Bipartisan Group of Senators Call for Strong RFS

US Capitol at dusk photo Joanna SchroederA bipartisan group of senators is calling on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reverse its current course and strengthen the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Led by U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), John Thune (R-SD), Al Franken (D-MN), and Mark Kirk (R-IL), the 37 in the group say the EPA’s latest proposal would create uncertainty for ethanol and biodiesel producers and undermine job creation.

“The RFS has already proven to be an effective driver of alternative fuels and economic development,” the senators wrote. “The biofuels volume requirements for 2014 and beyond have serious implications for our economy and energy security. We encourage you to ensure a final proposal continues to work toward achieving the RFS’s long-term economic and renewable energy goals.”

The ethanol industry praised the senators for their action.

“It is encouraging to see such broad, bipartisan, and geographically diverse support for the Renewable Fuel Standard,” said Renewable Fuels Association president Bob Dinneen. “It’s leadership like this that will move America’s energy future forward. Farmers, entrepreneurs, and innovators across the country will applaud these 37 visionaries.”

“Convincing Senators to sign the RFS to Administrator McCarthy was a key part of our grassroots fly-in last month so we’re glad ACE members could play such an instrumental role in securing so many signatures,” said American Coalition for Ethanol Executive Vice President Brian Jennings. “We are also grateful for the strong bipartisan support conveyed by Senators that EPA must get the RFS back on track for implementation by reversing course from their ill-advised proposal which would have limited renewable fuel use at ten percent of gasoline consumption.”

Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy, says the letter is a clear message to the EPA. “In no uncertain terms this strong bipartisan coalition of Senators have indicated that they are closely watching the EPA as they seek to finalize this rule and that any changes which would undercut the congressional intent or role of the RFS will be met with intense scrutiny and strong objection,” said Buis.

EPA recently announced it will propose volume requirements by June 1 for 2015 and 2016 and will re-propose volume requirements for 2014 that reflect the volumes of renewable fuel that were actually used in 2014.

Motor Clubs Make Pitch for E15

ace-flyin-15-hammondThe management of both the Association Motor Club Marketing (AMCM) and the Travelers Motor Club are making their pitch for the higher blend of ethanol known as E15. The American Coalition for Ethanol quotes AMCM Owner Gene Hammond from a blog post he wrote shortly after taking part on the “Biofuels Beltway March” fly-in (and speaking with Domestic Fuel), where he was part of ethanol advocates who visited 17 congressional offices in Washington, D.C.

Hammond writes: “That E15 hasn’t caused any damage to cars is no surprise to us, because during our entire time in the motor club business, we’ve never had a complaint about any blend of ethanol in gasoline, period.”

“But the critics and the E15 ghost stories haven’t gone away, so we did our part recently by meeting with Members of Congress about what we’ve seen, and more importantly what we haven’t seen, from the usage of E15 by our motor club members. If the anti-E15 predictions and warnings Congress has heard for the last two years were true, the people who had those problems would be well known to you by now.

But the charges aren’t true. We let Congress know how safe this fuel is. We don’t think motorists should be forced to use any fuel, but what the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) does is give every driver in the United States the option to buy a quality American made product like the E15 fuel blend if they choose.

More fuel choices mean more competition and that means our members save at the pump.”

Hammond’s entire blog post is available here.

EPA Sets Timeline for RFS Volume Requirements

epa-150Under a court settlement with the oil industry, the Environmental Protection Agency today announced they will propose the 2015 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) renewable volume obligations by June 1, 2015, and issue the final 2014 and 2015 RFS blending targets by November 30, 2015. In addition, EPA will also release the proposed 2016 RFS RVOs by June 1 and the 2016 numbers will be finalized by Nov. 30.

The biofuels industry reacted immediately to the announcement. “This consent agreement is a good start,” said Renewable Fuels Association president and CEO Bob Dinneen. “We are particularly pleased that the Agency has committed to addressing the 2016 RVO in the same time frame even though that is outside the scope of the consent agreement.”

“By taking this action, they are ensuring that the RFS is back on a path to certainty for the biofuels industry, providing the necessary guidance for the industry to continue to thrive and advance alternative fuel options for American consumers,” Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis said.

“ACE has consistently said it is much more important for EPA to get the RFS done right than it is for them to get the RFS done quickly, and that bears repeating given today’s announcement that the RFS will be getting back on track for implementation,” said American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) Executive VP Brian Jennings.

National Biodiesel Board is pleased the EPA announcement said they would “re-propose volume requirements for 2014, by June 1, that reflect the volumes of renewable fuel that were actually used in 2014.”

“The volumes for Biomass-based Diesel in 2014 were approximately 1.75 billion gallons so EPA reaffirming its commitment to “actual use” appears to be a step in the right direction,” said NBB Vice President of Federal Affairs Anne Steckel.

Advanced Ethanol Council (AEC) executive director Brooke Coleman says the announcement sends a good signal to the advanced biofuels industry. “Now that we have a better idea of when it will happen, we look forward to working with EPA to make sure that the new RFS proposal supports the commercial deployment of advanced biofuels as called for by Congress.”

EPA intends to issue a Federal Register Notice allowing the public an opportunity to comment on the proposed consent decree.

Another Successful ACE Fly-in

ACE executive VP Brian Jennings smiles as Sen. John Thune (R-SD) speaks at fly-in reception.

ACE executive VP Brian Jennings smiles as Sen. John Thune (R-SD) speaks at fly-in reception.

The seventh annual American Coalition for Ethanol Fly-in, which included an appearance by Sen. John Thune (R-SD), was another success for the organization, according to Executive Vice President Brian Jennings.

“We do this because we know lawmakers and their staff want to meet with people with a little dirt or grease under their fingernails who are doing things out in the country that really matter,” said Jennings. The group of 70-plus ethanol supporters who attended the event included students, producers, farmers, accountants, bankers, seed and technology companies, and advanced biofuels supporters.

“We’ve always received good feedback from members of Congress,” Jennings added, noting that their main message was to keep the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) on track, “This program is working despite what detractors might say,” he said. “I think members of Congress are starting to see that.”

Interview with Brian Jennings, American Coalition for Ethanol


2015 ACE Fly-In Photo Album

Ethanol Supporters Counter Funding Request

houseEthanol and agriculture industry groups sent their own letter to House Appropriations leadership in response to a group of lawmakers calling for the elimination of funding for blender pumps or corn ethanol export promotion.

The letter signed by the Renewable Fuels Association, American Coalition for Ethanol, National Farmers Union, National Corn Growers Association, and Growth Energy calls on the subcommittee to “vehemently oppose and reject any efforts to include such limiting language” in FY 2016 appropriations for USDA.

It is important to note at the outset that there already exists a prohibition on the US Department of Agriculture using grant funds for the installation of blender pumps, which was included in the recently passed Farm Bill. Now, in a blatant effort to shelter the oil and gas industry from any further competition from ethanol, Representatives Goodlatte, et al. are seeking to place limitations on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s efforts to help promote the consumption of American made ethanol at home and abroad; something that agency has been successfully doing with other agriculture and livestock products for decades.

Reps. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), Peter Welch (D-VT), and Jim Costa (R-CA), claim in their letter that the government has created an “artificial market” for ethanol that is “negatively impacting American consumers, livestock farmers, food producers, retailers, air and water quality, and the ability to feed our nation’s hungry.” The ag and ethanol groups responded that “corn prices today are below the prices witnessed in 2007 when the Renewable Fuel Standard was expanded and livestock feed costs are at their lowest levels in more than five years…Meanwhile, consumer food prices have advanced more slowly since passage of the RFS than in the 25 years prior to its enactment.”

Read the letter here.

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.

Gene 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 Gene Hammond, AMCM and Travelers Motor Club


2015 ACE Fly-In Photo Album

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

ACE Fly-In Coming Soon

ace14-dc-brianThe American Coalition for Ethanol is holding its 7th annual DC Fly-In, also known as the Biofuels Beltway March, on March 24-25.

ACE executive vice president Brian Jennings says talking to Washington bureaucrats and lawmakers about ethanol is more important than ever. “We’re really going to be focusing on some new members of Congress and educating them on the RFS and E15 in particular,” he said. “There were over 70 new members of Congress elected, and when you look at the current members of Congress, just two in five were in office when RFS2 was enacted back in 2007.”

Members of the ethanol industry who attend the ACE Fly-In hear from members of the administration and discuss many current issues, and then go out in groups to visit members of Congress and their staffs. “Last year we had well over 200 meetings with members of Congress, both sides of the aisle and both houses,” said Jennings, who stressed that they encourage members to “tell their stories” to make an impression.

Jennings says registration is still open for the Fly-In and there is no fee to attend.

Listen to my interview with Brian at the recent National Ethanol Conference: Interview with Brian Jennings, American Coalition for Ethanol

Iowa Governor Visits Golden Grain Energy

gge-branstadGolden Grain Energy officials and employees had the opportunity to thank Iowa Governor Terry Branstad for his support of ethanol when he paid a visit to the plant in Mason City on Wednesday.

“Governor Branstad has always been very supportive of the plant and the industry as a whole. It means a lot to be able to have the governor here in person to give a pat on the back to all of the people who have worked hard to help us reach the billion gallon production mark,” said Dave Sovereign, Chairman of the Board of Directors at Golden Grain Energy.

Governor Branstad toured the plant as to mark Golden Grain Energy’s recent production milestone of producing one billion gallons of corn ethanol.

“The backing and support from the governor’s office and from the local community helps us go a long way as we work towards producing another billion gallons of ethanol,” said Sovereign.

For his part, Governor Branstad had a photo posted on his Facebook page with – “Golden Grain ethanol just produced their BILLIONTH gallon of ethanol. To celebrate, the governor visited and got one of their t-shirts. “Keep calm and fuel on” ‪#‎iagov‬”

Golden Grain Marks Billion Gallons of Ethanol

Golden Grain Energy in Mason City, Iowa is celebrating the production of its one billionth gallon of ethanol this month.

gge-billion-shirts“This is a huge occasion for the plant, the staff, and the community as a whole,” said Chad Kuhlers, Chief Operations Officer of Golden Grain Energy. “I believe we are the first single location ethanol plant in the country to reach this production mark and it couldn’t have been done without the support from the shareholders, community and the great work from our employees over the years.”

The ethanol plant, which started production in December 2004, celebrated the milestone on Monday during its annual meeting with special guests including Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey and Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA). Plant employees wore special t-shirts to note the special occasion.

gge-grassley“This achievement represents a lot of work from farmer to producer to truck driver. Each stage of production leads to a tremendously beneficial final product,” said Sen. Grassley.

“This remarkable milestone by Golden Grain Energy is a great opportunity to celebrate the tremendous impact this plant and the 42 other ethanol refineries have had in reducing our dependence on foreign oil, protecting our environment and boosting the Iowa economy,” added Northey.

That billion gallons of ethanol represents over 351 million bushels of corn and a nice boost for the local economy, according to American Coalition for Ethanol Executive Vice President Brian Jennings. “Golden Grain Energy has … paid out more than $2 billion dollars to corn farmers, suppliers and service providers, and employees, and returned nearly $137 million dollars to its investors,” said Jennings in a congratulatory statement.

Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) President and CEO Bob Dinneen was on hand at the company’s groundbreaking ceremony in 2003. “It has been a privilege to watch the company grow and thrive and I can’t wait to see where they will take it from here,” said Dinneen.

Golden Grain Energy has a nameplate capacity of 115 million gallons per year.

American Coalition for Ethanol Elects New Officers

ACElogoThe American Coalition for Ethanol has elected its board officers for 2015:

* President – Ron Alverson, representing Dakota Ethanol, LLC
* Vice President – Duane Kristensen, representing Chief Ethanol Fuels Inc.
* Secretary – Dave Sovereign, representing Golden Grain Energy, LLC
* Treasurer – Owen Jones, representing Full Circle Ag Cooperative

Alverson is a corn and soybean farmer and was the founding chairman of Lake Area Corn Processors, LLC (Dakota Ethanol), a 60 mgy ethanol plant and South Dakota’s first farmer-owned ethanol facility. He served on the Board of the National Corn Growers Association and is an agronomic expert who recently authored a White Paper entitled “Re-thinking the Carbon Reduction Value of Corn Ethanol.”

Kristensen has nearly 30 years of experience in the ethanol industry and since 2004 has served as General Manager of Chief Ethanol Fuels Inc., a 62 mgy plant near Hastings, Nebraska, which is the state’s first dry-mill ethanol production facility. He also serves on the U.S. Grains Council Ethanol “A-team” which develops export demand for U.S. ethanol.

Sovereign farms and is the founding chairman of Golden Grain Energy, LLC, a 120 mgy ethanol plant in Mason City, Iowa. He also owns Cresco Fast Stop, a convenience store that offers E15, E30 and E85. Sovereign was instrumental in developing the Biofuels Mobile Education Center, a 45-foot traveling trailer designed to educate the public about biofuels. He also serves on the board of Absolute Energy, a 115 mgy ethanol plant in Lyle, Minnesota.

Jones is a farmer, rancher, and cooperative business leader who was the driving force behind the installation of the first blender pump in the nation in 2006 at Four Seasons Cooperative (later renamed Full Circle Ag) in Britton, South Dakota.

ACE also elected South Dakota farmer and rancher Lars Herseth and East River Electric Cooperative representative Scott Parsley as two additional representatives to serve the ACE Executive Committee.

Regulators Urged to Rethink Corn Ethanol’s Carbon Value

ace logoRegulators are being urged to re-think corn ethanol’s carbon value. In a news release from the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE), the group’s President of its board of directors, Ron Alverson, reveals in a white paper how corn ethanol’s carbon footprint is decreasing, thanks to technology innovations by farmers and ethanol facilities to improve the accuracy of carbon intensity modeling for biofuels.

“ANL scientists have documented significant reductions in corn ethanol’s CI since 2008. Through updates to the Greenhouse gases Regulated Emissions and Energy use in Transportation (GREET version 2.0, 2013) model, ANL recently determined that average ethanol manufacturing energy use has decreased 25%, corn farming energy use decreased 24%, corn fertilizer and chemical use decreased by 3%, and that ethanol facilities are extracting 3% more ethanol from each bushel of corn. ANL has also updated their Land Use Change (LUC) calculations with recent data and now estimate LUC of just 7.6 grams of CI, a 75% reduction from the widely used and outdated estimate of 30 grams CI. A significant portion of this reduction resulted from soil carbon modeling which predicts soil carbon sequestration from corn,” Alverson notes in the White Paper.

“Unfortunately, low carbon fuel market regulators, such as the U.S. EPA and the California Air Resources Board, have yet to acknowledge these improvements and update their models with this new science,” continues Alverson. “Because fossil fuel CI is getting worse and corn ethanol CI is improving, failure to account for these trends unfairly penalizes biofuels in low carbon markets.”

Alverson, a farmer and founding board member of an ethanol facility in South Dakota cited new research and improved modeling by the Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory. He argues that “corn farmers have responded to market signals and rapidly adopted precision application technology to reduced fertilizer application rates,” new realities those regulators need to now consider.

ACE Sets Dates for DC Fly-in

ACElogoAs the 114th Congress is sworn-in today, the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) is confirming plans to visit for the 7th annual grassroots fly-in on March 24-25, 2015.

“With more than seventy new members in Congress and concerns over EPA’s implementation of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), there is no better time for people who have a stake in the success of the ethanol industry to join fellow grassroots advocates for ACE’s fly-in,” said ACE Executive Vice President Brian Jennings.

At the 2014 “Biofuels Beltway March,” eighty people from all walks of life, including farmers, fuel retailers, students, and bankers, joined ethanol producers to meet with representatives from the White House, EPA, and USDA. The group also met with 160 congressional offices.

“In addition to a large crop of incoming freshmen, just a small fraction of current lawmakers were in office when the original RFS was enacted in 2005 and modified in 2007 by Congress. Our fly-in is an important opportunity to highlight how America is benefiting from the RFS, the successful development of cellulosic ethanol, and the reliability and progress of E15 and higher ethanol fuel blends,” said Jennings.

Click here for more information.