NBB Chairman’s Report

Steven LevySteven Levy, Chair for the National Biodiesel Board took the stage this morning to provide an inspiring message to members who have been facing some serious odds in the last couple years. But he told everyone about how important it is to keep trying in order to obtain success using a quote from Thomas Edison.

Across the biodiesel industry, we’re not just trying to accomplish something – we are delivering. Part of the impetus for our success is the strength of our combined expertise and collaboration.

Ultimately, Edison didn’t succeed alone. He pioneered the concept of a collaborative lab, drawing on the knowledge and talent of a diverse group of creative scientists and engineers.

Likewise, NBB taps the technical expertise and business acumen of our members – and merges that powerful talent base with the specialized skills and knowledge of our leaders, our staff, and our consulting experts.

Working together, we are far more effective, far more formidable, and far more unstoppable in our mission.

You can listen to Steven’s remarks here: NBB Chair Steven Levy Remarks

2015 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Legislative Discussion from NBB

NBB Legislative UpdateSince we’ve had politics dominating the discussion since last night why not have a little bit more?

National Biodiesel Conference attendees got a very good legislative update this morning from Anne Steckel, NBB, Vice President of Federal Affairs. Her session included a question and answer session with Byron Dorgan, a senior policy advisor, author, professor, and former Senator from North Dakota and Kenny Hulshof, Vice Chair for Public Policy at Polsinelli, and is a former Congressman from Missouri.

Anne told us that like last year, the two big battles will be for a strong RFS rule and for reinstatement of a longer-term tax incentive. She then shared the NBB plan for how to work on accomplishing victory this year.

When it came time for Q&A one of the best quotes of the day came from Byron Dorgan. Anne asked him how it’s possible that we’re in 2015 and still don’t have numbers for 2014. His answer was “Because there’s no maximum level of embarrassment.” (in Washington, DC). I think you’ll enjoy the exchange with these two panel members.

You can listen to Anne’s remarks and the discussion with Dorgan and Hulshof here: NBB Legislative Forum

2015 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Joe Jobe Meets the Press

Joe Jobe and PressAfter this morning’s general session during the National Biodiesel Conference NBB CEO Joe Jobe met with the press. This gave reporters a chance to ask specific questions about not only his earlier speech but also more background and details on what is happening (or not happening) with the RFS and tax credits.

I thought it was interesting that a point was made in reference to this being a republican vs. democrat issue that it’s more of a regional issue where you have many areas with bipartisan agreement and others that don’t.

Learn more about these issues by listening in on the press conference.

You can listen to the press conference here: NBB CEO Joe Jobe Press Conference

2015 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Fiery Biodiesel Industry Speech

Joe JobeTalking about how much the truth matters and calling for cooperation from the petroleum industry Joe Jobe, CEO, National Biodiesel Board, got attendees fired up this morning during his opening general session speech. He received a standing ovation at the end of the speech when he loudly proclaimed:

2015 is the year we get back to the future of this program. Back to the future of this industry and this country. We are the ones on the right side of history, and we have a powerful force on our side. The truth. So rise up with me people. Rise up and tell our story. Rise up and take the RFS back in 2015.

Only by diversifying the transportation fuels market and providing competition to crude oil can the U.S. truly achieve energy security, he explained.

“The RFS is a good policy – it is pro-competitive, pro-consumer, free-market capitalist policy,” Jobe said. And, “2015 was intended to be a turning point for the RFS,” he said. “For the first seven years, conventional biofuel was designed to lead the growth in volumes until 2015 where conventional biofuel is statutorily capped at 15 billion gallons. From 2015 on, advanced biofuels are intended to lead the growth of the program. And so far, biomass-based diesel has emerged as the only domestically-produced, fully commercialized advanced biofuel.”

You can listen to Joe’s full speech here: NBB CEO Joe Jobe Speech

2015 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Ag Secretary Stresses Biofuels Support at AFBF

afbf15-vilsack-stallmanReal farmers from around the country had a chance to ask Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack questions during an informal town hall-style meeting at the American Farm Bureau convention this week in San Diego.

The last question he took was from a South Dakota farmer who asked about continuation of strong biofuels policy in the United States. Vilsack detailed his continued support for the industry, particularly in the area of exports. “I am a firm believer in the future of the biofuels industry,” he said. “Ethanol production is at record levels…we’re now beginning to see great interest in the export market, not just for ethanol but also for dried distillers grains.”

Beyond the Renewable Fuel Standard, Vilsack said USDA is working hard to encourage the Defense Department to use more biofuels. “They are scheduled this year to begin a process of buying hundreds of millions of gallons of biofuels for jets and ships,” he said.

The last point the secretary made was on the need to update the research on ethanol in particular, especially when it comes to indirect land use. “A lot of the push back to the industry is based on studies that took place 15 years ago, 10 years ago, and there have been enormous increases in productivity of American farmers, that basically suggest the indirect land use calculations are not as accurate as they need to be,” he said.

Listen to the secretary’s comments on biofuels here: Secretary Vilsack at AFBF on biofuels


2015 AFBF Convention photo album

Ethanol Report Looks at Year Ahead

ethanol-report-adUnfinished business and much of the same old attacks on the RFS are likely to dominate 2015 for the ethanol industry.

In this edition of “The Ethanol Report,” Renewable Fuels Association president and CEO Bob Dinneen takes a look at what he expects to be some of the big issues for ethanol in the year ahead.

Ethanol Report on Industry Outlook for 2015

Sorghum for Cellulosic Ethanol Update

While corn stover might be the big talk recently in the cellulosic ethanol game, sorghum could emerge as an alternative to the feedstock for the advanced green fuel. During the recent American Seed Trade Association CSS 2014 and Seed Expo in Chicago, Leah Guffey caught up with Scott Staggenborg of Chromatinasta-css-14-chromatin, a sorghum genetics company, and they talked about using sorghum for cellulosic ethanol.

“People forget that many of sorghum’s original uses were for animal feed, so biomass yield is important and digestability is important,” said Staggenborg. “So if you think about cellulosic ethanol production, it’s just really a big, steel or concrete digester, rather than a four-legged digester.”

He went on to say that with the 40,000 varieties of sorghum availability, his company is taking advantage of traditional breeding and modern molecular methods to get the most out of sorghum, especially for cellulosic biofuels. One of the breeds he points to as having great potential for biofuels is sweet sorghum, which he compares to an annual sugarcane, except sorghum has to re-established each year from seed.

“It’s high biomass, and it has high juice yields, as well as high sugar yields,” Staggenborg explained. “Those three combined result in high sugar yields per acre, and that’s the goal of our breeding program, as well as altering the composition of the sugar itself.”

He added that the Renewable Fuels Standard is a big driver in making sure there is a market for sorghum-based, or any other feedstock-based, cellulosic biofuel.

“The RFS establishes a market, establishes a need, sort of primes the pump for the demand, until it becomes something that widely available, although it’s already widely accepted, and allows a fledgling industry to move forward.”

You can hear all of Leah’s interview with Scott here: Scott Staggenborg, Chromatin

Ethanol Report 2014 Year in Review

ethanol-report-adEvery year is interesting for the ethanol industry and 2014 was no exception.

Some of the highlights included record production and sales, healthy exports, and the commercial reality of cellulosic ethanol. The low point of the year was definitely the inability of the federal government to set volume obligations for 2014 under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), leaving the industry in somewhat of a limbo.

In this Ethanol Report, Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) president and CEO Bob Dinneen takes a look back at some of the good news and bad news for the ethanol industry in 2014 and wishes us all a very happy new year.

Ethanol Report on 2014 Year in Review

DF Cast: Bundling Biomass for a Cellulosic Future

As cellulosic ethanol plants are opening up across the country, those facilities need a way to get the feedstocks, while farmers need a way to get that biomass to those new refineries. That’s where Pacific Ag comes in.

In this edition of the Domestic Fuel Cast, we talk to CEO Bill Levy and Steve Van Mouwerik, Vice President of Operations for Pacific Ag, as they talk about how their custom field residue business, which started in 1999 for baling crop residues for animal feeding operations, is a good fit for the emerging cellulosic industry, as Pacific Ag is demonstrating at Abengoa’s cellulosic ethanol biorefinery in Kansas that went online this past October and is expected to produce 25 million gallons of advanced ethanol per year.

Hear more about it here: Domestic Fuel Cast - Bundling Biomass for a Cellulosic Future

PacificAg Can Help Ethanol Plants Go Cellulosic

pacificag-logoThe largest and most experienced biomass harvest company in the country wants to help ethanol plants develop or expand operations into the production of cellulosic ethanol by saving time and money on supply chain development. PacificAg, which is already supplying biomass for plants in Iowa and Kansas, enables cellulosic biorefineries the ability to source cost-competitive biomass for biofuel and biochemical production.

PacificAg started in the residue management business nearly 20 years ago harvesting forage crops for feed in Oregon and CEO Bill Levy says they have expanded to meet the needs of the growing biofuels industry in the Midwest.

pacificag-harvest“We can save an ethanol plant the time and money in developing a supply chain,” says Levy. “It’s a very specific supply chain with very specific challenges and I think we have a lot of experience overcoming these challenges and developing these supply chains quicker than anybody else.”

Biomass products include corn stover, wheat straw and milo stover products because of their abundance and supply. “What we’ve found in the Midwest is that not all growers are accustomed to removing this supply,” says Levy, stressing that a major component of their suite of services includes a balanced residue management program.

There are two critical elements an ethanol plant must consider when ramping up cellulosic ethanol production: year round biomass supply and sustainability around biomass residue harvest.

Harrison Pettit, a company partner who works with ethanol plants to help them get their biomass programs off the ground, notes that market needs for advanced biofuels industry are long-term and year round. “Ethanol plants are built to operate for more than 30 years.”

How does a grower know if he or she should participate in a biomass residue harvest program? Pettit says the first question to ask is, Are you within 100 miles of a cellulosic ethanol facility? “If you are a corn grower, wheat grower or milo grower, then you really ought to give us a call,” says Pettit. “If you really want to learn about how a residue management program can benefit your ground and benefit your bank account, then we want to talk.”

Learn more about PacificAg and the services they offer for both farmers and ethanol plants in these interviews with Levy and Pettit.
Interview with PacificAg CEO Bill Levy
Interview with PacificAg partner Harrison Pettit

Ethanol Report on RFS Anniversary

ethanol-report-adToday, December 19, marks the seventh anniversary of the signing into law of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 which expanded the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

In this Ethanol Report, Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) president and CEO Bob Dinneen remembers that day seven years ago and talks about its accomplishments so far and how EPA needs to move ahead with the law as written. He also comments on the report out this week from the Bipartisan Policy Center recommending changes to the RFS.

Ethanol Report on RFS Anniversary

Deck Stacked Against Ag and Biofuels in Report

bpcThe Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) appears to be a bit partisan in a new report released this week on “Options for Reforming the Renewable Fuel Standard.”

The report was produced after several meetings during the year with an advisory group that consisted of 23 members, seven of which were oil companies representatives. Only five members of the group represented agriculture or advanced biofuels and biodiesel producers. The rest were a mix of academia (2), big business (4) with two of those representing Toyota, environmental groups (2), and policy organizations (3).

Both of the agriculture representatives were from the National Farmers Union (NFU), president Roger Johnson and vice president of programs Chandler Goule. “It was very important that agriculture that supports the renewable fuels industry be present at the table,” said Goule, who said the meetings were held in a very professional manner. “The problem with the meetings is that they were heavily skewed toward big oil.”

NFUlogoThe report concluded that improvements to the RFS are needed, but did not recommend actual repeal of the law. Goule says NFU has major objections to two of the policy recommendations made in the report. “The flattening of the total renewable fuel mandate at its current level going forward, but continuing to increase the three advanced categories, we have significant concerns about what that would to do ethanol and biodiesel,” he said. “Even more concerning was removing the total renewable fuel mandate and only mandating the three advanced categories. Basically what they are doing is giving in to Big Oil’s conclusion that a blend wall exists, which it does not.”

Chandler talks more about the BPC report in this interview: Interview with Chandler Goule, NFU

Biofuels Economic Outlook

asta-css-14-basseBack again by popular demand this year at the American Seed Trade Association CSS 2014 and Seed Expo was AgResource Company president Dan Basse giving his economic outlook for the year ahead.

Basse told attendees that the biofuels market is mature now, which means more stagnant demand for corn. “We have an EPA that can’t even make a decision on what the mandate should have been for 2014 and surely can’t make one for 2015,” he said. “We’ll still see corn demand for ethanol somewhere in the vicinity of five billion bushels, but there’s not that growth engine we’ve had in the last five years.”

Basse notes that this crop year is historic in that it’s the first time we’ve seen record world production for corn, wheat and soybeans. “So something agronomically is afoot here,” he said. “World producers are starting to pick up on some of the traits that American farmers are using – whether more seeds per acre, better seeds, better fertilizer…we’re not sure what it is but we’re impressed what the world is producing for grain.”

Lots more in this interview with Basse here. Interview with Dan Basse, Ag Resources

Biodiesel Benefits Livestock Producers

nafb14-nbb-weberWhile some have tried to pit the biofuels industry against livestock producers, the folks at the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) explain their green fuel is actually helping those producers.

“The livestock industry is a strong stakeholder. That’s how we view animal agriculture in terms of biodiesel production,” said Alan Weber, economic consultant for the NBB, during a recent interview with Cindy at the National Association of Farm Broadcasters convention.

Alan said that while soy oil still remains the main feedstock for biodiesel, the fuel is making inroads using animal tallow. In fact, he said that 25 percent of animal fat from livestock production now goes into biodiesel. He pointed out that while European demand has dropped for animal fats, biodiesel has helped maintain the market and keep money in farmers’ pockets. Alan also reiterated a point made many times before that with the crush of soybeans for biodiesel, it is actually helping keep feed for livestock plentiful.

“Every time we crush an additional bushel of soybeans, we also get more meal,” actually keeping down feed costs, he said. “It’s been a nice relationship, and we look forward to continuing that in the future.”

Listen to more of Cindy’s interview with Alan here: Interview with Alan Weber, economic consultant for the NBB

2014 NAFB Convention Photos

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NAFB Convention is sponsored by FMC

Hear Biofuels Reps Talk About RFS Delay

epa-150Biofuels industry representatives spent Friday afternoon fielding calls from reporters to comment on the Environmental Protection Agency decision to put off finalizing 2014 volume standards under the Renewable Fuel Standard program until next year.

Domestic Fuel caught up with four of the industry groups, starting with Bob Dinneen with the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), already posted previously.

Listen to the interviews below:

American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE)Interview with ACE Executive Vice President Brian Jennings

Growth Energy
Interview with Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis

National Biodiesel Board (NBB)Interview with NBB Vice President of Federal Affairs Anne Steckel

On Monday, biofuels industry leaders will hold briefings for Capitol Hill staff and the media to discuss the implications of the decision and where we go from here. The Fuels America briefing will feature Buis, Dinneen, Advanced Ethanol Council (AEC) Executive Director Brooke Coleman, and Brent Erickson with the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO).