After three years, the American ethanol industry has finally satisfied all federal requirements for E15 commercial sales as set by the partial E15 waiver granted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). As of April 23, 99 ethanol producers have funded a nationwide fuel survey, as required by the partial waiver, representing the final hurdle to E15 availability.
Bringing E15 to consumers across the nation will now focus on states where regulatory issues must be addressed. Some Midwestern states, like Iowa, Illinois and Kansas are already prepared for E15, and sales could begin as soon as all parties are EPA registered and implementing the Misfueling Mitigation Plan approved by the EPA.
“America’s ethanol industry is committed to giving consumers greater choice at the pump by making E15 a commercial reality,” said RFA, Growth Energy, and ACE. “We will work diligently with the petroleum industry, gas retailers, automakers, and consumers to ensure E15 is used properly. But we will not stand idly by and allow some of these interests to make wild and unsubstantiated claims about ethanol and E15 in order to malign ethanol and scare consumers. The fact remains that E15 is the most tested fuel ever approved by EPA and is perfectly safe and effective for those engines approved in the waiver.”
May 10 Kum and Go Grand Opening in Des Moines
On May 10, come to the Kum and Go grand opening in Des Moines, located on the corner of S.E. 14th St. and Diehl, to fill up your flex-fuel vehicle with E85 for only 85 cents a gallon. This special deal is available from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm.
E85 for 85 cents is only good for flex-fuel vehicles.
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Industry Applauds Reauthorization of Critical USDA Energy Title Programs
On Thursday, April 26, the Senate Agriculture Committee marked up the 2012 Farm Bill and approved a new version by a 16 to 5 vote, that includes an amendment introduced by Sens. Kent Conrad (D-ND) and Dick Lugar (R-IN) to reauthorize mandatory funding for a significant amount of critical U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) energy title programs designed to support the development of homegrown, renewable energy in rural America.
The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) strongly supported the amendment offered by Senators Conrad and Lugar providing $800 million in mandatory funding over 5 years for the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) and other Energy Title programs, providing long-term certainty for renewable energy. The Agriculture Committee accepted this amendment and discussed the need for the USDA to continue to use REAP funds for blender pumps.
“We commend the Senate Ag Committee for adding mandatory funding for key energy title programs in its recently passed Farm Bill, especially the REAP grant initiative for blender pumps, which was IRFA’s top Farm Bill priority,” said IRFA Biofuels Manager Grant Menke.
The bill reauthorizes the Section 9006 Biodiesel Education Program at $1 million per year, or a total of $5 million, while the Section 9005 Bioenergy Program for Advanced Biofuels is reauthorized at $20 million per year, or a total of $100 million. The Section 9006 funding is included as mandatory funding, while the Section 9005 funding would require annual discretionary appropriations by Congress. The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) maintains that the Biodiesel Education Program is a critical tool for building public awareness and acceptance of biodiesel, while the Bioenergy Program for Advanced Biofuels has helped build our industry's capacity by providing direct payments to biodiesel producers.
The Advanced Ethanol Council (AEC) released a statement applauding “the leadership of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and specifically, Chairwoman Stabenow and Senator Conrad and Lugar, in assuring continued mandatory funding for critical USDA energy title programs.” The statement continued, “There is no more urgent need in this country today than creating new jobs and reducing our dependence on foreign oil. The programs reauthorized and streamlined today are doing just that, and will continue to help the United States create jobs and replace foreign oil with homegrown, renewable energy production when signed into law."
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FedEx CEO: Cutting Oil Import Spending is a Matter of National Security
In a CNBC article, FedEx CEO Frederick Smith said developing a national strategy to find alternative energy sources is not a market issue, but a matter of national security, and conservatives in Congress should get on board.
“This isn’t about liberal programs and changing society. This is about energy conservation and national security by getting us off of imported oil,” stated Smith, a member of the Securing American’s Future Energy Council (SAFE). Smith went on to note the U.S. spent $328 billion last year to buy imported petroleum, and the cost of fuel for the average American family has risen from $1,700 in 2001 to $4,000 in 2011.
“There is no free market for oil. It’s controlled by a cartel, OPEC,” the FedEx CEO said. “They own 80 percent to 90 percent of the reserves in the world. They produce about 42 percent.”
Subsidizing alternative energy has prompted an “almost irrational opposition on the part of many conservatives” in Congress, who think any alternative is part of the Obama Administration’s agenda on the environment and climate change, stated Smith.
Smith added, “We continue to look at this as a market issue and it’s a transition issue where we have got to get off reliance on imported petroleum…from parts of the world where a lot of people wish us ill. That’s the issue."
To read the entire CNBC article click here.
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Obama Official Reaffirms White House Commitment to Biofuels
A top aide to President Barack Obama told attendees of the Renewable Fuels Association’s (RFA) Washington Legislative Forum on April 18 that the Obama Administration is firmly in support of domestic renewable fuels.
“One of the most promising [clean energy] industries has been American biofuels,” said Heather Zichal, Deputy Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change. “Right now, domestic biofuel production is at the highest level ever. In fact, monthly production has increased more than 40 percent in the last three years. That means that biofuels are already reducing our dependence on oil, cutting pollution, and creating jobs across the country.”
Zichal also referenced the need to continue the industry’s expansion and evolution. “A year ago, the President set a goal of breaking ground on at least four commercial scale cellulosic or advanced biorefineries by 2013. That goal has been accomplished, one year ahead of schedule. Together, these projects will produce nearly 100 million gallons of advanced biofuels per year.”
Zichal continued, “We were encouraged when the biofuels community stood behind EPA’s implementation of the Renewable Fuels Standard – which we think is critical tool to promote growth in renewable fuels production in the years ahead. At the same time, we’re taking steps to help level the playing field. Not only has the Administration supported repealing subsidies for oil and gas companies, the President has announced that we’re taking new steps to crack down on manipulation in the oil markets to help protect consumers at the pump.”
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MFA Oil CEO Honored at White House
Among the nine officials to be honored as Champions of Change is MFA Oil CEO Jerome Taylor (pictured on the right). A White House press release stated that Jerome Taylor is being honored for his work advancing new ideas that are leading the way to a clean energy future and an economy that’s built to last.
Taylor is a 30-year employee and CEO of MFA Oil, headquartered in Columbia, Missouri. The company is owned by 40,000 farmers with the mission of improving the economic well-being of its farmer members through the distribution of energy and energy related products. Taylor is also on the board of National Cooperative Refinery Association and Mid American Biofuels.
MFA Oil, with operations in Missouri, Iowa, Arkansas and Oklahoma, entered the renewable fuels market in the 1960’s. Today, the organization invests in oil refining and biodiesel production.
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ANA and Boeing Make History as 787 flies on Biofuel
Boeing and All Nippon Airways (ANA) partnered to make aviation history on April 17, as a 787 Dreamliner flew for the first time powered in part by biofuels.
787 Dreamliner powered by biofuels
“The 787 is the most environmentally progressive jetliner flying today, combining fuel efficiency and comfort with reduced carbon emissions,” said Commercial Airplanes Vice President of Environment and Aviation Policy Billy Glover.
The delivery flight, between Boeing’s Delivery Center in Everett, Wash. and Tokyo Haneda Airport, was also the first ever transpacific biofuel flight.
“Our historic flight using sustainable biofuels across the Pacific Ocean highlights how innovative technology can be used to support our industry’s goal of carbon-neutral growth beyond 2020,” said ANA Senior Executive Vice President Osamu Shinobe.
The 787, flying powered by biofuel, emitted an estimated 30 percent less CO2 emissions when compared with today’s similarly-sized airplanes. The airplane was designed as a part of Boeing’s efforts to lower its carbon emissions through sustainable aviation biofuels.
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Study finds Dairy Cow Diets can Safely Include more Distillers Grains
South Dakota State University (SDSU) research shows distillers grains (DGs) can account for up to 20 percent of the diets (on a dry basis) for lactating dairy cows without negative effects on milk production. Currently, most dairy farmers use only about 10 percent of the ethanol co-product in rations.
“Farmers tend to think that if they include distillers grains up to 20 percent they will see milk fat depression, but in our research, we could see that it is not the inclusion of distillers grains—it is the low level of forage in diets that causes the depression,” said SDSU doctoral student Sanjeewa Ranathunga.
Photo Courtesy of “Ethanol Producer Magazine”
Ranathunga, under the guidance of Associate Professor Ken Kalscheur, conducted a series of experiments aimed at identifying the dietary impacts of replacing corn with up to 18 percent distillers grains. The researcher evaluated diets containing varying percentages of distillers grains and forage (alfalfa and corn silage) on milk production, ruminal nutrient degradability and feed-sorting behavior. The research found it is the percentage of forage in diets, not the percentage of DGs, which can potentially have negative impacts on all areas studied. In order for DGs to be digested properly in the rumen, for example, Ranathunga found that high forage diets are best. When evaluating the feed sorting behavior of cows, the amount of DGs was found to have no impact on their behavior. Rather, the cows chose to eat the feed differently depending on the amount of forage included in the diet. In low-forage diets, the cows sought out forage, but in diets containing high levels of forage, the cows sorted for concentrates.
Read the entire “Ethanol Producer Magazine” article click here.
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GBC Advocates for E85 Inclusion in Alternative Fuel Tax Credit
The Governors’ Biofuels Coalition (GBC) is pressing lawmakers to extend the 50 cent per gallon alternative fuel tax credit and make E85 eligible for that tax credit, alongside fuels such as compressed natural gas, propane, and hydrogen.
On April 18, the GBC sent a letter to high-ranking officials in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate, expressing support for an extension of the now-expired alternative fuels tax credit. That letter will also be submitted into the official record as testimony in advance of a House Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures hearing.
To read GBC's entire letter
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Flex-Fuel Retailers See Increase in Fuel Sales
According to a recent study published on CSNews Online, the vast majority of retailers that sell higher blends of ethanol fuel through flex-fuel pumps have established a fuel price advantage in their markets, have seen an increase in fuel sales, have simplified their inventory and have experienced an increase in store traffic.
Eighty-one percent of the retailers surveyed said they were satisfied with their decision to install flex-fuel pumps. Also, the findings show that if the retailer is able to advertise the price advantage, it experiences even higher levels of success in selling ethanol blends.
The study, conducted by Irwin Broh Research and commissioned by Growth Energy, was administered in February, shortly after the elimination of the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit (VEETC) incentive for ethanol. Though the majority of this government subsidy was kept by oil refineries, ethanol retail prices were under heavy pressure at the time of the survey. Nevertheless, the research found that roughly 81 percent of the retailers surveyed believe there is still a price advantage in selling ethanol blends.
Nearly 60 percent of the respondents said they advertise the price advantage of ethanol, and survey results indicate that this group generates even more positive sales volumes, inventory turnover and in-store business.
On average, fuel sales represent 60 percent of the total business for the retailers surveyed. Nearly 60 percent of them said they believe their fuel sales increased because of ethanol, with the average increase at about 13 percent.
To read more survey results click here.
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Fort Dodge Messenger: Good News for Ethanol Industry
“Messenger News” in Fort Dodge reported that recent federal regulatory action could provide the ethanol industry with a big boost. Ethanol advocates have long sought governmental approval for an increase in the proportion of ethanol in the fuel mix sold at the pump.
Currently, the fuel sold for this purpose contains 10 percent ethanol and 90 percent gasoline. The newly EPA approved E15 contains 15 percent ethanol and can be used to power vehicles model year 2001 and newer, as well as flex-fuel vehicles.
The editorial noted, "The approval by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) suggests that its testing of the efficacy of E15 is showing highly favorable results. It now appears highly likely that E15 will be widely marketed in the not too distant future, which is great news for Iowa’s corn producers and ethanol manufacturers. This move is not only good for Iowa’s local economy, but moves the entire U.S. one step closer to energy independence."
To read the entire story click here.
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The RFA and Sen. Hoeven Advocate for the Domestic Fuels Protection Act
According to a written testimony in support of the Domestic Fuels Protection Act before the House Energy and Commerce Committee and Subcommittee on Environment and Economy, Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) President and CEO Bob Dinneen stated that providing flexibility to fuel retailers is vital to the continued availability of higher level ethanol blends like E15 and other renewable fuels.
The Domestic Fuels Protection Act is designed to help ease the regulatory burden on retailers who seek to make a wider range of fuel choices, beyond petroleum-based fuels, available to consumers. The legislation is narrowly tailored to achieve this specific goal: if a new fuel is approved by the EPA, if equipment used by retailers to store and dispense a new fuel meets specifications, and if retailers properly inform customers of the approved uses of a new fuel, then retailers, fuel producers, and other stakeholders should not be concerned about defending against meritless lawsuits. Meaning, the bill addresses only liability protection and does not alter the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Importantly, the legislation is not a prerequisite to the introduction of E15 into the market, which was approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) after rigorous testing by the U.S. Department of Energy and others, and was recently registered as a legal fuel under the Clean Air Act.
“The current regulatory structure provides no pathway to certify existing equipment for anything other than fossil fuels, even when test data demonstrates its safety,” Dinneen testified. “The Domestic Fuels Protection Act allows EPA to create such a process, thereby providing new fuels access to the marketplace without having to expend time and resources on new infrastructure unnecessarily.”
Dinneen also noted that, “Greater volumes of ethanol and a greater diversity of biofuels and feedstocks will be necessary to meet the increasing volumes required by the RFS. Critically, these fuels will be attempting to enter the marketplace amidst a complicated regulatory structure that favors incumbent technologies and discourages market access. Gasoline marketers deserve the certainty that they will not be penalized for utilizing a new fuel or fuel blend that has been approved for use by the EPA.”
Senator John Hoeven (R-ND) highlighted the elements and importance of the Senate counterpart, the Domestic Fuels Act, at the RFA’s Washington Legislative Forum. Sen. Hoeven stated that the bill establishes a new pathway for retailers to ensure that their equipment is safe and legally recognized as compatible to sell new fuels, reducing the cost of entry for many retailers.
“We need to make all fuels available to American consumers and businesses, and we need to do so by using market-based measures that increase competition and remove bureaucratic obstacles to producing and marketing renewable fuels,” Hoeven said. “This is really about giving customers more choice and better prices at the pump by empowering retailers to market multiple fuels using the same equipment. That’s good for the customer, good for business and good for the nation.”
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Iowa Innovation Corporation Webinar on May 16
The Iowa Innovation Corporation, Iowa State University (ISU), and the U.S. Department of Commerce present the first in an ongoing series of webinars to expedite access to university grown technologies.
On Wednesday, May 16, starting at 1:00 p.m., 16 ISU green technologies will be presented in an hour and a half webinar session. Businesses interested in further discussion will be afforded that opportunity.
To register for the webinar and learn more about the technologies that will be presented, the presentation format, and the event as a whole, please go to: http://iowainnovationcorporation.com/events.cfm
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RFA and Growth Energy Update on LCFS Lawsuit
The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) and Growth Energy recently addressed California Air Resources Board’s (CARB) appeal of a Federal District Court decision invalidating the state’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS), noting:
“On December 29, 2011, the District Court issued an injunction to prevent CARB’s enforcement of the LCFS, having found the LCFS unconstitutional in its regulation of commerce outside the state and discrimination against fuel produced outside California,”. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit “also stayed the District court’s decision and the injunction until the Court of Appeals can fully review the District Courts December 2011 decision.” The groups expect the briefing to be completed by early this summer. The RFA and Growth Energy noted, “The ethanol industry plaintiffs look forward to fully briefing the issues before the Court of Appeals on the expedited schedule that the Court has issued.”
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