The Environmental Protection Agency has scheduled a public hearing on its proposal to lower the volume obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) for 2014. According to a notice in the Federal Register, the hearing will be held December 5 at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City in Arlington, Virginia.
The event will begin at 9:00 in the morning and “end when all parties present who wish to speak have had the opportunity to do so.” Those wishing to testify are advised contact Julia MacAllister of the EPA’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality by Nov. 26.
According to the notice, the public hearing will “provide a means for interested parties to present data, views or arguments” concerning the proposal, which EPA announced on November 15. Comments will also be accepted in written form for 60 days once the proposed rule is published in the Federal Register, which has not yet been done.
Even before the Environmental Protection Agency officially released its proposed 2014 Renewable Volume Obligations (RVOs) under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), questions arose about whether the EPA is overstepping its authority.
University of Illinois Clinical Assistant Professor of Law and Policy Jonathan Coppess, former counsel to the Senate Ag Committee and former administrator for USDA, says there is a legal argument to be made that EPA is stretching the definition of inadequate domestic supply in proposing a waiver based on the blend wall. “The entire intent of the statute was to increase production,” Coppess said during a media call today. “How does this unique or novel way of interpreting “domestic supply” fit with the intent Congress has for the overall statute?”
Coppess and Renewable Fuels Association President Bob Dinneen both stressed that no lawsuit has been filed against EPA’s proposal and they hope that will be unnecessary. “This is a proposal so there is no legal issue to litigate on,” said Dinneen. “We are hopeful that in the comment period, the agency … ultimately modifies the proposal to not include the blend wall in the waiver process.” Dinneen says they held the media call with Coppess to simply “tee up what the issues are” regarding the proposal.
Listen to or download the call with comments from Dinneen and Coppess here: RFA Call on EPA Authority for RFS Waiver
Also, check out our recent DF Cast featuring an interview with Coppess on the issue.
Biodiesel producers had plenty to talk about … and plenty of ears to listen … during the recent National Association of Farm Broadcasters (NAFB) meeting in Kansas City. Makes sense, when you consider how connected the farming and biodiesel industries have been over the years. We caught up with two folks from the National Biodiesel Board at the group’s booth at NAFB: NBB Economist Alan Weber and NBB board member Greg Anderson.
Speaking before the EPA had officially released its lowered Renewable Volume Obligation (RVO) numbers, Alan said the proposed numbers of 1.28 billion gallons for next year, when the industry is approaching 1.7 billion gallons this year, would significantly hurt the 60,000-job biodiesel industry.
“That movement backwards would actually be about 8,000 jobs in the U.S. that we would lose and all that ripple effect throughout the economy,” he said, pointing out that biodiesel is the first commercially available advanced biofuel, getting the job done now.
“There’s a lot of unique alternative fuels out there. We can talk about electricity and hybrid electrics, but when we start thinking about how we move products in the United States, it’s going to be in diesel-powered, class-A over-the-road trucks, powered by a liquid biofuel. And that’s where biodiesel fits in.”Interview with Alan Weber, NBB economist
Some of the knocks against biodiesel have come from falsehoods spread about how it is hurting livestock producers. Greg, who is a soybean farmer and livestock producer from Nebraska, said just the opposite is true as the soybean meal produced during the crush to get the oil actually enhances the livestock market.
“It works well together. It adds about $12 for every beef carcass, about $1.25 for pork and a few cents for each chicken. It all adds up. We see the value in biodiesel in lowering soybean meal prices, conservatively $25 a ton less. If biodiesel wasn’t there, it’d be more expensive to purchase and higher input costs for those folks to feed,” Greg said.
He also pointed out that while the soybean oil makes up about 19 percent of the bean, right now, because of biodiesel, it’s represents 40 percent of the bean’s value, producing food and fuel.
“We’re not only feeding America, but we’re fueling America.”Interview with Greg Anderson, NBB board member
Ethanol was well represented at the National Association of Farm Broadcasting annual meeting last week in Kansas City to talk with reporters about issues facing the industry.
Bob Dinneen, Robert White and Dawn Moore with the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) did a number of interviews with farm broadcasters about important topics, like the growth in the number of stations offering 15 percent ethanol blended fuel (E15).
Robert said they have some good news to report.
“In the matter of just a couple of weeks we’ll have E15 in 11 states, roughly 50 stations, and lots in the hopper,” adding there’s high interest among gas station operators, especially the small businesses, in expanding the amount of E15 to be sold. “E15 is averaging over 20 percent [in volume at stations], and one station is averaging 38 percent in E15. And you couldn’t have convinced me of that two years ago that was going to happen that quickly.”
Robert also dismisses Big Oil’s arguments that E15 is causing massive amounts of misfueling, stranding cars by the side of the road.
“After 18 months of E15 being in the marketplace, we haven’t had one incident of misfueling, we haven’t had one check-engine light come on, [not one] issue with a vehicle, lawnmower, etc.” Interview with Robert White, RFA
Speaking before the EPA released its proposal to lower Renewable Volume Obligations (RVOs), Tom said that would be a huge mistake.
“It’s a mistake not just for rural America and the ethanol industry and America’s farmers, but for our Nation,” pointing out how beholden we have been to Middle East oil over the past 40 years, including lost fortunes guarding oil tankers and lost American lives in war. “Moving backwards would be for the wrong reasons at the wrong time.”
Tom said the oil companies’ attacks are understandable; ethanol is cutting into their monopoly, adding preserving that 10 percent blend wall is key to the Big Oil’s strategy.
“They’ve got 90 percent of the market. They don’t want any less. Well that’s not good for America, it’s not good for energy security or national security,” concluding that consumers are saving about $10 billion a year at the pump. “Let the consumer make the choice at the pump.” Brownfield Interview with Tom Buis, Growth Energy
The ethanol industry has gone on the offensive to defend itself against an Associated Press “investigative report” that has yet to be released for publication.
Fuels America held a conference call today about the article which is embargoed until after midnight but was circulated last week on the internet. The call included Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) Vice President of Research and Analysis Geoff Cooper and Leroy Perkins, an Iowa farmer who was quoted in the AP story.
Perkins says he was contacted by AP reporters in July to talk about “the county fair, along with absentee, out-of-state state landlords and of course, water quality.” During the course of the interview, one of the reporters asked him what he thought about ethanol. “I told them I was for ethanol, I believe in it and we use it in our vehicles and equipment all the time … because it’s a product of the land,” he said. He never expected his interview would be for a “story to put down ethanol.”
Cooper and the RFA have put together a Counterpoint Fact Sheet on AP story which refutes at least 16 direct quotes from the draft article and he says industry representatives have been in touch with the news agency. “There has been some effort to get these factual inaccuracies corrected,” said Cooper. “If the story we saw that was posted last week is the same story that gets rolled out tomorrow morning, that tells us the AP just isn’t concerned about running a factual story.”
The Associated Press supplies content to thousands of print, internet, radio and television outlets around the world.
Listen to a conference call on the AP article here:AP ethanol story fact check press call
The article included interviews with several industry leaders and farmers who are disturbed by what they have read in advance copies. One of those interviewed at length by the AP reporter is Renewable Fuels Association president and CEO Bob Dinneen.
In this “Ethanol Report,” Dinneen challenges many of the reporters’ conclusions about the environmental impact of ethanol production. Ethanol Report on AP story
Later today there will be a conference call with Geoff Cooper, the head of research and analysis at the Renewable Fuels Association, and Leroy Perkins, an Iowa farmer who was quoted in the AP story. Perkins was interviewed numerous times by AP journalists for the ethanol story and “believes his views on oil alternatives, land use and the environment were intentionally skewed to tell an inaccurate and one-sided story.”
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Corn featuring the Syngenta Enogen trait designed for ethanol production will soon be used at an Ohio biorefinery.
Syngenta has signed a commercial agreement with Three Rivers Energy, LLC of Coshocton, Ohio, to use grain featuring Enogen trait technology following the 2014 corn harvest.
“We are thrilled to announce this agreement with Three Rivers Energy, as we extend our Enogen corn geography into Ohio, demonstrating the growing acceptance of Enogen technology and the value it is creating for ethanol plants, farmers and local communities,” said David Witherspoon, head of renewable fuels for Syngenta.
According to Syngenta, Enogen grain delivers alpha amylase enzyme in the corn kernel, eliminating the need for an ethanol plant to use liquid alpha amylase. The alpha amylase enzyme found in Enogen grain helps an ethanol plant reduce the viscosity of its corn mash and can lead to better levels of solids loading, which directly contributes to increased ethanol yields and throughput, as well as cost savings from reduced natural gas, energy, water and chemical usage.
Three Rivers Energy recently resumed ethanol production in Coshocton, Ohio. Its sister plant, Plymouth Energy, LLC (Merrill, Iowa) signed a commercial agreement with Syngenta in the fall of 2012 to use Enogen grain, and is currently completing its first year contracting with local growers to produce Enogen corn commercially. Three Rivers Energy and Plymouth Energy are operated by Lakeview Energy, LLC.
Three Rivers Energy is recruiting growers to produce Enogen corn in 2014 and will begin using the specialized corn grain in commercial production following the 2014 corn harvest. Growers under contract will deliver their Enogen grain to the ethanol plant and will be paid an average premium of 40 cents per bushel for their grain.
Big Oil will reap big profits if the Environmental Protection Agency actually proposes a substantial cut to the 2014 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) requirement for conventional biofuel blending, according to a new analysis released by the ethanol industry today.
The analysis finds that the oil industry stand to make an additional $9-14 billion in 2014 if the EPA were to change the renewable volume obligations (RVOs) next year from the statutory level of 14.4 billion gallons to between 12.36 and 13.18 billion.
During a telephone conference call organized by Fuels America this morning, biofuels stakeholders talked about the allegedly “leaked” EPA draft of the 2014 RVO plan and what the results could be if it actually happens.
“A decision to lower the RVO in 2014 would be a huge step backward for the corn ethanol industry and would amount to a substantial transfer of wealth away from America’s farmers and small businesses to oil and gas companies,” said said Geoff Cooper, Vice President for Research with the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), who presents the analysis on the RFA E-xchange blog.
Both DuPont Global Business Director for Biorefineries Jan Koninckx and Chris Standlee with Abengoa Bioenergy said changing the RVO would have a chilling effect on advanced biofuels investment. “Publication of this ‘leaked’ draft would force us to reexamine (our) investment plan and consider other countries that are more friendly for future investment,” said Standlee.
Koninckx called the oil industry is “a powerful incumbent industry that’s resisting innovation” and noted that “it is the RFS that brought leadership in biofuels.” He added, “What we need to see is leadership in simply implementing the law as it is.”
Listen to or download conference call here: Fuels America press conference
With the harvest nearing completion in Missouri, Governor Jay Nixon last week joined the Missouri Corn Growers Association at a grain elevator in the northeast part of the state to support the state’s corn growers and ethanol industry.
“Each year about 20% of Missouri’s corn crop is turned into about 300 million gallons of ethanol – a renewable, domestic energy source that fuels vehicles worldwide,” said Nixon during the event at the recently-expanded Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) facility. “Last year Missouri’s ethanol plants accounted for $829 million of increased economic activity in the state, including about 1500 jobs.”
Despite action in the state legislature last month that rejected a rule change to allow sales of E15 (15% ethanol fuel), Governor Nixon indicated his administration will continue to work on that issue. “We’re going to keep supporting fuels from the farm and work to get Missouri drivers more choices at the pump through safe and sensible options like E15,” said Nixon.
Listen to the governor’s remarks here: Missouri Governor Jay Nixon
Three organizations that represent biofuel producers have asked to intervene in the latest legal challenge to Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).
The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), Growth Energy, and the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), filed a motion Friday with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to intervene in the challenge against the RFS by Monroe Energy, the American Petroleum Institute (API) and the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM). The lawsuit seeks a reduction of the 2013 volume obligations for all renewable fuels.
The groups are asking the Court’s permission to intervene in this lawsuit on behalf of member companies which would be directly impacted by that action. “Moreover, a reduction in the volumetric requirement for any one type of renewable fuel under the RFS could affect the demand for other types of renewable fuels,” the groups stated in the filing.
In January, the same court upheld EPA’s authority to set advanced and cellulosic biofuel volume obligations at the maximum achievable level, in order to achieve Congress’ intent to promote production and use of renewable fuels. The trade groups will ask the Court to reaffirm this finding.
If you’re in the market for a 2014 F Type X152 Jaguar and want to use 15% ethanol blended fuel in it, you are in luck. It is one of the 70% of the Top 20 best-selling cars approved by automakers to use E15 in 2014 models, according to the Renewable Fuels Association.
Maybe you would prefer a Mercedes C Class Coupe, or a Range Rover L405. They are approved for E15 as well, as are all Ford, GM and Volkswagen 2014 models.
The Senate version of the farm bill includes $800 million in mandatory funding for energy programs while the House version contains zero – one of the relatively minor differences in the two bills that could get resolved quickly in conference.
Several senators spoke in support of providing mandatory funding for the energy title during the first meeting of the House Senate Conference Committee on Wednesday. “This title helps our country be more energy independent,” said Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI). “This is a win-win-win for rural communities and America’s future.”
Sen. Amy Kobuchar (D-MN) said she strongly supports funding for the energy provisions “including expanding home-grown renewable energy” noting that biofuels now account for ten percent of the nation’s fuel supply.
Rep. Tim Walz (D-MN) urged his colleagues on the House side to support the senate version for the sake of jobs at home. “We spend over a billion dollars a day importing oil from countries that hate us – they’ll hate us for free,” he said. “Get some mandatory funding for this. It will come back to us economically, it will come back to us in jobs, and it will come back to us in national security.”
The Senate energy title includes increased funding for the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), Biorefinery Assistance, Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) and Biomass Research and Development.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has issued a statement regarding the AAA call to lower the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), stressing that no decision has yet been made on for 2014.
The Obama Administration remains firmly committed to furthering the development of all biofuels – including corn-based ethanol, cellulosic biofuel, and advanced biofuel – as part of the President’s commitment to developing a clean energy economy. Biofuels are a critical part of the President’s all of the above energy strategy that is reducing America’s dependence on oil and creating jobs across the country. At this point, EPA is only developing a draft proposal. The agency has made no final decision on the proposed renewable fuel standards for 2014. And no decisions will be made on the final standards without a full opportunity for all stakeholders to comment on the EPA’s proposed 2014 renewable fuel standards and be heard on how to best foster a growing biofuels industry that takes into account infrastructure- and market-related factors.
Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) president and CEO Bob Dinneen said today that it did appear EPA is planning on lowering the Renewable Volume Obligation (RVO) for 2014, which would be a “reversal of stunning proportions” that effectively “guts the program.”
Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) president and CEO Bob Dinneen fears “the Obama Administration is about to make a huge mistake” in lowering the volume requirements for ethanol under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).
In an interview for “The Ethanol Report,” Dinneen says it does appear that the Environmental Protection Agency is planning on changing the Renewable Volume Obligation (RVO) for 2014. “I find that hard to believe because this administration has been so strongly supportive of the RFS, of farmers, of a growing renewable fuels industry … this would be a reversal of stunning proportions,” he said. “It guts the program.”
Dinneen notes that EPA has not yet made the proposal for 2014 and once that happens there will be at least a 30 day comment period. “They’re supposed to have a final rule by November 30, but nobody in this town expects that to happen,” he said. “I do anticipate they will have the rule proposed sometime this month or early next.”
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