GREEN Team Newsletter - Issue #207
I recently received a call from an ethanol plant board member that reminded me just how important—and nonstop—advocacy is.
On a weekend trip to a local car dealership to have his vehicle serviced, an ethanol plant board member sat in the lobby waiting for the routine check-up on his car to be completed. As he patiently skimmed through magazines, he overheard the dealership’s Service Manager speaking with a new car owner.
The woman of a new Honda model asked the Service Manager what fuel she should be using. The Service Manager promptly responded, stating that the woman should avoid using gasoline blended with ethanol because it’s “hard on the engine” and it “severely reduces mileage.” He then proceeded to explain that it may cost a little more for her to buy “no ethanol gas,” but it will be worth it in the long-run.
Many vehicle owners, with good reason, turn to the employees of car dealerships for advice and expertise on their vehicles. While we trust these service men and women to do routine maintenance and keep our vehicles in good driving condition, vehicle owners should know that the foremost experts on their cars are the folks who manufactured the vehicle. If the woman had simply looked in the fuel recommendation section of her owner’s manual, she’d see that Honda recommends the use of up to 10% ethanol (E10) in vehicles 2013 and older, and up to 15% ethanol (E15) in most of its model year 2014 vehicles and newer.
The ethanol plant board member did what most of us would do in this industry, he collected himself, then calmly and politely approached the Service Manager to ask about his recommendation. “I asked him if he knew what he just did. I asked him if he knew that Honda is a supporter of E10, and E15 in its newer vehicles. I asked him if he realized the benefits ethanol provides, to our vehicles, the environment and our economy,” the board member told me on the phone. “He got pretty red in the face.”
The board member went on to tell me that the employee explained he was simply repeating lines he had heard others spout off, and that he’s never really looked into the benefits of ethanol and renewable fuels. He was able to leave the service employee with his card, and gave him a few sources of information to look in to.
This simple exchange should remind us all, not just of the path ahead in terms of dispelling the vast amount of misinformation out there on biofuels, but also that renewable fuels advocacy is a 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year job. Every trip to a car dealer, gas station, grocery store, or church may put you on the frontline in the battle to defeat Big Oil’s big lies about renewable fuels.
As former-Sen. Byron Dorgan put it at the most recent Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit: “Getting a 16-pound mallet and hitting cement, it’s awful. Because, what happens when you hit that cement driveway? You see no visible impact—at all—of what you’ve just done. And you do it once, twice, ten times, fifteen times, twenty times—but guess what? Every time you hit it, you’re fracturing what you don’t see underneath. Then, all of a sudden, on the twenty-fifth hit with that mallet, the whole damn thing just comes apart.”
That’s the way we have to go about advocacy, and I commend all of you who do it day in and day out. Know that little by little, we are making a difference.
April 14, 2015
Senators Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) recently introduced S.889, the Fuel Choice and Deregulation Act, that would extend the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 1 psi Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) volatility waiver to E15, just as the Agency has done for E10, allowing E15 to be sold to 2001 and newer vehicles in Iowa year-round.
“We applaud this effort by Sens. Paul and Grassley to remove unnecessary hurdles in federal regulation, and allow consumers to have year-round access to lower-cost E15, the most tested fuel in history,” stated IRFA Executive Director Monte Shaw. “While other elected officials just this week sent letters hoping to restrict consumer choice and pander to petroleum’s near monopoly over the transportation fuel sector, it’s refreshing to see these valiant Senators get serious about building upon the progress we’ve made in air quality and encouraging competition at the pump.”“Consumers appreciate having choices, whether it’s at the grocery store or the fuel pump,” stated Sen. Grassley. “Those of us who live in biofuels-producing states like Iowa understand the appeal of cleaner, domestic, renewable fuels. The EPA should be consistent in the way it treats different fuel blends as a matter of fairness and to give consumers more options for fueling their vehicles. The EPA has never acted on its authority to grant a waiver for E15. This bill proposes a legislative fix to fill the void.”
As reported by OPIS, Rep. Adrian Smith (R-Neb.) recently introduce H.R. 1736, similar legislation in the House of Representatives that would have EPA extend the same volatility waiver to E15 as it provides to E10.
“Ethanol provides consumers in Nebraska and across America with a competitive, clean, domestically-produced alternative. However, burdensome EPA regulations are restricting consumers’ options at the fuel pump,” stated Rep. Smith. “Though E10 received a waiver decades ago, the same regulatory relief has not yet been extended to E15. 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.”
H.R. 1736 has three co-sponsors Reps. Ken Buck (R-Colo.), Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) and Kristi Noem (R-S.D.), and was referred to the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
E15 is a blend of 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline that is now available at a significant discount to regular unleaded gasoline at 31 locations in Iowa. E15 is approved by the EPA for use in all 2001 and newer passenger vehicles, as well as flex-fuel vehicles (FFVs). Those vehicles account for 85 percent of fuel use in the United States. Unlike E10, the EPA’s approval of E15 did not include the necessary volatility waiver to allow E15 to be sold as a registered fuel in Iowa during the summer months, therefore summertime volatility restrictions dictate that E15 can only be sold to FFVs from June 1 through September 15.
For more background information, please click here.
For more information on E15, please click here.
April 14, 2015
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced it has reached a consent decree with the American Petroleum Institute (API) and the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) over its extended delays in finalizing annua lrenewable volume obligations (RVO) under the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).
Under the agreement, EPA pledged to propose the 2015 RFS volumes and re-propose the 2014 RFS volumes by June 1, 2015, and to finalize the 2014 and 2015 volumes by November 30, 2015. While not part of the proposed agreement, EPA also pledged to propose and finalize the 2016 RFS targets on same timeline, and propose and finalize the biomass-based diesel requirement for 2017 on the same timeline (proposal by June 1; finalize by November 30, 2015).
“On one hand, it’s good the EPA is firmly committed to getting the annual RFS thresholds back on a workable time table. However, what those thresholds are is even more important,” stated Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) Executive Director Monte Shaw. “Getting the RFS ‘back on track’ isn’t just about timeliness, it’s about adhering to the Congressionally-mandated schedule for market access for renewable fuels. In the absence of an effective RFS in 2014 and 2015 we’ve seen growth in higher ethanol blends stall, biodiesel pull back, and cellulosic projects left in limbo. Hopefully, the new rules will begin cracking the oil monopoly on our fuel supply the way Congress intended.”
“We applaud EPA and API for reaching an agreement that will provide all stakeholders some certainty with regard to the Renewable Fuel Standard,” stated Renewable Fuels Association(RFA) CEO Bob Dinneen. “No one has benefited from the delays in setting annual renewable volume obligations; and while we are sympathetic to the difficulty EPA faces in promulgating annual targets, the statute is clear about the volumes required and the Agency simply has to do a better job moving forward. This consent agreement is a good start. We are particularly pleased that the Agency has committed to addressing the 2016 RVO in the same timeframe even though that is outside the scope of the consent agreement. More important than EPA meeting its statutory deadlines, however, is that the Agency recognize the market transforming purpose of the RFS and allow the RIN mechanism to drive investment in infrastructure and compel consumer choice at the pump.”
“I am pleased to hear that the EPA has finally put a process in place to establish some certainty for biofuel producers with the recent announcement of the timeline for the proposed 2015 RVO rule by June 1st as well as the final 2014 and 2015 volume obligations by November 30, 2015,” stated Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis. “Additionally, while not part of the consent decree, we are pleased to see that the EPA has committed to finalizing the 2016 RFS RVO numbers this year as well. 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.”
“We are pleased to see the EPA make these further commitments toward ending these delays,” stated National Biodiesel Board (NBB) Vice President of Federal Affairs Anne Steckel. “Biodiesel is the most successful EPA-designated advanced biofuel under the RFS to date, and the Obama administration should be doing everything it can to promote biodiesel so we can show that advanced biofuels are here today, cutting greenhouse gas emissions by more than 50 percent, creating jobs and reducing our dependence on global petroleum markets that wreak havoc on our economy. The RFS is the most successful policy we have for reducing emissions in the transportation sector, and it is working. We applaud the EPA for taking this step and look forward to working with the administration in the coming weeks to get this program back on track.”
April 14, 2015
In a petition filed with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy, the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) is calling for the EPA to stay its recent decision to streamline Argentinian biodiesel imports to the U.S. under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) pending public review and comment.
“We have serious questions about how Argentinian producers will certify that their product meets the sustainability requirements under this new approach and whether U.S. producers will be operating under more strict regulations,” stated NBB Vice President of Federal Affairs Anne Steckel. “As a result, we have asked the EPA to hold and reconsider its approval to allow a more open process with public comment and discussion.”
Steckel added, “Given the circumstances, we think this is a very reasonable request. The U.S. biodiesel industry is in a state of crisis right now as a result of EPA’s continued delays in finalizing RFS volumes. An influx of Argentinian biodiesel will only exacerbate the domestic industry’s troubles at the worst possible time.”
The EPA’s January decision allows Argentinian biodiesel producers to instead rely on a survey plan being implemented by a third party to show their feedstocks comply with the regulations. The goal of the survey program is to ease the current map and track requirements applicable to planted crops and crop residues grown outside of the United States and Canada, resulting in a program that seems far less stringent and more difficult to verify.
Because the EPA did not provide an open process when it considered the application, the limited information provided in EPA’s approval document raises significant questions about whether soybean-oil biodiesel being imported from Argentina meets the renewable biomass requirement under the regulation. Many of the soybeans processed into soybean oil in Argentina come from Uruguay, Peru, Brazil, and other countries. Given the complex international trade involved and the apparent gaps in the program as outlined in EPA’s approval document, the EPA will have little ability to verify the survey plans proposed by Argentinian producers, even with the third-party surveyor’s limited reviews. Argentina would be the first country to use a survey approach under the RFS. Canada and the U.S. operate under an aggregate approach in which feedstock is approved so long as the aggregate amount of agricultural land in each country does not grow.
NBB estimates that up to 600 million gallons of Argentinian biodiesel could enter the U.S. next year as a result of the change, particularly after the European Union blocked Argentinian biodiesel in 2013 after the country exported some 450 million gallons to the EU in 2012.
In 2014, the entire U.S. biodiesel market was about 1.75 billion gallons. In addition to the new U.S. survey rules, Argentina supports its domestic biodiesel program with a cost-distorting “Differential Export Tax” program that allows Argentinian biodiesel to undercut domestic prices.
To view NBB’s Petition for Reconsideration and Request for Administrative Stay, please click here.
April 14, 2015
Quad County Corn Processors (QCCP) recently announced it has produced one million gallons of cellulosic ethanol using Cellerate technology at its Galva, Iowa ethanol production facility. QCCP began producing cellulosic ethanol at its 35 million gallon per year capacity corn-ethanol facility in 2014.
“With Cellerate process technology, we are able to extract more ethanol out of the same kernel of corn,” stated QCCP CEO Delayne Johnson. “The combination of Cellerate and Enogencorn enzyme technology allowed us to produce advanced and cellulosic ethanol while decreasing natural gas usage, increasing ethanol throughput and reducing energy consumption. This technology package is very appealing for ethanol plants looking to improve their bottom line.”
“Ethanol plants can easily integrate Cellerate process technology into their existing production process,” stated Jack Bernens, head of marketing for Enogen. “In conjunction with Enogen corn enzyme technology, Cellerate is capable of delivering notable benefits to ethanol plants beyond what can be achieved through either technology alone.”
QCCP was recently honored with the Renewable Fuels Association’s (RFA) 2015 Industry Award at the 20th Annual National Ethanol Conference in recognition of its achievements in advancing the use of cellulosic ethanol technology. The RFA Industry Award is bestowed annually to individuals or groups that demonstrate great dedication and innovation within the renewable fuels industry.
To learn more about Cellerate process technology, please click here.
April 14, 2015
As the seasons change and we move into spring, the owner of an outdoor power equipment store, Donn Larson, recently reminded and outdoor equipment owners that using ethanol at the 10 percent level is both safe and economical in RFA’s The E-xchange Blog.
“As the owner of an outdoor power equipment store, I support ethanol,” stated Larson. “I have successfully used it for many years and have not encountered a single issue. This may be surprising to those of you who have heard the false ethanol warnings spread byBig Oil. They have spent millions on a campaign of fear and misinformation to mislead the public and maintain their monopoly on the liquid fuels market.”
Larson added, “More than 95 percent of U.S. gasoline contains up to 10 percent ethanol to boost octane or meet air quality requirements. Ethanol has helped to lower the price of gas simply by lowering our dependence on fossil fuel. It’s also renewable and improves the environment—Big Oil can’t claim that!”
Larson then noted, “The owner’s manual for my chainsaw stated that any use of alcohol would void the warranty. I knew that using ethanol would be just fine and I have proven that to be true because as I said, it still runs great today and starts on the second pull!
“I also use ethanol in most everything that I own—my over the road vehicles (they put on well over 125,000 miles per year collectively), my boat, mowers, blowers, etc.—and have never had a single problem. I also properly maintain my equipment and use fresh gas. While ethanol will not kill an engine, poor maintenance, old gas and misinformation just might. Make sure you have those three things straight and your small engines could be around for over 30 years too.”
To read Donn’s entire post, please click here.
April 14, 2015
In response to a recent study by researchers at the University of Wisconsin that attempts to suggest that growth in U.S. corn and soybean production from 2008 to 2012 drove massive conversion of grassland, forest, and other “native” lands to crop production, Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) Senior Vice President Geoff Cooper pointed to several key pieces of real-world data to topple the study’s already shaky foundations.
Cooper started his response by noting, “contrary to the study’s results, there is no empirical evidence to support the argument that U.S. cropland has expanded since 2008, let alone that large tracts of native grassland and forest have been converted to crops. In fact, USDA data clearly show that the area planted to field crops was more than 1 million acres smaller in 2012 than in 2008.”
“Indeed, the natural conclusion suggested by USDA acreage data is that increases in corn and soybean production have been accommodated through “crop switching” and higher yields per acre—not through conversion of non-agricultural lands.”
Cooper went on to state, “USDA data shows a net reduction in area planted to field crops (i.e., “planted cropland”) between 2008 and 2012. Planted cropland totaled 325.6 million acres in 2008, fell in successive years through 2011, then rebounded to 324.3 million acres in 2012—still more than 1 million acres below 2008 levels.”
He then noted key findings from the most recent Census of Agriculture, including:
- Total cropland fell 4% (16.7 million acres) from 406.4 million acres in 2007 to 389.7 million acres in 2012.
- Total woodland increased 2.5% (1.9 million acres) from 75.1 million acres in 2007 to 77.0 million acres in 2012.
- Permanent pasture and rangeland increased 1.6% (6.5 million acres) from 408.8 million acres in 2007 to 415.3 million acres in 2012.
- Irrigated land fell by 1.4%, calling into question the paper’s argument that “…cropland expansion…raises substantial concerns about water use and sustainability.”
In conclusion, Cooper stated, “In the end, the authors of the Wisconsin paper fail to explain why their land use results—derived from highly suspect satellite data analysis—differ dramatically from official data reported by USDA’s National Agriculture Statistics Service. The authors suggest cropland has expanded on both a gross and net basis at the expense of grassland, forest and other native lands. Yet, there is little or no evidence in USDA’s widely used data sets that this has in fact occurred, nor is even sufficient anecdotal evidence to substantiate the study’s claims. Instead, USDA data show that the long-term national trend toward less planted cropland persisted following passage of the expanded Renewable Fuel Standard in 2007, and that increases in corn and soybean acres were accommodated through crop switching.”
To read Cooper’s entire analysis, please click here.
April 14, 2015
The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) recently launched a new fuel retailer focused campaign designed to reach and educate marketers with testimonials and anecdotes from their peers.
“Fuel marketers get information in many ways, but among their most trusted sources are their competitors, their peers,” stated ACE Executive Vice President Brian Jennings in Ethanol Producer Magazine. “To that end, ACE is launching a new retailer-focused campaign calledFlex Forward in 2015, based on the real-life experiences of retailers who were able to break free of oil company restrictions, get over the “blend wall” and make money by offering E15, E85 and flex fuels to their customers.
“A facet of the Flex Forward campaign is a video documentary we produced, featuring the CEO of a wholesale distributorship that owns and operates 21 convenience stores that sell flex fuels, the first retailer in America to offer E15 and a single-store station owner who distinguished himself from the two major chains in his town by offering E15, E85 and midlevel ethanol blends.”
Jennings added, “Flex Forward is focused on retailers and their equipment suppliers and will include earned and paid advertising, engagement at fuel marketer trade shows (where retailers go to make decisions about new products), webinars and retailer workshops. ACE has specifically designed the Flex Forward campaign to reach marketers who have not yet responded to other industry efforts, and make them aware of all of the tools available to help them succeed with E15 and flex fuels.”
To watch the new Flex Forward campaign video, please click here.
To learn more about the campaign, please visit www.flexfuelforward.com
April 14, 2015
A recently released report from Third Way titled, “Cellulosic Ethanol is Getting a Big Boost from Corn, for Now,” highlighted the connection between first and second-generation ethanol, and the vital need for continued implementation of the Renewable Fuel Standard(RFS) as set by Congress.
The report stated that “a number of proposed changes to the RFS, however innocuous they may seem, would remove any incentive for the first generation industry to continue supporting cellulosic ethanol. At this critical stage in their development, cellulosic fuels can hardly afford to lose the closest friend they have.”
The report continued, “While proposals to gut only the corn section of the RFS may not be intended to endanger the development of cellulosic ethanol, this is exactly what would occur,” the report found. “Given the nuances of current fuel markets and how they interact with the RFS, these proposals will discourage cellulosic ethanol investment by companies with a large stake in corn ethanol — the very companies that are helping to commercialize this long-sought fuel.”
“Replacing corn ethanol with cellulosic may sound like the perfect outcome to some supporters of corn-gutting policies. In practice, however, this approach is highly unlikely to produce the desired results,” the report added. “By disengaging first generation industry from the effort, it greatly reduces the odds of achieving substantial cellulosic ethanol production, especially in the near term. And without large quantities of cellulosic ethanol to serve as a substitute, current levels of corn ethanol will still be produced in order to meet the oxygenate needs of the gasoline supply.”
“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,” stated Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis. “The two are tied together and first-generation ethanol production is the true building block for the next generation of fuels.”
To view the full report, please click here.
April 14, 2015
In response to another poorly crafted study where attorney Timothy Searchinger attempts to re-package his already disproven theory of food vs. fuel, the Renewable Fuels Association(RFA) responded, exposing several holes in his latest study.
“Economic models are one thing — reality is another,” stated RFA CEO Bob Dinneen. “Data from the last decade clearly show that feed grains (like corn) used to produce meat have not been ‘diverted’ away from animal feed markets to make biofuels. In fact, even after accounting for the grain used for ethanol, more grain is available for feed and food use today than at any time in history. If biofuels were truly diverting grain away from food and feed production and causing scarcity, we would expect to see food prices rising abnormally — but this clearly isn’t happening. The United Nations food price index is at its lowest point since the global recession in 2009, and in real terms today’s food prices are lower than in the 1960s and 1970s.”
Dinneen added, ““What’s more, the UN says per capita food supply and protein supply are both at record levels globally — in other words, there is more food available per person today than ever before. Global hunger has fallen 21 percent since 1992 and undernourishment is also at all-time lows, according to the UN.”
Dinneen concluded, “Let’s not forget that ethanol producers make both fuel and feed. Only the starch in the grain feedstock is converted to ethanol, while 100 percent of protein, fat, and fiber remain available to the feed market in the form of distillers grains or other co-products. The world wants more protein — not more carbohydrates — and using grain for ethanol has absolutely no impact on global protein supplies.”