Live Stream of State of Ethanol Industry Speech

National Ethanol ConferenceHello from the National Ethanol Conference in Orlando, FL. This morning we’ll live stream Bob Dinneen’s, Renewable Fuels Association, annual state of the industry address. Introductions will start at 8am, est., with Bob scheduled at 8:15am. We’re also recording it to post afterward. When you click on the player below it will start with a short commercial before the live feed.

Post Update: You can now watch the recorded video of the live stream below.



Video streaming by Ustream

2014 National Ethanol Conference Photo Album

NEC Coverage sponsored by Patriot Renewable Fuels LLC

National Ethanol Conference Kicks Off

National Ethanol ConferenceBreaking news. Ethanol industry gets break from winter. How? By attending the 2014 National Ethanol Conference in Orlando. The Domestic Fuel team is on the scene.

It’s a beautiful sunny day to start things off with some fun activities like the annual golf tournament or an Everglades airboat ride. I took golf pictures while Cindy is checking out the Florida wildlife.

To kick off our coverage of this year’s conference I interviewed the Reverand of Renewable Fuels, Bob Dinneen, Renewable Fuels Association. As you might expect, Bob says they’ll be talking a lot about the EPA and the Renewable Fuels Standard. He likes the mood of attendees and says they’re optimistic. I personally think the sunshine and warm temps are helping!

You can listen to my interview with Bob here: Interview with Bob Dinneen

Here’s where you can find golf tournament photos to download and share: 2014 National Ethanol Conference Golf Tournament Photo Album

NEC Coverage sponsored by Patriot Renewable Fuels LLC

DuPont: “Future Fuel” Cellulosic Ethanol Here Today

Steve MirshakCellulosic ethanol is not just a fuel of the future; it’s here today. And at the recent 8th Annual Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit held in Altoona, Iowa, Steve Mirshak from DuPont’s cellulosic division talked with Joanna about what this fuel will soon bring.

“This is a real fuel,” Steve said, pointing out that DuPont is on track to commercializing the world’s largest cellulosic ethanol facility in Nevada, Iowa this summer… a project worked on for nearly 15 years and will produce 30 million gallons a year. He went on to say that cellulosic ethanol has zero net carbon emissions, contributes to energy independence, and is great for economic development. Plus, Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) goals are being achieved today. “This is the second generation [of biofuels]. It’s here. We’ve been talking about it for a long time, and in 2014 it’s here.”

Steve said, though, the only thing that could stop the momentum now seems to be the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposal to cut the amount of ethanol and biodiesel to be blended into the Nation’s fuel supply.

“Clearly the policy debate in the United States is dampening investors’ commitment to build out this industry. We don’t need [our leaders in Washington] to change anything. We need Washington to reinforce their commitment to the [RFS]. With stable policy, we’ll see rapid growth [in the advanced biofuels industry], and we’ll meet the bi-partisan goals Congress already passed,” Steve said.

Listen to Joanna’s interview with Steve here: Steve Mirshak, DuPont

View the 2014 Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit photo album.

DF Cast: Hearing in the Heartland Talks EPA & RFS

Unable to get the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to come to the heart of where biodiesel and ethanol are produced, leaders in the Midwest decided to hold their own “field hearing” to let the Obama Administration know they are unhappy with what proposed cuts to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The comment period for this proposal has recently ended, but now comes the possible months-long decision process by the EPA.

In this edition of the Domestic Fuel Cast, we listen in on some of what was said at Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad’s “Hearing in the Heartland,” a gathering of politicians, biodiesel and ethanol advocates, energy experts, and those who will be affected if this proposal to cut the amount of ethanol and biodiesel to be blended into the Nation’s fuel supply comes to fruition.

You can hear more of what was said during the hearing in the Heartland it in the latest Domestic Fuel Cast: Domestic Fuel Cast - Hearing in the Heartland

You can also subscribe to the DomesticFuel Cast here.

Farm Bill Biofuel Benefits

BIOlogoJust as President Obama was preparing to sign the Agricultural Act of 2014 into law today, the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) held a media conference to highlight how expansion of the new farm bill’s energy programs to include renewable chemical technologies can help advanced biofuel producers.

“Renewable chemicals are now defined in the farm bill, an important and long overdue change,” said Matt Carr, BIO Industrial and Environmental Director about that inclusion in the Biorefinery Assistance Program and Biomass Research and Development Program, which had been primarily for advanced biofuel projects.

dsm-welshOne of the participants in the call was Hugh Welsh, President of DSM North America, the Netherlands-based company that partnered with POET two years ago on cellulosic ethanol production. “We’ve made significant investments in the United States over the past three years,” said Welsh. “Some of that, in excess of $150 million, has been directly into the biofuels base and we’re encouraged by the inclusion of biochemicals in the farm bill.”

While DSM used its own funds for investment rather than taking advantage of the program, Welsh says it will help others. “We see the loan guarantee program now extended to biochemicals as something that offers greater opportunity for the development of this technology going forward,” in licensing the technology to others and “ultimately creating a true biorefinery.”

Welsh noted that the two technologies will work together. “We’re looking to grow both the advanced biofuels business and the biochemistry business,” he said.

Also participating in the call were Agriculture Energy Coalition co-director Lloyd Ritter, and Renmatix Senior VP Mark Schweiker.

Listen to or download the call here: BIO farm bill call

President Signs Farm Bill

President Barack Obama traveled to Michigan State University to sign the Agricultural Act of 2014 at the alma mater of Senate Agriculture Committee chair Debbie Stabenow (D-MI).

fb-signing“Despite its name, the farm bill is not just about helping farmers,” President Obama told the small crowd invited for the signing. “Secretary Vilsack calls it a jobs bill, an innovation bill, an infrastructure bill, a research bill, a conservation bill. It’s like a Swiss Army knife.”

The president also gave a shout out to biofuels production in Michigan in his address prior to the bill signing. “I just got a tour of a facility where you’re working with local businesses to produce renewable fuels,” said Obama. “This bill supports businesses working to develop cutting edge biofuels, like some of the work being done here at Michigan State.”

Listen to the president’s speech here: President Obama farm bill signing

What do you think of the new farm bill? Which part is most important to you? Tell us in this week’s ZimmPoll.

Iowa RFA President Steve Bleyl Seeks Advocates

The new Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (Iowa RFA) President Steve Bleyl is seeking advocates for biofuels. Iowa RFA President Steve BleylWhile giving his remarks to kick off the 8th Annual Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit held in Altoona, Iowa, he had people who were driving flex-fuel vehicles, using E15 or mid-level ethanol blends and driving biodiesel vehicles stand up. Most of the 600 plus attendees were still sitting.

Thus, said Bleyl who works for Green Plains Renewable Energy (they have three ethanol production facilities in Iowa), the industry and consumers need to become better advocates for renewable fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel.

Bleyl noted that Iowa is a motivated state to have higher ethanol blends. The state incentivizes retailers to blend over 10 percent ethanol (E10), and he said you’re starting to see that effect take off. He noted that the IRFA board has given his staff some pretty lofty goals. They want E15 in the state and his goal is to have 100 E15 pumps in Iowa by the end of this year.

I asked Bleyl, so how exactly do we make this goal happen? “I’m in a unique situation. l  will actually write someone at a retail gas chain and tell them, hey, I was at your gas station today and your E85 is not competitively priced. I know what the price should be,” answered Bleyl. But he said he’s not doing it in a way to tell them how to price their fuel, but in a way that let’s them know he realizes they want to do more and he wants to help.

He challenged me and all those at the conference as well as in his interview to be better advocates and call retail chains and write letters and ask for E15 and E85 and biodiesel. He stressed that if retailers know consumers want these fuels, then most of them will offer the fuels to their customers.

His last piece of advice, “Fight globally, but act locally.”

Listen to my interview with Bob Dinneen here: Iowa RFA President Steve Bleyl Seeks Advocates

View the 2014 Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit photo album.

Iowans Show Passion for Renewable Fuels

Iowans were pleased to hear from Iowa Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds and Governor Terry Branstad during the 8th Annual Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit. The two focused their remarks on one very iIA Lt Gov Kim Reynolds at 2014 Iowa Renewable Fuels Summitmportant policy for Iowa: the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The legislation is under attack by Big Oil and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) took a step back for the country when they released their proposed 2014 renewable fuel volumes for the RFS.

Reynolds noted that Midwesterners are passionate about the RFS. “From our farm fields to our Main Streets to our Legislative Chambers, Iowans understand how important it is to maintain a strong RFS,” said said.

There are tremendous benefits that currently flow from the RFS explained Reynolds, including: diversifying our nation’s energy portfolio and reducing our reliance on overseas oil; giving consumers lower cost choices at the fuel pump; and, raising family incomes and driving growth in rural America.

“We need to let people know that the ethanol industry supports more than 38,000 jobs and the biodiesel industry supports 62,000 jobs. We need to let people know that this one proposed rule by the EPA would directly jeopardize an estimated 37,400 ethanol jobs and 7,500 biodiesel industry jobs,” said Reynolds.

She stressed that the 2014 RFS proposal would place an unnecessary hardship on families throughout Iowa and throughout rural America. That one purposed rule would place an unnecessary hardship on families throughout rural America.

Listen to Iowa Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds remarks: Kim Reynolds Remarks

Iowa Governor Terry Branstad continued the call to continue the course of the RFS. He noted that in 2012, during the drought, corn prices were $8 a bushel, but now they are actually close to $4 a bushel. “The EPA’s proposed rule would result in corn prices below the cost of production and a reduction in agriculture land values. In addition, the misguided proposal would hurt farm equipment dealers, manufacturers and would cause significant loss of jobs throughout rural America.” Continue reading

Impact of Lowering RFS on Advanced Biofuels

ethanol-report-adThe comment period is now over for the EPA proposal that would lower the volume requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard this year, but it will be some time yet before a decision is made since the agency likely has tens of thousands of comments to read.

In this Ethanol Report, several representatives of the cellulosic ethanol and advanced biofuels industry comment on how the proposal would impact them. The report includes comments from:

Chris Standlee, Executive Vice President, Abengoa Bioenergy U.S. Institutional Affairs
Brian Foody, President and CEO, Iogen Corporation
Delayne Johnson, General Manager, Quad County Corn Processors
Brooke Coleman, Executive Director, Advanced Ethanol Council
Bob Dinneen, Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO

Listen to or download the podcast here: Ethanol Report with Advanced Biofuels Producers

Subscribe to “The Ethanol Report” with this link.

EcoEngineer’s Jim Baker Wins Coveted FFV Mower

irfasummit-E85 John Deere riding mowerIf there was one item that was coveted above all others at the 8th Annual Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit, it was the E85, flex fuel riding lawn mower donated by John Deere. Attendees who submitted comments to the EPA were registered to win and people were jockeying for position to run up to the podium when their number was announced….and the winner is…Jim Baker with EcoEngineers who noted that he is going to have to buy a new house with a bigger yard to get the full value out of his new toy.

Jim was so excited he was hoping to drive it home but, well, it was a tad cold out. EcoEngineers, who is based in Des Moines, is a company specializing in biofuel compliance issues such as RIN management, plant registrations and more. EcoEngineers also hosts webinars for the industry as well as workshops. It is anticipated that when the weather gets warmers Jim will ride to work on his E85 John EcoEngineers Jim Bakers ticket to FFV John Deere mowerDeere riding mower and as a gal about town, I will be sure to get a photo and tweet it out.

Want to get a peek at this bad boy? Jim is taking applications for lawn mowing jobs. I suspect there will be a lot of people lining up to mow his lawn this summer.

Monte Shaw, the executive director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (Iowa RFA) who was the host of the event, said that he wanted to give special thanks to John Deere for their support of the event and the industry. John Deere has been selling agricultural equipment designed to use biodiesel for years.

Listen to my interview with Jim Baker here: EcoEngineer's Jim Baker Wins Coveted FFV Mower

View the 2014 Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit photo album.

Bob Dinneen: Consumers Want Choice at the Pump

Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association gave a legislative update during the 8th Annual Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit and spoke of the efforts of Big Oil to quash the renewable fuel industry. The Summit took place on the last day of the EPA comment period for the 2014 proposed Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and Dinneen told a funny story.

irfasummit-dinneen-14In December when the EPA hosted its public hearing, that lasted nearly 10 hours, the American Petroleum Institute (API) hired young kids to ride around in support of oil. However when Iowa Governor Terry Branstad gave his comments (he also gave an impassioned speech during the Summit) the kids hired by API cheered for renewable fuels. Needless to say, Dinneen noted that API was none too happy, but he said that shows that consumers do want the choice and they will choose renewable fuels like ethanol.

So I asked Bob why this fight is this happening. Why did the EPA go backwards on its 2014 RFS proposal?

“Well it’s happening because some bean counter in the Office of Management and Budget decided to take API’s talking points and accept them as fact,” answered Dinneen. “That somehow the rising price of renewable fuel credits (RINs) was going to drive up the price of gasoline. “Now there is no credible evidence to make that suggestion. Indeed if you were to plot the price of RINs versus the price of gasoline, there is actually a negative correlation suggesting that gasoline prices will be driven down by higher RIN prices.”

Dinneen noted that the EPA has become confused by the issue and hopes as the agency reviews all the comments will have a better understanding in RINs and what they were supposed to do – incentivize investment in E85 refueling infrastructure, allow E15 to be offered and provide consumer choice at a reasonable cost.

This fight is about access to the consumer, its about market share said Dinneen. API has been losing battles and is trying to re-litigate the RFS. Yet Dinneen said the RFS is doing everything it is supposed to do. He believes that at the end of the day, API will lose again.

This process will take several months. “I wish they would come to their senses sooner. The marketplace could certainly use the certainty that that would provide. But the reality is its going to take a while,” explained Dinneen.

I asked him what consumers should do after the comment period closes. “Consumers should recognize while farmers have a lot of stake here, they do as well,” answered Dinneen. “Because without ethanol, without the RFS, there price of gasoline goes up. So consumers should recognize they have as much at stake in all of this as the ethanol industry itself.”

Listen to my interview with Bob Dinneen here: Bob Dinneen: Consumers Want Choice at the Pump

View the 2014 Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit photo album.

EPA’s 2014 RFS Proposal Defies Statute

The Iowa Office of the Attorney General has reviewed the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed 2014 Renewable Volume Obligations as part of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and concluded that the EPA must return to the forward course the legislation intended.

“It’s clear that Congress intended to establish the RFS to foster increased production of renewable fuels, and waiving the standard would contravene the intent of Congress,” said IA General Attorney Tom MillerIowa General Attorney Tom Miller during a press conference held during the 8th Annual Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit sponsored by the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (Iowa RFA).

Miller writes in the letter to the EPA, “…the current proposal ignores the express terms of the statute and would contravene Congressional intent to foster increased production of renewable fuels.” Miller noted in the letter that according to the Clean Air Act, the EPA is authorized to waive the RFS only when implementation of the statutory standards would severely harm the economy or when there is an “inadequate domestic supply” – not distribution capacity – of renewable fuel, not blended fuel.

This is not the case, said Miller.

Renewable fuels are a critical part of Iowa’s economy according to Miller and provide a key market for agricultural crops and jobs. “If the EPA waived national fuel standards, not because of an inadequate supply of renewable fuel, but rather because of limited distribution capacity of blended fuels, it would be removing the incentives adopted by Congress to foster increased production of renewable fuels and greater energy independence,” concluded Miller.

Listen to press conference with IA General Attorney Tom Miller here: EPA's 2014 RFS Proposal Defies Statute

View the 2014 Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit photo album.

Biodiesel’s Role in Bio-based Products

soy-biobased-erkerDirector of bio-based products for the United Soybean Board (USB), Michael Erker, was one of the many attendees of the 2014 National Biodiesel Conference. He works with many bio-based products including biodiesel. He gives insights into what bio-based products that contain biodiesel include and shares how involved USB is in funding biodiesel research.

“When we talk about bio-based products made from soybean oil or meal, that includes biodiesel. Biodiesel soy methyl ester are a great solvents. You not only get biodiesel, you get many other products like hand cleaners, paint strippers or other personal care products.”

USB gets very involved with research projects and are major funders for biodiesel. You can bet that they have had their hand in about all research projects the National Biodiesel Board has conducted. Michael also shared their investment with Ford and research to bring soy tires to vehicles nationwide.

You can listen to Chuck’s complete interview with Michael here: Interview with Michael Erker

2014 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Biodiesel Foundation’s Never Ending Support

nbb-14-foundationIt is easy to say that many of the promotional opportunities we see from the biodiesel industry wouldn’t be possible without the Biodiesel Foundation. During the 2014 National Biodiesel Conference the foundation was hard at work to raise money in order to increase awareness.

Beth Calabotta, Vice President of the Biodiesel Foundation, shared with Chuck in an interview that their goal is to work to promote biodiesel education, infrastructure and awareness.

“We promoted a sustainability tour where we brought a lot of policy makers and their support staff out to see farms in Iowa and biodiesel plants. They really got a feel for what the renewable fuels industry is. We have co-hosted a tour of some environmental groups from California who had never been to a farm before and actually see how biodiesel is made. We have also been sponsoring some educational studies at Purdue University aimed at really understanding what this indirect land use change is and really improving the science.”

The Foundation has a very wide variety of people on it’s board, including producers, farmers and many others involved and passionate about the industry. Those interested in doing their part and contributing to the Biodiesel Foundation can do so at www.BiodieselFoundation.org.

You can listen to Chuck’s complete interview with Beth here: Interview with Beth Calabotta

2014 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Farm Polices Impact on Precision Ag

nbb-14-kevin-rossMember of the National Corn Growers Association Board and director of Western Iowa Energy, LLC, Kevin Ross, chatted with Chuck after the opening session at the 2014 National Biodiesel Conference. They discuss farm policy and how precision agriculture technology has impacted his farming operation where he raises cattle and grows corn and soybeans.

Kevin shared that if we don’t move past what RFS has already provided then we become stuck and the innovation stops. He says everyone needs to do what they can to ensure the investments continue and technologies are utilized. He feels the government has given mixed signals and believes simple education on the issue could help.

“The Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) itself is vitally important to my operation at home and to my neighbors. Not just from the farming side, but also from the livestock side. Especially, operations like mine in western Iowa where we can utilize the fats and add value back to the livestock. I am not sure how many people know that its even possible. Let alone be done on an industrial scale. Agriculture is about value-added. Creating markets in those new economies within a broader ag industry is what it is all about.”

Kevin goes on to discuss what types of precision agriculture they have taken advantage of on his operation.

“On our farm it has been a fast ramp up of precision technology. Just a couple years ago on our own farm we’ve gone to auto steer. I couldn’t plant straight rows if I tried. We also use single row shut-offs and it has been a huge plus for us. Overall newer equipment is more efficient with yield monitors and data that we collect. We are going into a new soil data collection phase on our farm which is an entirely new way of doing it then before. We have made major advancement in the recent years and profitability in ag and RFS have really had a huge role in making that possible.”

You can listen to Chuck’s complete interview with Kevin here: Interview with Kevin Ross

2014 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album