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).

EPA Delay Continues Uncertainty for Biodiesel

The biodiesel industry and soybean growers weighed in on the EPA decision today to delay 2014 volume requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

nbb-advanced“This Administration says over and over that it supports biodiesel, yet its actions with these repeated delays are undermining the industry,” said National Biodiesel Board Vice President of Federal Affairs Anne Steckel. “Biodiesel producers have laid off workers and idled production. Some have shut down altogether. We know that fuels policy is complex, but there is absolutely no reason that the biodiesel volume hasn’t been announced. We are urging the Administration to finalize a 2014 rule as quickly as possible that puts this industry back on track for growth and puts our country back on track for ending our dangerous dependence on oil. We also urge them to move quickly on 2015 so that we don’t repeat this flawed process again next year.”

ASAlogo1“The continued delays create great uncertainty for the biodiesel industry and soybean farmers and limits the industry’s ability to invest and expand,” said American Soybean Association President Ray Gaesser. “The Proposed Rule was unacceptable and would have taken biodiesel backward from the amounts produced and utilized in 2013. However, ASA believes that EPA can and should finalize a 2014 rule that sets the biomass-based diesel volumes at or above the nearly 1.8 billion gallons that were produced and consumed in the U.S. in 2013.”

EPA Delays Final RFS Rules

epa-150The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) signed a Notice of Delay today to be published in the Federal Register announcing they will not be finalizing the the 2014 applicable percentage of standards under the 2014 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) until next year. They also announced that the compliance deadline for 2013 RFS standards will also take place in 2015.

The EPA will be making modifications to the EPAModerated Transaction System (EMTS) to endure that Renewable Identification Numbers (RINS) generated in 2012 are valid for demonstrating compliance in 2013.

The EPA is citing major consumer concern as the reason for the delay. The EPA writes, “The proposal has generated significant comment and controversy, particularly about how volumes should be set in light of lower gasoline consumption than had been forecast at the time that the Energy Independence and Security Act was enacted, and whether and on what basis the statutory volumes should be waived. Most notably, commenters expressed concerns regarding the proposal’s ability to ensure continued progress towards achieving the volumes of renewable fuel targeted by the statute. EPA has been evaluating these issues in light of the purposes of the statute and the Administration’s commitment to the goals of the statute to increase the use of renewable fuels, particularly cellulosic biofuels, which will reduce the greenhouse gases emitted from the consumption of transportation fuels and diversify the nation’s fuel supply.

In conclusion, at this time the EPA plans to release the 2015 proposed rules in conjunction with the final 2014 rule.

Biodiesel Board Picks Leadership

nbb-logoThe National Biodiesel Board (NBB) has picked five returning governing board members and two new members to serve in leadership roles.

“Biodiesel has faced many challenges but with strong leadership from among all sectors of the industry we are in a position as an organization to face those challenges head on,” said NBB CEO Joe Jobe. “This industry has produced more than a billion gallons of advanced biofuels each of the last three years and will continue to grow into the future under the direction of the board.”

Officers elected to lead the board are:

Steven J. Levy, chairman, Sprague Operating Resources
Ron Marr, vice chair, Minnesota Soybean Processors
Mike Cunningham, treasurer, American Soybean Association
Greg Anderson, secretary, Nebraska Soybean Board

NBB members also voted to fill seven board member spots. Members elected to the Governing Board included officers Steven J. Levy, Greg Anderson, and Mike Cunningham along with:

Jennifer Case, New Leaf Biofuel
Tim Keaveney, HERO BX
Robert Morton, Newport Biodiesel
Ben Wootton, World Energy

Ron Marr, Gary Haer, Todd Ellis, Kent Engelbrecht, Ed Hegland, Bob Metz, Robert Stobaugh, and Ed Ulch will continue serving on the Governing Board.

REG Cuts Ribbon on Louisiana Renewable Diesel Plant

reg-logoIowa-based Renewable Energy Group celebrated this week the grand opening of its renewable diesel plant in Louisiana. This company news release says the Geismar biorefinery is now producing renewable hydrocarbon diesel (RHD) in commercial-scale quantities.

The event marked the successful start-up of the 75-million gallon nameplate capacity plant that REG acquired in June. Beginning production on October 14, REG Geismar, LLC has already produced more than 4.7 million gallons of renewable fuel. REG-9000™/RHD produced at the plant meet or exceed ASTM D975 standards.

“REG Geismar strengthens our core biomass-based diesel business, allowing us to further expand our product offering to our customers,” said Daniel J. Oh, REG President and CEO. “It reinforces our commitment to advanced biofuels and demonstrates our confidence in this market.”

The Geismar biorefinery, REG’s largest, is the company’s first plant to produce RHD using Bio-Synfining™ technology developed by REG Synthetic Fuels, LLC in Tulsa, Okla. The process converts a wide range of feedstocks, such as animal fat, inedible corn oil, used cooking oil and vegetable oils, into renewable fuel.

REG officials say their teams in Iowa, Louisiana and Oklahoma worked hard to get the plant online, producing near its nameplate capacity already.

Iowa Ethanol, Biodiesel Makers Call for Tax Extenders

IowaRFAlogoEthanol and biodiesel producers in Iowa are joining in the growing chorus calling on Congress to extend some important tax credits. This news release from the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) says nine of the state’s advanced biofuel producers sent a letter to the entire Iowa Congressional Delegation encouraging the swift passage of a tax extenders package which includes provisions for biodiesel blending, cellulosic production, and accelerated depreciation, prior to final adjournment of the 113th Congress.

“Iowa’s entire congressional delegation has shown steadfast support for these important policies, and today we’re calling on them to take concrete steps to advance legislation extending these vital provisions that support energy security, American jobs, and a cleaner environment,” stated Western Iowa Energy Board Member Denny Mauser. “In the face of more than 100 years of preferential tax treatment for petroleum—a literal Century of Subsidies—these incentives keep advanced biofuel projects moving forward to the benefit of all Americans.”

The letter states, “It is absolutely critical to our industry that this Congress pass a tax extenders package, which includes provisions for biodiesel blending, cellulosic production and accelerated depreciation, prior to final adjournment.”

The letter goes on to point out the advantages the petroleum industry continues to enjoy in tax subsidies and says if Congress does nothing on the extenders package, the “U.S. will be left with a defacto petroleum mandate.”

Iowa Biodiesel Pros Are MVPs

Two Iowa biodiesel producers have been picked for high honors on the national level. The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) recognized Grant Kimberley, executive director of the Iowa Biodiesel Board, and Thomas Brooks, general manager of Western Dubuque Biodiesel, with 2014 Most Valuable Player awards.

GrantKimberleyKimberley, involved with biodiesel for more than a decade, this year expanded his already full plate within the Iowa Soybean Association to take on leadership of IBB. As executive director, he helped usher in the passage of state legislation extending a biodiesel producer incentive through 2017. He has also actively represented Iowa in the federal Renewable Fuel Standard efforts, including co-hosting two campaign events with both Senatorial candidates this year…

“It’s an honor to receive this recognition from my peers, but even greater is the feeling of accomplishment we share in watching this industry grow from 20 million gallons in 2003 to 1.8 billion gallons last year,” Kimberley said. “We know there is much work left to be done, and it will take all of us working together. But we can be proud of bringing biodiesel into the mix, diversifying our nation’s energy supply and driving economic growth.”

TomBrooks1Brooks took home the award in part for looking at the big picture beyond his own interests. Working with IBB, he was instrumental in earning press in Iowa and raising the volume on the RFS effort. This summer, he testified before the Environmental Protection Agency on the RFS volumes. In the last year, Western Dubuque Biodiesel hosted many key elected officials, including state legislators; an NBB sustainability tour; and a tour for U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley. Brooks also regularly hosts tours for colleges and the local high school, even going into the classroom himself to teach students about biodiesel.

“God asks us to always strive to do our best and expect nothing in return; albeit, this recognition means a lot to me,” Brooks said of the award. “I appreciate this recognition while there are many others deserving of it.”

NBB also honored Gary Haer of Iowa-based biodiesel producer REG and Iowa soybean producer Jack Hartman during the ceremony in the St. Louis NBB membership meeting.

Fly, Fight & Win Includes Electric, Biodiesel & Ethanol

U.S. Air Force tests first all-electric vehicle fleet in CaliforniaMy Air Force brethren are known for being able to fly, fight and win, and now, they’ll be doing it using electric vehicles, biodiesel and ethanol. This news release from the U.S Air Force says the Department of Defense’s first non-tactical vehicle fleet composed entirely of plug-in electric vehicles was unveiled at Los Angeles Air Force Base, California.

The rollout of the 42-vehicle fleet marks a milestone in the DOD’s demonstration of emerging technology and the vehicles will serve as a resource to the electrical grid when they’re not being driven.

“Everything we do to fly, fight and win requires energy, whether it’s aviation fuel for our aircraft or power to run the bases that support them,” said Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James. “This vehicle-to-grid pilot is a great example of how Airmen are driving the Air Force forward and finding new and innovative ways to make every dollar count.”

The PEV fleet includes both electric and hybrid vehicles ranging from sedans to trucks and a 12-passenger van. The vehicles have the capability to direct power both to and from the electrical grid when they’re not being driven, known as vehicle-to-grid technology. Unique charging stations have been installed on Los Angeles AFB to support the vehicles’ V2G capability…

In addition to the PEV fleet in L.A., the Air Force is also investigating the benefits of other alternative fuel vehicles. More than 9,000 ethanol flex fuel vehicles are in the service’s inventory worldwide, along with 50 biodiesel fuel stations on its installations.

The Air Force plans to expand this demonstration project to Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, and Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey.

Biodiesel Industry Waiting on RFS and Tax Credit

nafb14-nbb-kalebThe biodiesel industry is doing fairly well right now, but producers are anxiously awaiting some policy decisions that could improve the situation.

The two outstanding issues right now are the final 2014 volume requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and the once again expired biodiesel tax credits, according to Kaleb Little with the National Biodiesel Board. “The delay in the volumes has really hurt production,” said Little. “Overall production, we’re still probably going to be around 1.28 billion gallons for the year, but certainly below 2013’s record production (of 1.8 billion).”

Little says that 2013 is an example of what stable policy could do for the industry, with both the biodiesel tax credit in place and the RFS volumes in line with production capability. “You get those things lined up right in the same year and – record production,” he said. “Producers were glad to see it after some rough years and some ups and downs.”

Policy issues will be at the forefront as always during the 2015 National Biodiesel Conference January 19-22 in Fort Worth, and Little says they will also have some good news about new support for biodiesel from manufacturers.

Listen to my interview with Kaleb here from the National Association of Farm Broadcasting convention: Interview with Kaleb Little, NBB

2014 NAFB Convention Photos

Coverage of the NAFB convention is sponsored by
NAFB Convention is sponsored by FMC

Biodiesel Helps Houston Schools be District of Distinction

schoolbusesHouston schools are being recognized as a District of Distinction, in part, because of their embrace of biodiesel. This article from School Transportation News says the Houston Independent School District received the honor from District Administration magazine for, among other things, its “green” bus fleet.

“We are pleased to honor Houston Independent School District as a District of Distinction,” said J.D. Solomon, Editorial director of the magazine. “Like all our honorees, the district serves as a model for school leaders across the country.”

[A] goal the district achieved was minimizing the amount of pollutants emitted by its buses. Since the end of 2012, all 1,000 buses have been converted from diesel to biodiesel, which is about 75 percent cleaner than diesel. To further clean up its fleet, the district secured nearly $3 million in grants to purchase propane-powered buses and a fueling station. Nearly 90 percent of the district’s buses are now biodiesel and 10 percent propane.

Houston’s district was among 49 districts that were honored in the inaugural round of the publication’s new national recognition program. Andres Montes,

Branstad, Nixon to Head Bipartisan Gov’s Biofuels Group

Two Midwest governors might be from other sides of the political aisle, but they are on the same page when it comes to ethanol and biodiesel. Republican Iowa Governor Terry Branstad and Democrat Missouri Governor Jay Nixon will lead the Governors’ Biofuels Coalition beginning in January 2015 as chairman and vice chairman, respectively.

IA Gov Branstad at Hearing in the Heartland Jan 23 2013“I look forward to working with Governor Nixon to advance the bipartisan work of the Governors’ Biofuels Coalition, as the production and use of biofuels increases family incomes in rural America, diversifies our nation’s energy portfolio, and enables consumer choice at the fuel pump, ” Governor Branstad said.

JayNixon“Thanks to our corn and soybean farmers, Missouri has long played a leadership role in the development and production of biofuels,” Governor Nixon said. “Missouri was one of the founding members of the Governors’ Biofuels Coalition, and the Coalition has played a major role in our nation’s energy policies, including the drafting and passage of the renewable fuel standards. I’m honored to serve as the next vice chairman of this organization, and will continue working to strengthen the energy independence of Missouri and our country.”

Outgoing chairman Gov. Pat Quinn, a Democrat from Illinois, says everyone has a stake in the game, from farmers to energy consumers.

India’s Railways to Power Trains with Biodiesel

indiatrain1Biodiesel in India gets a big boost as that country’s train company, Railways, decides to use the green fuel to power a fleet of 4,000 locomotives. This Times of India article says the move is to help clean up the environment and use less petroleum-based diesel.

Announcing the railway ministry’s move at a convention organized by Bio Diesel Association of India (BAI) on Wednesday, minister Sadanand Gowda said, “Railways is the single largest bulk consumer of diesel in the country and as mentioned in railway budget 2014-15, it will start using bio-diesel up to 5% of the total fuel consumption in diesel locomotives.” He added this will save foreign exchange substantially.

The national transporter annually consumes over two billion litres of diesel and foots a bill of over Rs 15,000 crore.

Road transport minister Nitin Gadkari also said that while his ministry is pushing for more use of clean and domestically produced fuel, he would take up the issue of allowing bio-diesel producers to sell their produce directly to bulk consumers in India. At present, only 20% of bio-diesel produced in India is sold here and the rest is exported.

Indian ministers added they are looking at plans to use waste land to grow the edible and non-edible oilseeds for the biodiesel.

Biodiesel Great But Broken Drivetrain Delays Trip

Ricketts shows problemWhile the biodiesel performed well, a busted drivetrain is postponing a cross-country trip featuring the chicken fat fuel. Earlier this week, we told you how Middle Tennessee State University Cliff Ricketts was driving from Key West, Florida, to Seattle, Washington, a 3,550-mile journey being made on pure biodiesel from waste chicken fat. But this update from the school says a broken drivetrain transmission on the left side of the 1981 Volkswagen Rabbit diesel pickup that happened near Kansas City, plus winter weather affecting the Great Plains, combined to now postpone the alternative fuel researcher’s “Southern-Fried Fuel” quest until spring 2015.

“I said at the beginning of this journey that we are on an adventure, and it has been,” Ricketts said.

“We’ll just postpone it until a later date. That is the common-sense thing to do.”

Traveling from the southernmost point in Florida up through Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois and Missouri — six of 13 states along his planned route — the 38-year MTSU School of Agribusiness and Agriscience faculty member called the trip an amazing experience.

His fuel source, totally pure biodiesel, did not include petroleum. The mechanical problems had nothing to do with the fuel he was testing in the research.

“The biodiesel did great,” said Ricketts, who added that data showed miles-per-gallon ranges were from 36 to 45-plus.

“Equal speed, power, torque. The diesel vehicle has shown it is a viable fuel option as and when needed. Any issues we had had nothing to do with the biodiesel.”

The trip is now expected to resume this coming March or May.

Biodiesel Ingredient Maker Gets State, Fed Incentives

ia-flag1An Iowa company that will make a key ingredient for biodiesel is getting some important loans, loan guarantees and tax incentives from the state and federal governments. This article from the Mason City (IA) Globe Gazette says New Heaven Chemical will get $128,000 in state loans and $402,000 in tax incentives, along with the chance for a U.S. Department of Agriculture $5 million loan guarantee, for the company’s plant at the Manly Terminal.

The Manly plant will produce sodium methylate, which is used to turn fat and oil into biodiesel.

Completion is expected by the end of the year. Startup is set for January.

New Heaven’s plant will bring money into the county, [Worth County Supervisor Ken] Abrams said.

“It’s gonna get jobs and people here,” he said.

County officials are expected to sign the contract later this week.

Biodiesel, Solar Turn Cheese Guy’s Truck Green

cheese_truck1A food truck entrepreneur known for his cheese is turning his vehicle – not his cheese – green using biodiesel and solar power. This news release posted on EIN News says Oklahoma-based Wil Braggs, aka “The Cheese Guy,” has started a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign to help him buy a brand new gourmet green energy food truck called the Mean Green Purple Machine.

This truck is intended to be powered by solar generated energy. Sunlight is free obviously and solar power is an effective, simple and often overlooked energy choice. The Cheese Guy is committed to implementing solar inverter technology in order to charge batteries with sunlight. A new food truck would enable The Cheese Guy to utilize solar power for the brand new Mean green purple machine. Another form of alternative energy is biodiesel which is formed from vegetable oil. Biodiesel is quieter than traditional fuel and only has organic emissions. The Cheese Guy intends to use biodiesel from recycled plant oil to run their engine and also their generator. This would be the first true biodiesel powered food truck. It is this groundbreaking innovation that has the ability to change the thinking of food truck owners everywhere.

Another alternative fuel addition The Cheese Guy wants to make is replacing propane with natural gas.

You can visit his Kickstarter campaign here.