Ethanol Report on RFS Delay

ethanol-report-adAs the Environmental Protection Agency announced Friday that it will be next year before 2014 volume standards can be finalized, the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) offered comments on behalf of the industry on the development.

In this Ethanol Report, RFA president and CEO Bob Dinneen talks about their reaction and what the continued uncertainty means for the industry going forward.

Ethanol Report on RFS Delay

Big Data Coalition May Ease Privacy Concerns

New Holland ZimmPollOur latest ZimmPoll asked the question, “Do you think the new coalition agreement addresses ag data privacy concerns?”

Time will tell if the big data coalition will ease the minds of concerned growers when it comes to privacy and security issues. However, the majority of those polled feel that the agreement addresses these ag data issues. We for sure will keep you posted.

Here are the poll results:

  • Yes – 47%
  • No – 26%
  • Maybe – 7%
  • I don’t know – 20%

Our new ZimmPoll is now live and asks the question, What’s your favorite Thanksgiving side dish?

In year’s past we have asked your favorite Thanksgiving protein. Does your family go for the traditional turkey or maybe a ham? Or do you have your own traditional meat of choice? This year in honor of Thanksgiving, we want to know your favorite side dish. Do you prefer dressing, mashed potatoes or do you love something different? At my family’s table gravy is a side all it’s own. It covers everything but the salad.

EPA Delay Continues Uncertainty for Biodiesel

The biodiesel industry and soybean growers weighed in on the EPA decision today to delay 2014 volume requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

nbb-advanced“This Administration says over and over that it supports biodiesel, yet its actions with these repeated delays are undermining the industry,” said National Biodiesel Board Vice President of Federal Affairs Anne Steckel. “Biodiesel producers have laid off workers and idled production. Some have shut down altogether. We know that fuels policy is complex, but there is absolutely no reason that the biodiesel volume hasn’t been announced. We are urging the Administration to finalize a 2014 rule as quickly as possible that puts this industry back on track for growth and puts our country back on track for ending our dangerous dependence on oil. We also urge them to move quickly on 2015 so that we don’t repeat this flawed process again next year.”

ASAlogo1“The continued delays create great uncertainty for the biodiesel industry and soybean farmers and limits the industry’s ability to invest and expand,” said American Soybean Association President Ray Gaesser. “The Proposed Rule was unacceptable and would have taken biodiesel backward from the amounts produced and utilized in 2013. However, ASA believes that EPA can and should finalize a 2014 rule that sets the biomass-based diesel volumes at or above the nearly 1.8 billion gallons that were produced and consumed in the U.S. in 2013.”

EPA Decision Impacts Advanced Biofuels

The Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to hold off on issuing a final rule for 2014 volume obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) continues the atmosphere of uncertainty for the advanced biofuel industry, according to the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO).

BIO logo“We appreciate that EPA will not be finalizing a proposed 2014 RFS rule containing a flawed methodology for setting the renewable fuel volumes,” said BIO President & CEO Jim Greenwood. “Unfortunately, the delay in this year’s rule already has chilled investment and financing of future projects, even as first-of-a-kind cellulosic biofuel plants are right now starting up operations. The industry needs a final rule that is legally appropriate and continues to support our efforts.”

aeclogoAdvanced Ethanol Council (AEC) Executive Director Brooke Coleman says that pulling back on the 2014 RFS rule is “the right thing to do at this stage in the game when it comes to preserving the integrity of the program.”

“While the cellulosic biofuel industry will not get the policy certainty it needs from this decision, it does suggest that the Administration is listening when it comes to our concerns about giving oil companies too much power to avoid its obligations under the RFS going forward,” Coleman added. “This battle was never about the 2014 volumes for the oil industry, and we appreciate the Administration’s willingness to pivot in the right direction this late in the game. The key now for advanced biofuel investment is to move quickly to fix what needs to be fixed administratively so we can reestablish the RFS as the global gold standard for advanced biofuel policy.”

abfaThe Advanced Biofuels Association (ABFA) president Michael McAdams says the announcement was a surprise.

EPA hit the big reset button. Given the fact that we are already at the end of 2014, we appreciate EPA’s recognition that the real importance is to set the program on a clear glide path for 2015 and 2016. The numbers do matter, and utilizing the actual production will be a positive step from what was a proposed. We appreciate how EPA recognized that cutting requirements for advanced biofuels would be a mistake. This emerging industry deserves better considering it has already demonstrated the capacity to generate 3.2 billion gallons of advanced biofuel annually. But, at least EPA’s decision leaves the glass more than half full and allow us to get back on track next year.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFThe Oleofuels 2015 conference will take place June 10-11, 2015 in Frankfurt, Germany. Oleofuels 2015 is the progression of ACI’s highly successful European Biodiesel series of events which ran from 2008-2013. The event will cover all fuels made from oils & fats including biodiesel, HVO & bio jet. A global perspective of these fuels will be a key focus. During the afternoon of Tuesday, June 9, 2015 a limited number of conference attendees will receive the opportunity to attend a site visit to Bunge’s plant in Mannheim, Germany.
  • Center for Resource Solutions (CRS) will recognize four organizations and two individuals for their role in building and shaping the market for renewable energy over the past year. The award recipients will be honored during the 2014 Green Power Leadership Awards ceremony held in conjunction with the Renewable Energy Markets 2014 conference taking place in Sacramento, CA from December 2–4, 2014. Green Power Market Development awards went to Apple Inc.; Mary Sotos, World Resources Institute (WRI); Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD); and White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ). The Leadership in Green Power Education was awarded to Puget Sound Energy, and the Green Power Leader of the Year was awarded to Robert Maddox, Sterling Planet.
  • The final program for Bio-Markets Asia that incorporates the dual summits – Biomass Supply Chain & BiofuelsWorld – is now available online. The event is being held January 27-29, 2015 in Jakarta. The summit will primarily focus on ‘Maximizing the Potential of the Green Feedstock for Export or Domestic Power’ and explore the potential of ‘Indonesia to Drive Growth’?
  • SunEdison, Inc. and TerraForm Power, Inc. have signed a definitive agreement to acquire First Wind. With the purchase, SunEdison acquires the leading independent wind development and asset management company and becomes the leading global renewable energy development company. The transaction also will accelerate the timing and enhance the visibility of SunEdison’s receipt of incentive distribution rights from TerraForm Power, and increase the value of SunEdison’s yieldco platform. The transaction is immediately accretive to TerraForm Power and is expected to deliver $72.5 million in unlevered cash available for distribution.

Ethanol Industry Reacts to EPA Delay

The ethanol industry wasted no time today in reacting to the Environmental Protection Agency’s announcement that final 2014 volume obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard will be put off until next year.

RFANewlogoRenewable Fuels Association (RFA) president Bob Dinneen calls it “a cloud of uncertainty with a silver lining.”

Deciding not to decide is not a decision. Unfortunately, the announcement today perpetuates the uncertainty that has plagued the continued evolution of biofuels production and marketing for a year. Nevertheless, the Administration has taken a major step by walking away from a proposed rule that was wrong on the law, wrong on the market impacts, wrong for innovation, and wrong for consumers.

growth-energy-logoGrowth Energy CEO Tom Buis commended EPA and said it was the “appropriate decision” for the agency and is a win for the industry.

Today’s announcement is a clear acknowledgement that the EPA’s proposed rule was flawed from the beginning. There was no way the methodology in the proposed rule would ever work, as it went against the very purpose and policy goals of the RFS. The EPA wisely decided not to finalize the rule so they could fix the flawed methodology. Their initial proposal over a year ago was unacceptable and simply acquiesced to the demands of Big Oil and their refusal to blend more renewable fuels into the marketplace.

ACElogoAmerican Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) Executive Vice President Brian Jennings credits ethanol supporters for helping the EPA reconsider the 2014 RVO obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard.

Big Oil came close to bullying the Administration to completely rewrite the RFS this year so oil companies could escape their legal responsibility to blend more ethanol in gasoline. But thanks to thousands of comments from ACE members and other biofuel supporters, EPA wisely chose to reconsider their ill-advised proposal which would have legitimized the so-called ‘blend wall’. While we will reserve full judgment until they finalize the 2014 targets next year, it certainly appears the Administration recognizes their proposed RFS changes were inconsistent with legislative history and the Clean Air Act.

EPA Delays Final RFS Rules

epa-150The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) signed a Notice of Delay today to be published in the Federal Register announcing they will not be finalizing the the 2014 applicable percentage of standards under the 2014 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) until next year.

“The proposed rule, issued in November 2013, generated a significant number of comments, particularly on the proposal’s ability to ensure continued progress toward achieving the law’s renewable fuel targets,” said the EPA statement. “Due to the delay in finalizing the standards for 2014, and given ongoing consideration of the issues presented by the commenters, the agency intends to take action on the 2014 standards rule in 2015. Looking forward, one of EPA’s objectives is to get back on the annual statutory timeline by addressing 2014, 2015, and 2016 standards in the next calendar year.”

“The proposal has generated significant comment and controversy, particularly about how volumes should be set in light of lower gasoline consumption than had been forecast at the time that the Energy Independence and Security Act was enacted, and whether and on what basis the statutory volumes should be waived. Most notably, commenters expressed concerns regarding the proposal’s ability to ensure continued progress towards achieving the volumes of renewable fuel targeted by the statute. EPA has been evaluating these issues in light of the purposes of the statute and the Administration’s commitment to the goals of the statute to increase the use of renewable fuels, particularly cellulosic biofuels, which will reduce the greenhouse gases emitted from the consumption of transportation fuels and diversify the nation’s fuel supply.

The agency will also be making modifications to the EPA Moderated Transaction System (EMTS) to endure that Renewable Identification Numbers (RINS) generated in 2012 are valid for demonstrating compliance in 2013.

Sullivan Solar Shines with Technology

Sullivan Solar was one of the test partners for Google Glass and the first solar company to test the technology and its possible applications for the industry. From there, the company developed business app using the Intuit QuickBase platfrom. Now they are demonstrating their latest technology based in the cloud. Michael Chagala, director of information technology for Sullivan Power, presented their solution during the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

“Today our QuickBase build is used by all departments. At the moment a sales lead comes into the system, it’s wrapped in a workflow,” said Chagala, “It’s assigned to the right person, tasks are created, milestones set triggers, and it progresses from one department to the next. What we didn’t realize until recently is just how agile this has made us. It’s common for me to make a change to someone’s workflow in real-time as they’re on the phone describing the problem to me.”

Michael Chagala Sullivan SolarChagala discussed ways the solar industry can utilize software and technology to build out their own company database workspace to increase efficiency and streamline processes within their company. The company utilized Sympo an official QuickBase Solution Provider, to assist with the heavy lifting of the company’s development of its business software program.

“In order to keep up with all of this new opportunity, solar companies need to have clear business processes and workflows in place for their entire customer lifecycle,” explained Emi Gwin, President at Sympo. “Working together, Sympo and Sullivan Solar Power have created a powerful operating system for the entire business on QuickBase, resulting in saved time, increased revenue and lightning fast growth.”

Sullivan Solar Power selected Intuit’s QuickBase platform to compliment the company’s intensive quality assurance and quality control processes that have built its rankings as an industry-leader. The ease of use and freedom to build out the program based on the company’s needs has provided the company the ability for 105 employees to work simultaneously on hundreds of projects, ranging from lead management to data analysis and accounting.

Sullivan Solar Power’s next project for business development applications are to incorporate the next iteration of its Google Glass app, “Our next version of the app will push and pull data from QuickBase using the QuickBase API,” added Chagala.

Energy Vision Hands Out Leadership Awards

energyvisionSome real energy leaders have been recognized for their innovations in scaling up renewable natural gas (RNG) vehicle fuel made from organic waste such as food, farm and yard waste and wastewater treatment products. This news release from Energy Vision, a national non-profit analyzing and promoting clean, renewable, petroleum-free transportation fuels, says the group gave out its 2014 Leadership Awards during a gala event in Manhattan.

RNG has ultra-low emissions and is growing fast. It has the potential to power many of America’s 10 million heavy trucks and buses. Converting 25% of them could displace more than 9 billion gallons of diesel fuel and cut GHG emissions over 89 million tons annually.

The award winners included:

· Kathryn Garcia, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Sanitation (DSNY), the world’s largest sanitation department, which will be implementing mandatory commercial organic waste recycling in addition to its current voluntary residential organic waste recycling program;

· Richard M. DiGia, President/CEO, Aria Energy and Harrison Clay, President, Clean Energy Renewables, whose joint project works with the Seneca Meadows Landfill in Seneca Falls, the first New York State operation converting landfill biogas into vehicle fuel, to ship its RNG to California, where Clean Energy Renewables distributes it to vehicle fleets.

· Mel Kurtz, President, quasar energy group, the largest U.S. operator of “complete mix” anaerobic digesters, with 14 facilities in Ohio, Massachusetts and New York. The company has the capacity to annually convert over 700,000 tons of municipal and commercial organic waste into renewable electricity, heat and fuel.

Energy Vision officials said during the ceremony that renewable energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions have emerged as central issues of deep concern to people and really could change the way we live.

Biodiesel Board Picks Leadership

nbb-logoThe National Biodiesel Board (NBB) has picked five returning governing board members and two new members to serve in leadership roles.

“Biodiesel has faced many challenges but with strong leadership from among all sectors of the industry we are in a position as an organization to face those challenges head on,” said NBB CEO Joe Jobe. “This industry has produced more than a billion gallons of advanced biofuels each of the last three years and will continue to grow into the future under the direction of the board.”

Officers elected to lead the board are:

Steven J. Levy, chairman, Sprague Operating Resources
Ron Marr, vice chair, Minnesota Soybean Processors
Mike Cunningham, treasurer, American Soybean Association
Greg Anderson, secretary, Nebraska Soybean Board

NBB members also voted to fill seven board member spots. Members elected to the Governing Board included officers Steven J. Levy, Greg Anderson, and Mike Cunningham along with:

Jennifer Case, New Leaf Biofuel
Tim Keaveney, HERO BX
Robert Morton, Newport Biodiesel
Ben Wootton, World Energy

Ron Marr, Gary Haer, Todd Ellis, Kent Engelbrecht, Ed Hegland, Bob Metz, Robert Stobaugh, and Ed Ulch will continue serving on the Governing Board.

REG Cuts Ribbon on Louisiana Renewable Diesel Plant

reg-logoIowa-based Renewable Energy Group celebrated this week the grand opening of its renewable diesel plant in Louisiana. This company news release says the Geismar biorefinery is now producing renewable hydrocarbon diesel (RHD) in commercial-scale quantities.

The event marked the successful start-up of the 75-million gallon nameplate capacity plant that REG acquired in June. Beginning production on October 14, REG Geismar, LLC has already produced more than 4.7 million gallons of renewable fuel. REG-9000™/RHD produced at the plant meet or exceed ASTM D975 standards.

“REG Geismar strengthens our core biomass-based diesel business, allowing us to further expand our product offering to our customers,” said Daniel J. Oh, REG President and CEO. “It reinforces our commitment to advanced biofuels and demonstrates our confidence in this market.”

The Geismar biorefinery, REG’s largest, is the company’s first plant to produce RHD using Bio-Synfining™ technology developed by REG Synthetic Fuels, LLC in Tulsa, Okla. The process converts a wide range of feedstocks, such as animal fat, inedible corn oil, used cooking oil and vegetable oils, into renewable fuel.

REG officials say their teams in Iowa, Louisiana and Oklahoma worked hard to get the plant online, producing near its nameplate capacity already.

Iowa Ethanol, Biodiesel Makers Call for Tax Extenders

IowaRFAlogoEthanol and biodiesel producers in Iowa are joining in the growing chorus calling on Congress to extend some important tax credits. This news release from the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) says nine of the state’s advanced biofuel producers sent a letter to the entire Iowa Congressional Delegation encouraging the swift passage of a tax extenders package which includes provisions for biodiesel blending, cellulosic production, and accelerated depreciation, prior to final adjournment of the 113th Congress.

“Iowa’s entire congressional delegation has shown steadfast support for these important policies, and today we’re calling on them to take concrete steps to advance legislation extending these vital provisions that support energy security, American jobs, and a cleaner environment,” stated Western Iowa Energy Board Member Denny Mauser. “In the face of more than 100 years of preferential tax treatment for petroleum—a literal Century of Subsidies—these incentives keep advanced biofuel projects moving forward to the benefit of all Americans.”

The letter states, “It is absolutely critical to our industry that this Congress pass a tax extenders package, which includes provisions for biodiesel blending, cellulosic production and accelerated depreciation, prior to final adjournment.”

The letter goes on to point out the advantages the petroleum industry continues to enjoy in tax subsidies and says if Congress does nothing on the extenders package, the “U.S. will be left with a defacto petroleum mandate.”

New Corn Growers CEO Wants to Grow Demand

ncga-novakNew National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) CEO Chris Novak talked about challenges facing the corn industry as he visited with members of the agricultural media during the National Association of Farm Broadcasting convention last week in Kansas City.

“Lots of big challenges ahead for us,” said Novak, who just took over the CEO job for Rick Tolman who retired last month. “Looking at a record crop and lower prices than we’d like to see but that’s an opportunity as well.”

Novak sees increasing demand as the most important challenge and opportunity for the industry. “How do we ensure that with a second record crop in a row that we’ve got the demand that can keep our farmers profitable?” he said. The primary demand sectors – livestock, ethanol and exports – all offer new growth potential.

“Certainly EPA’s support and implementation of the renewable fuels law as passed by Congress is going to be important to us in the short term,” he added. “Longer term we’re looking to build consumer demand for a renewable fuel that increases our energy independence and helps reduce greenhouse gases.”

Chris Novak previously served many years as chief executive officer of the National Pork Board and prior to that, he was executive director of the Indiana Corn Marketing Council, the Indiana Corn Growers Association and the Indiana Soybean Alliance.

In this interview, Novak also talks about NCGA’s comments on the proposed Waters of the U.S. rule, and what he expects from the lame duck session of Congress and the new Congress in January. Interview with Chris Novak, NCGA CEO

2014 NAFB Convention Photos

NAFB Convention is sponsored by
NAFB Convention is sponsored by FMC

UNICA: Sugarcane Ethanol Good for Environment, Drivers

unica1A new report from South American sugarcane growers shows ethanol benefits the environment and drivers. According to the Brazil-based Union of the Sugarcane Industry, UNICA, which represents those producing sugar, ethanol and bioelectricity, says that ethanol uses 90 percent less greenhouse gases than gasoline (translation courtesy of Google translator). The group points to data after a long dry period this year that impacted sugarcane production, and thus, ethanol production, when carbon dioxide levels hit the worst rates since 2007.

Since CIDE (Contributions Intervention in the Economic Domain) was zeroed in gasoline prices in 2011, there was an increase in the consumption of fossil fuel and ethanol, a cleaner and renewable source of energy, lost competitiveness and consumer preference at the pump.

Produced from clean, renewable source, cane sugar, the environmental benefits of ethanol over gasoline with gains including public health are widely recognized as the improvement in air quality, particularly in metropolitan areas. Several studies show that sugarcane ethanol reduces emissions causing climate change gases by up to 90% when compared to gasoline.

Thanks to this index, the Brazilian ethanol is the only biofuel produced on a large scale in the world considered ‘advanced’ by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Environmental Protection Agency of the United States.

More data shows that in the last 10 years since flex-fuel vehicles were introduced in Brazil, the country has avoided the emission of approximately 240 million tons of CO2, equivalent to three years of issuance of this gas for a country the size of Chile.

UNICA also goes on to point out that drivers can save up to 66 percent on their costs to fill up their fuel tanks using ethanol.

RFA CEO Talks Ethanol Issues with Broadcasters

Attending the National Association of Farm Broadcasting convention in Kansas City last week, Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) president and CEO Bob Dinneen talked about all of the important issues facing the ethanol industry with farm broadcasters from around the nation.

Among the topics he addressed were the need for Congress to pass tax extenders for biofuels, first cellulosic ethanol plants going on line this year, how lower oil could be impacting domestic oil production, rail transportation issues, and of course, the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

nafb-14-dinneenRegarding the lame duck session of Congress, Dinneen says it’s called lame for a reason but he does expect them to pass a tax extenders bill. “It will include the biodiesel tax credit and the cellulosic ethanol tax incentive, which will be good to have now that we finally have cellulosic ethanol production so they can take advantage of the tax incentive that has been there for them,” he said.

While the industry continues to expect a final decision from the EPA on the 2014 volume requirements any day, Dinneen says it could still be next week. “I fear for my Thanksgiving dinner because I suspect that the minute I carve into that turkey, I’m going to get an email that Gina McCarthy has just signed the rule,” he said. “I wish they’d get it out, let’s just be done with it.”

Seeing gas prices continue to drop nationwide, Dinneen agrees with some analysts that OPEC could be trying to cut U.S. oil production. “The Saudis, I think, have become annoyed that the U.S. is producing more (oil) and has decided that they want to try to break the back of these fracking operations,” said Dinneen, noting that those operations start losing money with prices below $80 a barrel. “Ethanol remains the lowest cost transportation fuel on the planet today and it’s unlikely that the Saudis will be able to break our back.”

Hear more in this interview: Interview with Bob Dinneen, RFA

2014 NAFB Convention Photos

NAFB Convention is sponsored by
NAFB Convention is sponsored by FMC