EPA Chief Hopes RFS Rule Coming “Soon”

epa-mccarthyEnvironmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy held a conference call with media this morning in advance of her trip to Missouri this week to talk about the proposed Waters of the United States rule, or WOTUS.

I had the last question on the press conference and took the liberty of going off topic to ask about when the final rule on the volume obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) would be released. “I’m hoping it will come out soon,” she said. Explaining about the delay in releasing the final rule, which was expected by the end of June, McCarthy said it has become clear that there is concern “not only about what the volumes of the fuels are but the way in which we are adjusting those volumes.”

McCarthy stressed that the administration “continues to have a strong commitment to biofuels” and they want to make sure the final rule “clearly reflects that interest.”

“My goal is always to make sure we get it right,” she concluded.

Listen to McCarthy answer the question here. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy on RFS rule release

Syngenta & FFA Team Up for American Ethanol 200

Syngenta is joining forces with several Iowa FFA chapters during the upcoming American Ethanol 200 presented by Enogen on Friday, July 11-12, 2014. The team will be helping to increase awareness of the benefits of American ethanol as well as raise funds to support flex-fuel availability. The funds raised by the FFA members will be matched by race-sponsor Syngenta.

Renewable fuels are an essential part of the American energy equation, benefiting American Ethanol 200 Presented by Enogenconsumers, farmers and American energy independence,” said David Witherspoon, head of Renewable Fuels at Syngenta. “Ethanol, whether from corn or other biomass sources, is an energy source for today and tomorrow driving economic growth and innovation.

According to Growth Energy, there are more than 16 million flex fuel vehicles on America’s highways today. There are also more than 2,800 E85 fueling stations across the country, with 450 having flex fuel pumps offering mid-level ethanol blends, and more than 80 locations in 14 states that offer E15. Investments in flex fuel pump infrastructure are needed to support continued growth and help to expand the market for ethanol.

Witherspoon added, “For more than 45 years, Syngenta has demonstrated its commitment to the future of agriculture through its partnership with the National FFA Organization. We are proud to be partnering with local FFA chapters in Iowa to tell the ethanol story – and to raise money to make flex fuels more widely available by investing in flex fuel pump infrastructure.”

DomesticFuel.com will be bringing readers live coverage from American Ethanol 200 presented by Enogen. This is the second year Syngenta has sponsored the race.

Railways Not Required to Report Ethanol Delays

stbA few weeks ago, the Surface Transportation Board (STB) directed Canadian Pacific Railway Company and BNSF Railway Company to report their plans to resolve the backlogs of grain car orders and to submit weekly status reports on grain car service.

However, the order failed to address rail service problems for the delivery of ethanol, and Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis has sent a letter to the STB asking why.

growth-energy-logo“With over 61 percent of all ethanol delivered by rail, it is imperative that these issues be directly addressed and given the same priority as grain shipments,” said Buis in the letter. “Earlier this year, we saw ethanol supply dwindle and prices skyrocket solely because of the inability to get rail cars to ship product – even to the point of having many plants reduce production. Ultimately, these service failures hurt the American consumer as these costs are borne in the form of higher gasoline prices, which impact every segment of the American economy.”

BNSF reported recently that they have been moving increasing volumes of grain and ethanol over the last several months and as of last month was “moving more year–to–date in 2014 than the same period in 2013.” In a statement, BNSF said they “have exceeded last year’s totals in ethanol…by 9% in latest year-to-date totals.”

The first report from the railroad companies was due to STB on June 27.

Export Exchange 2014 Registration Open

2014-export-exchangeRegistration is now open for Export Exchange 2014™, an international trade conference focused on the export of U.S. coarse grains and ethanol co-products.

Approximately 300 U.S. suppliers and agribusiness representatives and more than 180 international buyers are expected to attend Export Exchange 2014. The conference is being held Oct. 20-22 at the Sheraton Seattle Hotel and is co-sponsored by the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) and the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA).

“Export Exchange brings together a group of U.S. suppliers and international buyers in a unique event focused on the expansion of established export markets and the development of new markets for U.S. coarse grains, distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) and other ethanol co-products,” said USGC Chairman Julius Schaaf.

“Over the past decade, the U.S. ethanol industry has emerged as a major producer of high quality animal feeds like DDGS and corn gluten feed,” said Bob Dinneen, RFA president and CEO. “Export Exchange is the premier forum for connecting the producers and marketers of those co-products with customers around the world.”

Export Exchange is held every two years. The 2012 event broke records in attendance and attracted buying teams from 33 countries, including all of the top U.S. international coarse grains and ethanol co-products markets. Attendance at this year’s event is expected to set a new record, creating more opportunities for U.S. merchandisers to connect with buyers and build business.

Early registration discounts end July 31. USGC and RFA members are eligible for discounted pricing and should identify themselves as such at the time of registration.

Atlanta Now Has 12 E85 Pumps

protectlogoThe Atlanta metro area now offers a dozen E85 locations for drivers of flex fuel vehicles (FFVs) as Ruby Shell & Protec Fuel joined forces to launch a new E85 station last week in Doraville, Georgia.

protec-e85This is the first E85 station for owner Maruf (Mike) Khan, but he also has a station in Buford, Ga. “I wanted to provide a choice for my customers and hopefully gain new customers looking to use the environmentally friendlier fuel made from U.S. resources,” said Khan.

“Many cars have flex-fuel capability, whether the drivers know it or not,” said Steve Walk, a VP of Protec Fuel. “Alternative fuels like this in any blend also benefit air quality in a sensitive area such as big cities like Atlanta. This station is another stepping stone for the use of ethanol blends in any gas vehicle, like E15.”

Ruby Shell is located at 5020 Winters Chapel Rd., Doraville, GA.

Protec Fuel, based in Florida, has partnered to help manage the E85 installation and provide fuel for the location’s new cleaner burning fuel offering of E85. Protec is a turnkey E85 company specializing in station conversions and fuel distribution.

EPA Establishes Quality Assurance for RINS

epaIn addition to the final rule approving crop residue as a cellulosic feedstock, the Environmental Protection Agency yesterday established a “voluntary quality assurance program” for renewable identification numbers, or RINs.

The program is designed to maintain liquidity in the market for RINs under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) providing a means for ensuring that RINs are properly gener­ated through audits of renewable fuel production conducted by independent third-parties using quality assurance plans (QAPs). According to EPA, the QAP is intended to improve RIN market liquidity and ef­ficiency and improve the ability of smaller renewable fuel producers to sell their RINs.

Other provisions in the final rule regarding RINs include modifications to the exporter provisions of the RFS program to help ensure that an appropriate number and type of RINs are retired whenever
renewable fuel is exported.

Read the entire rule from EPA here.

Ethanol Report on Energy Independence

ethanol-report-adAs we prepare to celebrate our nation’s Independence Day, many of us will be out on the roads driving to see family, friends and fireworks. But, thanks to upheaval in a little country halfway across the world, gas prices are up again so we are going to be paying more at the pump, a stark reminder that we are not so independent when it comes to our energy sources.

dinneen-capitolIn this Independence Day Ethanol Report, Renewable Fuels Association president and CEO Bob Dinneen reminds us that ethanol saves Americans money at the pump, stretches the fuel supply and is the perfect remedy for skyrocketing gas prices.

Dinneen talks about the new milestone reached this week in cellulosic ethanol production and why the government needs to be expanding the use of biofuels rather than contemplating scaling back our nation’s renewable energy policy and striking a blow for American energy independence.

Ethanol Report on Energy Independence

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RINs Around the Rosy

Renewable Identification Numbers, better known in the renewable energy world as RINs, are serious business, but there’s actually an app on the market to make them a bit more fun.

rins-appThe Energy Policy Research Foundation, Inc. (EPRINC) introduced the RFS compliance calculator earlier this year as a free download on Apple’s App Store, allowing you to “model various RFS and refined product market scenarios until your thumbs fall off.”

RINs Around the Rosy enables you to take on a variety of roles, from EPA Administrator to gasoline blender, in an attempt to guide the refined products market through the Renewable Fuels Standard whilst avoiding a crash into the blendwall. Think of it as an RFS compliance calculator.

This app serves as a model of the RFS and refined products (gasoline and diesel) market. It gives you control over nearly two dozen variables, enabling you to set an infinite number of volumetric mandates and product demand forecasts, measure RIN carryover, test various gasoline and diesel blending options, and examine the impact of custom waiver scenarios. RINs Around the Rosy will track your inputs and assumptions and let you know if you have met the mandate you set or if and how you fell short.

To download the app, just search in the app store for RINS Around the Rosy.

Corn Fiber Approved as Cellulosic Feedstock

epaThe Environmental Protection Agency issued final rules Wednesday to qualify additional fuel pathways for the production of cellulosic biofuel, including crop residue such as corn fiber.

EPA has now determined that crop residue does meet the lifecycle greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction requirements for cellulosic biofuel under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) provided that “producers include in their registration specific information about the types of residues which will be used, and record and report to EPA the quantities and specific types of residues used.”

corn-cobsThe final rule comes just as the first gallons of cellulosic ethanol are being produced this week from corn fiber in Galva, Iowa. “As demonstrated by Quad County Corn Processors—which produced its first commercial gallon of cellulosic ethanol from corn fiber just yesterday—this feedstock holds tremendous potential to contribute meaningful volumes toward compliance with the RFS cellulosic biofuels standard,” said Renewable Fuels Association president Bob Dinneen.

Dinneen says EPA should be commended for using a straightforward approach to accounting for the cellulosic content of biofuel feedstocks. “The ‘cellulosic content threshold’ method finalized in today’s rule is a common sense approach that minimizes administrative and accounting burdens for commercial producers, but upholds the spirit and intent of the RFS,” Dinneen said.

The EPA also finalized some minor amendments related to survey requirements associated with the ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD) program and misfueling mitigation regulations for 15 volume percent
ethanol blends (E15) in announcements made on Wednesday.

Georgia State Fleet Looking to Ramp Up With Ethanol

The Georgia Alternative Fuel Road Rally has ended after two weeks of crisscrossing the state to promote alternative fuels. According to the FlexFuel Awareness Campaign, the success of the rally could increase the use of ethanol in FFVs.

Todd Sneller talks ethanolTodd Sneller, administrator of the Nebraska Ethanol Board and a board member of the FlexFuel Awareness Campaign, spoke with government officials and fleet managers throughout the state and visited four cities last week. “Over the course of two weeks our team met with nearly three hundred fleet management personnel and local municipalities to provide them with information on the ethanol option,” said Sneller. “I am pleased to report that the Georgia state Government is preparing to energize the E85 initiative at the state level. The state has nearly five thousand FFVs in service but they need to facilitate more efficient fuel supply logistics. Several large county fleets are also moving toward E85 since we explained the potential cost savings.”

The Clean Fuels Development Coalition and the Clean Fuels Foundation, Growth Energy, the Kansas and Nebraska Corn Growers, and a number of agriculture and ethanol supporters were among the sponsors of the tour which is designed to increase consumer and fleet operator awareness for alternative fuels. The FlexFuel Awareness Campaign is focusing on the FFvmessage that high level ethanol blends and FFVs are an option for private and government fleets and that they can be very competitive among the family of legally defined alternative fuels.

Sneller noted that fleet managers are looking to use cleaner fuels within the tight budgets they are facing. Ethanol continues to offer attractive pricing but an inefficient fuel delivery system is subverting the potential price advantage to fleet managers and consumers. In addition, there is a great need for consumer awareness and to work with retail outlets that serve both fleets and individual consumers.

“As part of an ‘all of the above’ approach, this Road Show showcases all the alternative fuels, and they all have their strengths and advantages in a given situation. We are pleased to be part of this successful effort and make sure biofuels like ethanol are in the mix,” Sneller concluded.

Iowa Plant Produces First Cellulosic Ethanol

qccp-cellulosic-gallonThe very first commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol gallons produced in Iowa flowed from the Quad County Corn Processors (QCCP) distillation unit Tuesday, bringing smiles to the faces of the plant team members who posed with a bottle of the historic fuel.

The event marks the official commissioning of the farmer-owned ethanol plant’s Adding Cellulosic Ethanol (ACE) project, which broke ground in Galva, Iowa not quite a year ago. The new “bolt-on” process adds the capability to convert the kernel’s corn fiber into cellulosic ethanol, in addition to traditional corn starch ethanol.

quad-county “Our Adding Cellulosic Ethanol (ACE) project will not only increase our plant’s production capacity by 6 percent, but it will also continue to boost energy security and provide consumers with more low-cost, cleaner-burning ethanol without adding any additional corn to the production process,” said QCCP CEO Delayne Johnson, who also noted the new technology will improve the plant’s distillers grains (DDGs) co-product. “As a result of the new process, the DDGs will be much more similar to a corn gluten meal. It will increase the protein content of the livestock feed by about 40 percent, and we also expect to see a boost in corn oil extraction by about 300 percent,” he said.

Listen to Johnson explain the process at the 2014 National Ethanol Conference: Remarks by Delayne Johnson, Quad Council Corn Processors

The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) offered congratulations to the QCCP team for becoming the first commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol producer in Iowa. “While the EPA continues to debate the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) for 2014 and beyond, renewable fuels producers like Quad County Corn Processors remain committed to pioneering new technologies that increase plant productivity and accomplish the goals set forth by the RFS,” said IRFA Executive Director Monte Shaw, adding that the state has other cellulosic ethanol projects nearing completion.

Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) President and CEO Bob Dinneen says the first gallon of cellulosic ethanol represents just the beginning of a long, promising future. “It is worth noting that Quad County is the perfect demonstration of first and second generation ethanol being produced side-by-side to bring more choice to America in the form of low-cost, high-octane, renewable fuel,” said Dinneen.

Syngenta recently partnered with QCCP to license the ACE technology, which is used in combination with the Enogen corn trait.

Nebraska Ethanol Sector Leads Manufacturing Wages

Nebraska Ethanol Economic ImpactAccording to Nebraska Department of Labor’s Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages Program, over the last decade, Nebraska’s ethanol production sector outpaced all other manufacturing groups in the state in terms of wages earned. For example, in 2013 the average annual wage in the ethanol sector was $59,541 while the average for all other manufacturing sectors was $39,966.

“Nebraska’s ethanol industry now has twenty-four operating plants located across the state with the capacity to produce more than two billion gallons annually,” said to Todd Sneller, administrator of the Nebraska Ethanol Board. “The impact of ethanol production goes far beyond rural Nebraska. Virtually every sector of the state’s economy benefits from ethanol’s growth. Economic benefits accrue to technology and manufacturing sectors that provide software and sophisticated equipment to the agricultural sector that provides the raw materials processed in the plants.

Sneller added, “A vibrant agricultural economy is a major component of Nebraska’s economic success and the growing importance of ethanol is particularly notable. The ethanol industry generates 7,700 jobs, increases Nebraska’s annual economic base by $5.8 billion, and pays more than $38 million in local and state tax revenues each year.”

Ethanol Report on Advanced Ethanol Concerns

ethanol-report-adAdvanced Ethanol Council (AEC) executive director Brooke Coleman commented last week on a new Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report on the impacts of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) so we got him on the phone for this edition of “The Ethanol Report.”

colemanIn this interview, Coleman talks about his take on the CBO report, as well as Phantom Fuels legislation in Congress, and the delay on EPA issuing a final rule for 2014 volume obligations under the RFS.

You may recall that EPA officials said earlier this year that they expected to have a final rule by the end of spring, or at least the end of June, but that has not happened yet and Coleman explains they now have until the end of September. “They were saying the end of June because they had to get it done by July 1st because they had extended the RFS compliance year through June,” he said. “They then extended it again through September.

Ethanol Report with Brooke Coleman, Advanced Ethanol Council

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Supreme Court Turns Down California LCFS Case

supreme-courtIn the flurry of decisions by the Supreme Court released the morning, justices declined to review California’s low-carbon fuel standard (LCFS) decision.

A federal trial judge ruled against the LCFS in 2011 but the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed that ruling last year and denied rehearing the case in January.

The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) and Growth Energy issued a joint statement regarding the decision.

“We are extremely disappointed that the Supreme Court has declined to review the Ninth Circuit’s decision, despite the broad support for the petition – including 21 states. We will continue our efforts to protect the American biofuel industry and the national interest and will continue to ensure that all consumers have access to low-priced, American-made biofuels.”

The ethanol industry was joined in challenging the California law by the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM). “The Supreme Court’s decision not to review this case is disappointing and leaves in place a state regulation that discriminates against fuels and other products produced outside of California,” said AFPM General Counsel Richard Moskowitz. “California’s efforts to dictate how fuel is produced outside of its borders ignores Constitutional safeguards that have long protected against one state controlling the conduct of private parties beyond their borders.”

Industry Highlights Flaws in CBO Report

In an update to a story posted last week regarding the new CBO report, “Renewable Fuel Standard: Issues for 2014 and Beyond,” more renewable energy industry representatives are speaking out regarding what they say are flaws in the report.

Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy said of the report, “This report looks at unrealistic scenarios and completely ignores the very goals of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), which are to decrease our nation’s dangerous dependence on foreign oil, create jobs and spur economic growth and investment, and improve our environment, all while offering consumers a choice and savings at the pump. The CBO report simply shrugs off these critical policy goals contained in the RFS by noting that, ‘CBO did not account for that effect in this analysis.’

CBO 2014 RFS reportBuis also pointed out the ethanol is currently trading a dollar less than gasoline on the Chicago Board of Trade, which the CBO fails to acknowledge. The report also fails to consider, said Buis, the 40 year history of volatile gas prices and also ignores the effect the current turmoil in Iraq. However, Buis points out, increased domestic fuel production of fuels such as ethanol and a decrease on dependence of foreign oil would help provide stability and reduce the price hikes in gas prices at the pump.

“Clearly, this report is agenda driven and ignores the facts. Wild and statically unrealistic conclusions such as these show just how flawed the majority of this report is, and why it should not be taken with any level of seriousness,” added Buis. “It seems to me that the CBO got only one thing right in this assessment, and that is with regards to the production of ethanol from corn and how it has virtually no impact on the price of food. Yet, again it is flawed as it fails to highlight that the true driver of food costs is the price of oil.

The National Farmers Union (NFU) was also unhappy with the report and said that CBO’s claim that repealing the RFS would reduce gasoline prices is “simply false”. “The RFS has reduced consumer demand for oil, and the study fails to take that into account. It is unfortunate that CBO, which is supposed to be objective, released such a flawed study that does not take into account the reality of fuel markets,” said NFU Senior Vice President of Programs Chandler Goule.

“Study after study show that the RFS is saving consumers money. E85prices.com recently released data showing that consumers filling up with E85 can save an average of $0.61 less per gallon,” Goule continued. “The RFS is a successful policy tool that decreases our nation’s reliance on foreign oil, creates economic opportunities in rural America, and effectively decreases the greenhouse gas footprint of the transportation sector. CBO should have taken all of these benefits to consumers into consideration when performing the study.”