Iowa Lawmakers Recognized for Renewable Fuel Support

IowaRFA logoSixteen state lawmakers in Iowa are being recognized for their support of renewable fuels, such as biodiesel and ethanol. The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) PAC announced the 16 recipients of its “Champion of Renewable Fuels” awards for state legislators, recognizing their voting records and leadership in support of the green fuels.

“The IRFA PAC is proud to support these ‘Champions of Renewable Fuels’ who’ve consistently supported and led on important renewable fuels issues,” stated IRFA PAC Treasurer Walt Wendland, President and CEO of Homeland Energy Solutions. “Iowa is number one in the nation when it comes to renewable fuels production, and that doesn’t happen without great leadership and forward-thinking policies from our elected officials. These award winners have demonstrated outstanding commitment to the renewable fuels industry and have worked tirelessly to strengthen Iowa’s economy by improving opportunities for ethanol and biodiesel.”

Recipients of the 2014 Champion of Renewable Fuels awards are:

Iowa Senators
Sen. Bill Anderson SD 3
Sen. Daryl Beall SD 5
Sen. Rick Bertrand SD 7
Sen. Bill Dix SD 25
Sen. Amanda Ragan SD 27
Sen. Rob Hogg SD 33
Sen. Joe Bolkcom SD 43

Iowa Representatives
Rep. Helen Miller HD 9
Rep. Jack Drake HD 21
Rep. Dan Kelley HD 29
Rep. Josh Byrnes HD 51
Rep. Linda Upmeyer HD 54
Rep. Brian Moore HD 58
Rep. Mark Smith HD 71
Rep. Tom Sands HD 88
Rep. Jim Lykam HD 89

This is the third election cycle that the IRFA PAC has given such recognition.

The state is the nation’s leader in renewable fuels production, with 42 ethanol refineries capable of producing more than 3.8 billion gallons annually, including 2 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol production and two more cellulosic ethanol facilities currently under construction, and 12 biodiesel facilities able to crank out nearly 315 million gallons annually.

CHS Supports Cenex Tank Program to Boost E15

CHS has developed a new program to better enable some of the 1,400 Cenex branded locations across the country to meet consumer demand for E15 ethanol fuel blend. “We are excited to offer a new Cenex® Tank Program, which further demonstrates CHS leadership in renewable fuels and helps keep the Cenex brand at the forefront in meeting consumer demand for ethanol blends,” said Doug Dorfman, CHS vice president – refined fuels.

Cenex StationThe Cenex Tank Program will cover a significant portion of the cost to purchase and install an additional storage tank for the purpose of offering E15 for interested retailers. The Cenex network was one of the first to begin offering mid-level ethanol blends and according to Dorfman, the stations have seen significant increases in ethanol sales.

“Growth Energy applauds CHS Inc. and Cenex for their steadfast commitment to renewable fuels and their announcement of the Cenex Tank Program, which will better enable some of the 1,400 Cenex branded locations to meet consumer demands for E15,” said Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy in response to the news. “The new program will cover a substantial part of the cost to obtain and install an additional E15 storage tank for retailers interested in expanding their offerings.”

Buis continued, “Their decision also demonstrates the strength of consumer demand for higher ethanol blends such as E15. It proves once again that consumers will select a high performance, low cost fuel when given the choice. Cenex is clearly a leader in the marketplace and is acutely in tune with what their customers want and need. I am impressed by all that Cenex is doing for our consumers and our country. They are empowering consumers with the ability to improve our environment and increase our nation’s energy and national security, all while saving money at the pump.”

Currently, E15 is available at more than 90 stations. The locations are spread between 14 states including: Wis., S.D., Ohio, Neb., N.D., N.C., Mo., Minn., Miss., Kan., Ind., Ill., Iowa and Ariz.

Iowa Gov Blames EPA for Deere Layoffs

fps14-govIowa Governor Terry Branstad paid a visit to the 2014 Farm Progress Show Tuesday and had some harsh words for the Environmental Protection Agency, which just last week sent a final version of the 2014 volume requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard to the White House for review. He blames uncertainty created by the proposed rule for the recent layoffs at Deere and Company. “The result is the price of corn has dropped so much that farmers are not buying equipment,” he said. “What the EPA has done is not only damaging farm income, but it’s costing us jobs in farm machinery and manufacturing.” Deere announced more than 100 people will be laid off indefinitely from its plant in Ankeny and 460 people will be laid off at its tractor factory in Waterloo.

Branstad also notes that cellulosic and other advanced biofuels production is moving forward with the first gallons produced this summer by Quad county corn processors and two more plants opening soon. “I’m going to the POET grand opening of their new cellulosic ethanol plant and then we have DuPont Pioneer that’s also opening one in Nevada,” he said. “The problem is the oil companies control the distribution and they’ve done everything they can to discourage retailers from offering blender pumps and E15 because ethanol is a lot cheaper than gasoline.”

Listen to my interview with the Governor here: Interview with Iowa Governor Terry Branstad

2014 Farm Progress photo album.

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.”

No RFS = Gas Prices Decided by Foreign Chaos

With oil prices on a roller coaster because of the deteriorating situation in the Mideast, Americans United for Change stress that Americans need the EPA to stand by a secure, safe, reliable energy source the U.S. has complete control over: clean-burning, homegrown renewable fuels. Preserving the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and cheaper choices at the pump for American consumers means more stability in gas prices, even in times of instability.

The turmoil in the Middle East is continuing causing volatility in gas prices. And with Labor Day around the corner, gas prices are expected to jump just in time for drivers to hit the roads. One solution to keep gas prices lower? Ethanol. As Jeremy Funk, communications director for Americans United for Change points out, the RFS would ensure ethanol is still available for consumers to choose at the pump.

Americans United for Change logoYet again, The U.S. Environmental Agency (EPA) has just announced the final biofuel volumes of the RFS for 2014 and it seems unlikely the EPA will announced its proposed RFS volumes for 2015 by mid-November as required.

“If anything should give the EPA pause before deciding to roll back the Renewable Fuel Standard as they have proposed, it’s the bubbling turmoil in Iraq,” said Funk. “That’s why the nation can’t afford to scale back the RFS now and put all our eggs in Big Oil’s basket.”

Funk explained that the oil industry has spent millions to rig the system against the homegrown competition. Those companies’ efforts — aside from leading to higher gas prices — would move American jobs overseas, reduce air quality, and contribute to climate change. That’s why American farmers, renewable energy leaders, veterans, nonprofit organizations, and others have come together to demand protection for the RFS. And Funk said they want consumers to join the fight for the RFS and demand lower gas prices and choice at the pump.

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.

RFS Headed to OMB for Review

epaThe Environmental Protection Agency has sent its final rule on 2014 volume obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) to the White House Office of Management and Budget for review in a last step before public release. Renewable fuels groups responded to the news today.

“We’re pleased to see the process moving forward and hope the final rule will show that this Administration is standing behind our national goals for clean, domestic fuels that strengthen our economy and national security,” said National Biodiesel Board Vice President of Federal Affairs Anne Steckel. “The original EPA proposal and continued delays have severely disrupted the U.S. biodiesel industry this year. We can begin to reverse that damage with a meaningful increase in the biodiesel volume that is finalized as quickly as possible so that producers can ramp up production in a timely fashion.”

“While we have not seen the rule, we hold strong in our belief that EPA and OMB will fulfill President Obama’s commitment to biofuels as a means of greater energy independence, lower greenhouse gas emissions, and wider availability of cost-saving alternative fuels for American consumers,” said Renewable Fuels Association president and CEO Bob Dinneen. “This decision is about more than targets and gallons, it is about a rationale that places highest importance on the long term strength of this country and not the bottom line of oil companies.”

“While OMB has up to 90 days to review this rule, what is most important is the content of the final rule,” added Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis. “Ultimately, this final rule should promote the policy goals of the RFS and call for an increase in the production of renewable fuels, so we can continue to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, create jobs at home that cannot be outsourced and mitigate climate change, while we improve our environment.”

Brian Jennings, Executive Vice President of the American Coalition for Ethanol, says his members are pleased with the progress. “Anything short of that turns the keys to the RFS over to the oil companies and puts cellulosic biofuel at risk,” said Jennings. “While all stakeholders have waited a long time for the final rule, and it could take another 30 days or more for interagency review, getting the rule done right is far more important than getting it done quickly.”

Since the rule is not public yet, there is no word on whether the volume requirements were changed from the initial proposal, which reduced the amount of ethanol and kept the biodiesel requirement the same. Senator John Thune (R-SD) expects some middle ground. “I think we’ll see an upward change,” he says. “I hope it’s a significant upward change and I hope that in ’15 they look at this in a different way.”

Thune still expects it will be later in the fall before a final rule is announced. EPA received over 340,000 comments on the proposal.

Prez: Don’t Undermine the RFS

Fuels America is asking President Obama to not undermine the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) especially as it relates to the development of cellulosic ethanol. The coalition has placed a full page ad in the Martha’s Vineyard Gazette to tell the president how a proposal by his administration — if it is not fixed — will inadvertently cause investment in advanced biofuels like cellulosic ethanol to shift to China and Brazil, undermining his effort to tackle climate change.

Fuels America Marthas Vineyard RFS adThe advertisement is an open letter focusing on the achievement of a major milestone in the president’s clean energy push as commercial scale cellulosic ethanol production becomes a reality this year as four large advanced biorefineries come online in 2014. While this could be just the beginning of a new American industry, private sector investment in the technology has paused due to a proposal by the EPA to fundamentally alter its approach to implementing the RFS. If the proposal isn’t changed before it is finalized, the letter warns, that investment will likely shift to China and Brazil, depriving the President of a key accomplishment.

The ad ends, “You have always been a strong champion of advanced biofuels and we know it is not your intent to undercut investment. It’s not too late to get the final rule right, so together we can make the United States the leader in producing the cleanest fuels in the world.

USGC Lists Top 10 Markets for US Ethanol

The U.S. Grains Council (USGC) has compiled its top 10 list of potential U.S. ethanol markets for the upcoming 2014/2015 market year, starting September 1.

usgc-ethanol-mkts1

While Brazil and Canada remain the top two, the Council is assessing Japan and Korea, Latin America and Southeast Asia as potential markets for U.S. ethanol exports. In the number three spot, USGC believes Japan has the potential to import 459 million gallons of U.S. ethanol in the year ahead, which would account for 11 percent of global demand for U.S. ethanol. Seventh placed Mexico has the potential to import 236 million gallons of U.S. ethanol and the Philippines at number nine could import 90 million gallons. Those three markets combined could to represent almost 20 percent of global demand for U.S. ethanol.

Rounding out the top ten, USGC puts the United Kingdom in fourth place with nearly 305 million gallons, India and Nigeria ahead of Mexico in 5th and 6th place with 250 and 240 million gallons respectively. Australia is ranked in 8th place with 220 million gallons and the Netherlands completes the top 10 with just over 86 million.

Economist Still Opposes RFS Despite Livestock Recovery

bivi-nc-meyerDespite the fact that livestock margins have made a dramatic recovery in the past few years as availability of feed has increased and prices have decreased, a leading livestock economist still opposes the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

“We’ve thrown billions of dollars at this industry already and it ought to have to stand on its own,” said Steve Meyer, Paragon Economics, during an interview last week at an event for pork producers. “It has a place in the fuel business as an oxygenate and as an octane enhancer, it’s not going away from there.”

Meyer, who has always been an outspoken critic of U.S. energy policy, says his beef with the RFS is that it caused ethanol production to increase too much too quickly. “The trend yield on corn is up about two bushels per year. If you had grown the ethanol business at a rate equivalent to that, I wouldn’t have been able to gripe too much about it,” he said. “But it was far faster than that …. and the economic impact of that was very negative for (livestock) producers.”

However, the tide has turned dramatically to the point where demand and prices for livestock and poultry are riding high and there is almost record high feed availability with manageable prices. “We’re not going back to $2 corn and $180 bean meal but we’re at the lowest levels on costs in five years,” said Meyer. “We’re not increasing corn usage for ethanol every year like we were, it’s pretty much flat. It’ll grow a little bit but not much and we can probably keep up with that with trend yield growth on corn.”

Despite that, Meyer thinks the RFS needs to go away. “I don’t hate ethanol,” he says he tells corn producers. “I just don’t like subsidized, mandated ethanol when I’m the alternative user of the input.”

Interview with Steve Meyer, Paragon Economics

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.

ACE Elects 2014-15 Board of Directors

ACElogoThe American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) held re-elections during their 27 annual National Ethanol Conference last week. Eight current board members were re-elected to serve for the remainder of 2014 and through August of 2015:

  • Bob Sather, Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin representing ACE Ethanol, LLC
  • Chuck DeGrote, Clara City, Minnesota representing Chippewa Valley Ethanol Company
  • Steve Vander Griend, Colwich, Kansas representing ICM, Inc.
  • Ron Wetherell, Cleghorn, Iowa representing Little Sioux Corn Processors
  • Gary Marshall, Jefferson City, Missouri representing Missouri Corn Growers Association
  • Todd Sneller, Lincoln, Nebraska representing Nebraska Ethanol Board
  • Nick Sinner, Fargo, North Dakota representing Red River Valley Sugar Beet Growers
  • Merle Anderson, Climax, Minnesota representing Minnkota Power Electric Cooperative

Three individuals were nominated and elected to serve as new board directors:

  • Chris Wilson, Marshall, Missouri representing Mid-Missouri Energy, LLC
  • David Kolsrud, Brandon, South Dakota representing Badger State Ethanol
  • Greg Krissek, Wichita, Kansas representing Kansas Corn Growers Association

“The ACE board of directors is a dedicated group of active volunteers who represent the grassroots diversity of our entire membership,” said Brian Jennings, ACE Executive Vice President. “Our members are very capably represented by the passion, expertise, and experience the ACE board brings to the table and we are grateful for their support and leadership.”

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.”

Quad County to Host Grand Opening

It’s the month of celebration for cellulosic ethanol in Iowa. On Tuesday, September 9, 2014 at 11:00 am Quad County Corn Processors will be hosting a grand opening event for its new “bolt on” biorefinery that produces cellulosic ethanol from corn kernel fiber. Quad County is the site of Iowa’s first cellulosic ethanol gallons and the world’s first corn kernel fiber cellulosic ethanol, a process that was invented by Plant Engineer Travis Brotherson and patented by Quad County Corn Processors.

Quad County Corn Processors Team“After four years of research and development, financing hurdles, waiting on EPA rule clarifications and construction, we are excited to see the ACE project working and are proud to be producing the world’s first corn kernel fiber cellulosic ethanol gallons and Iowa’s first cellulosic ethanol gallons,” said Delayne Johnson, CEO of Quad County Corn Processors. “This state-of-the-art technology will create 2 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol out of the corn kernel cellulose, a feed stock that we already have on site.”

“In addition to creating 4 new full-time jobs in Galva, this process will increase our ethanol yields by six percent, increase our corn oil removal by three times and create a feed product that is much higher in protein and lower in fiber,” add Johnson. “In essence, we will create more value out of the corn bushels we already process which increases our efficiency so we can continue to be a leader in the ethanol industry.”

Confirmed speakers for the ceremony include: Bill Northey, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture; Bob Dinneen, President and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association in Washington, DC; Monte Shaw, Executive Director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association; Brian Jennings, Executive Vice-President of the American Coalition for Ethanol; and David Witherspoon, Head of Renewable Fuels for Syngenta.

The public and media are invited. Event attendees can meet by the tents on the west side of the plant which is located at 6059 159th Street. Quad County is situated two miles south of Galva at the intersection of Highways 20 and M-25. Due to limited parking and truck traffic safety, guests are asked to park in the field northwest of the plant and enter the parking area from Highway M-25.

Project Liberty to Celebrate with Grand Opening

POET-DSM’s Project LIBERTY is celebrating the ethanol plant’s production of cellulosic ethanol produced from corn stover and corn cobs during a grand opening celebration on Wednesday, September 3, 2014. The event will be held in Emmetsburg, Iowa and will showcase what POET-DMS calls a “first-of-its-kind technology that is poised to dramatically expand the world’s resources for transportation fuel”.

POET-DSM Project Liberty July 2014The Grand Opening will feature plant tours, a formal ceremony, a flyover by the ethanol-powered Vanguard Squadron, booths, music and more. The public is invited to attend and lunch will be provided.

Project LIBERTY will process 770 tons of corn cobs, leaves, husk and some stalk daily to produce 20 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol per year, later ramping up to 25 million gallons per year. Plant personnel are currently running biomass through the pretreatment process and preparing for the first gallons of ethanol. Project LIBERTY will be the flagship plant in POET-DSM Advanced Biofuels’ plan to license this technology to companies across the U.S. and around the world.

Public tours will be available from 9:00 am to 11:00 am and 1:45 pm to 4:00 pm. A grand opening ceremony will take place from 11:00 am to 12:20 pm. Lunch will be provided and visitors can also view booths and equipment from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. Location is 777 Main Street in Emmestburg, Iowa, 50536. There will be no public parking at the site. Free parking and regular shuttles will run from the Wild Rose Casino parking lot.