Iowa RFA “Ready to Roll” in 2015

Iowa’s renewable fuels industry is “ready to roll” in 2015 if Tuesday’s 9th Annual Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit is any indication.

iarfa-15-nixonSpeakers at the summit included Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, who represented the Governors’ Biofuels Coalition, former North Dakota Senator Byron Dorgan, and General Wesley Clark (Ret.), Chairman of Growth Energy.

iarfa-15-santorumAlso speaking was former Pennsylvania Senator and potential presidential candidate Rick Santorum who appeared over the weekend at the Iowa Freedom Summit. Santorum’s most tweeted quote from the summit was that the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) is “Pro competition, pro environment & pro American jobs.”

Addressing the state of the industry, Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) Executive Director Monte Shaw was very optimistic. “Today, I can say with absolute confidence that Iowa’s renewable fuels industry is ready to roll!,” said Shaw. “We’ve never been in a better position for the availability and diversity of feedstocks; the industry is coming off a profitable year; new markets are being developed; and new technologies are out of the lab and producing on a commercial scale. There is simply no question that this industry is ready to roll. The question is whether the President and Congress are going to allow the renewable fuels industry to “hit it,” or leave us stuck in neutral.”

The IRFA also released a study conducted by ABF Economics economist John Urbanchuk that found 2014 was a record-breaking year for the renewable fuels industry despite significant challenges. “Ethanol and biodiesel producers are part of a manufacturing sector that adds substantial value to agricultural commodities produced in Iowa,” said Urbanchuk. “The first and second-generation feedstocks used to produce renewable fuels are produced primarily by Iowa farmers, and the R&D expenditures for renewable fuels provide important support for Iowa’s universities. Combined, these activities make a significant contribution to the Iowa economy.”

The study found that the renewable fuels industry in Iowa accounts for more than $4.9 billion, or about 3.5 percent, of Iowa GDP, generates $2.5 billion of income for Iowa households; and supports more than 46,700 jobs throughout the economy.

Former USTR to Keynote Ethanol Conference

kirkFormer U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk will be the keynote speaker at the upcoming National Ethanol Conference (NEC) in Grapevine, Texas.

Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) president and CEO Bob Dinneen says it’s appropriate for Ambassador Kirk to speak at the conference with the theme of Going Global. “As we look to new horizons and expand into new markets, Mr. Kirk gives us a peek behind the curtain of world markets and trade relations,” said Dinneen. “His valuable insight will help shine a spotlight on new opportunities for American-made biofuels and co-products all across the globe.”

rfa-nec-15Ambassador Kirk was appointed by President Barack Obama as the United States Trade Representative and served from 2009 to 2013. Born and raised in Austin, Texas, Kirk has close ties to the state as he gained his undergraduate and law degrees at Austin College and the University of Texas School of Law respectively. He joined Sen. Lloyd Bentsen’s staff before rising to the position of Texas Secretary of State and eventually becoming the Mayor of Dallas.

The 20th annual NEC will take place Feb. 18–20 and Kirk is scheduled to speak at 2:45 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 19. Also at the conference, RFA’s General Counsel Ed Hubbard will moderate a panel titled “Going Global: Building Ethanol Demand Internationally.” The panel will feature Eco-Energy’s Pedro Paranhos, Lakeview Energy’s Jim Galvin, Henrique Pacini of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service’s Mike Dwyer, and ePURE’s Robert Wright.

Registration and other information about the National Ethanol Conference can be found here.

First RFS Education Ad in Des Moines

AmRenewFuture adAfter kicking off the new America’s Renewable Future campaign on Thursday last week, the first ads starting appearing in the Des Moines Register on Friday as potential Republican presidential candidates began to gather for the Iowa Freedom Summit.

“We want to send an unmistakable message to both parties about the remarkable, bipartisan success story of the Renewable Fuel Standard in creating jobs and making America more energy independent,” said Eric Branstad, Executive Director for America’s Renewable Future. “Iowa’s renewable fuel production has more than doubled under the RFS, and now supports more jobs and families than ever before. Candidates who support the RFS has always done well in Iowa, but it will be an even bigger issue in 2015 and 2016.”

The Des Moines Register ad noted the RFS supports 73,000 Iowa jobs, more than 50 ethanol biodiesel refineries across Iowa and has helped put foreign oil imports at a 20-year low. It’s call to action is a pretty straightforward message to candidates and caucus goers alike: “Don’t put Iowa out of business. Support the Renewable Fuel Stand… Take a stand.”

RFS a No-Show at Freedom Summit

freedom-summitJust days after Iowa Governor Terry Brandstad kicked off a campaign to promote the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) as a “candidate” in the 2016 presidential race, it was basically a no-show at the conservative Freedom Summit featuring many presidential hopefuls.

Asked about the RFS in an interview with the Des Moines Register on Friday, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas said he would continue his opposition to the law as “a matter of principle.”

One of the potential candidates who received some positive reviews at the summit was Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who was recently criticized by biofuels producers in his state for not joining the ranks of other Midwestern governors in support of the RFS. According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal, Walker says “he’s keeping a campaign pledge to not take a position in the debate that has pitted ethanol producers against Wisconsin’s small-engine industry, which opposes increased use of the fuel additive.”

Also attending the summit was former Texas governor Rick Perry, a long time opponent of the RFS who advocated a waiver of the law when he was governor.

Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush both skipped out on the summit which was organized by Iowa Republican Congressman Steve King. Speaking to members of the media on Saturday, Gov. Branstad said Iowa is still an important state for a presidential candidate. “This is one of the battleground states that’s going to, I think, determine who’s going to be the next president of the United States,” said Branstad. “I don’t think it’s wise to skip Iowa.” The governor also advised, “I think it would be a disadvantage in Iowa to not support the Renewable Fuel Standard,” Branstad said.

One friend of biofuels who can be counted among the potential candidates who attended the Freedom Summit is Rick Santorum, former Senator from Pennsylvania and candidate in the 2012 Republican primary. Santorum will be making a few other appearances in Iowa this week, including at the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association conference on Tuesday. He spoke at that same event in 2011.

Corn Growers: Not the Time to Cut RFS

ncga-logo-newTwo record corn crops and low prices for the grain – that’s not the time the U.S. should be cutting the amount of ethanol to be mixed into the nation’s fuel supply. That’s the message coming from the National Corn Growers Association, as the group laments the fact that altering the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) couldn’t come at a worse time.

“Corn ending stocks – the amount above and beyond current demand – are estimated at nearly 2 billion bushels this year, thanks to two back-to-back record harvests,” said NCGA President Chip Bowling, a corn farmer in Maryland. “And with corn selling at low prices, any legislative attempt to cut one of our key markets will drive prices even further below cost of production. We have a policy that works well not just for the environment and energy security – but for the rural economy. We need to support farmers, not bankrupt them.”

NCGA also shot back at an attempt in the U.S. Senate to attach an anti-ethanol amendment to the Keystone XL pipeline legislation, pointing out the many benefits ethanol brings and why it’s an important part of the fuel supply.

“Corn ethanol is better for the environment than fossil fuels and has historically lowered the cost of filling our tanks by nearly a dollar,” said NCGA Director of Public Policy Beth Elliott. “It has been proven that ethanol does not have an impact on the price of food. The Renewable Fuel Standard is working – creating clean, renewable, American-grown energy and good American jobs.”

NCGA says it wants to work with the new Congress to support the RFS.

First E15 Station Opens in South Florida

caraf-oilCaraf Oil in North Miami this week became the first retail fuel station in South Florida to offer 15% ethanol blended gasoline.

“We wanted to be the first in South Florida to offer E15 since we have had success with customers with E85,” said Edwin Flores, owner of Caraf Oil, who says they actually offer E85 at two locations in North Miami. “For drivers, it’s seamless – you can use E15 or gas if you’re driving a 2001 or newer model.”

The grand opening celebration for the new E15 pump on Wednesday featured officials from both Caraf Oil and Florida-based ProtecFuel, which managed the pump installation, as well as local dignitaries and representatives from Southeast Florida Clean Cities.

“We are excited to help introduce American-made ethanol into the fuel pool through E15 in our home state and city,” said Todd Garner, CEO of Protec. “With its higher performance at 88-octane, and environmental benefits, it just makes sense.”

“Clean Cities is all about reducing our country’s dependence on foreign oil and we’re proud that our region is one of the first in Florida to offer E15,” said Christine Heshmati, Southeast Florida Clean Cities Coordinator.

Currently, E15 is available at more than 100 stations across the nation in 15 states: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

Iowa Coalition to Promote RFS as Candidate

americas-futureIowa Governor Terry Branstad today announced a major new bi-partisan campaign called America’s Renewable Future that will promote the Renewable Fuel Standard in the 2016 Iowa Presidential caucuses.

“I’m very passionate about the Renewable Fuel Standard,” said Governor Branstad during a conference call to announce the effort. “It’s made a real difference for farm income and good jobs, reducing our dependency on foreign oil, improving the environment – so I’m really excited to see this strong, bi-partisan effort being made to educate people that come to Iowa and presidential candidates.”

America’s Renewable Future will be co-chaired by former Iowa State Representative Annette Sweeney, a Republican, and former state Lieutenant Governor Patty Judge, a Democrat, as well as Iowa renewable fuels industry leader Bill Couser.

Sweeney, who is a corn, soybean and cattle producer, says it’s important to educate lawmakers and the public about the RFS. “Once it’s explained, (they see) what a great thing renewable fuels are for this country,” she said.

Coordinating the effort will be Governor Branstad’s son Eric, a public affairs specialist and campaign operative. “We have partners coming in from all over the country and those partners have committed millions to fund this effort,” said Eric Branstad. “We are designing it to look like a presidential campaign and the RFS is our candidate.”

From now until the Iowa Caucuses, America’s Renewable Future “will wage a mulitimillion dollar, multi-platform effort” to educate presidential candidates about the benefits of the RFS and ask them to take a stand.

“It’s such a privilege to be able to be part of this grassroots organization and being able to bring these candidates to our farms and our feedlots,” said Couser, who is a livestock and crop producer and ethanol plant co-founder. “We’re very excited about meeting these candidates on a bi-partisan partnership, bringing them here and educating them.”

The group also intends to build a statewide campaign organization to educate Iowa caucus-goers in both parties about which candidates support the RFS. The campaign will include advertising, earned media, public opinion research, stakeholder engagement, digital and social media outreach.

Listen to the conference call announcing the effort here: America's Renewable Future campaign announced

Caucuses, Higher Blends, Policy All Talk of IRFA Summit

irfaThe Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) is gearing up for its big annual meeting next week just outside of Des Moines. The group says the Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit in Altoona on January 27th is free and open to the public and will feature a variety of conversations, including how energy policy might impact the 2016 Iowa caucuses and general elections, as well as discussions on higher ethanol blends and the future of energy policy in this country.

“The Iowa caucuses kick off the 2016 election cycle and we’ve already seen potential candidates swarming to Iowa,” stated IRFA Executive Director Monte Shaw. “In addition, Iowa is one of only a handful of states that will be truly ‘in play’ during the general election. We saw energy policy play a major role in Iowa’s 2014 senate race. This panel will discuss how energy policy may impact the 2016 elections.”

A panel of fuel retailers and marketers who will talk about the benefits and opportunities of offering E15 includes panelists Lance Klatt of the Minnesota Service Station & Convenience Stores Association, Jason Stauffer of STAR Energy, and Todd Garner of Protec Fuel Management:

“Each of these well-qualified panelists has years of experience with higher ethanol blends, and can provide a unique perspective on the benefits of offering E15 to 2001 and newer vehicles,” stated IRFA Managing Director Lucy Norton. “Summit attendees will not only learn a great deal about consumer choice and cracking the oil monopoly, but they’ll also learn about the benefits of using E15 from this expert panel.”

U.S. energy policy experts at the summit will include James Massie of The Alpine Group, Aaron Whitesel of DuPont, and Catharine Ransom of the Glover Park Group to discuss the future of the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), the Farm Bill, tax policy as it relates to energy, and much more.

“The 2015 Summit will have a great group of well-qualified energy experts take center stage to shine a spotlight on the RFS and other policies impacting renewable fuels,” stated Shaw. “Each one of these experts brings years of federal policy experience to the table to evaluate how the latest political changes could impact the future of US energy policy.”

More information is available here.

Retailers Expand E15 Availability

sheetzPennsylvania-based convenience store and gas station chain Sheetz has announced that 60 of its locations in North Carolina will offer 15% ethanol blended fuel (E15) by the spring of 2016.

Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis says the company has over 400 locations across Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio and North Carolina. “Sheetz is a well-known leader in the fuel retail business and their decision to offer E15 shows they are in tune with an ever changing marketplace where consumers are demanding higher performance, lower cost renewable fuels grown right here at home,” said Buis.

“This is great news for the nation’s corn farmers who have been promoting the benefits of ethanol blended fuel for more than 30 years,” said National Corn Growers Association president Chip Bowling, a farmer from Maryland. “This is a fantastic development for the rural economy and consumers who want a real choice in fuel.”

Renewable Fuels Association president and CEO Bob Dinneen notes
that the announcement comes on the heels of E15’s expansion into 15 states. “It’s invigorating to see a major North Carolina retailer like Sheetz actively decide to do what is best for their consumers by giving drivers access to additional fuel options,” said Dinneen. “Sheetz clearly sees the benefits of E15 and it is my hope that all other retailers in North Carolina will follow Sheetz’s exemplary example.”

Also, Miami-based CR Caraf Oil is opening the first E15 pump in South Florida this week, working in partnership with Protec Fuel.

Keystone Amendment Targets Corn Ethanol

An amendment to the Keystone pipeline bill would eliminate corn ethanol from the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), a move that ethanol industry groups say would set U.S. energy policy back by decades.

The amendment was offered
by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) on the premise that corn ethanol “drives up the cost of everything from gasoline to groceries.”

mess-rfs“The fact of the matter is that corn is less expensive today than when the RFS was passed in 2007,” said Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) president and CEO Bob Dinneen. “There is simply no truth to the notion that ethanol has driven up the price of food. In fact, the UN concluded that food prices are driven more by the price of energy than the cost of commodities. To that point, ethanol has been less expensive than gas for the better part of the past four years and has helped reduce consumer pain at the pump.”

“This amendment is an unnecessary solution to an imaginary problem,” Dinneen added. “If approved, it would set our nation’s energy, economic, and climate agenda back decades.”

“This amendment would eviscerate the RFS – the most successful energy policy enacted in the last 40 years,” Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis said. “If this amendment was adopted, it would embrace the status quo of our dependence on fossil fuels and foreign oil, concede we no longer are serious about reducing greenhouse gas emissions and seek to pursue a policy that would result in massive upheaval and job loss in today’s booming rural economy.”

The amendment was introduced in the Senate on Friday.

The Andersons Launches Campaign on Diveristy

TheAndersonLogoGrain, ethanol, and plant nutrient company The Andersons is emphasizing the diversity it brings to agribusiness. This news release from the Ohio-based company says its new brand campaign “And Beyond” includes a refresh to the corporate website www.andersonsinc.com and associated promotional materials.

“The ‘And Beyond’ campaign builds on the equity of the previous ‘And’ theme that we’ve had in place for about six years,” says Tom Waggoner, Vice President, Marketing and Operations Services. “This campaign provides a fresh perspective that keeps our brand moving forward. The theme highlights that The Andersons goes beyond the ordinary with our market expertise and beyond expectations in the strong relationships we form.”

With various business groups operating in 21 states across the country, the “And Beyond” campaign reflects The Andersons as a diversified, yet united, company. Although serving diversified industries, the business groups share a strong commitment to grow enduring relationships through extraordinary service, a deep knowledge of the market and a knack for finding new ways to add value as the company has done for nearly 70 years.

In addition to the ag sector businesses, The Andersons is also involved in railcar leasing, turf and cob products, and consumer retailing.

Regulators Urged to Rethink Corn Ethanol’s Carbon Value

ace logoRegulators are being urged to re-think corn ethanol’s carbon value. In a news release from the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE), the group’s President of its board of directors, Ron Alverson, reveals in a white paper how corn ethanol’s carbon footprint is decreasing, thanks to technology innovations by farmers and ethanol facilities to improve the accuracy of carbon intensity modeling for biofuels.

“ANL scientists have documented significant reductions in corn ethanol’s CI since 2008. Through updates to the Greenhouse gases Regulated Emissions and Energy use in Transportation (GREET version 2.0, 2013) model, ANL recently determined that average ethanol manufacturing energy use has decreased 25%, corn farming energy use decreased 24%, corn fertilizer and chemical use decreased by 3%, and that ethanol facilities are extracting 3% more ethanol from each bushel of corn. ANL has also updated their Land Use Change (LUC) calculations with recent data and now estimate LUC of just 7.6 grams of CI, a 75% reduction from the widely used and outdated estimate of 30 grams CI. A significant portion of this reduction resulted from soil carbon modeling which predicts soil carbon sequestration from corn,” Alverson notes in the White Paper.

“Unfortunately, low carbon fuel market regulators, such as the U.S. EPA and the California Air Resources Board, have yet to acknowledge these improvements and update their models with this new science,” continues Alverson. “Because fossil fuel CI is getting worse and corn ethanol CI is improving, failure to account for these trends unfairly penalizes biofuels in low carbon markets.”

Alverson, a farmer and founding board member of an ethanol facility in South Dakota cited new research and improved modeling by the Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory. He argues that “corn farmers have responded to market signals and rapidly adopted precision application technology to reduced fertilizer application rates,” new realities those regulators need to now consider.

Ethanol Producers Meet RFS without Final Rule

RFANewlogoThe latest data from the Environmental Protection Agency shows that ethanol producers met the 2014 statutory requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) without a final rule, according to the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA).

RFA president and CEO Bob Dinneen says RIN generation data just released by the EPA show that 2014 volume obligations expected by Congress could have easily been met, and that there was no reason for the RFS waiver proposed – and later rescinded – by EPA.

According to EPA, 14.34 billion “renewable fuel” RINs were generated in 2014, almost perfectly in line with the statutory requirement of 14.40 billion. When combined with surplus RINs carried over from previous years, total renewable fuel RIN stocks are estimated to be well over 16 billion. While some small portion of the 2014 RINs generated will be retired for exported volumes, the data clearly show that compliance with statutory volumes could have easily been achieved.

“Had the Agency just implemented the statute as written, there would have been no drama,” commented Dinneen. “As EPA and the White House finalize the 2014 rule and turn their attention to 2015 and 2016, this data sends a strong message that the U.S. ethanol industry is up to the task. We can and will deliver the volumes established in the statute, provided that EPA enforces the law as written.”

In November 2013, EPA proposed to reduce the 2014 requirement for renewable fuel from the statutory level of 14.4 billion gallons to just 13.01 billion gallons. Today’s data show that RIN generation outpaced EPA’s initial proposed volume by more than 10 percent.

Today’s data also show that RIN generation for cellulosic biofuel — long labeled by oil companies as “phantom fuels” — was nearly double the volume proposed by EPA in November 2013. The Agency proposed a cellulosic biofuel requirement of 17 million gallons, yet RIN generation finished the year at nearly 33 million.

NEC Scholarship Award Winner Announced

rfa-nec-15The Renewable Fuels Association and Renewable Fuels Foundation are proud to announce the student scholarship award winner for the 20th annual National Ethanol Conference: Going Global next month in Grapevine, Texas.

This year’s scholarship winner is Laís Thomaz of Brazil, who received her master’s degree in international relations in 2012 from San Tiago Dantas, a graduate program supported by three of Brazil’s premier universities. Her dissertation, which focused on the role of advocacy groups in the shaping of ethanol trade policies, was published as a book by Brazil’s Editora UNESP. Her research previously won the Top Ethanol Award promoted by the Brazilian Sugarcane Ethanol Industry Association (UNICA). She is currently a Ph.D. candidate and a Visiting Scholar in the Department of Government at Georgetown University.

The RFA/RFF scholarship provides students enrolled in higher education with complimentary registration at the conference, giving scholarship recipients the chance to connect with hundreds of leaders, policymakers, and experts associated with the renewable fuel industry. Only students who focus on renewable fuels in their studies and intend to pursue a career in the industry are eligible to receive the scholarship. This is the sixth consecutive year in which this scholarship has been made available to students.

Iowa Biodiesel, Ethanol Marketers Recognized

iowaag3The Iowa Department of Agriculture honors some ethanol and biodiesel marketers in the state. Mark McKinley and Galen Barker from Fuel Time in St. Ansgar and Steve Neuendorf from Farmers Win Cooperative in Fredericksburg are the 2015 winners of the Secretary’s Ethanol and Biodiesel Marketing Awards, recognizing fuel marketers who have gone above and beyond in their efforts to promote and sell renewable fuels.

“Fuel Time in St. Ansgar and Farmers Win Cooperative in Fredericksburg have made it a priority to make biodiesel and ethanol more available to Iowa drivers and promote these home-grown fuels,” [Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill] Northey said.

The Secretary’s Ethanol and Biodiesel Marketing Awards were designed to recognize businesses that market the renewable fuels they have available through creative efforts including, but not limited to: hosting special events highlighting their renewable fuels, development of creative signage, initiation of new advertisements or marketing efforts, and dramatically increase renewable fuel availability…

Fuel Time sources its ethanol from the local ethanol plant and passes the saving on to customers, and the result has been that on several occasion it offered the lowest priced fuel in the country.

The facilities at the Fuel Time station were recently remodeled and they have had a number of events promoting E15 and higher blends of ethanol at the site. In response to their aggressive promotion and competitive pricing of renewable fuels, monthly sales show that E85 sales are typically equal to or greater than E10 sales…

Farmers Win Cooperative, under Neuendorf’s leadership, has made it a priority to give customers a choice at the pump, including access to higher blends of biodiesel. Farmers Win has installed a biodiesel blender pump that in spring thru fall offers a clear #2 diesel as well as blends of 10 percent (B10), 20 percent (B20), 30 percent (B30), and 50 percent (B50). They now offer these products in Burr Oak and Fredericksburg.

The winners were announced and recognized during the Petroleum Marketers & Convenience Stores of Iowa Annual Meeting in Des Moines on Jan. 13th.