EPA Official Testifies About RFS Management

epa-mccabe-hearingEnvironmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Air and Radiation Acting Assistant Administrator Janet McCabe testified before a House oversight subcommittee today on the agency’s management of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program.

“The EPA recognizes that the delay in issuing the 2014 standards has exacerbated uncertainty in the market for both renewable fuel producers and obligated parties,” said McCabe in her prepared remarks. “Issuing rules every year has proven to be a significant implementation challenge, particularly in the last several years as cellulosic biofuels have continued to face challenges in scaling up to commercial production and the fuel pool has become saturated with E10, raising concerns about the E10 blend wall.”

Facing questioning by lawmakers about the delay and EPA’s pledge to get the standards for 2014, 2015 and 2016 released some time next year, McCabe was unable to provide any time frame when that might be accomplished. Subcommittee Chair James Lankford (R-OK) expressed his doubt EPA can get it done. “My concern is that this is going to come out November 30 of 2015 and we’ll literally have two years in a row that we will not have anything,” he said. “It cannot take that long to promulgate a rule.”

Biofuels organizations reacted to McCabe’s testimony. “While it’s important for EPA to put the annual RFS rulemaking process back on schedule, it’s much more important for the Agency to get the RFS right,” said Brian Jennings with the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE). “We look forward to working with EPA to ensure they use their authority to hold oil companies legally responsible for making cleaner and less expensive renewable fuel choices, such as E15 and E85, available to consumers as they issue the final 2014 rule, and RFS proposals for 2015 and 2016.”

Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis also stressed the importance of EPA getting the methodology right. “The EPA’s proposed rule was flawed from the beginning. There was no way the methodology in the proposed rule would ever work, as it went against the very purpose and policy goals of the RFS,” said Buis. “Hopefully, the EPA can get back on track, establish certainty among stakeholders and implement the RFS as it was originally envisioned.”

Click here to watch the hearing.

Biofuels Can Help Cut Global Transport GHG Emissions

GRFA1As nations are meeting in Peru for the COP 2014 global conference on climate change, the Global Renewable Fuels Alliance (GRFA) stressed that biofuels, like ethanol, are one of the most commercially viable methods to reduce transport fuel greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

“Nearly a third of global GHGs come from the transportation sector, those GHGs need to be a priority if we are going to make a significant contribution to combating climate change. Biofuels must be an integral part of that fight,” said GRFA spokesperson Bliss Baker.

Since biofuels such as ethanol are proven to reduce harmful GHGs from 40% to 90% compared to fossil fuels around the world, Baker says GRFA believes that policies adopted at COP 2014 must include the increased use of biofuels.

Earlier this year the GRFA forecasted that 2014 global ethanol production would reach 90.38 billion litres and its use worldwide would reduce GHG emissions by over 106 million tonnes globally. (S&T)2 Consultants Inc., an internationally renowned energy and environmental consulting firm, in partnership with the GRFA produced data which showed that these GHG reductions are equal to removing over 21 million cars off the road annually.

“106 million tonnes is a substantial GHG savings, it’s the same as removing the annual emissions from 14 average-sized coal-fired power plants. However, as the IEA has prescribed recently, more biofuels are needed to further reduce the emissions from the global transport sector,” said Baker.

E15 Ordinance Passes Chicago Council Committee

chicago-e15The Windy City moved another step closer to cleaner air with 15% ethanol as the City Council Finance Committee passed the Chicago Clean with E15 Ordinance on Monday. The ordinance would make E15 available as an option to Chicago drivers, and now moves to the full City Council for a hearing on Wednesday.

“I look forward to the full Council vote, and to giving Chicagoans a cleaner, less expensive option,” said co-sponsor Alderman Anthony Beale.

Supporters of the bill delivered a petition with 7,673 signatures to the committee meeting on Monday. “I’m very pleased this ordinance has such strong support within the Council and across Chicago,” Beale added.

Among the organizations supporting the ordinance are the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE), Growth Energy, and the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA). “The city of Chicago has always been a leader when it comes to fuel. It was the first city in the United States to ban lead in gasoline, the first to choose ethanol over MTBE in reformulated gas, and this ordinance would make Chicago the first major city to guarantee drivers the choice of a lower cost, higher octane, clean E15 fuel,” said ACE Senior Vice President Ron Lamberty.

Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis noted that approval of the ordinance will provide choice for consumers and jobs for the state. “(T)hey have displayed their resolve to ensure that Chicago motorists and other consumers have market access to a sustainable, cleaner burning, less expensive homegrown fuel that supports 73,156 Illinois jobs and generates $4.7 billion for the state’s economy,” said Buis. “By moving to E15, Chicago can help create an additional 12,000 Illinois jobs that can’t be outsourced.”

The ordinance would require all filling stations in the city to provide dispensing pumps and offer mid-grade E15 for sale, with a phase-in period of nearly a year and an exemption for filling stations selling less than 850,000 gallons of fuel per year.

RFA Wants California to Consider New ILUC Report

RFANewlogoThe Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) is urging the California Air Resource Board (CARB) to adjust its current indirect land use change (ILUC) analysis to better reflect real-world land use patterns.

In written comments submitted on Friday, RFA’s Senior Vice President Geoff Cooper pointed to the recent study released by Iowa State University’s Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) raising concerns about CARB’s current ILUC predictions. Cooper called on CARB to “take into account the new CARD/ISU research and use it to immediately re-calibrate” the agency’s ILUC model.

Cooper calls the study a “remarkably important—and potentially gamechanging—contribution to the debate over ILUC modeling” which used empirical data to conclude that “…the primary land use change response of the world’s farmers in the last 10 years has been to use available land resources more efficiently rather than to expand the amount of land brought into production.”

RFA’s comments urged CARB to calibrate its ILUC model using the new CARD/ISU analysis as a guide before sending the proposed rule for Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) re-adoption to the Board for consideration. If adjustments are unable to be made before the final proposal is submitted, RFA calls on CARB to “…delay proposing new ILUC factors until such time as the calibration is completed and new ILUC results are generated.”

Read more from RFA here.

Quad County’s Delayne Johnson Featured on Car Clinic

Bobby Likis Car ClinicThe first cellulosic ethanol plant to go online in the U.S., Quad County Corn Processors, is being featured in an upcoming “Bobby Likis Car Clinic” program. Quad County CEO Delayne Johnson will be live on air this Saturday, December 6, 2014 at 11:25 am Eastern at WatchBobbyLive.com.

During the interview, Johnson will shine light on many renewable fuels related topics including a deeper look into the differences between cellulosic vs. conventional ethanol, the many benefits ethanol offers and what is in store for the future of cellulosic ethanol.

tN_112580_delayneJohnson expands on the benefits of cellulosic ethanol, “Quad County Corn Processors is proud to be one of the first companies out of the gate to produce cellulosic ethanol. The ethanol produced at our facility is reducing greenhouse gas emissions and helping lower America’s dependence on foreign oil. I am excited to join Bobby Likis to explain to listeners how cellulosic ethanol is made and the benefits of next-generation biofuels.”

Likis adds, “On Car Clinic globalcasts, I’m committed to expand listeners’ and viewers’ knowledge base beyond ‘the rumor mill’ so often associated with renewable fuels. Delayne will clear the air about how, specifically, cellulosic ethanol production is accelerating solutions on many levels.”

E15 Debuts in Sunshine State

Some drivers in the Sunshine State will now have access to 15% ethanol fuel (E15), approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for use in vehicles 2001 and newer.

protecfuel1In partnership with Protec Fuel, retail stations in Ft. Myers and Sarasota operated by Mid-State Energy are holding kickoff events with substantial discounts on E15 and E85 fuel today to celebrate the new fuel choice for consumers.

Florida-based Protec Fuel helped manage the ethanol blends installation and provide fuel for the locations. “We are proud to help introduce American-made ethanol into the fuel pool through E15 in Florida, especially as it’s a higher performance fuel at 88-octane,” said Protec vice president of business development Steve Walk. “It’s so convenient for drivers to make a difference – you can use E15 interchangeably with gas if you’re driving a 2001 or newer model.”

The Renewable Fuels Association has been working with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services for more than two years to overcome regulatory barriers that hindered the sale of E15 in Florida. “It is exciting to see E15 continue its expansion to the East Coast and it is my hope that additional states in the South and East that don’t currently offer E15 will follow Florida’s example and begin offering low-cost E15 to their consumers,” said RFA vice president of industry relations Robert White.

The Tampa Bay Clean Cities Coalition is pleased to see the expansion of bio-based fuels in the region. “These fuels can provide a renewable and cleaner fuel option for us now with virtually no additional investment in vehicle modification or infrastructure,” said coordinator Steven Reich. “I hope that more retailers will take advantage of the availability of these fuels in their product mix.” Clean Cities coalitions throughout the nation are charged with reducing the nation’s petroleum usage by the U.S. DOE.

Dairy Waste-to-Fuel Digesters Open Cal Fuel Options

dairycaresRenewable energy production in California is getting another boost as dairy biogas digester development is turning waste into fuel. This article from Dairy Cares says the development of the waste-to-fuel converters is being helped by new programs, incentives and partnerships.

The California Department of Food and Agriculture recently announced the creation of a new Dairy Digester Research and Development Program, an important front-end boost for expanding the number of dairy digesters. With funding from the state’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (cap-and-trade program), $11.1 million in competitive grants will be awarded for the construction of new dairy digester projects in California. These grants can provide up to 50 percent of the total cost of a new project, with a $3 million grant cap. An additional $500,000 will be made available for research and demonstration projects that improve the economic performance of dairy digesters in California.

Another key to achieving economic viability of dairy digesters is the price paid for green, renewable electricity generated on the farm. Today’s dairy bioenergy market is new and underdeveloped. However, 2015 should see significant market maturation for dairy bioenergy with the expected full implementation of the California Public Utilities Commission’s bioenergy feed-in tariff mandated by SB 1122. This law requires that California’s three large investor owned utilities collectively procure 90 megawatts of bioenergy from dairy and other agricultural sources.

The article goes on to point out that national partnerships with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and new opportunities on the horizon should make the California dairy community “optimistic about the potential to develop more cost-effective, environmentally friendly dairy digesters to our state.”

Clark to Discuss Ethanol at IA Renewable Fuels Summit

IowaRFAlogoThe Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) is bringing retired Four-Star General and former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Wesley Clark to its next big conference. The group says Clark will talk about ethanol and energy security during the at the 9th Annual Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit and Trade Show on January 27, 2015 at Prairie Meadows near Des Moines.

“The IRFA is excited to have retired Four-Star General Wesley Clark address the Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit to provide attendees with a unique perspective on biofuels and their impacts on national security,” stated IRFA President Steve Bleyl. “With discussion over renewable fuels policy at fever-pitch, the 2015 Summit will be a great place to hear the latest and greatest on the future of renewable fuels.”

The meeting is free to the public. More information and registration are available here.

Oregon Ethanol Producers to Get Safety Seminars

RFA-logo-13Ethanol producers in Oregon will be getting some safety help. The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) is co-hosting free safety seminars Dec. 10–12 at the Portland Fire and Rescue Training Center in Portland, Oregon. The training is aimed toward first responders, hazmat teams, safety managers, and local emergency planning committees, as well as being open to the general public.

The goal of this seminar is for attendees to gain full ethanol emergency response training experience that they can put to use immediately in the field and 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.

“The Office of State Fire Marshal is pleased to offer the Ethanol Safety Seminar, funded through the Hazardous Material Emergency Preparedness grant,” said Sue Otjen of Oregon’s State Emergency Response Commission. “This training will provide first responders with the knowledge and resources needed to be prepared to safely respond to ethanol and other fuel related incidents in their community.”

“2014 has been a very successful year for the RFA and its partners in educating and training communities across the nation on swift and efficient responses to ethanol emergencies,” said Kristy Moore, vice president of technical services at RFA. “We are proud to continue this indispensable program in Portland as the year comes to a close.”

To register and for more information, click here.

Group Debunks ‘Food-vs-Fuel’ and Other RFS Myths

As we wait (and wait and wait and wait) for the U.S Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) decision regarding the amount of ethanol and biodiesel to be mixed into the nation’s fuel supply, one group is taking the time to debunk some myths that might be giving the EPA a reason to hesitate. Media Matters has issued a report debunking the “food-versus-fuel” myth, along with several possible Renewable Fuel Standard-stopping myths.

MYTH: Renewable Fuel Standards Raise Food Prices…

FACT: Ethanol Production Does Not Divert Food Or Raise Prices

CBO Report: RFS Will Not Significantly Alter Food Prices. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analyzed how the RFS will impact the economy beyond 2014 and determined that it will have no significant impact on food prices. The CBO also stated that if the standards were increased to meet the initially proposed requirements by 2017, it would result in increased spending on food by just one-quarter of 1 percent…

MYTH: Ethanol Will Harm Your Vehicle…

FACT: Rigorous Studies Show That Ethanol Does Not Harm Engines

DOE: Industry-Funded Study Claiming Ethanol Hurts Engines Is “Significantly Flawed.” Patrick B. Davis, the manager of the Department of Energy’s Vehicle Technologies Program, published an article critiquing the CRC study that found E15 and E20 (a gasoline blend with 20 percent ethanol) hurt auto engines. The DOE concluded that the study was “significantly flawed” because it did not establish a proper control group and that it cherry-picked vehicles “already known to have durability issues”

The report also presents plenty more facts debunking myths about how ethanol is supposed to actually be bad for the environment and how biofuels are heavily subsidized, among others.

NEC Agenda Available

rfa-nec-15The agenda for the 20th Annual National Ethanol Conference (NEC) is now available.

The theme for the 2014 conference, which will be held February 18-20 in Grapevine, Texas is “Gowing Global” with a focus on the export markets that are critical to the future growth and financial health of the ethanol industry.

Among the program highlights:

• Going Global: Building Ethanol Demand Internationally
• RFS and LCFS: Driving Demand or Stuck in Neutral?
• Advanced Ethanol Industry Breaks Through; Now What?
• Global Energy Market Outlook
• Global Grain Market Outlook
• The Road Ahead for Higher Blends
• How Rail Safety and Congestion are Impacting the Marketplace

As always, the agenda also includes the annual State of the Industry address by Renewable Fuels Association president and CEO Bob Dinneen, as well as the popular Washington Insiders Panel.

Early registration prior to January 30 saves $100 for both RFA members and non-members.

Supporters Petition Chicago for E15 Ordinance

chicago-e15The Chicago City Council is on the verge of passing the “Chicago Clean Air Choice Ordinance,” which was proposed by city aldermen earlier this year, but the oil industry is fighting it.

The ordinance allows city drivers to choose 15% ethanol at the pump. The original ordinance was introduced last summer, while the enhanced ordinance includes an exemption for filling stations selling less than 850,000 gallons of fuel per year and provides a phase-in period of nearly a year.

The law would require all filling stations in the city to provide dispensing pumps and offer mid-grade E15 for sale. The proposal offers as justification the fact that Chicago is dedicated to reducing fuel costs, that ethanol is a renewable domestic fuel that burns cleaner than gasoline, E15 is approved for use in model year 2001 and newer vehicles and is less expensive than gasoline, “with expected savings between 5 and 15 cents per gallon.”

In addition, the ordinance points out that “Illinois is the third largest ethanol producing state in the nation, with 14 ethanol plants that can produce 1.5 billion gallons of ethanol per year.”

With oil companies working against passage of the ordinance, supporters have started a petition drive to allow ethanol proponents to voice their opinions to the city council. Over 4,000 from around the country have already signed on and many have left messages to state their reasons.

“Big Oil has arrived on the scene and is ready to spend whatever it takes to keep this legislation from seeing the light of day,” says Gene Griffith, CEO of Patriot Renewable Fuels, one of the 14 ethanol plants in Illinois. He is urging supporters to sign the petition in support of the ordinance.

Brazilian Ethanol Producers Praise EPA Delay

unica1International ethanol interests are weighing in on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) decision to delay finalizing 2014 volume standards under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) until next year. Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA) President Elizabeth Farina is glad to see the EPA step back from proposed advanced biofuel targets, a large portion of that fulfilled by sugarcane ethanol.

“In 2013, 15 percent of America’s advanced biofuels – 435 million gallons – came from Brazil, delivering at least a 50 percent reduction in emissions compared to gasoline. Slashing the 2014 renewable fuels standard target would have fundamentally threatened both America’s supply of low-carbon fuel and the Obama Administration’s emissions reduction goals.

The Brazilian sugarcane ethanol industry has collaboratively worked with the U.S. to lower emissions through the RFS for over seven years, and while we’re relieved this decision doesn’t roll back environmental gains made over that time, EPA has missed a golden opportunity to increase the volume of cleaner fuel flowing to American drivers.”

Farina went on to say she still encourages the EPA to publish the 2015 RFS targets as soon as possible so advanced biofuel producers have clarity on production targets before the season starts.

Iowans Weigh in on EPA’s RFS Delay

With Iowa being one of the nation’s leaders in ethanol and biodiesel production, it’s no wonder state officials and industry groups joined the national chorus weighing in the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) decision to once again delay a final decision on the 2014 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) until next year.

Northey, 2014Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey said while he’s glad the EPA seems to be responding to public sentiment against what was proposed, he’s also worried about the uncertainty the renewable fuels industry in the state face:

“The past year has been an exciting time in the renewable fuels industry with the first commercial scale cellulosic ethanol plants coming online. However, we have missed opportunities for even more growth in the industry due to the uncertainty created by EPA’s initial RFS proposal. Hopefully the withdrawal of this rule signals a larger change in course within EPA where they will be less adversarial and more responsive to the concerns of rural America.”

Grant Kimberley, executive director of the Iowa Biodiesel Board, is also optimistic the delay means the proposal will be revised more favorably to his group’s fuel, he shares Northey’s concerns over uncertainty:

GrantKimberley“An increased RVO for biomass-based diesel would mean good news for Iowa, the number one biodiesel-producing state. Uncertainty has hurt the biodiesel industry and created a ripple effect through the farming community, major ag suppliers and equipment companies. But the EPA has the chance to reverse this.

“The Proposed Rule as it stood would have taken biodiesel backwards from the volumes produced in 2013. The Administration has a chance to make it right by finalizing a 2014 rule that sets the Renewable Fuel Standard’s biomass-based diesel volumes at or above the nearly 1.8 billion gallons consumed in 2013. We also urge them to fix the RVO process so we don’t have to face this disruptive uncertainty every year. We need to put biodiesel back on the course of diversifying America’s fuel supply, supporting green jobs and boosting economic development.”

Hear Biofuels Reps Talk About RFS Delay

epa-150Biofuels industry representatives spent Friday afternoon fielding calls from reporters to comment on the Environmental Protection Agency decision to put off finalizing 2014 volume standards under the Renewable Fuel Standard program until next year.

Domestic Fuel caught up with four of the industry groups, starting with Bob Dinneen with the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), already posted previously.

Listen to the interviews below:

American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE)Interview with ACE Executive Vice President Brian Jennings

Growth Energy
Interview with Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis

National Biodiesel Board (NBB)Interview with NBB Vice President of Federal Affairs Anne Steckel

On Monday, biofuels industry leaders will hold briefings for Capitol Hill staff and the media to discuss the implications of the decision and where we go from here. The Fuels America briefing will feature Buis, Dinneen, Advanced Ethanol Council (AEC) Executive Director Brooke Coleman, and Brent Erickson with the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO).