Bipartisan Group of Senators Call for Strong RFS

US Capitol at dusk photo Joanna SchroederA bipartisan group of senators is calling on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reverse its current course and strengthen the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Led by U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), John Thune (R-SD), Al Franken (D-MN), and Mark Kirk (R-IL), the 37 in the group say the EPA’s latest proposal would create uncertainty for ethanol and biodiesel producers and undermine job creation.

“The RFS has already proven to be an effective driver of alternative fuels and economic development,” the senators wrote. “The biofuels volume requirements for 2014 and beyond have serious implications for our economy and energy security. We encourage you to ensure a final proposal continues to work toward achieving the RFS’s long-term economic and renewable energy goals.”

The ethanol industry praised the senators for their action.

“It is encouraging to see such broad, bipartisan, and geographically diverse support for the Renewable Fuel Standard,” said Renewable Fuels Association president Bob Dinneen. “It’s leadership like this that will move America’s energy future forward. Farmers, entrepreneurs, and innovators across the country will applaud these 37 visionaries.”

“Convincing Senators to sign the RFS to Administrator McCarthy was a key part of our grassroots fly-in last month so we’re glad ACE members could play such an instrumental role in securing so many signatures,” said American Coalition for Ethanol Executive Vice President Brian Jennings. “We are also grateful for the strong bipartisan support conveyed by Senators that EPA must get the RFS back on track for implementation by reversing course from their ill-advised proposal which would have limited renewable fuel use at ten percent of gasoline consumption.”

Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy, says the letter is a clear message to the EPA. “In no uncertain terms this strong bipartisan coalition of Senators have indicated that they are closely watching the EPA as they seek to finalize this rule and that any changes which would undercut the congressional intent or role of the RFS will be met with intense scrutiny and strong objection,” said Buis.

EPA recently announced it will propose volume requirements by June 1 for 2015 and 2016 and will re-propose volume requirements for 2014 that reflect the volumes of renewable fuel that were actually used in 2014.

Farmers Live #EarthDay Every Day

earth-day-2015This year marks the 45th anniversary of Earth Day but farmers have been living the spirit of stewardship for natural resources for generations and have been leaders in the generation of renewable energy sources like biofuels, wind and solar.

“For hundreds of years, America’s farmers have been working our land and providing the country and the world with high quality food, feed, fiber and fuel,” said Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis. “Today, on Earth Day, we are proud that our industry will keep getting cleaner, keep farming more efficiently and keep discovering new ways to fuel America with biomass and waste products that represent a smarter, cleaner, homegrown alternative to foreign oil.”

House E15 Waiver Bill Introduced

adrian-smithCongressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) has introduced legislation to expand the existing waiver of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations regarding Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) of motor vehicle fuel to include 15% ethanol blended gasoline (E15) in addition to E10.

EPA regulations currently curtail retail sales of E15 during the summer months. “Ethanol provides consumers in Nebraska and across America with a competitive, clean, domestically-produced alternative,” Smith said. “However, burdensome EPA regulations are restricting consumers’ options at the fuel pump.

EPA granted a waiver for E10 in 1990 and Smith’s bill would extend this waiver to also include E15.

“Though E10 received a waiver decades ago, the same regulatory relief has not yet been extended to E15,” said Smith. “We must pursue an all-of-the-above energy policy, which includes ethanol and other renewable fuels, by reducing red tape and encouraging innovation in the energy marketplace.”

“We applaud this effort by Congressman Smith to establish greater consumer choice and to remove a major hurdle preventing consumers the opportunity to purchase higher blends such as E15,” said Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis. “We are hopeful that Congressman Smith’s legislative efforts are successful in granting this much needed waiver to overcome the single largest regulatory hurdle to ensuring consumers have access to higher blends such as E15.”

The legislation is similar to a bill introduced earlier this month in the Senate by Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Rand Paul (R-KY).

EPA Sets Timeline for RFS Volume Requirements

epa-150Under a court settlement with the oil industry, the Environmental Protection Agency today announced they will propose the 2015 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) renewable volume obligations by June 1, 2015, and issue the final 2014 and 2015 RFS blending targets by November 30, 2015. In addition, EPA will also release the proposed 2016 RFS RVOs by June 1 and the 2016 numbers will be finalized by Nov. 30.

The biofuels industry reacted immediately to the announcement. “This consent agreement is a good start,” said Renewable Fuels Association president and CEO Bob Dinneen. “We are particularly pleased that the Agency has committed to addressing the 2016 RVO in the same time frame even though that is outside the scope of the consent agreement.”

“By taking this action, they are ensuring that the RFS is back on a path to certainty for the biofuels industry, providing the necessary guidance for the industry to continue to thrive and advance alternative fuel options for American consumers,” Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis said.

“ACE has consistently said it is much more important for EPA to get the RFS done right than it is for them to get the RFS done quickly, and that bears repeating given today’s announcement that the RFS will be getting back on track for implementation,” said American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) Executive VP Brian Jennings.

National Biodiesel Board is pleased the EPA announcement said they would “re-propose volume requirements for 2014, by June 1, that reflect the volumes of renewable fuel that were actually used in 2014.”

“The volumes for Biomass-based Diesel in 2014 were approximately 1.75 billion gallons so EPA reaffirming its commitment to “actual use” appears to be a step in the right direction,” said NBB Vice President of Federal Affairs Anne Steckel.

Advanced Ethanol Council (AEC) executive director Brooke Coleman says the announcement sends a good signal to the advanced biofuels industry. “Now that we have a better idea of when it will happen, we look forward to working with EPA to make sure that the new RFS proposal supports the commercial deployment of advanced biofuels as called for by Congress.”

EPA intends to issue a Federal Register Notice allowing the public an opportunity to comment on the proposed consent decree.

Think Tank Ponders Cellulosic Ethanol Link

3rd-wayA new report from centrist think tank Third Way ponders the quest for cellulosic biofuels and concludes that the pathway is via corn ethanol.

This report confirms what the biofuels industry has been saying for some time now – that you cannot have cellulosic ethanol without the continued production and support of grain-based ethanol,” said Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis.

One of the takeaways from the Third Way report is that, “proposals to reform the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) would discourage engagement from the corn ethanol industry” and thus delay commercialization of cellulosic ethanol and steer investment overseas.

Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) president Bob Dinneen says the report highlights the importance of consistent policy for the continued evolution of biofuels. “Legislative efforts to undermine either will set the nation’s energy and economic future back generations,” said Dinneen. “Third Way should be commended for adding a thoughtful component to this ongoing discussion and I can only hope that it is read with interest by Senators Feinstein and Toomey.

“(T)he biggest point, coming from a thought leader in the space like Third Way, is that Congressional intervention on the RFS would be highly detrimental to the deployment of cellulosic biofuel,” said Brooke Coleman of the Advanced Ethanol Council.

“The success of the conventional ethanol industry has driven serious investment in the cellulosic industry and there is an important linkage between them,” says Adam Monroe, President Americas for Novozymes which produces enzymes used for cellulosic ethanol production. “Tinkering with the corn portion of the RFS now will only hurt both industries.”

The report also concludes that “companies with an extensive background in the corn ethanol industry are cracking the cellulosic code,” and continued investment from these companies in facilities and innovation is critical to growing U.S. cellulosic capacity.”

Ethanol Supporters Counter Funding Request

houseEthanol and agriculture industry groups sent their own letter to House Appropriations leadership in response to a group of lawmakers calling for the elimination of funding for blender pumps or corn ethanol export promotion.

The letter signed by the Renewable Fuels Association, American Coalition for Ethanol, National Farmers Union, National Corn Growers Association, and Growth Energy calls on the subcommittee to “vehemently oppose and reject any efforts to include such limiting language” in FY 2016 appropriations for USDA.

It is important to note at the outset that there already exists a prohibition on the US Department of Agriculture using grant funds for the installation of blender pumps, which was included in the recently passed Farm Bill. Now, in a blatant effort to shelter the oil and gas industry from any further competition from ethanol, Representatives Goodlatte, et al. are seeking to place limitations on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s efforts to help promote the consumption of American made ethanol at home and abroad; something that agency has been successfully doing with other agriculture and livestock products for decades.

Reps. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), Peter Welch (D-VT), and Jim Costa (R-CA), claim in their letter that the government has created an “artificial market” for ethanol that is “negatively impacting American consumers, livestock farmers, food producers, retailers, air and water quality, and the ability to feed our nation’s hungry.” The ag and ethanol groups responded that “corn prices today are below the prices witnessed in 2007 when the Renewable Fuel Standard was expanded and livestock feed costs are at their lowest levels in more than five years…Meanwhile, consumer food prices have advanced more slowly since passage of the RFS than in the 25 years prior to its enactment.”

Read the letter here.

Appropriations Request Targets Corn Ethanol

A group of Congressional representatives wrote to the House Appropriations leadership this week specifically asking that any funding to help install blender pumps or promote corn ethanol exports be eliminated from the USDA budget.

growth-energy-logoIn response to the letter, Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis said “the request is neither helpful nor logical,” and also “unnecessary since there is already a prohibition on USDA funding blender pump grants in the 2014 Farm Bill.”

The letter was signed by 18 mostly Republican members of Congress, led by Reps. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), Peter Welch (D-VT), and Jim Costa (R-CA), who claim that “the federal government’s creation of an artificial market for the ethanol industry is negatively impacting American consumers, livestock farmers, food producers, retailers, air and water quality, and the ability to feed our nation’s hungry.”

“This request stems from a flawed and inaccurate argument that has been disproven time and again,” said Buis. “The government is not creating an artificial market for ethanol, but the RFS is seeking to level the playing field and ensure alternatives to fossil fuels have market access so consumers are given a choice instead of a de-facto mandate to use petroleum based products.”

The 18 members of Congress who signed the letter represent ten states – California, South Carolina, Texas, Florida, Georgia, Vermont, Virginia, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

Growth Energy Points to Cruz Record on Biofuels

growth-energy-logoAs Texas Sen. Ted Cruz announces his candidacy for president, Growth Energy is reminding voters of what the ethanol group calls his “pro-fossil fuel, pro-drilling legislation attempts to kill the homegrown renewable fuels industry.” This news release points to Cruz’s American Energy Renaissance Act, which Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy, says will promotes Big Oil and deny consumer choice.

“The recent legislation introduced by Senator Cruz is not only shortsighted in terms of a comprehensive energy policy, but it seeks to stifle all production and growth of homegrown, sustainable biofuels that help create American jobs and reduce our dangerous dependence on fossil fuels. This legislation fails to factor in the important role biofuels play in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, while also providing consumers with a choice and savings at the pump.

“Senator Cruz seems to believe that he is exercising leadership by attacking the only energy policy that has contributed to our economic, energy and national security. Yet Senator Cruz fails to challenge or acknowledge the excessive subsidies oil companies have received for 102 years and counting at the expense of the American taxpayer. Let’s be clear – this is not ‘profiles in courage,’ this is pandering to Big Oil.

“He says there are no benefits from renewable fuels; however, the Renewable Fuel Standard has helped reduce our dependence on foreign oil by nearly 50 percent, from 60 to 33 percent, saved consumers at the pump, cleaned our air and revitalized our rural economy. Furthermore, his legislation is a direct attack on America’s farmers, the backbone of this nation, who are working overtime to feed the world and fuel America.”

Growth concludes that Cruz’s legislation would take away the freedom of choice for consumers to choose higher performing, less expensive fuel for which there is a demand.

Thank a Farmer Today

Today is National Agriculture Day. People around America are taking time today to learn something about ag, and many are also taking an opportunity to thank the farmers who produce our food, feed and fuel.

National Ag Day“American farmers are to be admired. They are stewards of the land who ensure sustainability for future generations. They are innovative, dedicated and produce an abundance of food and fuel for our nation and the world. Efficient and hardworking, American farmers are the backbone of our nation. They help to bolster rural economies while growing our nation’s economy, providing economic security for all. It takes a lot to get food from the farm to the table and we all have America’s farmers and ranchers to thank for it,” said Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy.

“Additionally, American agriculture is at the forefront of biofuel development. Farmers are helping produce homegrown, sustainable biofuels that are reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and foreign oil, creating jobs that cannot be outsourced and improving our environment, all while providing consumers with a choice and savings at the pump.

“American consumers pay less per capita than any other country for food. Our grocery stores are well stocked and American agriculture is the envy of the world. Agriculture creates economic security for our rural communities and has allowed hardworking Americans to secure a place in the middle class. As we celebrate National Ag Day, Americans nationwide should be proud to acknowledge the many contributions agriculture has made to society and the leading role farming communities will continue to play in our country’s economy,” Buis concluded.

Biofuels Leaders Defend RFS

Holding a press conference in advance of the American Petroleum Institute continuing its call to repeal the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), representatives of the ethanol and advanced biofuels industry and corn growers defended the law and the fuel.

mess-rfsGrowth Energy CEO Tom Buis said the oil industry is making the same old arguments about ethanol that are simply not true, but he thinks the industry received a good boost over the weekend “when six out of nine of the Republican presidential candidates that came to the Ag Summit expressed support for the RFS.”

National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) first vice president Rob Elliott of Illinois talked about how the facts dispel the perpetual myths about food versus fuel. “Corn prices are now below cost of production … so obviously food prices have not followed a similar path,” he said.

Adam Monroe, president of enzyme producer Novozymes, said if Washington gives in to pressure by the oil industry to weaken the RFS it will keep second generation biofuels from going forward. “It makes it tremendously difficult for us to bring in new investors and spend more money,” he said.

Renewable Fuels Association president Bob Dinneen says no matter what ethanol critics say, there is now real world data that shows no detrimental effects have occurred as a result of the RFS and he encouraged reporters to question API. “Ask them to explain the fact that the price of corn is lower than it was when the RFS was passed,” he said, noting also that food price inflation has been lower, the dead zone has gotten smaller, and hunger worldwide has fallen.

Conference Call with Renewable Fuel Industry Leaders

Growth Energy Holds 6th Leadership Conference

growth-energy-logoGrowth Energy held its sixth annual Executive Leadership Conference last week in Phoenix, featuring appearances by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Chief Agricultural Negotiator for the U.S. Trade Representative Darci Vetter.

Growth Energy Board of Directors co-chair Jeff Broin delivered a “Chairman’s Report” outlining the current state of the renewable fuels industry and how this year is all about “moving ahead and moving faster” to bring clean, homegrown fuels to the American consumer. Broin noted how 2014 was a historic year for our industry, stating that producers have been selling a “clean, green, high octane, homegrown product at a huge discount.”

In his report to the leadership, CEO Tom Buis highlighted the accomplishments of the industry this past year. Buis stated, “We have always faced challenges, that’s life, but we focused on growing demand for our product. We have doubled the number of retailers offering E15 this past year, it’s only a matter of time before 2015 becomes the year of E15.” He explained that E15 is the “low hanging fruit” we have to promote and get into the marketplace.

“We all know that this is a battle – one over market share, and one that will not be accomplished overnight,” Buis concluded. “The facts are on our side and regardless of the challenges; we are going to win this fight.”

Mycogen Seeds Joins Growth Energy

growth-energy-logoMycogen Seeds, the national retail seed company of Dow AgroSciences, has joined Growth Energy as a premiere associate member.

“We applaud Mycogen Seeds for recognizing the role ethanol plays in strengthening American agriculture and for supporting our nation’s homegrown food, feed and fuel solution,” said Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis. “Ethanol is fueling our future by creating jobs, improving the environment and increasing our nation’s energy independence, while also providing consumers with a choice and savings at the pump. We look forward to collaborating with Mycogen Seeds, a leader in seed innovation.”

mycogen-seeds-logoDamon Palmer, marketing director for Dow AgroSciences’ U.S. seed business, commended the partnership. “Our support of Growth Energy will help promote the importance of a strong ethanol industry for U.S. farmers. It’s about partnering with others in the Agriculture industry to develop markets for today and the future.

Mycogen Seeds’ partnership with Growth Energy supports ethanol as a market option vital to corn growers throughout the U.S.

Growth Tells Ethanol Producers to Talk to Congress

growth-energy-logoAs alternative energy producers have gathered in Washington, D.C. for the 2015 Energy Independence Summit, the leader of a group representing ethanol producers’ interests is encouraging them to take time to see lawmakers while they are in town. Growth Energy’s Tom Buis told attendees to let their representatives know how critical the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) is in achieving energy independence.

“The RFS has been the most successful energy policy this nation has enacted in the last forty years,” Buis noted. “It has helped reduce our dependence on foreign oil by nearly 50 percent, it is cleaner and better for our environment, it creates American jobs that cannot be outsourced, supports a robust rural economy and in 2014 it contributed more than $50 billion dollars to our GDP. Furthermore, it provides the American consumer with a choice and savings when they go and fill up at the pump.”

Attendees of the Energy Independence Summit are scheduled to meet with members of Congress this week and Buis concluded by encouraging attendees to, “Educate members of Congress on how the RFS plays a critical role in achieving energy security and independence. Explain that is working, and succeeding in reaching the goals it was designed to meet. Now is the time to move forward, not backward on policies that promote renewable energy.”

The 2015 Energy Independence Summit concludes today and is sponsored by a number of ethanol, biodiesel and clean energy groups, as well as some of the companies using them, such as UPS and carmakers. It features the nation’s Clean Cities Coalitions and transportation energy leaders coming together to share best practices and educate federal policy makers about the need for incentives, tools and resources to overcome barriers to the widespread use of cleaner vehicles and fuels.

NASCAR Starts 5th Year on American Ethanol

american-ethanol-fuelFuel with 15 percent ethanol, known as E15, has been approved for sale by the Environmental Protection Agency since January 2011. Two months later Sunoco Green E15 debuted at the 2011 Daytona 500.

American Ethanol
celebrated the start of the fifth year of its partnership with NASCAR at the Great American Race this weekend. “They’ve put over six million hard-earned miles at high RPMs on these race cars,” said Tom Buis of Growth Energy at the race on Sunday. “They got better performance, they didn’t lose mileage and they haven’t had a single problem.”

Interview with Tom Buis, Growth Energy, at Daytona 500

NASCAR Chief Operating Officer Brent Dewar says the partnership with American Ethanol has been very positive for them. “What we love about ethanol is not only is it a great renewable but it’s a great racing fuel, higher octane so it’s great performance for the drivers,” he said. “It’s also great for the environment, reduces greenhouse gases, homemade here in America …. it’s a win-win-win and in car races we’re all about winning!”

Dewar lived in Brazil as that country was moving to higher ethanol blends and he hopes to see it grow here in the United States as well. Interview with Brent Dewar, NASCAR, at Daytona 500

Growth Energy, the National Corn Growers Association, New Holland and POET-DSM are partners in American Ethanol with NASCAR.

Growth, Environmental Groups Comment on CARB

growth-energy-logoGrowth Energy and environmental groups are adding their voices of comments to California’s proposal to its clean air regulations. In a news release, Growth says the California Air Resources Board’s (CARB) proposed amendments to the state’s Low Carbon Fuels Standard (LCFS) Regulation and the Proposed Regulation on the Commercialization of Alternative Diesel Fuels are unnecessary under the state’s environmental mandates.

David Bearden, General Counsel of Growth Energy noted, “If adopted, the current LCFS proposal will have a devastating impact on Growth Energy’s members, who will be forced to exit from the California alternative fuels market. Such an outcome will likely trigger the cost-containment caps in the proposed regulation, and any claimed benefits of the LCFS program will be compromised or lost.”

Specifically, the comments noted:

The LCFS regulation is no longer needed to achieve the greenhouse gas reductions sought in the 2009 LCFS regulation. Since the Board first adopted the LCFS regulation in 2009, much has changed in efforts by the state and federal government to reduce greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions from motor vehicles. Growth Energy presented a proposed alternative to the LCFS regulation to CARB staff in June 2014 that would simply adjust California’s cap-and-trade regulation to account for any incremental GHG emission reductions forgone by eliminating the LCFS. Following review of Growth Energy’s proposal, the CARB staff agreed with Growth Energy that Growth Energy’s proposal would likely achieve the same level of GHG emissions reductions as the 2009 LCFS regulation through 2020. Growth Energy’s proposal had none of the unintended negative environmental consequences of the 2009 LCFS regulation, which have been the subject of litigation, and would have eliminated the need for California businesses and consumers to pay for the LCFS program ─ costs that the CARB staff now says may range up to about 12 cents per gallon by 2020.

Growth added that the new justification for the LCFS regulation ignores the federal renewable fuels program, and CARB is not properly accounting for the beneficial effects of the federal renewable fuels standards.

Those sentiments are echoed by the Energy Future Coalition (EFC) and Urban Air Initiative (UAI), which are urging CARB to bring ethanol into the mix.

“Simply replacing gasoline, which is increasingly carbon intensive, with ethanol provides substantial carbon reductions. Using that ethanol to replace toxic compounds used for octane provides a dual benefit of protecting public health,” said David VanderGriend, President of UAI.

“Our research has shown that there is a clear linkage to gasoline and a range of negative health effects. So reducing carbon isn’t just a matter of greenhouse gas and potential climate change but also saving lives by reducing toxic emissions.”