Biofuel Groups Oppose RFS Delay Request

Leading biofuel industry groups are opposing a delay requested by petroleum industry in a 2013 Renewable Fuel Standard case.

Dont Mess with RFSThe Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) and Growth Energy together filed a joint response yesterday in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in opposition to the American Petroleum Institute’s and American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers’ motion to “sever and hold in abeyance their challenge to the 2013 Renewable Fuel Standard” that was filed on Friday. The case is Monroe Energy, LLC v. United States Environmental Protection Agency, which was argued before the Court on April 7.

As the groups explained in their response to the motion, “Respondent-Intervenors Biotechnology Industry Organization, Growth Energy, and Renewable Fuels Association oppose the motion to sever API and AFPM’s petitions and place them in abeyance. The petitions have been fully briefed, responded to, and argued. No purpose is served by pulling API and AFPM’s petitions back a week after argument, to hold them indefinitely and consolidate them with hypothetical later-filed petitions.”

Ethanol Industry Testifies About Railroad Issues

The ethanol industry testified during the Surface Transportation Board hearing to discuss issues related to insufficient rail service that the ethanol industry says has resulted in ethanol prices spikes and ethanol plants having to halt production.

ethanol rail car at Patriot EthanolChris Bliley, director of regulatory affairs for Growth Energy said in his testimony, “Make no mistake, these price spikes have not been caused by a lack of ethanol production or supply, but purely because of an inability to get timely rail transportation. In fact, many plants have reduced or even halted production because their storage capacity is fully utilized. There have been numerous examples of our producers having to wait and wait on trains to deliver their product.”

He continued, “On top of the poor and declining rail service, our industry has seen increased tariff rates on certain routes effective April 1. Not only did one railroad give our producers very little notice of the increases, but I dare say, few, if any industries would have the audacity or ability to increase shipping rates while their service has been so poor.

“The bottom line is that the railroad industry has failed in its sole responsibility to transport goods in a timely and effective manner. This failure in service has had a ripple effect on American consumers by increasing the cost of goods and services, and has directly impacted our industry by causing a de facto shut down in production as there is simply no more space to store product,” Bliley added.

Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) general counsel Ed Hubbard, in his testimony said, “Due to an uncharacteristic winter, rail shipments of all commodities have been significantly delayed across the country. For ethanol, the congestion has led to a dramatic delay in ethanol shipments to fuel terminals, and caused shutdowns of operations at ethanol plants because they can’t continue to store product while awaiting rail carriers to move their product.” Continue reading

Growth Energy Applauds Senator Stabenow

The Senate Agriculture Committee held a hearing on the economic benefits of advanced biofuels today.

In response to the hearing, Growth Energy CEO, Tom Buis, said, “I am grateful to Sen. Stabenow for taking the time to investigate the true impact of biofuels on our nation’s economy. First generation biofuels have created nearly 400,000 jobs, revitalized our rural communities and have reduced our dependence on foreign oil Growth_Energy_logo (1)while significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions. These first generation fuels have set the foundation for further advancements in next generation ethanol, including deriving the fuel from sources such as farm waste, plants, and wood waste. With over a billion tons of available biomass, the potential for advanced biofuels are limitless.”

Buis noted that higher blends such as E15 and next generation biofuels will help the country break through the blendwall. He said they have the ability to further reduce the country’s dependence on foreign oil, create as many as 130,000 more jobs in our rural communities, further support farmers and present consumers with a choice and savings at the pump. But in order to achieve these goals, he said, we need to focus on developing the infrastructure to give consumers access to the fuel of their choice.”

One of the key testimonies was presented by CEO of Richard Childress Racing and Growth Energy Board Member, Richard Childress. His testimony largely focused on the benefits of biofuels in NASCAR and the substantial improvements Sunoco Green E15, the 15 percent ethanol blend used in the sport, has had in the world of stock car racing.

“Sunoco Green E15 has proven to be a reliable fuel for Richard Childress Racing and for the entire NASCAR community,” said Childress in his written testimony. “Now in its fourth season of use, the fuel has been driven more than 5 million miles with no reported engine conditions or increased maintenance issues. The fuel has increased horsepower while decreasing emissions by 20 percent.”

Buis concluded, “By reducing Renewable Volume Obligations, which the EPA recently proposed, we will see a major impact on the infrastructure needed for these higher blends as well as the development of next generation biofuels, which could impede future economic growth for our entire country.”

Oil Spills & Contaminated Gas – Ethanol Takes On API

RFA_GrowthEnergy_Dear_Oil_AdA recent edition of the New York Times and Politico have published what the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) and Growth Energy are calling “good-humored, but factual takedown of Big Oil’s false, hypocritical attacks against clean, renewable ethanol”.

In response to American Petroleum Institute’s (API) current national anti-biofuel campaign, the two ethanol associations have published an ad that is an open letter to Jack Gerard, API president in Politico and all DC editions of the New York Times.

Dinneen and Buis write, “Despite the millions of dollars your industry has spent on bogus TV ads, there hasn’t been a single reported case of engine damage from ethanol blended fuels like E15. But last week, Exxon admitted selling customers in Louisiana more than 5 million gallons of oil-based gasoline that was so bad that it’s been stopping cars dead in their tracks. In fact, one auto shop reported 40 or 50 customers who had trouble starting their engines as a result of Exxon’s contaminated gas. That’s 40 or 50 more cases of engine problems than have been reported in the entire country from E15, and that’s just one shop in Baton Rouge!”

With summer around the corner consumers are getting their boats ready for the waters and API has taken the opportunity to run ads about boats not being able to use E15 or other higher blends of ethanol. However, what API does not acknowledge is that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) did not approve E15 for small engines or boats.

Going directly at the current API boat ads, the open letter continues, “While your ads are misleading people about the impact of ethanol on marine engines, boats in Houston are in dry dock because of your oil spill! In fact, that one company has been fined for 77 different oil spills since 2008, which means they have averaged more than one oil spill per month for the last six years. That’s a lot of boaters impacted by oil spills, Jack.”

The open letter is summed up in one simple closing thought, “You see, Jack, the real environmental peril is oil, not renewable fuels like ethanol.”

American Ethanol on the NASCAR Green® Team

nascar-race-greenAmerican Ethanol is once again partnering with NASCAR® for the NASCAR Race to Green™ initiative now through April 25 to promote environmentally friendly biofuels.

The goal of the initiative is to highlight the accomplishments of green programs that have helped reduce the NASCAR’s carbon footprint. “This partnership with NASCAR Green truly shows the sport’s commitment to preserving our environment. Each race further proves ethanol is a reliable, high-performance fuel that has revitalized our rural communities and created more than 400,000 jobs across the country,” said Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy.

American-Ethanol-and-NASCAR-LogoAmerican Ethanol has partnered with NASCAR since 2011 to promote the use of biofuels by using Sunoco Green E15, a 15 percent ethanol blended fuel, across its three national series. American Ethanol also sponsors the Richard Childress Racing No. 3 Chevrolet SS driven by Sunoco Rookie of the Year™ contender and 2013 NASCAR Nationwide Series™ Champion Austin Dillon.

I had a chance to catch up with Buis while in DC last week and this year’s American Ethanol program was one of several topics we discussed. Interview with Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis

API Runs Additional Biofuel Attack Ads

The American Petroleum Institute (API) will be running additional advertisements criticizing biofuels and the ethanol industry is once again fighting back.

“Once again, API has decided to perpetuate misinformation to protect their bottom line. They will do anything to protect their record profits and market share, even at the expense of consumer savings and a cleaner environment,” said Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy.

oil spill lake michigan“This recent series of ads are nothing more than fear mongering and misleading information. Time and again, the facts show that there is no substantial correlation between ethanol production and food prices,” continued Buis. “If Big Oil wants to point the finger at those who are driving up food prices, they should look no further than a mirror. In fact, a 2013 World Bank study has proven that crude oil prices are responsible for at least 50 percent of the increase in global food prices since 2004.”

Buis notes that marine and small engines are warrantied to use up to 10 percent ethanol and are not legally allowed to use E15 or other higher ethanol blends. He said the campaign has been designed to scare consumers, E15 is voluntary for use, and any suggestion that consumers are required to use E15 in small engines is completely misleading and false.

While the ads lay blame on the biofuels industry for additional environmental damage, Buis said that Big Oil a long history of ignoring environmental damage they are directly responsible for. “The sheer nerve to accuse biofuels of causing environmental harm on the 25th anniversary of the massive Exxon-Valdez spill, and the present-day oil slick off the coast of Texas, as well as another spill in Lake Michigan just yesterday, shows that Big Oil has a complete disconnect with reality and only cares about lining their pockets at the expense of the American consumer and our environment,” concluded Buis.

Biofuel Organizations Call for Tax Credits Extensions

US Capitol at dusk photo Joanna SchroederLeaders from several biofuel trade organizations are calling for the extension of some federal advanced biofuel tax credits. The Advanced Ethanol Council, Advanced Biofuels Association, Algae Biomass Organization, Biotechnology Industry Organization, Growth Energy, National Biodiesel Board, and Renewable Fuels Association have sent a letter to the Senate calling for the restoration of the Second Generation Biofuel Producer Tax Credit, the Special Depreciation Allowance for Second Generation Biofuel Plant Property, the Biodiesel and Renewable Diesel Fuels Credit, and the Alternative Fuel and Alternative Fuel Mixture Excise Tax Credit.

The letter reads, in part, “The advanced biofuels industry is at a critical stage of development. Despite a difficult financial market, we are now operating commercial plants across the country and continue to make progress on dozens of additional projects in the final stages of development. Advanced biofuel tax credits have allowed the biofuels industry to make great strides in reducing the cost of production and developing first-of-kind technologies to deploy the most innovative fuel in the world.

“As leaders in a critical innovation sector in the United States, we are well aware of the financial constraints facing this country. However, the United States’ global competitors are offering tax incentives for advanced biofuels and in fact are attracting construction of new facilities – and associated high skilled jobs. If Congress wants American companies to continue developing these homegrown technologies in the United States, it must extend these credits. Biofuel producers are also competing with incumbent fossil energy industries who continue to enjoy tax incentives on a permanent basis.”

The letter marks the latest effort by biodiesel and ethanol producers and their backers to get better federal government support for their green fuels. Late last year, the Environmental Protection Agency undercut the industries when it proposed drastic reductions in the amount of biodiesel and ethanol to be mixed into the Nation’s fuel supply. In addition, Washington also let these vital federal tax credits expire at the end of the year.

Ethanol Industry Takes LCFS Fight to High Court

The nation’s ethanol industry has decided to take its fight against the California Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) to United States Supreme Court.

rfagrowthThe Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) and Growth Energy today filed a joint petition with the U.S. Supreme Court for “certiorari to make a final determination relating to the constitutionally flawed LCFS.” The action follows a decision by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in January to deny rehearing en banc in the litigation regarding the California law.

A joint release from the two ethanol groups stated, “California, through adoption of the LCFS, has violated the most basic, structural features of interstate federalism. LCFS not only discriminates against out-of-state commerce, but it seeks to regulate conduct in other States in direct contravention of our constitutional structure and at the direct expense of Midwestern farmers and ethanol producers.”

The January decision by a divided panel of the the Ninth Circuit Court reversed a previous District Court finding that the California LCFS violates the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution and is therefore unconstitutional. The ethanol groups note that California officials admit the LCFS seeks to regulate greenhouse gas emissions occurring in other states “by rewarding and punishing industrial and agricultural activity taking place outside California” and in doing so systematically favors California, which they contend is unconstitutional.

E15 Comes to Cambridge, Nebraska

Anew E15 pump in Cambridge NebraskaAnew Travel Center in Cambridge, Nebraska is now offering E15 to consumers for use in 2001 and newer vehicles. E15 is currently available in 14 states.

“Anew Travel Center is pleased to announce the opening of our new fueling facility,” said Cliff Meeuwsen, member of Anew. “Through the installation of the Flex Fuel dispensers, we aim to promote the use of cleaner vehicles while also displacing the country’s dependence on foreign oil and creating employment positions that will benefit the local economy.”

The station will have ten pumps—five Flex Fuel dispensers that offer ethanol blends including E10, E15, E30 and E85, and five flexible fuel dispensers that offer biodiesel blends including B0, B2, B5 and B20. In doing so, Anew Travel Center also joins more than 3,000 retailers throughout the nation who have the infrastructure available to provide motorists with a choice of various ethanol blends.

“Seeing retail leaders like Anew, MAPCO Express, Murphy Oil and Minnoco offering E15 continues to validate that there is a viable market for higher ethanol blends. When given the choice, consumers will seek the fuel that costs less, is better for our environment and improves the performance of their vehicles. The momentum building around E15 is really quite impressive,” stated Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy whose association assisted Anew in the process of offering E15 at the pump.

5th Anniversary of E15 Waiver

Growth Energy is marking the 5th Anniversary of the Green Jobs Waiver – the waiver that brought the choice of E15 to consumers. The waiver was filed on March 6, 2009 with the Environmental Protection Agency in an effort to get higher ethanol blends approved for commercial use.

E15 sign“We recognized five years ago that increased blends, such as E15 would be necessary to reduce our dangerous dependence on foreign oil and create jobs right here at home all while providing consumers with a choice and savings at the pump,” said Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy about the anniversary. “Additionally, for the biofuels industry to grow, higher blends in the commercial marketplace are necessary to foster development and innovation in next generation fuels.

Five years later, noted Buis, they consider their efforts to be successful even though challenges from Big Oil and special interests continue to arise. “We have faced every possible legal, regulatory and PR hurdle our opponents could throw at us, but our industry and members have been resilient,” said Buis.

Today, E15 can be found in 14 states and each week additional retailers are offering the fuel blend. Buis said retailers are beginning to recognize the economic benefits of offering a “less expensive, home-grown, high performance fuel. All of NASCAR runs on E15 and combined, race car drivers have driven more than 5 million miles on the ethanol blend.

Buis concluded, “E15 is the most tested fuel in our nation’s history. More than six million miles of testing on 86 vehicles without any engine problems or durability issues. One thing is clear; E15 is a safe, reliable fuel that more and more Americans are choosing.”

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.

American Ethanol Expands Program

Ethanol Association Growth Energy is expanding their partnership of Richard Childress Racing and Austin Dillion for the 2014 NASCAR season as part of their American Ethanol program. Beginning with the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Phoenix International Raceway on March 2, Dillon will race the No. 3 American Ethanol Chevrolet SS in select races during the 2014 season.

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 Screen Shot 2014-02-20 at 1.14.48 PMjobs right here in the U.S., while revitalizing rural economies across America and saving consumers at the pump,” said Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy.

American Ethanol, launched by Growth Energy and the National Corn Growers Association along with the support of other partners, is a program that seeks to expand consumer awareness of the benefits of ethanol and E15. Since the program launch for the 2011 season, NASCAR drivers have run more than 5 million miles on renewable Sunoco Green E15.

“We want to show the people coast-to-coast there is a great alternative to imported oil and our association with NASCAR and RCR is doing that extremely well,” said Jon Holzfaster, a Paxton, NE farmer and chairman of the National Corn Growers Association’s NASCAR Advisory Committee. “Ethanol is also responsible for bringing a rural renaissance from Main Street to the family farm.”

American Ethanol will also serve as a major associate sponsor for Dillon’s No. 3 Chevrolet for the full 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season joining Dow, Cheerios, Realtree Outdoors, Bass Pro Shops and the University of Northwestern Ohio.

“Homegrown biofuels like American Ethanol have stepped up to help our nation’s economy,” said Dillon. “NASCAR drivers have run more than 5 million competitive miles on Sunoco Green E15 and I know we will reach even more milestones together. I am proud to wear the American Ethanol colors in NASCAR and I hope I can bring them to Victory Lane in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in 2014.”

Growth Energy is Taking it to the Streets

Growth Energy is holding its fifth annual executive leadership conference at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge in Phoenix, Arizona, from February 27, 2014 through March 2, 2014.
The conference will open on Thursday at 7:00 am and will showcase a number of speakers, including Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

Growth_Energy_logo-1During the opening day of the conference, there will be key addresses, including a “Chairman’s Report” from Growth Energy Board of Directors Co-Chair and Executive Chairman of POET, Jeff Broin and a “State of the Industry” address from Growth Energy CEO, Tom Buis.

The theme of this year’s conference is “Taking it to the Streets,” and a major focus will be on building out the necessary infrastructure so higher blends of renewables, such as E15, will be available to retailers and consumers. Another important topic will be the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), its future and how this policy has successfully helped drive innovation, investment and growth within the biofuels industry.

Guests will also hear unique global perspectives on the future of agriculture, the future of energy, NASCAR and the political landscape from speakers including: Harry Stine of the Stine Seed Company; Richard Childress and Austin Dillon from Richard Childress Racing; noted political analyst, Charlie Cook; and several others.

To cap off the conference, all attendees are invited to join Growth Energy at the Phoenix International Raceway during the Sprint Cup race on Sunday to cheer on American Ethanol, one of NASCAR’s official sponsors.

Growth Energy will be live streaming much of the conference at for those unable to attend.

Rep. Loebsack Introduces Infrastructure Re-FUEL Act

Congressman Dave Loebsack (D-IA) has introduced the Renewable Fuel Utilization, Expansion, and Leadership (Re-FUEL) Act. The goal of the legislation is to create a competitive grant program to assist fuel retailers with investments in renewable and alternative fuel/energy sources. The program would be administered through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and will help create new and retrofit existing infrastructure, including pumps for biofuels and hydrogen, tanks, piping and electric vehicle chargers. Loebsack points out that the legislation is already paid for and does not add to the deficit.

made in the usaI believe in making things in America and there is no reason our fuel sources shouldn’t be made here as well,” said Rep. Loebsack. “It’s also important that consumers are able to choose where their fuel source comes from when they go to fill up. Too often, infrastructure constraints are cited as the reason for not giving consumers the choices they deserve. This holds back the development of our renewable and alternative energy sources that create jobs in Iowa and across the country.”

To be eligible for the grant, projects must be capable of dispensing fuel or energy currently not widely available. Projects can be new infrastructure projects or retrofits to existing infrastructure and can include infrastructure such as biofuel and hydrogen pumps, tanks, piping, and electric vehicle chargers. A minimum of 30 percent non-federal match is required and the maximum grant per year per entity is $100,000. In addition, the grant program covers infrastructure for renewable or alternative energy, which includes renewable energy, energy for charging electric vehicles, and hydrogen and fuel cells.

“I commend Congressman Loebsack for introducing legislation that supports America’s consumers, rural communities and growing biofuels industry,” said Tom Buis CEO of Growth Energy. “By supporting renewable fuel infrastructure, this legislation will help push our nation toward energy independence and give consumers some much needed choice and savings at the pump. This legislation also emphasizes the importance of investing in and revitalizing rural America.”

The Re-FUEL Act does not add to the federal deficit. The program would be paid for by setting aside 1 percent of offshore oil royalties each fiscal year. This amounted to about $54.34 million in fiscal year 2013 and $52.16 million in fiscal year 2012. In addition, no other required disbursements from natural resources accounts such as those for state sharing, reclamation fund, or Land and Water Conservation Fund will be affected.

“The pace at which the renewable fuel advantages will be available to American drivers is greatly sped up by the fact that the proposed grants can be used for infrastructure like new blender pumps as well as retrofitting existing pumps, pipes, tanks and chargers,” said Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association. “Placing a priority on rural America is a welcomed approach. The small communities of rural America are amongst the most challenging locations for economic development. Rep. Loebsack recognizes that ethanol production has created and supports over 386,000 jobs with very real potential to expand on that success.”