Biofuels and Wind Waiting on Action

Environmental Protection Agency administrator Gina McCarthy said earlier this year that they planned to issue a final rule on the proposed volume requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) in “late spring or early summer” but spring is gone and summer is here and there’s been no word yet.

grassley-headSenator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) said last week that he thought the decision was delayed now until fall. “The fact that they’ve delayed it is a little bit of good news,” he said during an interview on June 19. “The bad aspect of it is that it retards investment in ethanol … and it doesn’t just effect ethanol but biodiesel too.” Grassley said he really doesn’t know when the EPA will announce the final rule, although he does believe it will be better than the proposal released in November. “I don’t think they’ll be that bad, but whatever is less than present law is going to be bad anyway, maybe just less bad.”

Meanwhile, Grassley says the wind energy industry, which is huge in Iowa, is still waiting on Congressional action to extend tax credits. “As a father of the wind energy tax credit, I want to get it renewed,” he said. “It’s part of a package of 53 renewals that have to be passed by the Senate and it’s up to Reid when he brings it up … we don’t get any indication from him on it.” Grassley says he will continue to push to make that happen.

CBO Releases RFS Report

The Congressional Budget Office has released a new report, “Renewable Fuel Standard: Issues for 2014 and Beyond“. The evaluates how much the supply of various types of renewable fuels would have to increase over the next several years to comply with the CBO RFS report June 2014Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has yet to finalize its 2014 proposed rule, that if finalized based on initial numbers, would set the growth of biofuels backwards. The report also examines how other issues, such as fuel prices and emissions would vary by 2017, under three RFS scenarios:

  • The EISA volumes scenario, in which fuel suppliers would have to meet the total requirement for renewable fuels, the requirement for advanced biofuels, and the cap on corn ethanol that are stated in EISA for 2017—but not the requirement for cellulosic biofuels, because the capacity to produce enough of those fuels is unlikely to exist by 2017;
  • The 2014 volumes scenario, in which the EPA—which has some discretion to modify the mandates of EISA—would keep the RFS requirements for the next several years at the same amounts it has proposed for 2014; and
  • The repeal scenario, in which lawmakers would immediately abolish the RFS.

The report finds that food prices would be similar in all scenarios, including the dismantling of the RFS. However, the report finds that advanced biofuels must increase substantially to meet requirements, and that the increased use of all biofuels would increase the price of fuel at the pump.

In response to the report, Brooke Coleman, executive director of the Advanced Ethanol Council (AEC) noted that the report fails to take into account basic realities when it comes to assessing the program.

“Some reports are simply not worth reading, and this is one of them. You cannot assess the impacts of the RFS without looking at the benefits of reducing consumer demand for gasoline and diesel fuel,” said Caeclogooleman. “That’s the entire point of the RFS and the CBO simply states that ‘it did not account for that effect in this analysis.’ To put that omission in perspective, an oil economist recently concluded that the RFS saved motorists at least hundreds of billions of dollars in 2013 by adding the equivalent of an additional OPEC country to U.S. gasoline supplies during times of extreme tightness between supply and demand.”

“Whatever the savings are, an analysis of a foreign oil displacement program that does not look at the benefits of displacing foreign oil demand should be dismissed out of hand. The gas price claims are really strange as well,” continued Coleman. “A cornerstone assumption in the report has RFS-RIN prices so high that gasoline retailers could give renewable fuel blends away for free and still make a profit. Needless to say, this is never going to happen. CBO reports are supposed to be impartial and objective, and therefore informative.”

Coleman concluded, “This particular report appears to detail a fantasy world that does not inform the current debate.”

Ethanol Boat Races Ride Into Garnett

Love to race? Love to boat? Then consider attending the Garnett Ethanol Hydroplane Shootout in Garnett, Kansas July 12-13, 2014. The competition, sponsored by the National Boat Racing Association (NBRA, pits drivers of hydroplanes and roundabouts against each other. The race is sponsored by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), East Kansas Agri-Energy, and the Kansas Corn Commission. Admission is free and earplugs or noise reducing devices are suggested.

rfa-nbra-3The NBRA, host of the event and representing more than 250 drivers in 30 states, has a long history of using E10. They broke speed records on the high-octane ethanol blend. According to Vernon Barfield, tech chairman and vice president of the NBRA, he has had no issues using E10 in their more than 20 years of racing. He has also won more than 35 national championships.

“The Garnett Ethanol Hydroplane Shootout is a popular, family-friendly event where people of all ages can enjoy high-stakes action while learning about the environmental benefits and high-octane power boost of ethanol-blended fuel,” said Robert White, RFA’s director of market development. “There is a lot of misinformation out there about ethanol’s impact on boats, but E10 is safe and approved for use in all marine engines. The Lake Garnett event gives us an opportunity to educate boat owners and non-boat owners, and set the record straight.”

Jeff Oestmann, president and CEO of East Kansas Agri-Energy, touted the race as a unique opportunity to highlight the benefits of ethanol. He noted, “It is exciting to see a national organization select Garnett for this event. It allows us to further promote the benefits of ethanol, not only in marine engines, but in all engines. We are proud to be a sponsor, and look forward to the races.”

E10 (10 percent ethanol, 90 percent gasoline) is approved for use in marine engines, including two-stroke powered engines, motorboats, outboard motors, and inboard motors. However, E15 (15 percent ethanol) is not approved for use in marine engines. Boat owners should always follow the Ethanol Fuel With Pridemanufacturer’s recommendations, check the owner’s manual before filling their engine with fuel, and read labeling at the pump.

Popular names in boating have embraced the use of ethanol. The NBRA uses E10 in all two-stroke motor races. Additionally, respected names in marine motor manufacturing allow ethanol blended fuel in their engines, including Honda, Kawasaki, Mercury Marine, OMC (Johnson/Evinrude), Pleasurecraft, Tigershark (Artco), Tracker and Yamaha.

Greg Krissek, head of the Kansas Corn Commission, added, “The Garnett Ethanol Hydroplane Shootout is a great opportunity to spotlight Kansas agriculture and ethanol. We are excited to sponsor this year’s race and hope everyone will join us to cheer on the competitors.”

RFA staff will be on hand to answer questions and provide education on ethanol use in marine engines. Additionally, RFA’s “Fueled with Pride” logo will be displayed on uniforms, course buoys and flags, t-shirts sold at the races by NBRA, trophies, near refueling areas of all boats, and on signs placed throughout the viewing area.

Murphy USA Offering E15, E85 in Indianola, IA

Murphy USA is now offering E15 and E85 in Indianola, Iowa location. This station is the first one to begin selling the ethanol fuel blends in Iowa, with six more locations coming online over the next few months. By the end of the summer, E15 and E85 will be available at Murphy USA locations in Clinton, Davenport, Fort Dodge, Mason City, Newton, and Sioux City, Iowa. Murphy USA made a major announcement several months ago that it would begin offering E15 and higher level ethanol blends to consumers at its retail stations throughout the country.

logo-murphy-usa“We are very proud Murphy USA chose to expand its offerings of cleaner-burning ethanol blends in Iowa,” said Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) Managing Director Lucy Norton. “There is strong collaboration in Iowa for servicing the E15 market, making it an ideal place to offer E15 at multiple locations. When the conversion is complete, motorists in seven large Iowa cities will have easy access to lower-cost, more locally-produced ethanol blends.”

In accordance with summertime fuel regulations, E15 will only be sold to flex-fuel vehicles throughout the summer driving season at Murphy USA locations. In mid-September, E15 will be available to all consumers driving 2001 and or newer vehicle. In addition, Iowa motorists will soon have greater access to biodiesel at Murphy USA’s Clinton, Davenport, Fort Dodge, Mason City, and Sioux City locations.

“We’re happy to see a major retailer like Murphy USA move their E15 and E85 efforts into Iowa,” added Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) Director of Market Development Robert White. “This should demonstrate to others that the business case for these fuels exists, and that more chains will follow Murphy USA’s lead.”

The Murphy USA Indianola fueling site is located at 1502 N. Jefferson Street. Of Murphy USA’s 1,200 stations in 23 states, the Indianola location will be the second Murphy USA station to offer E15, and the third Murphy USA station to offer E85. In addition to higher ethanol blends, Murphy USA’s Iowa locations will offer three grades of gasoline blended with 10 percent ethanol.

Iowa Sets New Record for First Quarter E85 Sales

Iowa flex-fuel drivers (FFVs) have set a new E85 record with the purchase of 2,707,231 gallons of E85 in the first quarter of 2014, according to data released by the Iowa Department of Revenue. The more than 2.7 million gallons of E85 sold is a new first quarter record, and nearly a 48 percent increase over the first quarter of 2013.

Flex Fuel Pump at Hy-Vee Mills Civic Parkway in Des Moines IA 6-16-14“As the EPA debates slashing 2014 requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), the cost-savings of ethanol-blended fuels continues to grow and Iowans are purchasing E85 at a record rate,” said Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) Executive Director Monte Shaw. “When you follow-up a record year for E85 sales in 2013 with record E85 sales in the first quarter of 2014, it’s further proof that when given the choice, consumers will choose cleaner-burning, lower-cost ethanol blends.”

Yesterday, IRFA also reported the largest wholesale price spread between E85 and regular gasoline since it began tracking prices through its Weekly Iowa E85 Wholesale Price Listing Service. On Monday, June 23, the average price of regular 87-octane gasoline without ethanol was $3.23 per gallon at the Des Moines Terminal, according to OPIS. Meanwhile, Absolute Energy, an ethanol plant in St. Ansgar, Iowa, was selling E85 for $1.64 per gallon.

“At the wholesale level, E85 is being sold for nearly half the price of regular gasoline – that’s right, it’s nearly 50 percent cheaper,” added Shaw. “With Fourth of July travel just around the corner, it will literally pay for flex-fuel vehicle owners to find E85 along their route.”

Missouri Corn: Market Instability Reinforces Need for Ethanol

With the continued turmoil in Iraq causing instability in worldwide oil markets, Missouri Corn Growers Association (MCGA) is calling for increased ethanol access in the marketplace. Ethanol is trading more than a dollar lower than conventional gasoline according to the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.

The cost savings from blending competitively priced ethanol are being kept from consumers,” said MCGA CEO Gary Marshall. “To pay upwards of $3.50 or $4 per gallon when the top five 1205379-Moil companies profited a combined 93 billion dollars is unacceptable. Drivers are sick and tired of shelling out an arm and a leg for gas – and they have every right to be.”

Missouri drivers are currently using 10 percent ethanol (E10) in most gasoline sold across the state. Recently E15 (15 percent ethanol, 85 percent gasoline) was approved for use in the state in vehicles 2001 and newer. However, noted MCGA, the fuel blendstock provided by oil refineries during summer months limits blending higher than 10 percent ethanol, keeping customers from the price benefit of higher ethanol blends.

“The refusal by oil companies and refineries to provide a quality, cost-effective fuel when consumers are facing increasing costs at the pump is an outrage,” said Marshall. “Drivers could see immediate savings from E15, yet fuel marketers’ hands are tied until the summer regulation is lifted and winter blendstock is reintroduced this fall.”

While prices at the pump have reached their highest levels since 2008, they would be even higher without the inclusion of ethanol to the country’s fuel supply said MCGA. Last year alone, U.S. ethanol production displaced an amount of gasoline refined from 462 million barrels of imported crude oil, which is equivalent to that imported annually from Venezuela and Iraq combined.

“The latest energy issues in Iraq are a stark reminder why ethanol is important. As a country, we need to be looking at a long-term energy plan and not be held hostage any time militants take over a refinery in a foreign land,” concluded Marshall.

Ethanol Safety Seminars Scheduled for Tennessee

Two Ethanol Safety Seminars will be taking place in Tennessee this June: June 25, 2014 at the Knoxville Civic Auditorium and Coliseum and June 27, 2014 at the Nashville Fire Academy. The seminars are designed for individuals who respond to ethanol-related emergencies as well as those who work at fixed-facilities and transport fuel. The free seminars RFA Ethanol Safety Seminarsare sponsored by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) and the Knoxville & Holston River Railroad and Nashville & Western Railroad.

Both seminars are free and feature a morning session from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and an evening session from 5:30 to 10 p.m. Registration is limited to the first 100 people per seminar. Lunch and dinner will be provided. Certificates from the Tennessee Fire Fighting Commission will be awarded to attendees at the completion of the course.

The goal of these seminars is for attendees to gain full ethanol emergency response training experience that they can immediately put to use 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.

“We cannot take our industry’s impressive safety record with hazardous materials for granted,” said Scott Ogle, general manager of Knoxville & Holston River Railroad. “Ethanol Safety Seminars provide emergency responders with the training they need to keep their guards up and American communities safe.”

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.

“Ethanol Safety Seminars allow the emergency response community to maintain a level of preparedness that guarantees that the cities and towns they serve receive swift and capable responses to ethanol-related incidents,” said Kristy Moore, RFA vice president of technical services. She also noted that other Safety Seminars will be taking place in other locations this summer.

E85 Found for $1.39 Less Than Gas In Iowa

For several months, the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) has been tracking wholesale E85 prices in Iowa and this week found the largest price differential since they began the E85 Price Listing Service: $1.39 per gallon less than gasoline wholesale.

Kum and Go E85 station in Stuart, IA on June 16, 2014. Price: $2.74 per gallon. Photo; Joanna Schroeder

Kum and Go E85 station in Stuart, IA on June 16, 2014. Price: $2.74 per gallon. Photo: Joanna Schroeder

On Monday, June 16, the average price of regular 87-octane gasoline without ethanol was $3.18 per gallon at the Des Moines Terminal, according to OPIS. Meanwhile, Absolute Energy, an ethanol plant in St. Ansgar, Iowa, was selling E85 for $1.79 per gallon.

“E85 is currently being sold in wholesale markets across Iowa at more than a $1.00 per gallon discount to regular gasoline, and that’s serious savings for Iowa families,” said IRFA Executive Director Monte Shaw. “With the Summer driving season in full swing and uncertainty in the Middle East keeping oil prices elevated, using ethanol is not only helping to support the state’s economy and energy security, it’s also providing Iowa families with a much needed price break at the pump.”

E85 is a fuel blend containing between 70 and 85 percent ethanol. E85 is currently sold at more than 200 fueling sites in Iowa, and can be used in all flex-fuel vehicles (FFV). Click here to see a list of all the E85 stations in Iowa. To determine if your vehicle can use E85, please check your owner’s manual, the vehicle’s fuel cap, or click here for a list of FFVs.

Ethanol Production Hits Record High

eiaU.S. ethanol production has hit a record high. This story from Reuters says it was the the sixth week in a row production rose for ethanol, which was helped by rising gasoline prices.

Ethanol production surged 28,000 barrels per day, or about 3 percent, to an average of 972,000 bpd in the week ending June 13, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Production surpassed the previous record of 963,000 bpd reached in the last week of 2011.

Despite the higher output, strong demand squeezed stocks of ethanol, which fell 572,000 barrels to 17.85 million barrels, a three-week low.

Makers of the biofuel are earning near-record profits as prices for corn, the main feedstock used in ethanol production, hovered near a four-month low.

The story goes on to say that gasoline futures have a $1-per-gallon premium over ethanol futures that makes ethanol good for fuel blenders.

American Drivers Can Save 61 Cents Choosing E85

E85 price at Kum and Go in Adel Iowa on June 16 2014

E85 price at Kum & Go in Adel, Iowa on June 16, 2014. Photo Credit: Joanna Schroeder

Fuels America wants Americans to know that as turmoil in Iraq pushes gas prices up, ethanol can save them money. In an analysis of data covering the past year from E85prices.com shows that drivers with “Flex Fuel” vehicles in the U.S. can pay an average of $0.61 less per gallon by filling up with E85, which contains up to 85 percent American ethanol.

The association notes that ethanol is a higher octane fuel that improves engine performance, and that’s why it has been added to gasoline for decades. Today it is now being blended at higher levels into the fuels used throughout professional auto racing. Prices for American-grown renewable fuels like ethanol and advanced biofuels have grown increasingly competitive thanks to America’s Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), which ensures that homegrown renewable fuels are available as an option to American consumers. In addition to saving American drivers money, the RFS has helped to support 852,000 jobs and $184.5 billion in economic output in the U.S.

The analysis of data from “E85 Prices” also revealed that drivers nationwide have at times saved as much as $0.76 per gallon at the pump over the past year by filling up on E85. And because ethanol increases the available fuel supply, it helps to drive down the price of gasoline for all drivers regardless of whether they choose a higher blend fuel like E15 or E85.

Meanwhile, violenFuels America Digital RFS adce in Iraq is driving high gas prices even higher than predicted. Fuels America notes that mere worries about oil supply issues have already helped drive world and U.S. prices to their highest levels since September. Americans could see prices for regular gasoline jump more than $0.20 per gallon over the next couple weeks as violence in Iraq continues.

Fuels America’s announcement coincides with a paid advertising campaign to highlight the consumer savings the RFS and the renewable fuels industry deliver for Americans. This week, the coalition is running digital ads that ask Americans why we should “let Big Oil pump us dry,” and call on our leaders to “invest in affordable, homegrown renewable fuels” by protecting America’s Renewable Fuel Standard.

New Biofuel Station Coming to Inwood, Iowa

A new biofuel station will soon be coming to Inwood, Iowa. Oak Street Station, when completed, will offer higher blends of ethanol and biodiesel to motorists. More specifically, the station will offer ethanol blends E10, E15, E30 and E85, as well as biodiesel blends B5 and B99.9 for independent jobbers and special use customers.

Flex Fuel pump “We’re excited to have received a ‘Fueling Our Future’ grant that will enable us to grow our business and offer unique, locally-produced, clean-burning renewable fuels to Inwood motorists,” said Oak Street Station Accountant Lisa Van Regenmorter. “This funding will allow us to put in the infrastructure to offer higher blends of renewable fuels that are not currently available in the area.”

Oak Street Station was selected to receive $125,000 in funding for the new site from Iowa Governor Terry Branstad’s “Fueling Our Future” program, administered by the Iowa Department of Transportation (IDOT) and the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS).

“We congratulate Oak Street Station on becoming a center for renewable fuels by offering some of the highest levels of ethanol and biodiesel available in Northwest Iowa,” added Iowa Renewable Fuel Association (IRFA) Managing Director Lucy Norton. “This innovative approach will keep Iowa in the forefront of the biofuels revolution and provide motorists with greater access to the cleanest, lowest-cost fuels available.”

The new fueling site will feature three ethanol blender pumps and five biodiesel fueling positions, in addition to a vehicle service center and convenience store. Construction is scheduled to begin this summer, with completion expected in January 2015.

E85, Biodiesel Vehicles Dominate EcoCAR 2

ecocar2Vehicles running on high blends of ethanol and biodiesel dominated the third year of EcoCAR 2 – a joint competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and General Motors (GM) that challenged 15 college teams to reduce fuel consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, and tailpipe emissions, while providing consumers with an acceptable vehicle to drive. A team from Ohio State University were the overall winners, engineering a 2013 Chevrolet Malibu with energy storage, electric drive and an E85 engine.

Over the course of three years, The Ohio State consistently met incremental goals that strengthened their position against the other university teams. Their series-parallel plug-in hybrid Malibu excelled at GM’s Proving Grounds in Milford, Michigan, earlier this month, where it was put through a series of strenuous technical and safety tests similar to those used for real-world production vehicles.

“The EcoCAR 2 competition has been an incredible journey and learning experience for everyone at Ohio State, and that’s what really matters – winning the top spot is just a bonus,” said Katherine Bovee from Ohio State. “We are all excited to take everything we have learned into the workplace after graduation.”

The team’s unique design achieved 50 miles per gallon gas equivalent (MPGGE), while using 315 Watt-hours per mile (Wh/mi­) of electricity. The vehicle impressed the judges with stellar numbers and even lessened the amount of criteria emissions by half, compared to the base vehicle.

A B20 biodiesel and plug-in hybrid from the University of Washington took second place, while another E85 plug-in hybrid from Penn State University placed third.

RFA Dismisses Proposed RFS Repeal

lankfordCongressman James Lankford (R-OK) this week introduced legislation called the “Phantom Fuels Elimination Act” that seeks to eliminate the so-called “corn ethanol mandate” and require domestic production of all other Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) blending requirements.

Response from the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) on the proposed legislation was dismissive.

RFANewlogo“Congressman Lankford should get his facts straight,” said RFA president and CEO Bob Dinneen. “In dropping this bill, Rep. Lankford suggests ethanol is a ‘phantom fuel.’ Wrong! There is more than enough ethanol to meet the RFS. If it didn’t exist, the oil companies wouldn’t be fighting so hard to protect their monopoly over the nation’s fuel supply.”

Dinneen added that it is incomprehensible that Rep. Lankford would say his bill is needed to reduce consumer gasoline prices. “Ethanol is the cheapest transportation fuel in the world. Ethanol today is 50–60 cents cheaper than wholesale gasoline, lowering the price at the pump,” he said. “Moreover, ethanol stretches the domestic fuel supply and reduces the amount of petroleum needed in our gasoline, ultimately lowering the cost of crude oil.”

Patriot Renewable Fuels is an Innovation Leader

Last week Patriot Renewable Fuels announced the news that the biofuels plant is making plans, and hopes to add, ICM’s Fiber Separation Technology as well as their Generation 1.5 cellulosic technology to their biorefinery facility located Annawan, Illinois. Patriot is one of the first ethanol plants in the country to adopt both technologies together. During 2014 FEW this week Gene Patriot Renewable Fuels Gene GriffithGriffith, co-founder and president of Patriot updated DomesticFuel on the project. It should be noted that this is just one of several major value-added projects Patriot has announced in less than a year making them one of, if not the most innovative ethanol plant/biorefinery in the U.S.

Griffith said they are pretty excited about the projects and after spending several months doing due-diligence on ICM’s technologies as well as other technologies, they felt that this was the right time to begin the project.

“If we get it implemented, we’ll be one of the earlier, maybe one of the earliest independent ethanol producers to this form of cellulosic ethanol, and we’re really excited about it,” said Griffith.

Griffith said being at FEW is a great networking opportunity because the the people Patriot works with are entrenched and have a lost of useful information and they are able to learn information they wouldn’t be able to generate on their own.

Last December, Patriot added another ICM platform, Select Milling Technology, and the Fiber Separation Technology builds upon this platform. “The Select Milling Technology is a separate mill that further processes the starch in the corn kernel as its ground before it goes into the fermentation process, explained Griffith. “The platforms we’re adding will be the Fiber Separation Technology which separates the fiber from the starch. Essentially, by removing the fiber from the starch, it improves our ethanol production efficiency so we get more ethanol from the corn,” explained Griffith.

Then he noted that they are able to take the fiber and do two-three things with it. One, they could add it back to the distiller’s grain (DDGs) and sell it has a high fiber form of distillers grain protein. Two, they could keep the fiber separate and sell a higher protein feed for a premium that is better for monogastric animals (such as pigs). The third option, which is what Patriot would like to do, is to ferment the fiber for additional ethanol.

Corn delivery to Patriot Renewable FuelsPresently Patriot is producing around 130 million gallons of ethanol per year and Griffith thinks they can produce another 10-12 percent ethanol production from the same kernel of corn. Griffith hopes that they can have all their permits by the end of the year and implement the two new technologies by 2015.

Griffith said many producers are doing similar things with different company’s technologies but they spent a lot of time with him learning about the technologies they implemented. He also said other producers will be watching their progress to help them decide if and when the technologies might be a good addition to their plants.

Learn more Patriot’s ethanol innovations by listening to Gene Griffith: Interview with Patriot's Gene Griffith

Check out the 2014 Fuel Ethanol Workshop photo album.

Argonne Scientists Blast EWG Corn Ethanol GHG Report

A recent Environmental Work Group corn ethanol greenhouse gas report has caused lifecycle analysis experts and economist from Argonne National Laboratory and three universities to lash out and what they call “erroneous conclusions”.

The experts isEWG report Ethanols broken promisesued a scathing 13-page response to EWG’s May report titled “Ethanol’s Broken Promise.” EWG “confused parameters” and “misunderstood” previous modeling results, according to experts from Argonne, North Carolina State University, Purdue University and University of Illinois-Chicago. “…based on an analysis of the methodology EWG used and a comparison of their results to those in the literature, from models, and from other data sets, EWG appears to have overestimated the amount of land converted for corn farming between 2008 and 2012. Second, EWG used emission factors that appear too high.”

More specifically, the experts found the following problems—among many others—with EWG’s report:

  • “EWG confused parameters in GREET with those in an economic model, the Global Trade Analysis Project (GTAP).”
  • “EWG misunderstood EPA’s GHG emissions for years 2012 and 2017.”
  • “In their report, EWG picked the EPA 2012 GHG emissions for corn ethanol and applied them to the EPA-proposed reduced volume for corn ethanol in 2014 to make the erroneous conclusion that the proposal resulted in 3 million tonnes of CO2 reduction in 2014.”
  • “…the emission factors they applied are high compared to those in other reports and studies that take into account important variations in initial and final land states.”
  • The satellite data set used by EWG is “…explicitly not designed to be used for pixel-by-pixel or localized analyses.”
  • The land use change data used by EWG is “…based on data that is decades old, reflecting wetland conversion over a much longer time horizon.”
  • The report “…overestimated wetland conversion, especially for the conversion of wetlands to corn farms.” Wetlands and grasslands conversion estimates are “…too high when compared with estimates in other studies and data sources.”

The authors also point out that EWG is stuck in the past when it comes to lifecycle analysis. They write, “Since 2009, when EPA conducted corn ethanol LUC GHG modeling…, significant efforts have been made to improve economic models and soil carbon models to better estimate biofuel LUC GHG emissions. EPA and other federal agencies should consider updating RFS LUC modeling so that up-to-date LUC results can be used for biofuel policy making.”