Report: US & EU Move To Relax Biofuel Targets

According to a new report from GlobalData, the U.S. and EU are considering relaxing targets on biofuels causing concerns around the growth of the industry and the role of biofuels in global renewable energy targets. The U.S. is considering reducing its biofuels target for 2014 and from 18.2 billion to 15.2 billion gallons while the EU has lowered its ceiling on food-based biofuels used in the transportation fuel mix from 10 percent to 7 percent.

Ethanol in IllinoisThe Third Quarter 2013 Regulatory Outlook finds that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is considering reducing 3 billion gallons from the 2014 renewable volume obligations, (the EPA has submitted its final rule to the Office of Management and Budget but until approved, the industry does not know the final volume requirements) which would mark the first reduction to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) since its implementation in 2007.

Carmine Rositano, GlobalData’s Managing Analyst covering Downstream Oil & Gas, said, “While gasoline demand has declined over the past seven years, the approved annual use of ethanol in gasoline has not been adjusted to reflect this change, as increasing amounts of biofuels have been mandated to be blended into petroleum products each year through to 2020. The refining industry has warned that increasing ethanol use in gasoline would exceed the 10% mix that dominates car engine designs and the gasoline fueling infrastructure, so revising the mandated amounts for biofuels in the energy mix would make economic sense.”

While U.S. biofuels targets are expected to be cut to mirror the decrease in gasoline demand, the EU has a different reason for its own target adjustments.

Rositano explained, “The EU’s new 7% biofuels ceiling comes in response to claims that using biofuels made from food crops increases inflation on food costs. As the EU is still aiming to achieve 10% of transportation fuels made from renewable energy sources by 2020, the gap between this target and the 7% ceiling of food-based biofuels indicates a reliance on next generation biofuels made from algae, waste and other materials.”

Matthew Jurecky, GlobalData’s Head of Oil & Gas Research, added, “It’s normal for agencies to review challenged policy. Ongoing analysis on the actual reduction of greenhouse gases, inclusive of the entire value chain, the impact they’ve had on food crops and prices, and the simple economics associated with producing them, underlies the regulatory shift. Biofuels will, however, remain a part of meeting mandated renewable energy and emissions targets, but other industries and policies, such as more stringent efficiency standards, will also form a part.”

Navy Remains Full-Steam Ahead on Biofuels

navybiofuelsnimitz1The U.S. Navy is moving full-steam ahead, despite some obstacles that have come up for its program on biofuels. This article from Motley Fool posted on the NASDAQ website says the Navy wants to get 50 percent of its energy from alternatives to petroleum. To make sure these fuels are ready for the fight, the service is looking at drop-in fuels, and with a provision in the recent Defense Department appropriations, the Navy has to do it at the same cost as petroleum-based fuels.

In the past the Navy has tested advanced biofuels that cost upward of $26 per gallon. That price, of course, didn’t sit well with many taxpayers, which is why the National Defense Authorization Act was passed, which limited the Department of Defense from paying higher prices for alternative fuels than it pays for petroleum-based fuels.

In order to combat the high price of commercial drop-in biofuels, the Navy and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, or USDA, worked together to create the Farm-to-Fleet program. Under the program, producers seeking to offer drop-in biofuels can apply to the USDA Commodity Credit Corporation for grants that will offset the cost of the feedstocks needed to produce these drop-in biofuels. Further, some drop-in biofuels can qualify for Renewable Identification Numbers, which can be sold to further offset the cost. The hope is that between these two offsets producers will be able to supply a drop-in jet fuel, which is the most costly fuel the navy uses, for the same price as traditional jet fuel.

Earlier this summer, a government procurement report showed the U.S. Navy has for the first time put biofuels in the mix for requests for military-specification diesel fuel and jet fuel.

Bolt-On Biodiesel to be Discussed at Biofuels Conf.

hydroboltonbiodiesel1Ethanol operators looking to get more out of their bottom lines might want to make sure they listen carefully when “bolt-on biodiesel” options are discussed at an upcoming conference on the financials of green fuels. Georgia-based Hydro Dynamics, Inc.‘s vice president of R&D, Doug Mancosky, will present his company’s technologies at the 10th annual Biofuels Financial Conference in Bloomington, Minn., this coming Wednesday through Friday, August 27th-29th to show how ethanol plants can diversify co-products and potentially increase profits.

The majority of ethanol plants already recover their corn oil and much of this ends up converted to biodiesel. By integrating a biodiesel plant directly into the ethanol plant a producer can realize many competitive advantages due to reduced transportation cost and shared infrastructure. HDI, along with its partners World Energy and Phibro Ethanol Performance Group, offer both transesterification reactor retrofits and complete biodiesel plants incorporating its cavitation based ShockWave Power Reactor (SPR).

SPR technology is already well established in the biodiesel industry with well over 500 million annual gallons of capacity sold using the SPR technology. The SPR technology has potential to offer ethanol producers a “bolt-on biodiesel” solution with significant initial capital savings and ongoing production cost efficiencies over conventional biodiesel plant technology.

More information is available on the Hydro Dynamics website.

Researchers Help ID Non-Invasive Species for Biofuel

pennycressWith a host of new plants being discovered for their biofuel-producing qualities, everyone wants to make sure what is being grown doesn’t become a destructive invasive plant. To that end, researchers at the University of Illinois have developed a set of regulatory definitions and provisions and a list of 49 low-risk biofuel plants that growers can choose.

Lauren Quinn, an invasive plant ecologist at U of I’s Energy Biosciences Institute, recognized that most of the news about invasive biofuel crops was negative and offered few low-risk alternatives to producers. She and her colleagues set out to create a list of low-risk biofuel crops that can be safely grown for conversion to ethanol but realized in the process that regulations were needed to instill checks and balances in the system.

“There are not a lot of existing regulations that would prevent the planting of potentially invasive species at the state or federal levels. For example, there are currently only four states (Florida, Mississippi, Oregon, and Maryland) that have any laws relating to how bioenergy crops can be grown and that include any language about invasive species—and, for the most part, when those words do appear, they are either not defined or poorly defined,” said Quinn.

In approving new biofuel products, Quinn said that the EPA doesn’t formally consider invasiveness at all – just greenhouse gas emissions related to their production. “Last summer, the EPA approved two known invaders, Arundo donax (giant reed) and Pennisetum purpurem (napier grass), despite public criticism,” added U of I professor of agricultural law A. Bryan Endres, who co-authored the research to define legislative language for potentially invasive bioenergy feedstocks.

One of the issues the researchers tackled first was defining an invasive specie as “a population exhibiting a net negative impact or harm to the target ecosystem.” Once that definition was in place, they were able to put together guidelines that are simple for regulators to understand. Quinn hopes the definitions and suggested regulations could become part of a revised Renewable Fuels Standard administered by EPA.

Some of the feedstocks of concern include pennycress, which has a high risk for invasion, jatropha and some Miscanthus species.

Ethanol Safety Seminar Heads to Mass

There will be a free Ethanol Safety Seminar held on August 26-17, 2014 in Westfield, Massachusetts. Co-hosted by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) and Fore River Transportation Corporation there will be a session from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm on Aug. 26, followed by a 10:00 am to 3:00 pm session on Aug. 27. Certificates will be awarded to attendees at the completion of the course, although interested participants should note that registration is limited. This seminar is the last to be funded this season by a Federal Railroad Administration grant through TRANSCAER.

eerc“I’m excited. The RFA seminars offer both rail and emergency response professionals a venue to meet and plan for future events together,” said Paul Ruscio, general manager at Fore River Transportation Corp. “Rail has proven to be a safe and efficient mode of transportation for renewable fuels in the States. Being prepared for potential rail incidents by engaging responders makes good sense for us and our communities. The dialogue that ensues from these seminars creates educated teams that have the means and know-how to handle potential incidents. In my experience, a little preparation and coordination before a team faces a task usually proves beneficial.”

The Ethanol Safety Seminar was developed to give first responders, emergency management agencies, and safety personnel an in-depth look at proper training techniques needed when responding to an ethanol-related emergency. A majority of this training is based on the “Training Guide to Ethanol Emergency Response,” a training package created by the Ethanol Emergency Response Coalition (EERC) that has been distributed throughout the United States and to several countries worldwide.

The course focuses on numerous important areas of ethanol safety 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.

ACA Bio Fuel Ethanol Plant in Argentina Goes Online

The ACA Bio Cooperative Limitada (ACA Bio) dry-mill corn ethanol plant has been commissioned in Argentina. The ethanol plant is located near Villa Maria in the central province of Cordoba, Argentina. During the start-up phase, the plant met or exceeded all performance guarantees according to ICM, who designed the plant. The plant will produce both ethanol and animal feed (dried distillers grains/DDGs).

ICMlogo1Santiago Acquaroli, ACA Bio plant manager, said, “ICM fulfilled all of our expectations. They provided the engineering documents and the process equipment on time and their technical group always helped our people to complete the erection properly. During the start -up and training period, we felt very well supported. Looking back over the past two years, we can only say thank you to ICM for your help and friendship.”

The construction of the plant and equipment installation was completed in February, 2014. ICM, Inc. supplied the process equipment and components for the ethanol plant. ICM also provided on-site representation throughout the build and installation process, as well as guided ACA Bio through the startup, commissioning and training processes.

“We are thrilled to see the successful start-up and the completion of our first project in Argentina. We look forward to further developing our partnership and collaboration with ACA Bio by providing our expertise, services and process technologies to help advance their success and contribution to the advancement of the local renewable energy industry,” said Dave VanderGriend, CEO of ICM, Inc.

Julian Echazarreta, ACA deputy general manager, added, “If any company comes to Argentina trying to be successful in this type of project, it must have the spirit of full collaboration with their customer like ICM had. Many times ICM went further than the scope required and we appreciate it a lot. Since the beginning we realize that we have in ICM a dependable partner and for this reason we will continue doing business with them.”

Sierra Magazine Releases 2014 Coolest Schools

The “Coolest Schools” in America rankings are out and the top school is University of California, Irvine. Compiled annually by Sierra Club, the rankings focus on America’s greenest colleges. The ranking universities displayed a deep and Dickinson College Studentsthorough commitment to protecting the environment, addressing climate issues, and encouraging environmental responsibility. More than 150 schools filled out an extensive survey created in a collaboration between Sierra and the Association for Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. Using a customized scoring system, Sierra ranked the universities based on their commitment to upholding high environmental standards.

“For eight years Sierra magazine has encouraged America’s colleges and universities to fully embrace their unique and multifaceted role in tackling the climate crisis and protecting America’s air, water, public health, and beautiful places,” said Bob Sipchen, Sierra magazine’s editor in chief. “From innovative research and development to powering campuses with wind and solar, to educating students in the most advanced thinking on sustainability, colleges and universities are leaders and models for the rest of society. Sierra magazine congratulates those that made our annual ‘Coolest Schools’ list.”

Sierra magazine’s top 10 schools of 2014 are:

1. University of California, Irvine (Irvine, CA)
2. American University (Washington, DC)
3. Dickinson College (Carlisle, PA)
4. Loyola University Chicago (Chicago, IL)
5. Lewis and Clark College (Portland, OR)
6. Stanford University (Stanford, CA)
7. University of South Florida (Tampa, FL)
8. Green Mountain College (Poultney, VT)
9. University of Connecticut (Storrs, CT)
10. Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta, GA)

This is UC Irvine’s fifth consecutive year as a top 10 finalist, but its first time as the winner, thanks in part to its three on-campus solar projects, a 19-megawatt turbine cogeneration plant, and energy-efficiency goals that are consistently exceeded. Other factors that helped those at the top of our list: American University has D.C.’s largest solar array; Dickinson runs an organic farm; Stanford is divesting from coal; and USF supplies a solar charging station for electric vehicles.

“The Cool Schools ranking is yet another indication of how deeply young people understand the benefits of clean energy and of how adept they are at turning awareness into action,” said Karissa Gerhke, director of the Sierra Student Coalition. “To capitalize on this power, the Sierra Student Coalition will join with students across the country this fall to launch the Campuses for Clean Energy campaign, a transformative movement that will demand 100 percent clean energy for campuses.

Ethanol Plant Innovators

Four ethanol producers who are innovating plants through new process and product technology took the podium at the American Coalition for Ethanol conference this week to talk about what they are doing.

ace14-ronFirst up was ACE president Ron Alverson of Dakota Ethanol who talked about the importance of carbon, particularly the California Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) and how it impacts ethanol production. Alverson is a corn farmer in South Dakota and he discussed how carbon intensity ratings for corn ethanol are improving and will continue to improve down the road. Ron Alverson, Dakota Ethanol

ace14-baker-adkinsRay Baker, general manager of Adkins Energy in northwest Illinois, who talked about the new biodiesel plant they are building to co-locate with their 50 million gallon ethanol plant and use corn oil as a feedstock. “Having corn oil as your main feedstock gives you a competitive advantage,” he said.
Ray Baker, Adkins Energy

ace14-erhart-prairieMike Erhart, CEO of Prairie Horizon Agri Energy in Kansas, says he runs a biorefinery, not an ethanol plant. “I think ethanol plant is antiquated,” he said. “It’s now time that we become a biorefinery and start touting that.” Erhart also talked about why his plant is producing renewable diesel. Mike Erhart, Prairie Horizon Agri Energy

ace14-delayneDelayne Johnson, Quad County Corn Processors, has the distinction of producing the very first gallons of cellulosic ethanol, just about a month ago. He talked about his plant being the first to use Syngenta Enogen corn and efficiencies they have implemented in the production process.
Delayne Johnson, Quad County Corn Processors

27th Annual Ethanol Conference photo album

MN Gubernatorial Candidates Differ on Biofuels

mn-flagAll politics is local, and how some local and regional elections this year could help determine the fate of biodiesel and ethanol for a much larger area. Case in point, this article from the St. Cloud (MN) Times looks at how the four Republicans vying for their party’s nomination to take on current Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton in November have differing views on biofuels as they go into the August 12 Republican primary in that state.

A Marshall resident and former state representative, [Marty] Siefert said the state has created thousands of jobs, and the state should not change the requirement that gasoline include 10 percent ethanol.

“I see this as the status quo for now,” he said, not jumping on a bandwagon to increase ethanol percentages.

For diesel, Seifert said, he can understand concerns about biodiesel gumming up fuel filters in cold weather. “Biodiesel mandates are not going to go up if I’m governor.”

Raised on a North Dakota farm and now a Maple Grove resident, [Kurt] Zellers said he wants to look into increasing the ethanol mandate to 15 percent but needs more information before fully supporting it.

At minimum, he said, he wants to keep existing mandates in place.

[Jeff] Johnson, who grew up in Detroit Lakes and lives in Plymouth, said he favors eliminating mandates from state law, including those affecting biofuels.

However, he added, he has been around government enough to know that the mandates cannot be eliminated right away.

“Government has created somewhat of a dependency,” Johnson said, adding that eliminating biofuel mandates is not a priority and that he would like to phase them out.

There is none of that waiting for [Orono businessman Scott] Honour.

“I would try to push away from mandates as quickly as possible,” Honour said. “My view is that the less government is trying to influence a free market, the better.”

So there you have it Minnesotans. Choose wisely when you go to the polls on August 12.

Report Shows Oil Companies Paid 11.7% Tax Rate

According to a new report from Taxpayers for Common Sense, oil companies paid only 11.7 percent of the U.S. income in federal taxes over the last five years. This is compared to the statutory 35 percent corporate tax rate paid by other companies.

“This is a perfect example of how the oil industry is allowed to play by a different set of rules than everyone else,” commented Jeremy Funk, communications director with the ETRcover4nonprofit organization Americans United for Change who supports choice at the pump through biofuels. “They can dodge billions of dollars in taxes, and Washington lets them get away with it. This is the same industry that is now fiercely lobbying the White House for yet another special interest favor: gutting the Renewable Fuel Standard and allowing more foreign oil into the U.S. gasoline supply at the expense of cleaner, cheaper renewable fuels made in America. Isn’t the system rigged enough in Big Oil’s favor without Washington helping them become a monopoly at the pump, too?”

The country is still waiting the final rules from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for the 2014 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFs) that if passed as proposed, would reduce the amount of domestically produced biofuels at the pump while increase foreign oil. Funk points out that gasoline costs more than renewable fuels such as ethanol, and the EPA proposal would cost Americans millions of dollars at the pump, ‘killing’ American jobs. Funk also said that because the EPA proposal effectively allows oil companies to block access to the marketplace by refusing to install fueling infrastructure for renewable fuels, it will be particularly devastating to America’s emerging advanced biofuel industry.

To achieve such a low current tax rate, oil companies were able to take advantage of special tax breaks and loopholes that allowed them to defer more than $17 billion in taxes they would have otherwise owed, explained Funk. One “small” oil company, Apache, earned $6 billion in profits between 2009 and 2013 but deferred its entire tax bill. Not only did the company avoid paying any taxes, but it actually reaped a tax benefit worth $220 million according to Funk.

The report concludes with a damning indictment of the oil industry’s deceitful rhetoric about its tax obligations:

“Oil and gas companies may pay a lot in income taxes, but it is not to the U.S. government. Indeed, the “current” federal income tax rate of some of the largest oil and gas companies – the amount they actually paid during the last five years – was 11.7 percent. The “smaller” companies included in the study which reported positive earnings only paid 3.7 percent. Many of the tax provisions available to the oil industry are not available to other taxpayers, giving these companies a significant tax advantage. The language the industry uses gives the impression that it pays a high federal income tax rate. The American Petroleum Institute cites an industry-wide effective tax rate of 44.3 percent. In reality, the amount oil and gas companies pay in federal income tax is considerably less than the statutory rate of 35 percent, thanks to the convoluted system of tax provisions allowing them to avoid and defer federal income taxes.”

Minnesota Gov Mark Dayton Kicks Off 27th ACE Conf

Minnesota Gov Mark DaytonThe 27th Annual Ethanol Conference kicked off last night with some brief remarks from Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton. The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) annual event, taking place at the Depot Renaissance Hotel, began with hundreds of ethanol advocates who heard from Governor Dayton that he appreciated ethanol producers, “for what you are doing,” to boost the nation’s energy independence, lower gas prices, and clean the environment.

Governor Dayton noted that ethanol enjoys overwhelming bi-partisan support in the Minnesota legislature “because we know it is good for Minnesota and the nation”. He noted that Minnesota is the nation’s fourth largest ethanol producing state and there is support for higher blends of ethanol, such as E15 and E85. He also advocated that every vehicle should be a flexible fuel vehicle (FFV), capable of burning higher blends of ethanol so consumers can have a choice at the pump.

Check out the 27th Annual Ethanol Conference photo album.

Ethanol Safety Seminars Head to Alabama & Kansas

The Ethanol Safety Seminars are heading to Alabama and Kansas. The first seminar will be held August 7, 2014 at the Alabama Fire College in Tuscaloosa and is co-hosted by Alabama Southern Railroad and the second seminar will be held on August 8, 2014 at Doster Community Center in Prattville and is co-hosted by Autauga Northern Railroad. Tuscaloosa is hosting two sessions: from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm and 5:30 pm to 10:00 pm.
Seminars are free, but registration is limited. Lunch and dinner will be provided. Certificates will be awarded to attendees at the completion of the course.

The Ethanol Safety Seminars then head to Kansas. The first seminar is August 11–12, 2104 at the Overland Park Fire Training Center near Kansas City co-hosted by the Missouri & Northern Arkansas Railroad with sessions from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm. The next seminar is August 13, 2014 at the Webster Conference Center in Salina, followed by the final seminar on August 14, 2104 at Pratt Community College near Wichita. Both will be co-hosted by Kansas & Oklahoma Railroad and both will have morning sessions (9 am- 2pm) and evening sessions (5 pm- 10 pm).

Ethanol Safety Seminar LogoAll seminars are funded by a Federal Railroad Administration grant through TRANSCAER. RFA has been a TRANSCAER member since 2007.

The goal of these seminars is for attendees to gain full ethanol emergency response training experience that they can put to use immediately in the field as well as pass along to other first response teams. A majority of this training is based on the “Training Guide to Ethanol Emergency Response,” a training package created by the Ethanol Emergency Response Coalition (EERC) that has been distributed throughout the United States and to several countries worldwide.

“Rail has proven itself to be one of the safest modes of transportation for hazardous materials over the years,” said Jimmy Patterson, general manager at Kansas & Oklahoma Railroad. “We must be mindful of possible risks, however, and be ready to respond should an incident occur. The Ethanol Safety Seminars provide emergency responders with the training they need to effectively react to a sudden event.”

Attendees will receive in-depth information on proper training techniques that first responders and hazmat personnel need to effectively respond to an ethanol-related emergency. While primarily targeting first responders, hazmat teams, safety managers, and local emergency planning committees, it is also open to the general public.

“The public relies on the nation’s first responders to protect them during the worst of emergency events,” said Kristy Moore, RFA vice president of technical services. “With these seminars, RFA makes sure that personnel receive the training they need to tackle these safety challenges before venturing into potentially hazardous conditions.”

NRDC Report Guides Buying Sustainable Biofuels

A new report from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) looks at how federal agencies and other large commercial customers can buy sustainably produced biofuels and avoid those linked to things such as defined by NRDC as major deforestation, destroyed wildlife habitat and fouled waterways.

NRDC Sustainable Biofuels Fact SheetThe report “Biofuel Sustainability Performance Guidelines,” was commissioned by NRDC and authored by LMI as was written in response to large fuel consumers begin to pivot toward more plant-based fuel options to boost their “green” credentials and sustainability efforts while reducing their use of fossil fuels. The report is intended to help guide fuel buyers such as federal, state and municipal bulk fuel procurement officers, contractors and suppliers, and corporate sustainability officers.

“Biofuels can be a clean alternative to dirty fossil fuels, but they’re not all created equal,” said Brian Siu, senior energy policy analyst at NRDC. “Some biofuels are produced in ways that endanger precious land, wildlife and the environment. As the U.S. government and large business expand their use of biofuels, they should ensure they come from sustainable sources, and relying on the best certification systems can help them make these smart choices.”

According to NRDC, many large fuel buyers are beginning to understand the risks of poorly sourced biofuels, but are unable to determine whether their biofuels are produced sustainably. Third-party certification systems can provide this service, but vary significantly in stringency and protectiveness. The non-profit said a sound certification system should check each stage for impacts on water quality, soil, biodiversity, air quality, land use, and waste. It also should check for the social impacts on economic issues, human rights, food security, and workforce safety.

Study lead Jeremey Alcorn, senior consultant with LMI, said of the report, “NRDC offered LMI an exciting opportunity to apply our practical analytical experience to analyze established and emerging biomaterial and biofuel sustainability certification standards, and we believe that this report will fill a critical need by informing bulk biofuel procurements and enabling a better understanding of the utility of different certification programs in achieving enhanced sustainability performance.”

To help stakeholders, NRDC’s report examined seven leading programs that certify biofuel production practices for sustainability. The Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials ranked best. RSB ranked best for helping to ensure economic, environmental and social sustainability of biofuels production practices in places such as the United States, Indonesia, South America and Asia.

Navy Adds Biofuels to Fuel Shopping Cart

greenfleetbiofuels1The latest government procurement report shows the U.S. Navy has for the first time put biofuels in the mix for requests for military-specification diesel fuel and jet fuel. This story from U.S. Energy Information Agency (EIA) says the request is for the eastern and inland United States and Gulf Coast and is expected to the Rocky Mountains and West Coast later this year.

The U.S. Navy’s interest in biofuels is part of its goal to generate 50% of its energy from alternative sources by 2020: nuclear energy, electricity from renewable sources, and biofuels. The Navy currently sources about 17% of its energy supplies from renewable and nuclear sources of electricity. No biofuels are currently included in that percentage.

The Navy’s interest in biofuels is limited to those fuels that can be used as direct replacements for petroleum-based gasoline and distillate fuels, also known as drop-in biofuels. These fuels require no modification or operational changes to distribution infrastructure, aircraft, or ships. Although biodiesel blends readily with diesel fuel or jet fuel, and is compatible with most diesel engines, it is not a drop-in fuel. Certain properties limit biodiesel blends from being used in some applications: potential fuel system clogging and poor performance at low temperatures prevent its use in jet fuel for civilian or military use, and water separation problems prevent its use as a marine diesel fuel. Drop-in biofuels are available today on a limited commercial basis, and operable U.S. production capacity is about 210 million gallons per year.

Companies wanting to make a bid to offer drop-in biofuels under the current solicitation can apply to the USDA Commodity Credit Corporation for grants to offset the cost of feedstocks used to produce the biofuels. Some drop-in biofuels might also qualify for Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs).

Oily Palms

According to Americans United for Change (AUC), Iowa Republican U.S. Senate candidate Joni Ernst has attracted national attention with her stance on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) – that she is not supportive of subsidies. This before the news broke last week that the billionaire oil baron Koch brothers maxed out their contributions to Ernst’s campaign on top of the over $20,000 the Koch donor network has funneled to her campaign coffers. The new breaking news is that ExxonMobil PAC is toasting Ernst at a $1,000 a plate in Washington, D.C. this Wednesday, July 30, 2014.

In response, AUC, a pro biofuels and pro-RFS organization, is hitting the radio waves this week in Des Moines, Iowa calling on Ernst to choose a side: Iowa jobs, or Big Oil profits. However, AUC said Ernst seemed to side with the latter.

The group cites that when Ernst was pressed to take a firm stand on the RFS, Ernst stressed she’s “philosophically opposed” to farm subsidies and that she “want[s] people to choose products that work for them and not have them mandated by the United States government.” Not exactly the ringing endorsement for ethanol that Iowa rural communities may be hoping to hear, said AUC.

Jeremy Funk, Comm. Dir., Americans United for Change, which recently ran full page ads in Iowa urging Ernst to clarify her muddy RFS position, said, “There’s easy choices and there’s hard choices. For someone hoping to represent a state that leads the nation in renewable fuels production, you might think that unconditional support for the Renewable Fuel Standard and 73,000 Iowa jobs would be a no-brainer. But for some reason, it’s a hard choice for Joni Ernst.”

“Big Oil has taken notice of Ernst’s begrudging support for the RFS while remaining ‘philosophically opposed’ to it. What is a telling choice is for Ernst to welcome Big Oil’s support with open arms at a decadent Washington fundraiser this week,” continued Funk. “Big Oil lobbyists would love nothing more than to be able to say, “You see, even a Senator from Iowa thinks the RFS is unnecessary.” Big Oil would love to be able to use Ernst as a poster child in their multi-million smear campaign to drive ethanol out of business. They hate that consumers have a cheaper and cleaner option at the pump thanks to Iowa renewable fuels. They hate that every gallon sold of ethanol produced domestically means one less gallon sold of gas made from dirty crude oil from unstable regions like Iraq.”

Funk noted that the more money Ernst receives from Big Oil interest, the more reluctant her support for renewable fuels.” Ernst needs to get her priorities straight: choosing between Iowa’s economy and the special interests shouldn’t be a choice at all,” Funk concluded.