Iowa Farmers Oppose RFS Changes

iowa-soyA vast majority of Iowa farmers in a recent poll oppose changes to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

agri-pulseThe Agri-Pulse Farm Opinion Poll, launched last month in partnership with the Iowa Soybean Association, found that 92% of farmers polled oppose the Environmental Protection Agency proposal to lower of the amount of corn-based ethanol and biodiesel required to be blended in the nation’s fuel as part of the RFS.

In addition, almost three out of five farmers responding (58 percent) said that, of several national issues including the Farm Bill, trade, tax codes and immigration, the RFS is most important to the future profitability of their farms.

The poll also found that farmers expect to see weaker financial returns in 2014 and will adjust their expenditures – spending less on fertilizer and equipment but more on crop insurance. The new poll was taken February 23 and included more than 130 Iowa farmers responding to 12 unaided questions.

Ethanol Advocate Honored by Corn Growers

Jere White (center) with his wife Linda and son Robert, honored by NCGA CEO Rick Tolman and president Martin Barbre

Jere White (center) with his wife Linda and son Robert, honored by NCGA CEO Rick Tolman and president Martin Barbre

The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) celebrated the long and productive career of an ethanol advocate and industry leader during the recent Commodity Classic.

Jere White is retiring from the Kansas Corn Growers after leading that organization for a quarter of a century and was presented with the Meritorious Service Award from NCGA. He has been a strong supporter of the ethanol industry during that time and his son Robert is Director of Market Development for the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA).

An avid motorcyclist, White had a serious accident in September 2012, and while he has made a remarkable recovery from critical injuries, he recently decided it was time to pass the reins of the association on to someone else.

classic14-greg-jereThe new Kansas Corn CEO, pictured here with Jere, is Greg Krissek – also a long-time ethanol advocate and industry leader. In his career, Greg has served as Assistant Secretary at the Kansas Department of Agriculture; Director of Operations at Kansas Corn and Kansas Grain Sorghum; Director of Government Affairs for ICM Inc. and, most recently was a manager at Kennedy and Coe, LLC. He has also served on many ethanol and agricultural association boards and on seven ethanol plant boards of directors.

2014 Commodity Classic Photos

California to Consider Updating ILUC for Biofuels

carb-14The California Air Resources Board (ARB) is holding two public workshops regarding the Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) this week – one to discuss general updates to the LCFS regulation, and the second to discuss updates to the indirect land use change (iLUC) values. Stakeholder feedback is being solicited for both workshops.

The board will discuss a proposal to update iLUC values for corn ethanol, sugarcane ethanol, and soy biodiesel, as well as proposed iLUC values for canola biodiesel, sorghum ethanol, and palm biodiesel.

According to a staff concept paper released prior to the meeting, based on recommendations provided by an Expert Working Group, “(p)reliminary results indicate reductions in the iLUC values for soy biodiesel, sugarcane ethanol, and corn ethanol.” The paper states that ARB staff “contracted with experts to refine and improve the iLUC analysis” and as a result “has incorporated significant changes in the estimation of iLUC for biofuels.”

Among the model and data updates that were included in the new estimates are re-estimated energy sector demand and supply elasticity values; improved treatment of corn ethanol co-product (DDGS); improved treatment of soy meal, soy oil, and soy biodiesel; modified structure of the livestock sector;improved method of estimating the productivity of new cropland; adopting a consistent model version and set of model inputs for all biofuel pathways; and revised yield and demand responses to price.

The question is whether the reduction for corn ethanol will be significant enough to be what the industry believes is closer to reality. Some scientists consulted by CARB believe that they are still not using the most updated modeling methods to determine iLUC and that analyses conducted since the LCFS was adopted in 2009 show emissions for corn ethanol are less than half what was estimated at the time.

The adjustments will be presented by staff at the iLUC workshop, scheduled for Tuesday, March 11, from 1:00 – 5:00 pm.

Ethanol’s Voice Heard at Commodity Classic

white1It might not be a biofuels convention per se, but the recently completed Commodity Classic in San Antonio attracted lots of producers and advocates for the green fuels. Previously, I talked to Joe Jobe from the National Biodiesel Board about his group’s participation in the annual meeting of corn, wheat, soybean and sorghum growers. At the booth next door was another group in the biofuels game, the Renewable Fuels Association, representing the ethanol industry. RFA’s Director of Market Development Robert White said that they’re glad to come out and talk with the thousands of corn farmers attending who are a big part of the main feedstock for ethanol and invest heavily themselves in the industry.

“It’s a good place for us to be. It’s actually nice to go into a friendly environment every once in a while,” he said.

Of course, the biggest thing they heard at the event was the concerns over the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposal to cut a billion gallons of ethanol from the Renewable Volume Obligations, the amount of ethanol required to be blended into the Nation’s fuel supply. Robert said they need to counter some of the myths that petroleum companies are trying to spread with fact-based arguments in favor of ethanol.

“And it has to be strategic, because if the opposition to the [Renewable Fuels Standard] is a fire hose, we’re a dripping faucet, and we have to make sure it’s a strategic approach and it’s fact-based because if we got caught stretching the truth, they’d never forget it,” he said.

Robert went on to say that despite the comment period for the EPA being over, it’s important to keep letting Washington know where ethanol and all biofuels proponents stand.

“Don’t become complacent. Keep reaching out to elected officials, EPA and the White House to make sure they know how important this is to individual farming operations and rural America.”

Listen to my interview with Robert here: Robert White, RFA

2014 Commodity Classic Photos

EPA Releases Tier 3 Emission Standards

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released its Tier 3 Vehicle Emission and Fuel Standard Program rules. The purpose of the program is to reduce impacts of motor vehicles on air quality and public health. In addition to lower the gasoline sulfur standard, the program is supposed to reduce both tailpipe and evaporative emissions from passenger cars, light-duty truck, medium-duty passenger vehicles and some heavy-duty vehicles. The proposed rule was released on May 31, 2013 and the final rule was signed on March 3, 2014.

EPA_LOGOIn a nutshell, what does this mean for the alternative fuel industry? It means that in some circumstances alternative fuels such as higher blends of ethanol could emerge as next generation automotive fuels. Tier 3 fuels are considered fuels that the automotive industry can “test” to meet the emission standards. The EPA’s rule finalizes an ethanol content of 10 percent (E10) for emissions test gasoline. However, the biofuels industry was lobbying for higher ethanol blends to be approved as test fuels such as E15 and E30. This did not come to pass.

So in other words, an automotive company can test “E15″ and find positive emission reduction results, but since it is not considered a legal “test fuel,” the fuel can’t be considered meeting (or exceeding) the EPA’s emission standards.

“It’s not the greatest thing since sliced bread; but at least there’s dough in the machine,” said Advanced Biofuels USA’s vehicle emissions expert, Robert Kozak. “We didn’t get everything that we wanted but two items are important. 1) The new requirement that vehicles be tested and certified using E10 (10% ethanol blend that is standard fuel across the country); and 2) The opportunity for manufacturers to request approval of another new certification fuel such as high octane/high ethanol E30 (30% ethanol blend).”

The next step, says Kozak, is to begin working with the EPA immediately to approve the next round of text fuels such as E30. Others in the industry agree that E15 and E30 should be legal test fuels but some believe the next step is to sue the EPA because limiting the higher ethanol blends as test fuels will limit the automakers research and deployment of more and better optimized vehicles, such as flex fuel vehicles, designed to capitalize on ethanol fuel blends.

Arming for a Fact-Based Fight Over Ethanol

bernens1It’s not always fact-based arguments proponents of ethanol are up against when battling Big Oil. But that’s why it’s all more important to make sure you have good facts on your side in the fight. Farmers who attended the recent Commodity Classic in San Antonio were able to sit in on a session titled, “Biofuels and the Renewable Fuels Standard, A Farmer’s Avenue to American Energy Independence,” to make sure they can talk about the success stories and silence ethanol’s critics.

“Because of our success, we’ve had Big Oil really come after us and say, ‘We’re not going to lose anymore market share,’” says Jack Bernens, session moderator and marketer of Syngenta’s Enogen corn, specifically designed for ethanol production. “When monopolies get threatened, they like to push back hard.”

Hear more of what Jack had to say here: Jack Bernens, Syngenta

jennings1Jack was joined on the panel by Brian Jennings with the American Coalition for Ethanol, who echoed Jack’s view that you’re not necessarily battling facts when it comes to taking on some of the myths put out by the petroleum industry.

“The message I was trying to relay to the corn growers is stay involved, remain engaged, get your neighbors and friends involved, and know that this isn’t a fact-based fight. When the fight is about facts, we always win,” Brian says, adding that ethanol doesn’t have to stoop to the lies and scare tactics of Big Oil.

Listen to Brian’s interview here: Brian Jennings, American Coalition for Ethanol

doxtad1Another effective tool in the fight is showing the positive change ethanol has brought to Rural America, creating better markets for farmers’ corn, helping the country achieve energy independence, and building up communities, like the one that Northwest Iowa corn farmer James Doxtad comes from. He says while many folks back in his home state are aware of the good the renewable fuel has brought to the heartland, too many people in the country just don’t know. “It’s amazing how many people out there are unaware of the advantages of ethanol. Ethanol is a good thing, and we’re producing a good product, and we’re doing it for a good reason.” he says.

Check out James’ interview here: James Doxtad, Holstein, Iowa

Meanwhile, all three might get some help spreading the word as Syngenta released a new documentary video titled, “Ethanol: Fueling Rural America’s Future – One Community at a Time,” that provides a platform for farmers, ethanol producers and industry advocates to share their passion for an industry critical to the future of agriculture and rural America.

Documentary: How Ethanol Fuels America

Syngenta has released a new documentary video entitled “Ethanol: Fueling Rural America’s Future – One Community at a Time.” According to the company, the video provides a platform for farmers, ethanol producers and industry advocates to share their passion for an industry critical to the future of agriculture and rural America.

Syngenta developed the video to reinforce the ethanol industry’s positive impact on the U.S. economy and American energy independence. The company says ethanol production is a vital Screen Shot 2014-03-03 at 9.57.34 AMcontributor to the national Gross Domestic Product, federal tax revenues, and the creation and support of new jobs across the country.

“As ethanol plants have moved into small towns and established their businesses, they have provided well-paying jobs and stabilized the corn market price,” said Jack Bernens, head of marketing and stakeholder relations for Syngenta. “That income is circulating back through rural communities. With the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) under scrutiny, we wanted to help tell that story.”

Ethanol is also helping consumers. A University of Wisconsin/Iowa State University study found that in 2011 ethanol reduced wholesale gasoline prices by $1.09 per gallon nationally. Looking ahead to the adoption of blends with an ethanol level greater than E10, Growth Energy reports that the more than 170 million cars manufactured since 2001 are currently eligible to use E15, while more than 16 million flex-fuel vehicles are on the roads today.

“This demonstrates that there is a market ready for a less expensive, higher octane, more environmentally friendly alternative fuel,” added David Witherspoon, head of renewable fuels for Syngenta. “We have the vehicles capable of using blends higher than E10, but greater access to stations capable of providing it and the petroleum marketing industry’s support are needed to make that access a reality.”

It Pays to Shop for Ethanol

An informal survey of gasoline retail locations in greater Des Moines, Iowa, revealed that while 87-octane gasoline prices remain relatively uniform across several retail brands, the price a consumer pays for premium gasoline varies greatly depending on whether the retailer blends its premium gasoline with ethanol. The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) reports that using premium gasoline blended with E10 (10 percent ethanol) can save up to 25 cents.

IA-pump-photoIRFA says the savings of ethanol are so great that consumers can pay approximately the same price for E10 premium gasoline as they would for 87 octane gasoline with no ethanol.

Here at the IRFA, we support consumer fuel choice, and consumers can save 25 cents per gallon by shopping at retail locations that offer premium blended with 10 percent ethanol,” said IRFA Executive Director Monte Shaw. “Fuel blended with 10 percent ethanol is approved for use in all cars, trucks and off-road motors available today, and vehicles that carry a recommendation for premium gasoline use are no different. By simply shopping for ethanol blended premium gasoline, consumers can save a lot of money while supporting Iowa’s economy.”

Speaking of E10, the Iowa Department of Revenue published January data for gasoline use and IRFA said that Iowa motorists saved more than $23 million in January by filling up with E10 – 103 million gallons of E10.

Shaw noted, “Priced at least 23 cents less than its 87-octane no ethanol counterpart, E10 is providing Iowans with huge savings. And those savings add up for both consumers and Iowa’s economy. The use of E10 is keeping at least $23 million in Iowa instead of sending it out of state or out of the country for petroleum. In fact, the true savings is likely more than $30 million for the month. Simply using ethanol is not only saving consumers some of their hard earned money, it’s also cleaning up our air and supporting Iowa jobs.”

According to IRFA, actual savings are even greater than $23 million because the Iowa Department of Revenue data does not account for ethanol blending that occurs outside of pipeline fuel terminals. In addition, while the typical E10 savings in the Des Moines metro area is 23 cents per gallon, E10 is priced at a more than 30-cent discount to E0 in many parts of Iowa.

Growth Energy’s ‘State of the Industry’

Ethanol industry leaders met in Phoenix, Arizona this week to discuss the state of the renewable fuels industry. The event was kicked off by Jeff Broin, co-chair of Growth Energy’s Board of Directors with a “state of the industry” address.

Broin noted the resilience of the industry and outlined how Congress made a promise to America to reduce its dependence on foreign oil, to clean our environment and to create American jobs. He also stressed that the industry “will continue to hold Congress and the Growth_Energy_logo-1Environmental Protection Agency accountable,” and that as an industry, “we will do whatever we can to make sure they keep their promise.” Broin also discussed the importance of “educating Americans on the benefits of homegrown, renewable American ethanol.”

In conclusion, Broin concluded thanked all of Growth Energy’s members who have weathered the challenges in the renewable fuels industry and continue to succeed no matter the challenges, noting that collectively, “we can make ethanol a major player in the liquid fuels industry.”

The keynote address was delivered by Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy and he focused on the critical priorities of the ethanol industry. He outlined how defending the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), and building out the necessary infrastructure for higher blends of ethanol and widespread availability of E15 in the commercial marketplace will be the main priorities of the industry in 2014.

Buis also highlighted the importance of breaking down the so called “blendwall”. He explained that higher blends of renewables should be available to the American consumer, so they have a choice of a high octane, high performance fuel and also a choice of a fuel that supports American jobs, while also saving them money.

Buis also called on both members of Congress and the administration to stop accepting the status quo of fossil fuels and foreign oil. In stressing the importance of scaling the blendwall, Buis said, “President Obama, if you seek to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, create jobs here in the US that cannot be outsourced and strengthen the rural economy, and, if you truly want cleaner air, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, a better environment for our children and lower gas prices for American consumers, tear down this blendwall!”

In conclusion, Buis noted that this will not be an easy challenge, and that, “We all know that this is a battle – one over market share, and one that will not be accomplished overnight.”

But Buis reminded members why they are all fighting – “that we are fighting for American farmers, for the resilient men and women who work hard every day to fuel America and feed the world. For vibrant small town communities that have known hard times and are ready for a comeback. We are fighting for our brave troops. For those who fight for us, to ensure that they are never placed in harm’s way again, solely for our energy needs. We are fighting for the energy independence and national security of this great country – we are fighting for the United States of America.”

Growth Unveils No. 3 American Ethanol Chevy

No 3 American Ethanol ChevyGrowth Energy is hosting its fifth annual Executive Leadership Conference and during the event, the No. 3 American Ethanol Chevrolet SS was unveiled by Jeff Broin, Growth Energy co-chair and Tom Buis, CEO. Also on hand was Richard Childress (who sits on the Growth Energy Board) and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver and 2013 NASCAR Nationwide Series Champion, Austin Dillon.

The No. 3 American Ethanol Chevrolet SS will debut in the “The Profit on CNBC” 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on Sunday at 1 pm. (Mountain Standard Time).

“American Ethanol is extremely pleased to once again partner with Austin Dillon, Richard Childress and the entire RCR team to help promote a sustainable homegrown American fuel that is better for our environment, reduces our dependence on foreign oil and creates jobs right here in the U.S., while revitalizing rural economies across America and saves consumers at the pump,” said Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy.

Through American Ethanol, Growth Energy has been a long-time sponsor of Austin Dillon and Richard Childress Racing. Growth Energy is also a partner with NASCAR Green. By supporting the Sunoco Green E15 racing fuel, Growth Energy and NASCAR are both dedicated to reliable, home-grown, renewable fuel that is environmentally friendly.

Idea Leads to Cellulosic Ethanol, Scholarship

classic14-basf-soyAn idea that started back when he was just an elementary school student has led a Tennessee high schooler to picking up a substantial scholarship that he says will help him further his own energy business. Caleb Brannon of Puryear, Tenn. was selected as the recipient of the 2014-2015 ASA Secure Optimal Yield (SOY) Scholarship, a $5,000 award presented to an outstanding high school senior who has achieved high academic and leadership requirements, and is planning to pursue a degree in an agriculture-related field at an accredited college or university.

“I’m really thankful to the American Soybean Association and BASF who were so generous in this scholarship,” he says. Brannon, a senior at Calloway County High School, will pursue a degree in agricultural business at Murray State University, Murray, Ky. beginning this fall. He already has his very own business, Brannon Agri-Energy, a company focusing on cellulosic ethanol that he actually thought up way back in the fifth grade!

“Our family farm was in a partnership with the University of Tennessee to grow switchgrass in a pilot program to be bailed and put in a coal-fired plant [in Alabama].” While other area farmers gave up after a few years, it led Brannon to researching other crops for what is now his cellulosic ethanol business, finding his own markets.

He adds that the scholarship money will free up what he would have spent on college to invest back into his business. But he says this is more than just his future; it’s the Nation’s future.

“I want to help our country become just a little bit more energy independent. That’s really important to me.”

Listen to Cindy’s interview with Brannon here: Interview with BASF SOY Scholarship Winner


BASF at the 2014 Commodity Classic Photos

Camp Releases 2014 Tax Reform Draft

Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) has released draft of the “Tax Reform Act of 2014,” which he says will spur stronger economic growth, greater job creation and put more money in the pockets of taxpaying Americans. Camp’s goal is to fix America’s broken tax code by lowering tax rates and making tax policy simpler and fairer for families.

Based on analysis by the independent, non-partisan Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT), without increasing the budget deficit, the Tax Reform Act of 2014:

  • Create up to 1.8 million new private sector jobs.
  • Allow roughly 95 percent of filers to get the lowest possible tax rate by simply claiming the standard deduction (no more need to itemize and track receipts).
  • Strengthen the economy and increases Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by up to $3.4 trillion (the equivalent of 20 percent of today’s economy).

organization of the ways and means committeeUsing data provided by JCT, Camp says the average middle-class family of four could have an extra $1,300 per year in its pocket from the combination of lower tax rates in the plan and higher wages due to a stronger economy.

“It is no secret that Americans are struggling. Far too many families haven’t seen a pay raise in years. Many have lost hope and stopped looking for a job. And too many kids coming out of college are buried under a mountain of debt and have few prospects for a good-paying career,” said Camp about the need to fix America’s broken tax code. “We’ve already lost a decade, and before we lose a generation, Washington needs to wake up to this reality and start offering concrete solutions and debating real policies that strengthen the economy and help hardworking taxpayers. Tax reform is one way we can do that.”

The tax code would also affect energy companies including those who are developing and providing renewable energy. In response to the draft proposal, Brooke Coleman, Executive Director of the Advanced Ethanol Council (AEC), said, “While the draft plan falls well short of the goal of ensuring that the multi-trillion dollar global clean energy sector sets up shop in the United States, Chairman Camp should be commended for taking tough positions on many of the most distortive oil and gas subsidies in the federal tax code.”

“Inequitable provisions like percentage depletion, last-in/first-out (LIFO) and various incentives for the production of marginal oil and gas distort investment decision-making and drive capital away from renewable fuels,” continued Coleman. “Chairman Camp is right to point out that only extractive industries are allowed to recover more than their investment under current percentage depletion and depreciation rules. Doing away with these provisions will do little to dissuade oil and gas investment given the magnitude of the opportunity, but will help level the playing field when it comes to investments in next generation fuels of all types.”

Coleman concluded that while AEC is not supportive of the proposal’s treatment of the emerging cellulosic and advanced ethanol industry, they are looking to working with the Committee to ensure the U.S. is in the best position to develop  new technologies and commercials clean energy on American soil.

Novozymes Joins Advanced Ethanol Council

aeclogoNovozymes has become the newest member of the Advanced Ethanol Council (AEC). The global company is best known in the biofuels space for its work on first and second generation enzymes used to improve biofuel production, including cellulosic ethanol.

“Novozymes and the Advanced Ethanol Council share a strong focus on facilitating the commercialization and growth of advanced biofuels,” said Adam Monroe, Americas Regional President at Novozymes. “Advanced biofuel plants are commercializing now and we must continue engaging in policy discussions along with the AEC to ensure the long-term stability and success of advanced renewable fuels.”

Novozymes operates the largest enzyme plant dedicated to biofuels in the United States, located in Blair, Nebraska. The $200 million plant specializes in making world-leading enzymes, a key technology component for both the conventional and advanced biofuel markets.

“We are very pleased to be working with Novozymes,” said Brooke Coleman, Executive Director of the AEC. “The cellulosic biofuels industry is breaking through at commercial scale and it is absolutely critical that the industry speak with one voice and stay together when it comes to how we engage on policy and regulatory matters. Novozymes is highly engaged on both the business and political fronts, and we look forward to working with them on strategies that will put the industry in a position to succeed in 2014 and beyond.”

The Advanced Ethanol Council (AEC) represents worldwide leaders in the effort to develop and commercialize the next generation of ethanol fuels, ranging from cellulosic ethanol made from dedicated energy crops, forest residues and agricultural waste to advanced ethanol made from municipal solid waste, algae and other feedstocks.

Advanced Ethanol Here at Last

nec14-cellulosic-panelDuring the National Ethanol Conference, representatives of four leading companies talked about how advanced ethanol is here at last. Moderated by Advanced Ethanol Council Executive Director Brooke Coleman, the panelists included Chris Standlee with Abengoa; Kenneth Hill with DuPont Cellulosic Ethanol; Delayne Johnson, CEO of Quad County Corn Processors; and Steve Hartig, Licensing General Manager for POET-DSM Advanced Biofuels, LLC.

nec14-standlee-2

“Ladies and gentlemen, I am thrilled to finally be able to say that this is the pivotal year for second generation ethanol for the United States and perhaps in the world,” said Chris Standlee with Abengoa Bioenergy, who talked about the upcoming launch of their 25 million gallon/year cellulosic ethanol facility in Hugoton, Kansas. The company has invested nearly 10 years into developing its own proprietary second-gen technology and the biorefinery in Kansas that will go online in 2014 is the fruition of this commitment. Learn more about Abengoa’s cellulosic refinery here: Remarks by Chris Standlee, Abengoa

Kenneth Hill with DuPontKenneth Hill with DuPont noted that his company is focused on bridging the gap between agriculture and advanced materials. This includes enzymes and cellulosic biofuels. DuPont is working with companies around the world to develop cellulosic biofuels, yet the project that may have the most attention is currently under construction in Nevada, Iowa. Learn about this project and others here: Remarks by Kenneth Hill, DuPont

Delayne Johnson Quad County Corn ProcessorsDelayne Johnson said that since Quad County Corn Processors went into production in 2002 they have continuously been looking for niche ways to add value to a kernel of corn. With the aid of R&D expert Travis Brotherson, five years ago he developed a now patented cellulosic process. The technology has added 6 percent to their yield, they are getting 2 1/2 times more corn oil than they had been getting, and are able to produce a higher protein feed product (DDG) than they had in the past. Quad County is currently in the process of building the technology out at full-scale and the cellulosic portion of their biorefinery is expected to begin production this summer. Learn more about Quad County’s cellulosic technology here: Remarks by Delayne Johnson, Quad Council Corn Processors

Steve Hartig with Poet DSMFor many years Poet has been talking about the future of cellulosic ethanol using corn residue – corn stover, corn cobs, etc. According to Steve Hartig, With major strides over the past few years and a key strategic partnership with DSM, Project Liberty is set to go into production later this summer. Project Liberty is co-located with a first generation ethanol plant in Emmetsburg, Iowa. Once in production, co-location will be their key strategy for several reasons included excess energy, infrastructure and personnel. Learn about Poet-DSM’s take on the advanced biofuels here: Remarks by Steve Hartig, POET-DSM

2014 National Ethanol Conference Photo Album

NEC Coverage sponsored by Patriot Renewable Fuels LLC

Cold Winter Challenges Ethanol Plant Logistics

nec14-rail-bobAt the National Ethanol Conference last week, Renewable Fuels Association president and CEO Bob Dinneen had a discussion with Ed Hamberger, President and CEO, Association of American Railroads, on Regulatory Crackdown on Rail Transport. They discussed current government proposals focused on rail cars.

Hamberger kicked off the discussion by noting that ethanol has been one of the fastest growing commodity segments for the railroads growing from 40,000 rail cars of ethanol in 2000 to 330,000 in 2011- an 800 percent increase. While he said there were some challenges, new routes, new track, new employees, he said that over the years, the ethanol industry and the rail industry have become good partners for America. Rail Transportation conversation

nec14-patriot-vondraOne ethanol plant of many that is using the railroads to transport its ethanol and byproducts such as dried distillers grains (DDGs) is Patriot Renewable Fuels, located just off I-80 in Annawan, Illinois.  Using rail and trucks involves a lot of logistics and Patriot’s Rick Vondra has noted that with the cold weather over the last couple months they, along with other ethanol plants, have had challenges in moving their product, in particular rail movement.

“It’s been a tremendous challenge and we’ve had to find alternative ways to move our product,” explained Vondra. He said they are using more trucks but so are other plants and on top of the increased demand from their plant and the ethanol industry, the trucks still have other products to deliver.

So how is the weather affecting the railroad industry? Vondra said snow and ice have been a big factor because rail workers have to go and move switches that can get frozen. They have to remove ice from lines and with temperatures getting as cold as 20 below zero, workers can’t be outside long.

With the goal of increased use of E15 and other higher blends of ethanol being a recurring theme during the conference, I asked Vondra what some of his takeaways of this conversation were. He noted that Patriot is working closely with retailers, wholesalers, distributors and car dealers in their local community to educate people on the benefits of ethanol, but also to encourage more adoption and use of ethanol in the community.

Listen to my interview with Rick where he talks about cold logistic challenges as well as their work on ethanol education. Interview with Rick Vondra, Patriot Renewable Fuels

2014 National Ethanol Conference Photo Album

NEC Coverage sponsored by Patriot Renewable Fuels LLC