RFA Submits LCFS Comments to CARB

The California Air Resources Board has released a proposal to transition to a new version of the GREET model that is used to determine a fuel’s greenhouse gas reduction score or more specifically, the direct lifecycle carbon intensity as part of its Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS). CARB has proposed to use Argonne National Laboratory’s latest version of GREET as the basis of its update to the original California GREET model, which was RFANewlogointroduced in early 2008 and has been in use for the past six years.

Geoff Cooper with the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) has submitted comments to CARB and writes, “We believe Argonne’s GREET1_2013 model contains a number of important improvements and updated inputs that more accurately reflect the current CI performance of corn ethanol and many other fuel pathways … it is encouraging to see the LCFS regulation finally catching up to the actual state of the industry.”

RFA believes CARB’s migration to the newer GREET version is a step in the right direction, but “several additional revisions to CA-GREET2.0 should be considered.”

Cooper outlines three specific changes that RFA would like to see CARB address to the new GREET model:

  • CARB should integrate the Argonne GREET1_2013 default assumptions on ethanol co-product feed (i.e., distillers grains) displacement rates.
  • CARB should revise the CA-GREET2.0 model’s treatment of emissions from agricultural lime application based on new data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
  • CARB should adopt the GREET1_2013 methodology for estimating land use change (LUC) emissions in lieu of CARB’s current standalone GTAP methodology.

“Adopting these recommendations would further reduce corn ethanol’s direct CI score by 8–10 percent, and would slash CARB’s current ILUC factor by approximately 70 percent,” according to Cooper. “Integrating RFA’s suggested revisions, along with the proposed changes already planned by CARB, would better reflect the actual nature of ethanol’s lifecycle carbon intensity and confirm ethanol’s ability to significantly reduce GHG emissions relative to gasoline.”

ACE Urges Support for STB Reauth Act of 2014

The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) is urging leaders of the Senate Commerce Committee to support S. 2777, the Surface Transportation Board Reauthorization Ace of 2014. In a letter, Brian Jennings, executive vice president for ACE writes U.S. corn-based ethanol is the most economical transportation fuel in the world. And when factoring in its favorable blending economics along with the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), ethanol is capable of comprising more than its 10 percent share of the U.S. gasoline market.

ACElogo“But in order to do that, reliable and timely rail service is critical,” the letter states. “Unfortunately, during most of 2014, railroads have failed to provide reliable and timely service. Logjams built-up this winter due to extreme cold and snow which reduced the speed and size of trains, and all year long it has appeared that railroads have provided favorable service to crude oil shipments at the expense of ethanol and agricultural commodities….”

“Many of ACE’s ethanol producer members are captive shippers and have reported chronic rail service disruptions this year, such as delayed tank car arrivals, insufficient tank cars received for ethanol off-take, loaded cars parked and overdue for power to arrive, and turn-around times that have doubled. As a result, storage tanks at ethanol plants are full and many of our members have been forced to slow production or worse yet, shut down operations at a time when demand for ethanol is on the rise because of its low price and clean octane benefits, writes Jennings.

The letter continues, “To cope with unreliable rail service, some biorefineries have invested in additional storage or considered adding unit train capability, but it is hard to justify those investments without meaningful commitment by the railroads that service will improve. Moreover, we are concerned that a record harvest of corn and soybeans this fall could make a bad situation on the rails even worse.”

Jennings notes that while the S. 2777 does not immediately nor comprehensively overcome all the problems, it is a step in the right direction.

E15 Could Help Lower Gas Prices at the Pump

The end of summer is here and with the season change, “summer gasoline” and its Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) requirements will also come to an end. With fall in view retailers who want to offer E15 to their customers may now do so.

“We’re seeing reports and predictions of lower gas prices, with some celebrating the fact that the price is ACElogodown to $3.39 nationwide,” said American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) Senior Vice President Ron Lamberty. “In the Midwest, where E15, E30, and E85 are more widely available, even E10 prices are already under $3.00 in some markets. Ethanol adds octane and lowers prices because it provides competition for higher priced, lower octane gasoline.”

“E15 brings environmental benefits as well,” continued Lamberty. “Recent studies highlight the reduction in cancer causing emissions offered by E15. E15 means cleaner, higher octane fuel at a lower price and fuel marketers are starting to realize that. Fuel retailers like CHS/Cenex and Protec have taken steps to make E15 available in more markets soon and others will follow.”

Lamberty is encouraging retailers to take note of the growing number of vehicles that can use E15. E15 use is covered under warranty for most cars and light trucks sold in the U.S. for the 2013, 2014, and 2015 model years, and some automakers approve it for 2012 vehicles. That’s 30 million vehicles or more with more vehicles hitting the roads each week that are approved for E15 use.

“This is exactly why Big Oil fights so hard and spends so much time and money to convince EPA and elected officials that the 10% “blend wall” is real, and why they have contract restrictions that prevent branded stations from offering E15.” Lamberty concluded, “It’s not the 5% market share that could be taken by E15 that worries Big Oil – it’s what competition for that 5% does to the prices they can charge for the rest of the gallon. More ethanol means lower prices.”

RFA Calls on EPA to Undo Unfair Fuel Regulations

The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) is calling on Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy to address the unfair fuel volatility regulations that keep the sale and expansion of E15 from occurring. Because E15 does not have the same 1 psi Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) as E10, the ethanol fuel blend can not be sold during summer months. In a letter to McCarthy, Bob Dinneen, CEO and president of RFA writes that EPA’s failure to put E15 on the same footing as E10 has been a substantial roadblock to the rollout of E15.

According to the letter, “…faced with a hopeless decision every spring: stop selling E15 during the summer volatility control season, or secure the appropriate low-RVP gasoline blendstock. For most retailers, neither of these options are acceptable business decisions.”

RFANewlogoDinneen says the EPA continues to handicap market opportunities for E15 by effectively making it a seasonal fuel. This causes retailers and marketers to be hesitant to invest in a fuel that can only be offered part of the year. “Our biggest frustration is that there is simply no legal or environmental justification for EPA’s unequal volatility treatment of E10 and E15. If the Administration is serious about addressing greenhouse gas emissions and keeping gas prices in check, it should immediately correct this gross inequality,” said Dinneen.

RFA points to the larger implications of the RVP restriction in the letter writing, “Slow market adoption of E15 has unnecessarily complicated compliance with the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and led the Agency to embrace the oil industry’s ‘blend wall’ concept in the proposed rule for 2014 Renewable Volume Obligations. The bottom line is that E10 and E15 should be treated consistently in the marketplace with regard to RVP….There is simply no sound technical justification, no air quality benefit, and no economic rationale for denying equal RVP treatment for E15 and E10.”

Murphy USA Promoting E15, E85 In Iowa

Murphy USA is partnering with Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) and the Iowa Corn Growers Association to hold grand openings of E15 and E85 pumps across Iowa. The events will include fuel discounts, door prizes and free food with fuel purchase.

“Iowa motorists will now be able to benefit from increased access to cleaner-burning, lower-cost ethanol blends like registered E15 and E85 at many Murphy USA fueling sites across the state,” said IRFA Managing Director Lucy Norton. “To launch its renewed commitment to homegrown, economical fueling options in Iowa, Murphy USA is also stepping up to offer even greater savings on E15 for 2001 and newer vehicle owners and E85 for flex-fuel vehicle owners during its scheduled grand opening celebrations. Be sure to stop by a Murphy USA location near you to save some of your hard earned money while also improving air quality and supporting Iowa jobs.

During the ethanol fuel events, customers will be able to take advantage of E15 for $2.15 per gallon, E85 for $1.85 per gallon. The Murphy USA locations in Clinton, Davenport, Fort Dodge, Mason City and Sioux City will also offer biodiesel. A list of event dates is below:

Screen Shot 2014-09-15 at 10.56.03 AM

Norton added, “E15 is the lowest priced fuel available for most Iowans, and E85 is the lowest priced fuel for flex-fuel vehicle owners. Now motorists in seven large Iowa cities will have ready access to fuels that not only burn cleaner, but are also the least expensive fuels on the market for the vast majority of drivers.”

Fuels America Thanks Biofuels Supporter Sen Harkin

As Iowa Senator Tom Harkin prepares to retire, Fuels America is thanking him for his unwavering and tireless support of biofuels with a full-page advertisement in the Sunday, September 14, 2014 Des Moines Register and on Iowa radio. Sen. Harkin will be holding his final steak fry with Secretary Hilary Clinton, who is the keynote speaker. During the event he plans on taking the opportunity to update Clinton on biofuels progress across Iowa and the country.

“We’re grateful to Senator Harkin for his leadership, and proud to welcome Secretary Hillary Clinton to Iowa for the last Harkin Streak Fry,” says Fuels America’s radio ads that began running on Wednesday and will continue through Sunday on stations throughout the Des Moines area. “As one great Iowa tradition ends, another is growing.”

Fuels America Harkin-Clinton AdThe ads note that Iowa has doubled renewable fuels production since 2007, and that the Iowa renewable fuels industry now supports over 73,000 jobs. The ads go on to appeal to Clinton’s experience as Secretary of State, noting that she knows the danger that America’s addiction to foreign oil poses to our national security, economic security, and energy security. Instability in Ukraine and Iraq has recently created even more uncertainty in an already tumultuous global oil market, and America’s reliance on foreign oil has left us at the mercy of hostile and unstable foreign actors.

The advertisements come as President Obama is giving final consideration to this year’s final rule on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), which will determine the extent to which renewable fuels will be allowed to compete with foreign oil in our fuel supply. At the same time, Secretary Clinton’s arrival in Iowa marks the beginning of a larger national dialogue on the future of renewable energy sources.

Genera Energy Introduces BIN-SPEC

Genera Energy has introduced a new feedstock management program module to reduce biomass feedstock variability: BIN-SPEC. According to the company, the preprocessing system delivers a consistent biomass product to a customer’s specifications with the least amount of variability and at a lower cost.

“After producing and harvesting a biomass crop, significant processes and steps must take place to convert a field crop into a uniform format feedstock with the exact size, chemical composition and moisture to meet the needs of each end user,” explained Kelly Tiller, Ph.D., CEO and president of Genera Energy. “We are now able to announce BIN-SPEC as the final link in our proprietary biomass supply chain management system.”

Genera-BIN_SPEC-Graphic-300x171Along with Genera’s other feedstock management systems, Energy Grange and Supply ASSURE, BIN-SPEC was developed through years of R&D and in-the-field testing aimed at consolidating and simplifying the entire biomass feedstock process, offering benefits to landowners, farmers and feedstock end users for the biofuels, biochemical and biopower industries.

While much research has focused on feedstock specific conversion technologies, Genera Energy noticed a gap in the study and field tests of biomass particle size during the preprocessing phase and as a result, developed BIN-SPEC to address this and other problems, offering a repeatable solution that reduces costs, increases efficiencies and provides a consistent product for end users.

Genera’s BIN-SPEC preprocessing management system looks at every step before, during and after preprocessing for each specific end user, assuring a tailored feedstock product specifically for use with BIN-SPEC designated equipment that will produce a biomass product with the least variation. While preprocessing biomass feedstocks is not new, Genera has focused on improving the process by reducing energy consumption, increasing efficiencies, and optimizing the process. This optimization ultimately leads to a lower cost, more consistent feedstock for the end user.

Keith Brazzell, Genera Energy COO notes that variation in feedstock product can be a costly problem for refineries. That was why BIN-SPEC was developed – to add value to a customer’s conversion process.

Red River Energy Signs Deal with Noble Mansfield

nmrreRed River Energy has signed an ethanol marketing agreement with Noble Mansfield Commodity Services (NMCS) to handle their ethanol marketing. In addition, ICM subsidiary Energy Management Solutions, will manage the day-to-day operations and activities of the 25 million gallon per year ethanol plant located in Rosholt, South Dakota.

According to Rick Serie, general manager of Red River Energy, “After a long and exhaustive search, we’ve concluded that Noble Mansfield Commodity Services is the right ethanol marketing company to help us sell our ethanol as we restart our ICM-retrofitted facility. We felt comfortable with this decision given their past success in consistently selling our products across our key markets. Their marketing and logistics expertise will be particularly important as we proceed with our plans, which include investments into a grain storage bin and ICM’s corn oil extraction technology.”

William K. Covey, CEO of Noble Mansfield Commodity Services, agrees. “We are very excited for the opportunity to once again support Red River Energy by serving their marketing needs with knowledge, experience and reliability. We also welcome Rick’s trust in our ability to consistently maximize their netbacks, along with his appreciation for our personalized client support, competitive logistics, railcar access, transparent accounting integration and actionable market intelligence.”

RFA: Rail Congestion Must Get Resolved

Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) is speaking out again on the problems of rail congestion that is slowing down the delivery of ethanol and ethanol byproducts across the country. He submitted written testimony to the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation that held a hearing yesterday to examine rail congestion and the harmful impact it has had on agriculture and other commodities.

Dinneen stressed the role that Bakken Crude rail shipments have played in increasing dwell times and decreasing train speeds and pointed toward the negative impact these delays are having on ethanol producers. “The rail system didn’t collapse last winter because of a snow drift in North Dakota,” he said. “It was because of a 400% increase in oil shipments from the Bakkens.”

RailcarsIn the written testimony Dinneen said, “The recent crisis of congestion that has seemingly overtaken the rail industry has become a huge and costly problem … This crisis is one that is causing significant harm to the economic health and well-being of our nation’s economy, as well as driving up costs for a wide array of commodities that rely on the rail for transportation…it is becoming more and more apparent that surging crude oil shipments are coming at the expense of other goods and commodities.”

Listen to Dinneen’s comments here: RFA CEO Bob Dinneen comments on rail situation

EIA: Nat Gas, Biofuel to be More of World Fuel by 2040

Natural gas and biofuels will make up the biggest share of the increase in what are known as “other liquid resources” in the world liquid fuel supply. The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) International Energy Outlook for 2014 (IEO2014) says those fuels that include natural gas plant liquids (NGPL), biofuels, coal-to-liquids (CTL), gas-to-liquids (GTL), kerogen (oil shale), and refinery gain, made up just 14 percent of the world’s liquid fuels in 2010. But that number is expected to rise to 17 percent by 2040, driven by higher petroleum prices.
worldotherfuels1
NGPL are the largest component of the other liquids, accounting for 68% of the total in 2010 (Figure 14). The increase in NGPL production is directly correlated to the increase in natural gas production. In contrast, increased production of the remaining other liquids (primarily biofuels, CTL, and GTL) is in response to policies that encourage growth in the expansion of these liquids with available domestic resources, such as coal and crops. In the IEO2014 Reference case, sustained high oil prices make the development of the non-NGPL other liquids more attractive. In addition, biofuels development also relies heavily on country-specific programs or mandates. Combined, the remaining, non-NGPL other liquid fuels grow at more than twice the rate of NGPL over the projection period.

Brazil is expected to put in 500,000 additional barrels of biofuels per day, with another 300,000 additional barrels of biofuels coming from China.

Michigan Next Stop for Ethanol Safety Seminars

Michigan is the next stop for the Ethanol Safety Seminars. Led by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) and in conjunction with the Michigan Department of Agriculture, there will be five training stops with the first on September 17 in Albion. Additional seminars will take place on September 18 in Lansing, September 19 in Grand Rapids, September 22 in Saginaw and September 24 in Warren. Each seminar is funded by a Promotion and Alternative Fuels Education grant from the Michigan Department of Agriculture.

Ethanol Safety SeminarAll seminars are free and feature a morning session from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and an evening session from 5:30 to 10:00 p.m. Certificates will be awarded to attendees at the completion of the course. While primarily targeting first responders, hazmat teams, safety managers, and local emergency planning committees, seminars are also open to the general public.

Ethanol Safety Seminars focus on numerous areas including an introduction to ethanol and ethanol-blended fuels, chemical and physical characteristics of ethanol and hydrocarbon fuels, transportation and transfer of ethanol-blended fuels, storage and dispensing locations, firefighting foam principles and ethanol-blended fuel, health and safety considerations for ethanol-blended fuel emergencies and tank farm and bulk storage fire incidents.

“With nearly 14 billion gallons of ethanol flowing across our country via railroads, highway cargo tank trucks, and barges, it’s vital that our first responders know how to safely and effectively handle the situation should a spill occur,” said Craig VanBuren, consumer protection section director at the Michigan Department of Agriculture. “This grant allows the Renewable Fuels Association the opportunity to provide boots-on-the-ground training for our emergency responders if an ethanol spill were to happen.”

In addition to the seminars, RFA will also host five free retailer workshops throughout the state on how to market ethanol-blended fuels, including E15, E85, and all mid-level blends in between. The workshops will discuss economics, the process of capturing RINs, equipment options, buying fuel locally, and available incentives to offset investment. Workshops will take place on Sept. 16 in Warren and Flint, Sept. 17 in Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo, and Sept. 18 in Ann Arbor.

Energy Management Solutions Signs New Agreements

Energy Management Solutions, Inc. (EMS), a subsidiary of ICM ,has signed two new plant management agreements with Red River Energy LLC, located in Rosholt, South Dakota and Midwest Renewable Energy LLC, located in Sutherland, Nebraska.

ICMlogo1The Red River Energy ethanol plant will come back online and into full production this week after sitting idle for the past 18 months. The plant has an operating capacity of 25 million gallons of ethanol per year. The Midwest Renewable Energy plant is currently operating at a capacity of 22 million gallons of ethanol per year.

Dave VanderGriend, CEO of ICM said, “We are excited about expanding our plant management efforts with the addition of these two facilities. We’re proud to be their operator of choice and we look forward to helping each plant run as efficiently as possible.”

In addition to these newly signed contracts, EMS provides plant management services for Tharaldson Ethanol, Casselton, North Dakota and Noble Americas South Bend Ethanol LLC, South Bend, Indiana., which is scheduled to come online in the 4th quarter of this year.

New Holland’s Biomass Experience

Have you had the opportunity to participate in the biomass experience from New Holland? Thousands of farmers from around the country were able to do just this during the Farm Progress Show. In addition, attendees of the Project LIBERTY grand opening were also able to experience all things biomass. But for those who were unable to attend, Chuck Zimmerman is bringing the biomass experience to you.

fps14-nh-biomassZimmerman spoke with Jarrod Angstadt, manager growth initiatives biomass and specialty products, who said New Holland is working with various biomass projects and research institutions across the country to work on the biomass industry and get a better handle on what’s going on and move it forward. “We want to be prepared to help their customers. Obviously they have needs and we have solutions,” Angstadt told Zimmerman.

He pointed out some new and current products that are available for growers looking at providing biomass to the biofuels industry. They have new round balers launched this year. In addition there are products growers have been using already including the BigBaler and the combine with the corn rower and forage harvester as well.

Zimmerman asked Angstadt was the future of biomass looked like. “The whole biomass market is wide open right now. There are a lot of people getting in to it and it is forging forward. Exactly where the end is is really unknown but that is what is really exciting about the industry,” answered Angstadt.

To learn more about the full biomass experience, listen to Chuck’s interview with Jarrod Angstadt: Interview with Jarrod Angstadt, New Holland

View the Farm Progress 2014 Flicker photo album.

New Study: E15 Would Reduce Smog

According to a new study conducted by Life Cycle Associates, using E15 ethanol blends rather than regular gas will reduce cancer-causing pollutants and smog in Chicago’s air. The research examined and aggregated a wide range of research to assess changes in the emissions from E15 taChicago E15 logoilpipe and evaporative emissions, compared to regular gasoline. The following factors were considered for the study: ethanol blend composition; vehicle tailpipe emissions; storage and fueling with ethanol blends; changes in evaporative and exhaust emissions; human health impacts; ozone potential; and life cycle greenhouse gas emissions.

To determine how much E15 reduces the risk of cancer, the study looked at several cancer-causing pollutants found in vehicle exhaust and found that using E15 shows a projected reduction in cancer risk because the ethanol in E15 displaces carcinogens like benzene and 1,3 butadiene.

“The most significant changes from a change … to E15 include a reduction in cancer risk from vehicle exhaust and evaporative emissions, a reduction in the potential to form ozone or photochemical smog, and a reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions,” the study reported.

The study found:

  • The renewable fuel in E15 displaces cancer causing emissions from gasoline, resulting in a net decrease in cancer risk of 6.6% compared to regular gas.
  • The smog forming potential from E15 is lower than in regular gas.
  • Using E15 gasoline with 15 percent ethanol results in a 1.5% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to regular gasoline which contains 10% ethanol.

Adding ethanol also displaces gasoline components with higher smog forming potential, resulting in a lower smog forming potential for E15 blends than regular gasoline, according to the paper. In addition, the study reviewed extensive research on E15’s influence on greenhouse gas emissions, finding a reduction of 1.5 percent in E15 gasoline compared to regular, E10 gasoline. However, E15 has had difficulty gaining traction in the marketplace due to infrastructure challenges.

Those discoveries have significant implications for Chicago, which suffers from poor air quality and increased risk from disease-causing pollutants, particularly on the South Side. This study shows how the availability of E15 gasoline could help to solve those problems.

The report was supported by the Department of Energy (DOE), National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), California Air Resources Board (CARB), Coordinating Research Council, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the University of Illinois and several other institutions.

Protec Fuel Expands E15, E85 in the South

Protect Fuel is working with retailers in the South and Southeast to open 28 E15 and E85 stations. The announcement marks the first phase of an introduction of E15 to cities including Atlanta, Georgia and Houston, San Antonio and Dallas, Texas. Florida and Virginia will also be on the target list.

protecfuel1“Because of the success of our retailers who have offered E85 in the past, our retail customers are asking us for E15,” said Todd Garner, CEO of Protec Fuel. “With our proven expertise in the field, it’s natural for us to help meet the demand of many convenience store retailers – large and small – who want to offer products different than their competitors. Further, this can aid in helping to meet the Renewable Fuel Standard [RFS] blend wall, after market concentration of E10,” Garner said.

E15 can be used in vehicles 2001 or newer while E85 can be used in any flex fuel vehicle. Protec Fuel provides ethanol blends to retailers as well as installs ethanol stations. The company currently supplies, either directly or through distribution partners, more than 200 E85 stations.

In response to the announcement, Tom Buis, Growth Energy CEO said, “Protec has listened to their customers and retailers, and has taken the initiative to offer higher ethanol blends that improve the environment, create jobs at home, and strengthen our energy and national security. Furthermore, Protec knows that by offering a homegrown, less expensive fuel they will continue to build a customer base by providing a choice and savings at the pump.”

“Bottom line – consumer demand for homegrown, high performance, low cost fuels cannot be ignored,” added Buis. “E15 continues to spread across the nation and Protec is a leader in a larger movement that will increase E15’s footprint across our nation, finally ending Big Oil’s stranglehold on the liquid fuels marketplace.”