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.
It was mid-season in 2007 when Ryan Hunter-Reay burst on the IndyCar Series scene wearing the green and blue ethanol logo for Rahal-Letterman Racing. He finished 6th in his first Indy 500 in 2008 and won Rookie of the Year. This year he came in first.
“I’m a proud American boy, that’s for sure,” said Hunter-Reay, who is the first American since 2006 to win the race. He now races for Andretti Autosport driving the DHL car.
In his first interview with Domestic Fuel after being named the new driver, Ryan talked about how pleased he was to promote ethanol as the IndyCar Series moved to 100 percent ethanol. “It’s a really neat story that they can make these 700 horsepower, 230 mile an hour cars run on 100 percent ethanol, and the fact that we can use less fuel doing it – with methanol we had to use more,” he said. 2007 Ryan Hunter-Reay Interview
Starting in the 2009 season, Brazil become the new sponsor of the 100 percent ethanol IndyCar Series, but Ryan still raced a few more times under the Team Ethanol banner at the Iowa Corn Indy 250 and has always been a strong advocate for ethanol. Congratulations on winning the big one this year, Ryan!
MCGA CEO Gary Marshall took AAA to task in a letter to the organization’s president and canceled his longtime membership following public statements misrepresenting the benefits of E15. A St. Louis Post Dispatch article following approval of E15 sales in Missouri quoted AAA as saying that “90 percent of the cars on the road are not approved by automakers to use the fuel. That could void warranties and cause engine damage.” That quote is from a November 2013 statement by AAA president Roger Darbelnet.
In his letter to Darbelnet, Marshall corrected that statement with the facts.
Approximately 80 percent of the vehicles on the road today are 2001 or newer and approved by the EPA to use the ethanol blend. Add to that, more than 60 percent of 2014 vehicles sold this year will be explicitly warranted and approved by the manufacturer to operate on E15. In terms of possible engine damage, E15 is sold in 12 other states with no issues reported. We are unaware of AAA’s Roadside Assistance program picking up a single driver stranded alongside the road due to an engine issue caused by E15.
Marshall informed Darbelnet that he is canceling his 33-year AAA membership because he refuses “to support an organization so clearly aligned with the oil industry.”
The theme of the event is “Power by People” and the agenda includes sessions on new innovations in the ethanol industry, the octane and high performance potential of ethanol, overseas opportunities for ethanol producers, rail regulations and possible long-term improvements of the domestic rail system, and much more. A Retailer Roundtable entitled “Power to the People” focusing on the sale and marketing of higher ethanol blends will also be featured.
A new report forecasts global ethanol consumption will reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions this year by over 106 million tons.
The Global Renewable Fuels Alliance (GRFA), in cooperation with (S&T)2 Consultants Inc., released their Global Green House Gas (GHG) Emissions Reduction Forecast for 2014 as the International Transport Forum Summit begins today in Germany.
The annual report shows the reduction in global GHG emissions from global ethanol production is increasing. This year’s figure reveals that 90.38 billion litres of global ethanol production and use in 2014 will reduce global GHG emissions by over 291,000 tonnes per day. Compared to 2013, this is an increase of over 7000 tonnes per day in GHG emission savings.
According to GRFA, the 106.4 million ton GHG emissions reduction is equal to over 21 million cars being removed from the world’s roads in 2014, about 58,000 per day.
“We believe International Transport Forum Summit participants should call for an increase in ethanol production and use given the significant contribution ethanol is making to reducing global GHG emissions today,” said GRFA spokesman Bliss Baker. This year’s theme for the International Transport Forum Summit is “Transport for a Changing World”.
Biomass producers and energy facilities can soon apply for assistance to turn renewable biomass materials into clean energy under the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) reauthorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.
The Farm Bill authorizes $25 million annually for BCAP, requiring between 10 and 50 percent of the total funding to be used for harvest and transportation of biomass residues. Traditional food and feed crops are ineligible for assistance. The 2014 Farm Bill also enacted several modifications for BCAP, including higher incentives for socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, and narrower biomass qualifications for matching payments, among other changes.
Farm Service Agency Administrator Juan Garcia says the initiative helps farmers and ranchers manage the financial risk of growing and harvesting energy biomass at commercial scale. “Investing in agricultural and forestry producers who cultivate energy biomass and supporting next-generation biofuels facilities make America more energy independent, help combat climate change and create jobs in rural America.”
“The potential to achieve transformational progress on biomass energy in rural America and generate tremendous economic opportunities is very promising,” added Garcia. “Energy crops occupy the space between production and conservation, providing opportunities for marginal land, crop diversity and more energy feedstock choices.”
The USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA), which administers BCAP, will coordinate BCAP enrollments. Information on funding availability will be published in an upcoming Federal Register notice.
In the last couple of weeks there have been two derailments of trains carrying crude oil, one in Virginia on April 30 and one in Colorado on May 9. These incidents are just the latest in a string of accidents that began last summer when a runaway oil train carrying Bakken crude derailed and exploded in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, killing 47 people. Other trains carrying Bakken crude have derailed and caught fire in Alabama, North Dakota, and New Brunswick, Canada.
While crude oil has been the common denominator in these accidents, ethanol has been caught in the cross fire despite its nearly perfect safety record in rail transportation.
In this edition of “The Ethanol Report,” Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) president and CEO Bob Dinneen discusses the safety record of ethanol shipments via the DOT-111A railcar, RFA’s program of safety training and best practices within the ethanol industry, and the need to focus on the root cause of recent derailments, track conditions and human error, and not exclusively on railcar design. Most importantly, he emphasizes “ethanol is not oil.”
In a keynote speech at the 11th Annual World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology, DuPont Chair and CEO Ellen Kullman said preserving the RFS would ensure regulatory stability for the renewable fuel industry and continue to encourage “private investment from companies like DuPont to create a sustainable bio-based economy.”
“Legislative and regulatory uncertainty has a direct impact on the growth of this industry,” Kullman said. “If the EPA issues an RFS rule with increasing biofuels volumes, supporting a stable regulatory environment, our industry can thrive.”
DuPont has invested heavily in the future of renewable fuels and will soon complete one of the world’s largest commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol biorefineries, set to open in Iowa later this year. DuPont committed over $200 million to the project, which will yield 30 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol per year, produced from corn stalks, leaves and cobs left in fields after harvest.
Kullman attended the BIO World Congress to accept the 2014 George Washington Carver Award, which each year honors one individual in the private sector, government or academia for leadership in using industrial biotechnology innovation.
The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) has created a new video that briefly and creatively outlines five major reasons why the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) is good for America.
1. The RFS saves money – 50 cents to $1.50 per gallon last year
2. The RFS reduces oil imports – ethanol displaced $48 billion in imported oil last year
3. The RFS cuts greenhouse gas emissions – equivalent of taking 7.9 million cars off the road
4. The RFS creates jobs – 86,000 direct and 300,000 indirect jobs from ethanol
5. The RFS spurs investment and innovation – cellulosic ethanol is here today
The mayor of Philadelphia delivered a “Declaration of Energy Independence” today to recognize the city’s and region’s contributions to domestic energy and energy security. At the same time Reuters broke a story claiming that Philadelphia oil refinery connections were the main forces behind the Obama administration proposal to lower volume requirements for biofuels under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) this year.
According to the article, it was The Carlyle Group and Delta Air Lines, owners of two refineries in the Philadelphia area, that put the pressure on the administration to cut back on biofuels requirements by convincing policymakers that “the rising mandates would cripple their businesses and threaten thousands of jobs.”
The article claims that two Pennsylvania congressman were called on to take the refiners’ concerns about the RFS to the White House, and that in July and August of last year, “17 refiners and their allies visited the White House’s rulemaking arm, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to discuss the RFS. Only six biofuel supporters visited the OMB over the same time.” Reuters even produced a graphic to illustrate the comparison between visits by oil and ethanol lobbying interests last year.
Read the story here.
Corn production is projected at 13.9 billion bushels, up slightly from the 2013/14 record with higher expected yields more than offsetting the year-to-year reduction in planted area. The corn yield is projected at 165.3 bushels per acre, up 6.5 bushels from 2013/14, based on a weather adjusted yield trend model and assuming normal mid-May planting progress and summer weather.
Farm organizations welcomed the news but sounded a note of caution.
“America’s corn farmers continuously strive to improve and, in 2014, they certainly will make their achievements evident should these projections be realized,” said National Corn Growers Association Chairwoman Pam Johnson. “As farmers, we take great pride in our work and feel that the projections recognize our efforts. Yet, our optimism is tinged caution as we have all seen conditions change quickly and a crop shift course in a few short weeks.”
“Farmers are still out there facing the reality of unpredictable weather as they work to get their crops in the ground, favorable weather during the growing season and then cooperative weather again at harvest time,” added American Farm Bureau Federation crops economist Todd Davis. “There’s still a long way to go before the crops are in the bin.”
The USDA World Agricultural Supply and Demand estimate projects U.S. corn use for 2014/15 will be two percent lower than in 2013/14, while corn used to produce ethanol in 2014/15 is expected to be unchanged on the year with gasoline consumption expected to remain flat in 2015.
Distillers grains exports set a new monthly record in March, while U.S. ethanol exports rebounded from the previous month, according to the latest numbers.
The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) reports that March exports of U.S. distillers grains, which is the animal feed co-product from dry mill ethanol plants, were a record 1.16 million metric tons. March shipments were up 28% from February and topped the one million mark for just the fourth time in history. China accounted for half of the export shipments, with Mexico and South Korea taking the second and third place slots. Year-to-date, distillers grains exports as of March totaled 2.97 million metric tons, a 65% increase over the same period a year ago, putting the U.S. on pace to export a record 11.9 million metric tons this year.
At the same time, total U.S. ethanol exports, including both denatured and undenatured, were 84.0 million gallons in March, up 25% over February and just slightly below the January total of 86.2 million gallons. Canada and Brazil were top destinations in March, with both the Philippines and Nigeria re-entering the market. Meanwhile, U.S. ethanol imports totaled just 5.3 million gallons in March, making the United States a net exporter by a wide margin for the seventh straight month.
The administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency explained her agency’s proposal to lower the volume requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) to members of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting meeting in Washington DC this week.
“Let me begin by reiterating that this administration sees renewable fuels as a big part of our way to adapt to climate change,” said Gina McCarthy. “I also know that it helps to provide some certainty in the rural economy and to create jobs.”
McCarthy explained that she went through the “gestation period” of renewable fuels. “It was my job to get the Renewable Fuel Standard originally done,” she said. “We were significantly challenged this year because of the high increase in the numbers in the statute and what we believed an inability to get all of the ethanol into the system and usable” which was why she said they “took a re-look at the numbers.”
She says they know “that re-look was not appreciated” by the agriculture community and others, but that’s why they are considering the comments received on the proposal very carefully. “I think you will see those comments reflected in the final rule,” she concluded.
During a meeting with members of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting on Tuesday, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack had strong words for the oil industry and its attacks on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).
“The oil industry has made a concerted, organized, well-financed attack on the Renewable Fuel Standard,” said Vilsack when asked about the EPA’s proposal to lower volume requirements for the RFS. “A lot of focus has been on the EPA and the administration, but it is the oil industry that has gone to court to try to limit the impact of the RFS. It is the oil industry that has gone to Capitol Hill to try to insert in appropriations bills and other bills an elimination or curtailment or restriction of the Renewable Fuel Standard.”
“It’s the oil industry working in concert with others that’s made it very difficult to expand higher blend availability,” the secretary continued. “So, what the EPA is doing I think is responding to the need to make sure that there is a strong, defensible RFS.” Vilsack says USDA shares that desire with the EPA. “Because there is no question there is a concerted attack and it is well-financed – and there is no question where the money is coming from.”
The 2012 Census of Agriculture shows a doubling of on-farm renewable energy production since 2007.
According to the census data released by USDA today, there were 57,299 farms that produced on-farm renewable energy in 2012, more than double the 23,451 in 2007. By far the biggest was solar panels, used on over 36,000 farms. Geoexchange systems and wind turbines each were used on more than 9,000 farms.
For renewable fuels, biodiesel was produced on 4,099 farms and ethanol on 2,397. Small hydro systems were used on about 1300 farms and methane digesters on 537.
The census reveals there are now 3.28 million farmers operating 2.1 million farms on 914.5 million acres of farmland across the United States. Those numbers are all lower than 2007 when the census reported 3.18 million farmers, 2.2 million farms and 922 million acres. The top 5 states for agricultural sales were California ($42.6 billion); Iowa ($30.8 billion); Texas ($25.4 billion); Nebraska ($23.1 billion); and Minnesota ($21.3 billion). Corn and soybean acres topped 50 percent of all harvested acres for the first time.
In a letter sent to EPA earlier this week, the American Petroleum Institute (API) requested that EPA use October 2013 fuel consumption projections—instead of the most current projections—when setting the final 2014 RFS renewable volume obligations (RVOs). RFA president and CEO Bob Dinneen called the suggestion that outdated fuel consumption projections should be used to establish the RVOs “the highest form of hypocrisy and misdirection.”
“Common sense and the principles of good rulemaking dictate that the final RVOs should be based on the latest available fuel consumption projections from EIA,” wrote Dinneen in the letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “Since the inception of the RFS2, EPA has always relied on the most recent EIA projections to set annual RVOs. API has never objected to this—until now.” Dinneen adds that API has repeatedly requested that EPA base its cellulosic biofuel RVO on the most current available production data.
Dinneen said API also misconstrues the fact that the RFS is fundamentally a volumetric standard, not a percentage-based requirement. “In the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, Congress set forth the specific volumes of renewable fuels that must be consumed annually. From these statutorily required volumes, as well as projected levels of gasoline and diesel consumption, EPA derives its annual percentage RVOs,” wrote Dinneen. “API obviously has the RVO-setting process backward, requesting that EPA start with an arbitrary renewable volume percentage and work in reverse to establish the commensurate volumetric requirements.”