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.

Biofuel Groups Ask to Intervene in RFS Case

Three organizations that represent biofuel producers have asked to intervene in the latest legal challenge to Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

mess-rfsThe 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.

Most Top Selling Cars Approved for E15

jagIf 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.

See the complete list of makes and models 2012, 2013, 2014 approved for E15 use at ChooseEthanol.com.

Farm Bill Conferees Urge Energy Funding

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.

fb-confSeveral 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.

EPA Response to Calls for Lowering RFS

epaThe 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.”

Dinneen: Lowering RFS Would be Mistake

dinneen-capitolRenewable 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.”

ethanol-report-adDinneen 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.”

Dinneen also talks about the RFA response to AAA comments about the safety of E15 and how a recent NREL study proves it is safe in this Ethanol Report interview Ethanol Report with RFA's Bob Dinneen

Subscribe to “The Ethanol Report” with this link.

REG Opens Mason City Biodiesel Plant

reg-ribbonRenewable Energy Group today formally opened the company’s recently acquired biodiesel refinery in Mason City, Iowa. The biodiesel company also announced the start of a $20 million project to upgrade the plant to a multi-feedstock facility.

REG completed the acquisition of the former Soy Energy, LLC refinery on July 31, 2013. REG immediately began efforts to repair and re-start the plant and began producing biodiesel on October 1.

“REG Mason City fits into our existing network of biodiesel plants very well and is an ideal location to bring in raw materials for biodiesel production, is a good distribution point, and is sited well to serve our customers and terminals,” said Daniel J. Oh, President and CEO of Renewable Energy Group, Inc. “As we continue to grow as a company and an industry, we are dedicated to our communities like Mason City, and providing America with advanced biofuel.”

Brad Albin, REG Vice President, Manufacturing told the crowd about the upgrades the company will make. “With these upgrades, we will be able to utilize lower cost raw materials like inedible corn oil from ethanol production, used cooking oil and animal fats, with the majority coming from a close proximity to Mason City,” Albin said. “This will give REG Mason City the ability to deliver the highest quality product available, in line with the REG quality standards.”

REG now has eight active biorefineries in four states, with Mason City being the company’s third Iowa facility, joining the company’s first refinery in Ralston and a plant in Newton. The company also has a multi-feedstock biorefinery in nearby Albert Lea, Minnesota, where a $21 million multi-feedstock upgrade was just recently completed. REG also has two refineries in both Illinois and Texas respectively. The REG-owned biodiesel production fleet has an annual production capacity of 257 million gallons.

Ethanol Industry Refutes AAA Claims

aaaThe American Automobile Association (AAA) is calling on the Environmental Protection Agency to “lower the amount of ethanol required to be blended into gasoline for 2014″ in order to “protect drivers by preventing a possible surge in gas prices or the increased use of potentially damaging E15 gasoline.”

The ethanol industry wasted no time in responding. “The Energy Department and more than 40 studies say that more than 60 percent of cars on the road today can safely use E15,” said Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) president Bob Dinneen of the blend that has been approved by the EPA for 2001 and newer vehicles. “More than 40 million miles have been driven on E15 without a single complaint.”

Dinneen says RFA has reached out to AAA with data that proves E15′s safety, including the recently released NREL review of E15 studies but so far have been rebuffed. “Why is AAA resistant to data that benefits a nation of drivers?” Dinneen asked.

Global Farmers Learn Value of Ethanol

corn-couserEach year during World Food Prize week, the Truth About Trade and Technology Global Farmer Roundtable brings farmers from all over the world to visit Couser Cattle Company in Nevada, Iowa.

Owner Bill Couser not only produces cattle, he also grows plenty of corn on his operation and is a big proponent of ethanol as a means of getting the most out of every kernel. “It’s no different than a barrel of crude. We don’t just get gasoline from a barrel of crude. We take it apart and get many different things,” he said. “When we look at corn, we can feed it, we can take it to ethanol plants, we can sell it domestically, we can sell it abroad.”

As a founder of Lincolnway Ethanol plant, Couser is really excited about the cellulosic project with DuPont using corn residue. “We’ve got the residue there and if we manage it correctly, we have a new cash crop,” he said. Interview with Bill Couser

Couser, who is also a former president of Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, showed a powerpoint presentation adding up the multiplier effect of a single acre of corn going to an ethanol plant. When he figured that final amount corn was $7 a bushel and it added up to over $12,000 per acre. But even at $3, it’s still nearly $8,000. Watch the video to see how he determines that.

2013 TATT Global Farmer Roundtable photos

No EIA Reports due to Funding Lapse

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) is shutdown due to the shutdown.

eiaAs a result of the lapse in appropriations for the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the EIA.gov website and our social media channels will not be updated after 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time on Friday, October 11, 2013. Transactions submitted via the website might not be processed until appropriations are enacted; databases might not be available; and we will not be able to respond to inquiries.

That means the release of all reports and data will cease until further notice. The last ethanol production data were released by EIA on October 4. For that week, ethanol production averaged 868,000 barrels per day (b/d) — or 36.46 million gallons daily. That is down 7,000 from the week before. The four-week average for ethanol production stood at 853,000 b/d for an annualized rate of 13.08 billion gallons. Stocks of ethanol stood at 15.4 million barrels. That is a 0.8% decrease from last week, and the lowest of the year.

There were no imports of ethanol that week, compared to the same week in 2012 when imports set a record of 122,000 b/d. Ethanol export data for August is unavailable due to the government shutdown.

FS Propane Autogas Demos in Illinois and Wisconsin

fs-propaneGROWMARK and local FS member companies in Illinois and Wisconsin are hosting five events this week to share information about Propane Autogas as an alternative to petroleum and compressed natural gas (CNG) fuels.

“There’s quite a few sectors, such as schools, municipalities, buses, and fleets, that are starting to convert their fleets to Propane Autogas,” explains GROWMARK propane marketing and business development manager Scott Long. He says while it’s been around for years, the cleaner-burning, economical features, including saving up to 40 percent above what petroleum-based products cost, are really making big impressions on the fleets. “The city of Springfield, Ill. is running bifuel (able to take both propane and regular gasoline), they converted 24 vehicles to propane this past year, and they’re saving about $82,000 per vehicle.”

The tour kicks off today, making stops today in Carbondale, Ill., in Springfield, Ill. and Bloomington, Ill. tomorrow (Tuesday), Wednesday in Madison, Wisc., and finishing up in Wisconsin Rapids, Wisc. on Thursday. In addition to industry representatives, the events will have propane powered buses, service trucks, and vehicles on display. Attendees will have an opportunity to participate in demonstrations of the vehicles. Local FS dealers have more information on where and when to be to see the demonstrations.

Scott goes on to say that with the environmental benefits of 12 percent fewer carbon dioxide emissions, a 20 percent drop in nitrogen oxide emissions, and 60 percent fewer carbon monoxide emissions than traditional petroleum-based fuels, using Propane Autogas makes sense for big cities and rural areas.

“The benefits, not just from the economic savings are there, but also from an environmental side, too.”

Listen to more of the interview with Scott here: Interview with Scott Long, GROWMARK

Corn Crop Enough to Meet RFS

ncga-logo-newThe National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) is weighing in on the speculation about what the 2014 volume requirements for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) might be.

NCGA president Martin Barbre, a corn grower from Illinois, says the statute currently calls for corn starch ethanol to account for 14.4 billion gallons, an amount that can easily be provided by the industry.

“Across the country right now, our nation’s corn farmers are harvesting what the USDA and others are estimating to be the largest corn crop ever,” said Barbre. “We’re looking forward to not only meeting all needs for food, feed and fuel, but to ensure ending stocks, or surplus, of nearly 2 billion bushels. Those who want to reduce how much corn ethanol is in the RFS for 2014 need to realize the tremendous productive capacity of the American farmer to meet all needs.”

While this week’s supply and demand report is delayed because of the partial government shutdown, as of last month USDA was estimating increased amounts of corn to be available for feed, ethanol and export uses – and 1.9 billion bushels in ending stocks.

The last USDA estimate of the 2013 corn crop forecast 13.8 billion bushels of corn will be harvested this fall, for a total available corn supply of 14.5 billion bushels – more than 2.5 billion bushels more than the corn available last year.

“The fact is, while we are doing our part to grow the corn needed for the RFS, others have not been doing their part to expand the infrastructure to meet the standard,” Barbre said.

New Report Supports E15

NRELA new analysis by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) finds no “meaningful differences between E15 and E10 in any performance category.”

The NREL analysis reviewed 43 studies on the effects of E15 on engine durability, emissions, and other factors, including a controversial study by the Coordinating Research Council’s (CRC). Regarding that study in particular, NREL found “…the conclusion that engines will experience mechanical engine failure when operating on E15 is not supported by the data.”

“The disputed CRC engine durability study has been at the center of Big Oil’s political crusade against E15, and policymakers have been given the false impression that the CRC project is the one and only study that has been conducted on E15. Nothing could be further from the truth,” said Bob Dinneen, President and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association. The NREL report identified numerous flaws in the study, including faulty leakdown failure criteria, failure to use E10 as a control fuel, and inappropriate statistical analysis.

Read the NREL analysis here.

DC Update Ethanol Report

dinneen-capitolThe nation’s capitol is “so quiet you can hear a pin drop” but the American Petroleum Institute (API) is still working to beat the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), and the government shutdown means E15 retailers are unable to get approval.

“EPA right now is not answering the phones so they are not responding to marketers that are looking to offer E15,” says Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) president and CEO Bob Dinneen in this edition of The Ethanol Report. “I would hate to think that the political snit that is occurring in Washington today is going to throw up yet another barrier to expanding E15.”

ethanol-report-adDinneen also talks about the API lawsuit filed this week over the volume requirements of the RFS and the possibility that the government shut down would dely EPA’s release of the 2014 Renewable Volume Obligation (RVO), due out next month. “But this year, EPA took far too long to get those out,” he said, noting the numbers were just released in August – nine months late without a government shut down. “You want those numbers out as early as possible so the marketplace can respond.”

Listen to Bob discuss these topics and optimism in the ethanol industry here: Ethanol Report with RFA's Bob Dinneen

Subscribe to “The Ethanol Report” with this link.

Growth Energy Urge Producers to Get Involved

buis-absoluteGrowth Energy CEO Tom Buis was pleased to be part of the New Holland American Ethanol Producers Club event at Absolute Energy near Lyle, Minnesota last week to encourage the nearly 200 growers in attendance to continue the great progress ethanol has made for agriculture.

“It’s even farmers beyond just corn farmers,” Buis said. “A rising tide lifts all boats and all the data shows that and what a great run rural America has had after decades of struggling to make ends meet they finally have been able to get a decent price from the market place. And when farmers do well that money turns over several times in the local economy.”

Buis also talked about how important ethanol has been to the livestock economy with the co-product of distillers grains. “We’ve expanded the availability of feed, both here at home and worldwide, with the ethanol industry,” he said.

Buis thinks that with all Congress has on its plate right now calls to change or even repeal the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) are unlikely to go anywhere this year, but that is no reason for the industry to be complacent. “We have to keep telling our story,” he said. “If you don’t get in there and speak up for yourself, nobody’s going to do it for you…take two minutes and explain to the policy makers how important this is to your livelihood.” Interview with Tom Buis, Growth Energy

New Holland American Ethanol Producers Club photo album

New Holland Helping Farmers and Ethanol

cnh-club-kacherFarmers who provide corn for ethanol plants can get special discounts on New Holland equipment and help the ethanol industry at the same time.

New Holland district sales manager Bob Kacher says their American Ethanol Producers Club is an initiative they developed two years ago with Growth Energy to help both growers and the ethanol industry. “It offers the opportunity to reinvest back into the ethanol industry through the purchase of New Holland products,” he explained during an event this week at the Absolute Energy biorefinery near Lyle, Minnesota. “The producers are part of the club by their contracts and the amount of grain they sell to the ethanol producing plants and that membership allows them discounts off New Holland equipment that they purchase through their local dealer, and in turn New Holland reinvests back into the support and promotion of ethanol.”

Producers can qualify for club membership if they have a current contract with an ethanol plant for at least 10,000 bushels, supply at least 50,000 bushels per year or purchase at least 280 tons of distillers grain, or be a board member or major investor in an ethanol plant. Bob suggests producers contact their local ethanol plant or Growth Energy for more information.

Find out more in this interview: Interview with Bob Kacher, New Holland

New Holland American Ethanol Producers Club photo album