “producers include in their registration specific information about the types of residues which will be used, and record and report to EPA the quantities and specific types of residues used.”

corn-cobsThe final rule comes just as the first gallons of cellulosic ethanol are being produced this week from corn fiber in Galva, Iowa. “As demonstrated by Quad County Corn Processors—which produced its first commercial gallon of cellulosic ethanol from corn fiber just yesterday—this feedstock holds tremendous potential to contribute meaningful volumes toward compliance with the RFS cellulosic biofuels standard,” said Renewable Fuels Association president Bob Dinneen.

Dinneen says EPA should be commended for using a straightforward approach to accounting for the cellulosic content of biofuel feedstocks. “The ‘cellulosic content threshold’ method finalized in today’s rule is a common sense approach that minimizes administrative and accounting burdens for commercial producers, but upholds the spirit and intent of the RFS,” Dinneen said.

The EPA also finalized some minor amendments related to survey requirements associated with the ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD) program and misfueling mitigation regulations for 15 volume percent
ethanol blends (E15) in announcements made on Wednesday.

Iowa Plant Produces First Cellulosic Ethanol

qccp-cellulosic-gallonThe very first commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol gallons produced in Iowa flowed from the Quad County Corn Processors (QCCP) distillation unit Tuesday, bringing smiles to the faces of the plant team members who posed with a bottle of the historic fuel.

The event marks the official commissioning of the farmer-owned ethanol plant’s Adding Cellulosic Ethanol (ACE) project, which broke ground in Galva, Iowa not quite a year ago. The new “bolt-on” process adds the capability to convert the kernel’s corn fiber into cellulosic ethanol, in addition to traditional corn starch ethanol.

quad-county “Our Adding Cellulosic Ethanol (ACE) project will not only increase our plant’s production capacity by 6 percent, but it will also continue to boost energy security and provide consumers with more low-cost, cleaner-burning ethanol without adding any additional corn to the production process,” said QCCP CEO Delayne Johnson, who also noted the new technology will improve the plant’s distillers grains (DDGs) co-product. “As a result of the new process, the DDGs will be much more similar to a corn gluten meal. It will increase the protein content of the livestock feed by about 40 percent, and we also expect to see a boost in corn oil extraction by about 300 percent,” he said.

Listen to Johnson explain the process at the 2014 National Ethanol Conference: Remarks by Delayne Johnson, Quad Council Corn Processors

The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) offered congratulations to the QCCP team for becoming the first commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol producer in Iowa. “While the EPA continues to debate the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) for 2014 and beyond, renewable fuels producers like Quad County Corn Processors remain committed to pioneering new technologies that increase plant productivity and accomplish the goals set forth by the RFS,” said IRFA Executive Director Monte Shaw, adding that the state has other cellulosic ethanol projects nearing completion.

Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) President and CEO Bob Dinneen says the first gallon of cellulosic ethanol represents just the beginning of a long, promising future. “It is worth noting that Quad County is the perfect demonstration of first and second generation ethanol being produced side-by-side to bring more choice to America in the form of low-cost, high-octane, renewable fuel,” said Dinneen.

Syngenta recently partnered with QCCP to license the ACE technology, which is used in combination with the Enogen corn trait.

Ethanol Report on Advanced Ethanol Concerns

ethanol-report-adAdvanced Ethanol Council (AEC) executive director Brooke Coleman commented last week on a new Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report on the impacts of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) so we got him on the phone for this edition of “The Ethanol Report.”

colemanIn this interview, Coleman talks about his take on the CBO report, as well as Phantom Fuels legislation in Congress, and the delay on EPA issuing a final rule for 2014 volume obligations under the RFS.

You may recall that EPA officials said earlier this year that they expected to have a final rule by the end of spring, or at least the end of June, but that has not happened yet and Coleman explains they now have until the end of September. “They were saying the end of June because they had to get it done by July 1st because they had extended the RFS compliance year through June,” he said. “They then extended it again through September.

Ethanol Report with Brooke Coleman, Advanced Ethanol Council

Subscribe to “The Ethanol Report” with this link.

Supreme Court Turns Down California LCFS Case

supreme-courtIn the flurry of decisions by the Supreme Court released the morning, justices declined to review California’s low-carbon fuel standard (LCFS) decision.

A federal trial judge ruled against the LCFS in 2011 but the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed that ruling last year and denied rehearing the case in January.

The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) and Growth Energy issued a joint statement regarding the decision.

“We are extremely disappointed that the Supreme Court has declined to review the Ninth Circuit’s decision, despite the broad support for the petition – including 21 states. We will continue our efforts to protect the American biofuel industry and the national interest and will continue to ensure that all consumers have access to low-priced, American-made biofuels.”

The ethanol industry was joined in challenging the California law by the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM). “The Supreme Court’s decision not to review this case is disappointing and leaves in place a state regulation that discriminates against fuels and other products produced outside of California,” said AFPM General Counsel Richard Moskowitz. “California’s efforts to dictate how fuel is produced outside of its borders ignores Constitutional safeguards that have long protected against one state controlling the conduct of private parties beyond their borders.”

Iowa Congressman Visits Biodiesel Producers

braleyCongressman Bruce Braley (D-IA) visited the REG biodiesel plant in Mason City, Iowa on Friday to meet with members of the state’s biodiesel industry concerned about the proposed lowering of volume requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

The current RFS proposal would set biodiesel volumes at 1.28 billion gallons, a sharp cut from last year’s actual production of nearly 1.8 billion gallons. “We’re grateful to Rep. Braley for his support on renewable fuels, and we’re asking for his help specifically in increasing the proposed biodiesel volume to at least 1.7 billion gallons,” said Grant Kimberley, executive director of the Iowa Biodiesel Board.

braley-biodiesel2A recent national survey of producers conducted by the National Biodiesel Board found that more than half have idled a plant this year and 78 percent have reduced production from last year. Nearly two-thirds have already laid off employees or anticipate doing so. “Iowa is the leading biodiesel state, which generates jobs and economic advancement,” Kimberly said. “The future of these promising businesses is threatened.”

Braley, who is running for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Tom Harkin promised that he will “continue to reach out with strong voice and talk about importance of biofuels for Iowa and nation.”

Biofuels and Wind Waiting on Action

Environmental Protection Agency administrator Gina McCarthy said earlier this year that they planned to issue a final rule on the proposed volume requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) in “late spring or early summer” but spring is gone and summer is here and there’s been no word yet.

grassley-headSenator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) said last week that he thought the decision was delayed now until fall. “The fact that they’ve delayed it is a little bit of good news,” he said during an interview on June 19. “The bad aspect of it is that it retards investment in ethanol … and it doesn’t just effect ethanol but biodiesel too.” Grassley said he really doesn’t know when the EPA will announce the final rule, although he does believe it will be better than the proposal released in November. “I don’t think they’ll be that bad, but whatever is less than present law is going to be bad anyway, maybe just less bad.”

Meanwhile, Grassley says the wind energy industry, which is huge in Iowa, is still waiting on Congressional action to extend tax credits. “As a father of the wind energy tax credit, I want to get it renewed,” he said. “It’s part of a package of 53 renewals that have to be passed by the Senate and it’s up to Reid when he brings it up … we don’t get any indication from him on it.” Grassley says he will continue to push to make that happen.

Biofuels Veteran Joins Advisory Firm

campbellBiofuels veteran and former Deputy Undersecretary of Agriculture John Campbell has joined Ocean Park Advisors (OPA), a corporate finance advisory firm for biofuels and other agribusiness companies. Campbell will serve as managing director based in Omaha, Nebraska and will serve to broaden the company’s relationships, develop new business and help execute transactions.

“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work with the principals at Ocean Park,” said Campbell. “This is a unique firm that brings senior-level attention to transactions in renewable energy, food processing and other agriculture sectors.”

Campbell spent 21 years with Ag Processing Inc (AGP), a $5 billion cooperative, where he was an executive vice president responsible for leading the industrial products division. He launched it with biofuels and later expanded it to include green chemistry applications of soy oil products to plant protection, industrial cleaning, personal care and environmental remediation sectors. He is credited as being one of the driving forces behind the creation of the U.S. biodiesel industry. Under Campbell’s leadership, AGP constructed the first commercial scale biodiesel plant in North America followed by numerous other expansions, projects and acquisitions. He was also engaged in the ethanol industry starting in the 1990s, and served as president of the Nebraska Association of Ethanol Producers.

Campbell served as Deputy Undersecretary of Agriculture in 1988, engaged in legislative and regulatory activities related to commodity programs, conservation efforts and trade.

RFA Dismisses Proposed RFS Repeal

lankfordCongressman James Lankford (R-OK) this week introduced legislation called the “Phantom Fuels Elimination Act” that seeks to eliminate the so-called “corn ethanol mandate” and require domestic production of all other Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) blending requirements.

Response from the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) on the proposed legislation was dismissive.

RFANewlogo“Congressman Lankford should get his facts straight,” said RFA president and CEO Bob Dinneen. “In dropping this bill, Rep. Lankford suggests ethanol is a ‘phantom fuel.’ Wrong! There is more than enough ethanol to meet the RFS. If it didn’t exist, the oil companies wouldn’t be fighting so hard to protect their monopoly over the nation’s fuel supply.”

Dinneen added that it is incomprehensible that Rep. Lankford would say his bill is needed to reduce consumer gasoline prices. “Ethanol is the cheapest transportation fuel in the world. Ethanol today is 50–60 cents cheaper than wholesale gasoline, lowering the price at the pump,” he said. “Moreover, ethanol stretches the domestic fuel supply and reduces the amount of petroleum needed in our gasoline, ultimately lowering the cost of crude oil.”

Corn Growers CEO Addresses FEW

few14-tolmanNational Corn Growers Association CEO Rick Tolman took the podium to address the general session at the Fuel Ethanol Workshop in Indianapolis this week. It’s the 30th year for the workshop and during his remarks he commented on how things have changed in the past 30 years – from the acres of corn planted and bushels harvested to the gallons of ethanol produced and where things are headed in the future of the industry.

“It’s so exciting to see the tremendous growth the industry has made,” said Tolman. “We have so many ethanol plants now and it’s part of the mainstream, it’s in almost every gallon of gasoline across the country … and ten years ago that wasn’t the case … we’ve made tremendous progress.”

In an interview after his address at FEW, Tolman talked about this year’s corn crop, which is expected to be another record. Emergence pushed past the five-year average last week, according to the latest USDA report, and 75 percent of all acres are rated in good to excellent condition as of June 8.

Tolman says while we have planted a few less acres this year we continue to push through the 10-million bushel barrier that was so difficult to reach early in his 14-year tenure as NCGA CEO. He will be stepping down from that position at the end of September. Interview with NCGA CEO Rick Tolman

2014 Fuel Ethanol Workshop Photo Album

Edeniq Stresses Cellulosic Ethanol is Here

edeniqAt the Corn Utilization and Technology Conference last week, Steve Rust with Edeniq talked about new processing technology and products taking ethanol to the next level.

“Cellulosic ethanol is for real now,” says Rust. “People need to know that because this is key right now with discussions on the Renewable Fuel Standard.”

rust-headRust says new technology like Edeniq’s PATHWAY Platform is helping to make cellulosic ethanol a reality. “We have a piece of equipment that pre-treats the slurry in a corn ethanol plant and then we add a helper enzyme in it that we co-fermentate cellulosic and corn ethanol in the same fermenter,” he explained. “The nice thing about our technology is that it can be used in any dry mill ethanol plant for them to be able to get cellulosic gallons for a small capitol investment.”

Interview with Steve Rust, Edeniq


2014 CUTC Photo Album

EPA Extends 2013 RFS Compliance Deadline

epaThe Environmental Protection Agency announced Friday that the compliance deadline for the 2013 Renewable Fuel Standard is being extended from June 30 to September 30. The EPA intends to finalize the remaining portion of its rulemaking to establish the 2014 renewable fuel standards shortly.

EPA said the extension is warranted because they have not yet issued the 2014 annual standards rule. The agency received comments on the proposed rule “emphasizing the need for the EPA to promulgate the 2014 RFS standards quickly and the need for obligated parties to know their obligations for the following year when finalizing their 2013 compliance demonstrations.”

The American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) was among those requesting the extension and President Charles Drevna says it was the right decision. “While we do not believe that delaying the compliance date eliminates the injury caused by the late promulgation of the rule, it will provide obligated parties with a degree of certainty by knowing their blending obligations,” said Drevna in a statement. “Now more than six months late, the agency’s inability to recognize the impact of continued delays is yet another reason that Congress must address this set of mandates whose very premise has proven obsolete.”

The 2013 RFS mandated 16.55 billion gallons of biofuels be blended into US transportation fuels, including 2.75 billion gallons of advanced biofuels.

Iowa’s Steve King Urges EPA to Follow Law on RFS

steve-kingIf the administration wants to make changes in the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) they should follow the law, according to Rep. Steve King (R-IA).

“The RFS is in statute and there are waiver provisions in there for the EPA, but they need to comply with the waiver provisions,” said King during an interview.

King notes that EPA used 2011 data in proposing volume requirements for this year under the RFS. “So we’ve asked them in hearings, discussions, pleadings, every way that we can … that we want them to go back and look at the 2013 data and go back and re-read the law,” he said. “If they make those adjustments appropriately, they’ll come back to what the law says.”

King made those comments during an interview at World Pork Expo in Des Moines last week.

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) RFS comments

Gen 1.5 – Corn Fiber to Ethanol

scott-kohlSomewhere between corn ethanol and cellulosic ethanol is a midpoint that can be found in the corn kernel.

“Generation one is starch to ethanol and generation two is corn stover and grasses but there is cellulose in the corn kernel,” explained ICM, Inc. technical director Scott Kohl during a session last week at the Corn Utilization and Technology Conference. “That’s the Generation 1.5 – the fiber in the corn kernel.”

Kohl says ICM is developing processes to separate that fiber from the rest of the kernel to make more ethanol so that the yield from a single bushel of corn will increase. “We’ve run nearly 2,000 hours of pilot runs on that system,” he said. “We are now in the process of getting the financing arranged to have the first plant running by the middle of 2015.” Interview with Scott Kohl, ICM

It was just announced last week that Patriot Renewable Fuels of Annawan, Illinois will be one of the first to use Gen 1.5 with ICM’s patent-pending Fiber Separation Technology (FST). “ICM’s ethanol technology is a logical platform on which to build our business as a bio refinery” said Patriot’s VP/GM Rick Vondra. “There are many new product and growth possibilities using corn as our feedstock, and we have identified these as two high potential processes that we can adopt now.”

2014 CUTC Photo Album

Summer Means No E15

It’s summer vacation time for 15% ethanol blends but not by choice.

E15 sign“The Environmental Protection Agency’s outdated interpretation of Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) regulations is preventing the sale of E15 in most of the country during the busy summer driving season, adding billions to travelers’ fuel costs,” said American Coalition for Ethanol senior vice president Ron Lamberty. By unnecessarily limiting the sale of E15 to only flex-fuel vehicle (FFV) owners from June 1 to September 15
in areas where most gasoline is used, Lamberty says EPA is effectively requiring drivers to purchase lower octane fuel for 5 to 40 cents.

Iowa leads the nation with 20 registered E15 stations and Iowa Renewable Fuels Association Managing Director Lucy Norton says they have to shut down the pumps in the summertime. “If oil refiners chose to ship gasoline with the proper vapor pressure into our state, Iowa motorists could have expanded access to cleaner-burning, lower-cost E15 year-round, instead of it being temporarily restricted to only flex-fuel vehicles during the summer,” said Norton.

The Iowa legislature passed legislation to help ease costs Iowa retailers may incur when obtaining gasoline suitable for blending with 15 percent ethanol during the summer months. Under the legislation, Iowa’s E15 retailer tax credit to 10 cents from June 1 to September 15, up from the three cents it is the rest of the year.

“Ironically, E15 has a lower RVP than the fuel 95% of drivers are using, so EPA’s unwillingness to change a 25 year-old regulation effectively mandates higher evaporative emissions and higher prices during the busiest driving season of the year,” said Lamberty.