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Today's News

Chicago Argo ethanol prices reach 20-month high as rain keeps farmers from planting corn

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 06/03/2019 - 6:51pm

In Illinois, Platts reports that Chicago Argo ethanol prices rose to $1.5295/gal on Thursday, the highest seen in 20 months, and 18.20 cents higher since May 23. On May 28, the fuel rose 9 cents a gallon in a single day. With wet weather in the Midwest keeping farmers from planting corn, corn prices have shot up by 91.75 cents/bushel since May 9, pushing ethanol prices higher along with it. Farmers will soon have to decide if they’re going to plant at all this year, and, if so, whether it will be corn or switch to soybeans.

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China and Malaysia team on B10 and B20 garbage truck trials

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 06/03/2019 - 6:50pm

In China, Malaysia’s Star newspaper reports that Tsinghua University, Beijing TUS-Deqing Bioenergy and the Malaysian Palm Oil Board have teamed to trial Malaysian palm oil-based biodiesel in 180 garbage trucks in Zhaoqing, southern Guangdong province, to test the B10 and B20 compatibility with the city’s sanitation fleet. The 20-month trial will include 12 months of field trials in order to get a full understanding of how the fuels function during all four seasons.


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BETO and national labs dedicating May and June to renewable biomass feedstocks

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 06/03/2019 - 6:48pm

In Washington, the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) within the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and its National Laboratories are dedicating the months of May and June to public exploration of renewable biomass feedstocks, many of which can be found right outside your window. These feedstocks are used for production of biofuels, bioproducts, and biopower in support of the U.S. bioeconomy.

Information that will be shared in the months of May and June include:

Social Media: Watch for #mybiofeedstocks on your favorite social media platform to learn more about “Bioenergy Feedstocks Out Your Window.”

Webinars: New research will be shared on conversion-ready feedstocks for lignocellulosic bioenergy industries, which depend upon an economic and reliable supply of quality biomass.

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Two biofuel-solar hybrid power plants score off-take contracts at Brazilian auction

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 06/03/2019 - 6:41pm

In Brazil, biofuel-solar hybrid power generation took a big stride forward recently when two projects were awarded contracts to sell power to the national grid at auction that will start providing electricity to Boa Vista and surrounds from June 28, 2021. The 56MW BBF project was awarded a contract for $136.8 million while the 11MW Enerplan project was awarded a contract for $17.8 million by the Roraima state authorities. The state is in the Amazon region and is the most northernly in the country. The projects could pave the way for more hybrid projects at national level.

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There’s been a stream of good news and bad news on the “made in a lab” front in recent weeks.

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 06/03/2019 - 6:34pm

First, the amazing news that Impossible Foods raised a $300 million in its Series E round was led by existing investors Temasek and Horizons Ventures. The fifth equity funding round since Impossible Foods was launched in 2011 is intended to accelerate the company’s rapid scaleup — including accelerated hiring and capacity expansion at the company’s plant in Oakland, Calif. In total, the industry-leading food-tech startup has raised more than $750 million.

Series E round includes individual investors including: Jay Brown, Kirk Cousins, Paul George, JAY-Z, Trevor Noah, Alexis Ohanian, Kal Penn, Katy Perry, Questlove, Ruby Rose, Phil Rosenthal, Jaden Smith, Serena Williams, and Zedd.

Just recently, Burger King debuted the Impossible Whopper in a regional test in St. Louis. The 59-unit regional test of the Impossible Whopper at Burger King restaurants in St. Louis has gone exceedingly well, according to Impossible — the Miami-based restaurant chain intends to bring the Impossible Whopper to all 7,200 U.S. restaurants at the end of 2019, we are told.

And, what’s synthetic about this company? Certainly not the money or the passion. Founded in 2011 by Stanford biochemistry professor and former pediatrician Dr. Patrick O. Brown, Impossible Foods makes meat from plants — with a much smaller environmental footprint than meat from animals, the company touts. The company’s goal is to eliminate the need for animals in the food chain by 2035. The company uses modern science and technology to create wholesome food, restore natural ecosystems, and feed a growing population sustainably. Read Brown’s blog to learn more about the company’s mission.

Meanwhile, also in good news, BBC is reporting that “UK scientists have created an artificial version of the stomach bug E. coli that is based on an entirely synthetic form of DNA.”

They call their creation Syn61, which won’t win any prizes for memorability, but all the same, they’re getting kudos across the globe. Our favorite Boston synthetic biologist George Church found time to take a break from re-creating mastodons and founding companies or whatever he might up to today, and told BBC this was “a major breakthough”.

It’s a replacement of the entire working DNA of E.coli, and what can you do with that? For one, we can start to include stuff in molecules that nature has never had. For example, think silicon platforms and circuitry inside cells — living chips, as it were.

More on this one here.

Meanwhile in the world of circuitry, another team has figured out a way to transit information using short-pulse light beams instead of electricity — so, a stream of photons instead of a stream of electrons. Immediately, think of cooler systems, which means no longer contemplating buying an advanced, futuristic server farm underneath Antarctica to keep it cool enough to operate. Also, this would impact energy use, and hugely impact the space between circuits and possibly empower some more miniaturization of circuitry — heat control has become a huge problem, maybe even the Mother of All Problems, in maintaining Moore’s Law in development pace.

Today’s data center servers consume between 2 to 5% of global electricity consumption, producing heat which in turn requires more power to cool the servers. The problem is so acute that Microsoft has even submerged hundreds of its data center services in the ocean in an effort to keep them cool and cut costs.

Most data are encoded as binary information (0 or 1 respectively) through the orientation of tiny magnets, called spins, in magnetic hard-drives. The magnetic read/write head is used to set or retrieve information using electrical currents which dissipate huge amounts of energy.

Now an international team publishing in Nature has solved the problem by replacing electricity with extremely short pulses of light – the duration of one trillionth of a second – concentrated by special antennas on top of a magnet. This new method is superfast but so energy efficient that the temperature of the magnet does not increase at all.

Now to the bad news, and it is about processed food.

People eating ultra-processed foods ate more calories and gained more weight than when they ate a minimally processed diet, according to results from a National Institutes of Health study.

The difference occurred even though meals provided to the volunteers in both the ultra-processed and minimally processed diets had the same number of calories and macronutrients.

A small-scale study of 20 adult volunteers, conducted by researchers at the NIH’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), is the first randomized controlled trial examining the effects of ultra-processed foods as defined by the NOVA classification system. This system considers foods “ultra-processed” if they have ingredients predominantly found in industrial food manufacturing, such as hydrogenated oils, high-fructose corn syrup, flavoring agents, and emulsifiers.

This is the first study to demonstrate causality — that ultra-processed foods cause people to eat too many calories and gain weight.

The results were published in Cell Metabolism and you can read it here.

The Bottom Line

Many get nervous about all the artificiality and synthetic life being created in labs — mimicry, whether it is new cells that mimic life, or modification of organisms, or the creation of new ultra-processed foods. We seem to be pretty happy so far about eating meats made from plants in a synthetic way. It’s an open question how long that goodwill can be maintained — and whether eating these new advanced foods will trigger some of the same gut reactions that apparently ultra-processed foods are — or not. That alone could be a game -changer — as the antidote for ultra-processed foods that make you gain weight would be ultra-processed foods that make you lose weight. That would be a breakthrough, and perhaps is the positive flip side of the NIH study.

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The Road to Renewables: The Digest’s 2019 Multi-Slide Guide to Neste

Biofuels Digest - Mon, 06/03/2019 - 6:32pm

The Digest’s new “Stocks Worth Tracking” Multi-Slide Guide Series highlights hot companies that are making strides in the bioeconomy. Today’s “Stock Worth Tracking” is Neste. Neste has become a global leader in renewable and circular solutions and have broadened their end markets to aviation and polymers.

Neste’s illuminating overview from Capital Markets Day is worth taking a look at for more details on how they transitioned into renewables, their growth over the last few years as a result of their investments in renewable fuels, a glimpse into what their future aspirations are and how they’ll get there, and more

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Algal biomass as a potential ingredient in cattle feed

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 06/02/2019 - 7:31pm

In Nebraska, researchers at the University of Nebraska conducted a study evaluating the effects of feeding condensed algal residue solubles (CARS; available in 2019 in Blair, NE area) to finishing cattle for 100 days. The feedstuff CARS demonstrated to be a safe feed ingredient in cattle diets.

Feeding CARS to finishing cattle improved F:G as inclusion in the diet increased up to 7.5% of diet DM. Cattle HCW, ADG, and DMI all increased quadratically with increasing inclusion of CARS from 0 to 7.5% of diet DM. No adverse effects of feeding CARS were observed in hematology, blood chemistry, or histopathology analyses. Further research is needed to determine the optimal level of CARS inclusion in a finishing diet and the impact on carcass traits, as well as potential for CARS to be used in growing cattle diets.

The diets consisted of 70% dry rolled corn with CARS displacing corn at 0, 2.5, 5, and 7.5% of dry matter. Increasing CARS inclusion resulted in a linear decrease in intake, a quadratic increase in daily gain, and a linear decrease in feed:gain. Calculations showed a linear increase in dietary net energy as CARS increased in the diet.

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USGA CEO comments on President Trump’s Mexican imports tariffs

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 06/02/2019 - 7:28pm

In Washington, D.C., U.S. Grains Council President and CEO Tom Sleight issued a statement on President Trump’s tariffs on Mexican imports, and said, “At such a critical time for U.S. farmers, new talk of tariffs on Mexican products challenges the complex relationship we have with the top international buyer of U.S. grains and related products. We agree continued negotiations are the correct path to ensure stability in our markets, particularly as South American corn becomes a viable option for Mexican customers. As this political and market situation develops, we will remain in close touch with our stakeholders here at home and in Mexico to help maintain the stability of our longstanding partnership.”

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Ethanol production retreats from last week but still up compared to a year ago

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 06/02/2019 - 7:26pm

In Washington, D.C. ethanol production retreated 13,000 barrels per day (b/d), a 1.3% decrease, at an average of 1.057 million barrels per day (b/d)—equivalent to 44.39 million gallons daily, according to EIA data analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association. However, it remains 16,000 b/d (1.5%) above year ago levels. The four-week average ethanol production rate moved 0.8% higher to 1.054 million b/d, equivalent to an annualized rate of 16.16 billion gallons (bg)—the second time this year to breach 16 bg.

Ethanol stocks shrank by 3.3% to 22.6 million barrels. However, this remains 6.4% higher than year-ago reserves. Stocks declined in all regions (PADDs) except the West Coast, which have been building for three straight weeks (up 2.3% since the start of May).

There were no imports reported by EIA for the 28th week in a row. (Weekly export data for ethanol is not reported simultaneously; the latest export data is as of March 2019.)

The volume of gasoline supplied declined 0.4% to 9.394 million b/d (394.5 million gallons per day, or 144.01 bg annualized). Refiner/blender net inputs of ethanol were trimmed 0.3% to 948,000 b/d, equivalent to 14.53 bg annualized. Expressed as a percentage of daily gasoline demand, daily ethanol production decreased to 11.25%.

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Stora Enso finalizes restructuring of Bergvik Skog’s forests holdings

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 06/02/2019 - 7:25pm

In Finland, the shareholders of Bergvik Skog AB, a Swedish forest holding company, have finalized the previously announced restructuring of its ownership. Stora Enso’s forest holdings in Sweden will increase to 1.4 million hectares, of which 1.15 million hectares is productive forest land.

“I am very pleased that we have successfully finalised the restructuring of Bergvik Skog with the other shareholders. This transaction is a natural next step for us, as we strongly believe in the bioeconomy and want to secure our competitive raw material supply for the long term. The direct ownership gives us better opportunities to further develop sustainable forest management, thus strengthening our competitiveness,” says Stora Enso’s CEO Karl-Henrik Sundström.

As part of the transaction, Stora Enso acquires Bergvik Skog Plantor AB nursery and three wind turbine projects. This will further strengthen the Group’s comprehensive offering to forest owners in Sweden and is in line with its commitment to sustainable forestry.

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New food colors derived from microalgal strains launched

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 06/02/2019 - 7:24pm

In the United Kingdom, algal specialists Algenuity launched its Chlorella Colours platform to the food sector at Vitafoods Europe 2019 in Geneva, Switzerland. The patent-pending Chlorella Colours platform is based on Chlorella vulgaris and is derived from Algenuity’s own proprietary, high-performing microalgal strain.

The platform is approved for the European food market and satisfies the needs of the growing vegan sector, offering protein-rich, whole plant cell-based ingredients, which are sustainable, natural, gluten free and non-GM. Improved organoleptic properties make it perfect as an ingredient in food, drink and supplement products.

The application of Chlorella vulgaris for food is well-established, but it can be a challenging ingredient to work with because of the strong colour, taste and smell associated with its high chlorophyll content. The Chlorella Colours strains were developed to contain almost no chlorophyll and instead, retain varying levels of natural pigments, such as lutein and other carotenoids, resulting in yellow, lime and white colour varieties with greatly-improved organoleptics. Furthermore, these alternatives are highly productive under heterotrophic growth, overcoming the economic and operational challenges of producing phototrophic microalgae at scale, supporting its use in the food market, and opening up a wealth of additional applications.

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Biobased diesel fuels deliver largest carbon emission reductions for transportation

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 06/02/2019 - 7:22pm

In California, new data gathered by the California Air Resources Board’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard program, shows that biobased diesel fuels like Neste MY Renewable Diesel deliver the state’s biggest reduction in carbon emissions for the transportation sector.

“This study from CARB is a welcome confirmation: renewable diesel can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and make an immediate contribution to the reduction of California’s carbon footprint all while using existing infrastructure and without further investments,” said Jeremy Baines, Vice President of Sales, Neste US Inc.

In 2018, the use of these bio-based fuels reduced 4.3 million tons of carbon dioxide in California. This amount surpassed the reduction from ethanol for the first time since the program started in 2011. In that time renewable diesel and biodiesel have reduced CO2 emissions by over 18 million tons.

“Transportation is currently the leading cause of carbon emissions in the US, and as such is a conspicuous starting point for change. As this study demonstrates, diesel operators can reduce their lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions already today, simply by switching to renewable diesel. At Neste, we believe strongly in renewables, and we have made significant investments to increase our renewable products production capacity by 2022.”

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Boulder Clean integrates Braskem’s ethanol-based bioplastic into packaging

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 06/02/2019 - 7:20pm

In Colorado, Boulder Clean, producer of plant-based cleaning products, and Braskem, producer of thermoplastics polyolefins and biopolymers, announced the integration of Braskem’s plant-based bioplastic into Boulder Clean’s newest sustainably focused laundry detergent packaging.

With availability beginning in June of 2019, Boulder Clean’s 230oz. laundry detergent container will integrate Braskem’s plant-based I’m green Polyethylene bioplastic into the packaging to deliver improved sustainability and reduce its overall carbon footprint.  Braskem’s I’m green Polyethylene (PE) is a bio-based plastic made from ethanol, a renewable and sustainable resource produced from Brazilian sugarcane. I’m green Polyethylene retains the same properties, performance and application versatility of fossil fuel derived polyethylene, making it an ideal drop-in substitute for conventional oil-based polyethylene. The new, more sustainable Boulder Clean laundry container is fully recyclable through traditional post-consumer recycling channels and will be available for purchase at over 50 Costco Wholesale locations in Southern California, Arizona, Utah and Colorado.

Cultivation of sugarcane utilized in the production of I’m green Polyethylene captures carbon dioxide and releases oxygen, which means Braskem’s bioplastic has a negative carbon footprint. From a cradle-to-gate life-cycle perspective, every ton of I’m green Polyethylene used in the production of packaging equates to 3.09 tons of CO2 captured from the atmosphere.

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Tesoro fined $1.36M for LCFS violations

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 06/02/2019 - 7:18pm

In California, the California Air Resources Board announced a $1.36 million settlement with Tesoro Refining & Marketing, LLC for violating the Low Carbon Fuel Standard. In this case, the company misreported 1.9 billion gallons of gasoline, diesel, biodiesel and ethanol, including underreporting 403 million gallons of LCFS deficit-generating fuels.

“California’s programs to address climate change require accurate reporting. This settlement is a reminder to fuel producers that accuracy matters,” said CARB Executive Officer Richard W. Corey. “The LCFS is an important part of our work as Californians expect more clean fuel choices that offer alternatives to petroleum and reduce emissions of pollutants that adversely impact public health and reduce greenhouse gases.”

In March 2017, Tesoro notified CARB that the company had misreported fuel data from 2011 to 2016. The inaccurate information spanned 24 quarterly reports. Tesoro formally acknowledged the mistake in a letter outlining the problems, and worked with CARB to account for all the fuel provided and correct their reports. Because of the company’s cooperation, the settlement is for far less than the maximum possible penalties.

The money from the fine will be deposited in the state Air Pollution Control Fund where it can be appropriated by the legislature for air quality and greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction efforts.

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EPA finalizes rule to allow year-round E15

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 06/02/2019 - 6:56pm








This summer, driving with E15 will now be possible thanks to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s final rule to allow year-round E15 via a waiver of the Reid Vapor Pressure rules that have limited E15 to only 8 months of the year. Like Olaf, we sometimes closed our eyes and imagined what it’d be like when summer does come and we could see E15 at the pump on our way to the beach or the lake or wherever it is we go in summer and do what people do in summer.

So what does summertime E15 mean for consumers? For the biofuels industry? For farmers? What happens now? What about the RINs and small refinery waivers?

The reactions

First, let’s see what those in the industry have to say. Of course the response is overwhelmingly supportive from the agriculture and biofuels industries. But many took the chance to also criticize the small refinery hardship waivers.

Let’s start with the Renewable Fuels Association. Now that EPA has removed regulatory barriers allowing access to E15 fuel year-round, what does this mean for the ethanol industry, retailers and consumers? RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper said:

“The ethanol industry thanks President Trump for personally championing this critical regulatory reform that will enhance competition, bolster the rural economy, and provide greater consumer access to cleaner, more affordable fuel options. We have always agreed with the President’s assertion that the outdated summertime prohibition on E15 was ‘unnecessary’ and ‘ridiculous.’

“E15 already has a proven track record for saving drivers money at the pump and reducing emissions, and today’s action will ensure that more Americans are able to enjoy those benefits. Year-round E15 will also provide a badly needed long-term demand boost for our industry and America’s farmers, who face a number of daunting challenges today.

“We are cognizant, however, that the promise of today’s E15 announcement could be undermined if EPA continues its unprecedented assault on the RFS with indiscriminate small refinery hardship waivers. Against the intent of Congress, EPA has been granting RFS exemptions to refiners without requiring them to demonstrate their claimed ‘hardship’ is somehow connected to the RFS. The demand destruction caused by EPA’s waivers must end. We urge the President to build upon the momentum of today’s announcement by reining in EPA’s abuse of the small refiner exemption program.”

The National Biodiesel Board also welcomed the EPA’s final rule and said that they support EPA’s ongoing efforts to increase transparency in the RIN market and appreciates the agency’s commitment to fully vet reforms that could disrupt the RIN market. Kurt Kovarik, NBB’s Vice President of Federal Affairs, also said,

“We thank President Trump for following through on his promise to support the biofuel industry. The regulatory change to allow year-round E15 sales will open the fuel market to additional ethanol use. However, the action does not expand the market for homegrown biodiesel. To expand market access for all renewable fuels, EPA must increase the annual volumes for advanced biofuels, such as biodiesel, and end its practice of granting retroactive small refinery exemptions.”

“NBB and its members applaud EPA’s efforts to increase transparency in the RIN market. We support the agency’s decision to defer final action on other reforms as it evaluates their potentially harmful impact to the biofuel market.”

“NBB will continue to press EPA to stop granting retroactive small refinery exemptions without any mechanism to ensure the annual volumes are met. Retroactive small refinery exemptions have destroyed demand for more than 360 million gallons of biodiesel and renewable diesel over the past year. Efforts to expand the renewable fuel market will be ineffective as long as EPA continues to undercut demand through small refinery exemptions.”

And of course, it comes as no surprise that U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, a family farmer and member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, released the following statement:

This is a promise made and a promise kept by President Trump. It’s been a goal of ethanol producers and Midwest farmers for many years. It will be a boon to the rural economy in Iowa, especially considering continued trade uncertainty. This decision is a commonsense step to allowing consumers to make their own decision about what kind of fuel they want to choose at the pump. Banning this higher blend of ethanol for part of the year never made any sense. Ethanol is good for the economy, good for national security and good for the environment. This is another step the Administration has taken to end harmful bureaucratic red tape that hurt American jobs, consumers and domestic industries.”

For his entire career in the U.S. Senate, Grassley has been a steadfast advocate for ethanol and environmentally-friendly alternative energy and helped lead the effort to encourage the Trump administration to approve E15 for year-round sales. He also released a video reaction to the announcement that can be found here. In it, he says summertime E15 is good for farmers, corn prices, well-paying jobs at ethanol plants around the country, the environment, and national security.

If the E15 ruling impacts anyone, it’s farmers. In Iowa, the Iowa Corn Growers Association’s President Curt Mether, who is also a farmer near Logan had this to say about how happy they are, but also made a point of criticism about the Small Refinery Exemptions:

“Year-round E15 has been a top priority for the ICGA, and we are happy to see the EPA recognize and follow through with President Trump’s promise on E15. The summer driving season is here and having access to E15 during this time is a step in the right direction for Iowa corn farmers and drivers.”

“While we’re happy to see E15 now available for consumers year-round, if the EPA continues to hand out hundreds of millions of gallons worth of Small Refinery Exemptions under the RFS, any potential near-term benefit provided by this rule will be swiftly gutted by the onslaught of that demand destruction. Simply put, the damage that can be done unilaterally by the EPA through SREs has the potential to far outweigh any benefit this rule provides to Iowa farmers and consumers. We need President Trump to keep the EPA in alignment with his promises on ethanol.”

Here’s what some others had to say:

Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy said:

“We are grateful to President Trump for delivering on his promise to unleash the power of E15 all year-long. The approval of year-round E15 is an incredible milestone for the biofuels industry, and the result of over a decade of hard work by Growth Energy, our members, our congressional champions, and folks all across rural America who made their voices heard. With year-round E15, retailers will have the regulatory certainty they need to offer American drivers a cleaner, more affordable fuel choice throughout the year. This action also means savings for American motorists at the pump and a sorely needed market for farmers who are facing a devastating economic downturn.”

Brooke Coleman, Executive Director of the Advanced Biofuels Business Council said:

“Year-round E15 opens up a vital new market, where innovators in advanced and cellulosic biofuels will have space to grow alongside American farmers. Administrator Wheeler deserves a lot of credit for getting this done in time for the summer driving season – and for discarding several proposals to tilt market away from those invested in biofuels. This could not have happened without strong support from the Oval Office, and we’re hopeful the president will stay engaged with the EPA. The opportunities created today could easily be destroyed by the next deluge of refinery exemptions.”

Jeff Broin, CEO of POET said:

“The Trump Administration’s year-round E15 rule is a huge win for farmers, clean fuels and consumer choice. Millions of drivers will now have the freedom to choose cleaner-burning E15 and enjoy greater savings at the pump when they need it most – during the summer driving season when fuel prices peak. Nationwide adoption of E15 will drive the production of 7 billion gallons of biofuels, creating additional demand for 2 billion bushels of corn each year, and unlocking new domestic demand for homegrown fuels at a critical time for America’s farmers. We extend our deepest thanks and appreciation to President Trump, Vice President Pence, Secretary Perdue, and Administrator Wheeler for putting family farms, rural jobs, cleaner air, and American consumers first and delivering year-round E15 as promised.”

Mike Lorenz, Executive Vice President for Sheetz it comes down to price and saving money:

“This fix provides major regulatory relief for all retailers seeking to offer lower-cost, higher-octane options at the fuel pump. For too long, retailers had to pay millions to retool and relabel pumps each summer and fall, which creates needless confusion for drivers. Now our customers will have uninterrupted, year-round access to E15 and a chance to save money during the busy summer travel season.”

Jim Talent and Rick Santorum, Co-Chairs of Americans for Energy Security and Innovation (AESI) it also comes down to lower prices as well as national security:

“Competition at the fuel pump means lower prices for consumers, stronger markets for our farmers, and greater energy security for the American people. We applaud President Trump for pushing regulators to lift these outdated regulations in time for the summer driving season. Retailers will finally have the regulatory certainty they need to give motorists more affordable fueling options made with clean U.S. energy. With oil prices on the rise and farm income falling, investments in American biofuel production have never been more important. We should seize this opportunity to create more jobs in rural America while taking power away from Iran and other members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).”

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall said:

“Removing outdated barriers and regulations is a commitment that this Administration continues to make good on. As our country has worked on breaking our dependency on foreign oil, our farmers have played a major role in helping us become more energy independent. After years of declining farm income, opening up markets to additional fuel choices for consumers helps create new demand that farmers desperately need. While we applaud today’s announcement to allow year-round E15 sales, we look forward to working with the Environmental Protection Agency to address the harm caused by the Small Refinery Exemptions, which have negatively impacted demand for our homegrown renewable fuels.”

New Energy America’s Executive Director Mike Carr was a bit more critical of President Trump than some of the others and said:

“The science supports making E15 available year-round to every American on the road. This long-overdue move will absolutely contribute to reducing carbon emissions in the transportation sector, save Americans money, and support clean energy jobs in rural America. We support any commonsense policy that lessens our dependence on fossil fuels, and moves this vital climate-friendly American technology forward.”

“Unfortunately, we’re coming up on this Administration’s third summer in office and frankly, the president’s failure to make good on his campaign promise three years ago has further undermined farmers who turned out to vote for him in 2016, and who have experienced incredible hardship ever since. The larger issue — which we cannot allow this move on E15 to distract us from — is the EPA’s continued issuance of refinery waivers to friends in the oil and private equity industries. With farming incomes at 10-year lows, you just can’t keep promising gold and delivering stones. In order for the allowance of E15 throughout the summer months to be more than empty rhetoric, Administrator Wheeler must also replace the 2.6 billion gallons of ethanol demand destroyed through handouts to billionaires in the oil industry. We strongly urge Administrator Wheeler to do right by farmers and our future and put renewable fuels back on the path to growth and to becoming the key American climate solution we need it to be.”

The American Coalition for Ethanol CEO Brian Jennings said:

“For the ethanol industry and farmers, this means greater market access — more ethanol demand over the long term as additional retailers begin offering E15.

We’re also grateful EPA considered the comments ACE and many others made in opposition to sweeping and unnecessary reforms to the way RIN credits are handled under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Had EPA gone forward with the so-called RIN reforms, it would have dulled the upside benefit of E15 year-round.

Finally, speaking of dulling the upside benefit of E15 year-round, as we have repeatedly cautioned, EPA’s ongoing mismanagement of the RFS through blanket small refinery exemptions (SREs) needs to stop. The net effect of E15 year-round with 2.61 billion gallons worth of SREs that aren’t reallocated means we’re still in the hole when it comes to ethanol demand through the RFS. EPA is currently sitting on nearly 40 requests for refinery waivers from the 2018 compliance year. We discourage EPA from erasing any benefit of today’s rule by granting more waivers at a time when rural America can least afford it.”

Iowa Renewable Fuels Association added something that others didn’t directly bring up and that’s the petroleum industry which has vowed for years to sue the EPA over the E15 rule.

“The key for this rule is not just that it approves year-round E15, but that it does so based on the best science and legal precedents that will survive the Big Oil onslaught in court,” said IRFA. “The petroleum industry has tried everything to stop this day from coming. It’s no surprise they don’t want to compete with E15, which is lower-cost, cleaner, and higher-octane.”

IRFA also expressed appreciation that the final rule did not include demand destroying provisions camouflaged as so-called RIN reforms.

“The last thing rural America needs right now is a rule that would be one step forward, but two steps back,” said Executive Director Monte Shaw. “Some of the proposed RIN changes would have undermined the entire RFS. We urge President Trump to ensure those proposals remain, as President Reagan would say, on the ash heap of history, and that they not be resurrected in the future.”

Overhanging the E15 and RIN rule are 39 small refinery exemption (SRE) requests to the 2018 RFS levels.

“If granted, these SREs would rip the heart out of the RFS,” added Shaw. “Not just because of the destroyed gallons, but because they are simply unjustified given the current market conditions. Today we thank President Trump for fulfilling his E15 promise. Yet if in the coming weeks, the Trump Administration grants these SREs, it will break his other promise to biofuels supporters – to protect the RFS. We are sincerely thankful for today’s action that will create tens of millions of gallons of immediate demand for ethanol, but all of this will mean nothing if unjustified SREs gut hundreds of millions of gallons of demand. The fact is, to grant hardship waivers when RINs can be purchased for less than 10 cents is completely unjustifiable under the law, and we are calling on President Trump to ensure his EPA denies the 2018 SRE requests.”

Not everyone is happy about it

Speaking of the oil industry, there are unhappy folks out there and IRFA’s predictions of lawsuits seems to be a valid one as there seems to be plans to sue the EPA over the ruling already.

Let’s start with Virginia-based Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI), an international trade association representing small engine, utility vehicle, and outdoor power equipment manufacturers and suppliers, first. This is what they had to say:

“We will continue to advise consumers and professional users of outdoor power equipment to ‘Protect Your Power’ as E15 gasoline sales expand to year-round across the country,” said Kris Kiser, OPEI President and CEO. “With E15 sales expanding to year-round now in time for the summer travel and yard care season, it’s more important than ever for consumers to educate themselves about fuel choices today and to pay attention to what fuels you put in your lawn mower, generator, chainsaw, trimmer, UTV or other small engine product.”

Most outdoor power equipment is not designed, built or warranted to run on fuel containing 15 percent ethanol. “Fuel containing more than 10 percent ethanol can damage or destroy equipment,” said Kiser. Consumers are advised to check their owners’ manuals for guidance on correctly fueling their outdoor power equipment products, but “should be generally aware that only fuels containing 10 percent or less ethanol should be used,” he said.

He added, “As the fuels marketplace is evolving, you can no longer count on being able to put the same fuel in your mower that you also use in your car or truck. You must pay attention at the pump so you can protect your power equipment. You must put the right fuel in the right engine product. And for outdoor power equipment, that means E10 or less.”

Along with boat, snowmobile, motorcycle, automobile and other manufacturers, OPEI has long advised and educated consumers about the changing fuels marketplace, with mid-level ethanol blends being introduced for a subset of the automobile fleet. Mid-level ethanol fuels are not for use in non-road products, such as mowers, chainsaws, generators, UTVs, ATVs, boats, snowmobiles, motorcycles, and other outdoor power equipment.

“It is unfortunate our government is not willing to invest in stronger education for consumers about fueling choices. The small warning stickers placed on fuel pumps are not enough to prevent mis-fueling and do little to educate consumers. Consumers need to be vigilant year-round when it comes to fueling their outdoor power equipment and remember that E10 or less is always best,” said Kiser.

Earlier this year, the organization issued the results of a study conducted online with The Harris Poll that showed Americans are confused when it comes to fueling choices. OPEI’s research found that only 1 in 5 Americans (20%) say they notice ethanol content at a fuel pump, while more than 4 times as many (86%) notice price (similar to last year, 20% and 85%, respectively).

Among those who own outdoor power equipment, less than half (42%) of respondents pay attention to the type of fuel they use. More than 1 in 10 outdoor power equipment owners are fueling incorrectly.

Twelve percent admit to using fuel with higher than recommended ethanol (E15/E30/E50/E85) for their outdoor power equipment (up from 7% in 2015)

Fifty-eight percent don’t pay attention to or are not at all sure about what fuel they use.

The American Petroleum Institute came out with a headline of “EPA’s year-round E15 and RIN reform rule won’t fix the broken fuels mandate, could hurt U.S. consumers.” How’s that for a warning? API literally said it will hurt consumers and their vehicles in their statement:

“Extending this waiver is an anti-consumer policy that risks causing costly engine and fuel system damage to nearly three out of four vehicles on the road today,” said API Vice President of Downstream and Industry Operations Frank Macchiarola. “EPA has acted outside its statutory authority in granting year-round E15 and rushed through the rulemaking process in order to meet an arbitrary deadline. This premature policy attempts to push E15 into the market before it is ready.”

EPA also finalized reforms to the Renewable Identification Number (RIN) market.

“While we are encouraged that EPA limited the scope of the proposed RIN reforms, the rule does nothing to address the ethanol blendwall, which is the main structural problem with the RFS,” Maccchiarola said. 

“The outdated RFS mandate was premised on the faulty assumptions of ever-increasing gasoline demand and reliance on foreign sources of oil, and the near-term commercial availability of advanced and cellulosic biofuels. History has proved these assumptions wrong, and we urge EPA to instead focus its attention on protecting consumers and fixing the RFS, which has strong bipartisan support.”

Chet Thompson, President and CEO of the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), said, “The statutory language leaves no question that the EPA lacks authority to extend the E10 volatility waiver to E15. Finalizing this aspect of the proposed rule would clearly be unlawful, and we strongly oppose it.”

According to Bloomberg, “Marathon Petroleum Corp. warned the EPA’s move to consider E15 “substantially similar” to conventional E10 gasoline is “arbitrary and capricious” — a fatal failing under a federal law governing rulemaking. And the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers insisted the EPA is taking action previously rejected by Congress.”

Bottom Line

So while most of us are singing along like Olaf about the happiness of summer and what wonderful news this particular summer brings with the E15 ruling, not everyone is happy – just ask OPEI and most in the petroleum industry. We predict they will try to block, sue or do whatever they can to not allow summertime E15 – kind of like Anna trying to bring Olaf down as he happily sings about how wonderful summer is. The big question is what comes next? What will happen with the small refinery waivers? With RINs? We can’t wait to see what happens next.

Categories: Today's News

From ethanol plants to protein factories: The Digest’s 2019 Multi-Slide Guide to Green Plains

Biofuels Digest - Sun, 06/02/2019 - 5:19pm

The Digest’s new “Stocks Worth Tracking” Multi-Slide Guide Series highlights hot companies that are making strides in the bioeconomy. Today’s “Stock Worth Tracking” is Green Plains. Green Plains corn milling platform has changed and improved the dry mill corn process, but their technologies are now going beyond ethanol and they say the new advances will “transform our company over the next 18 to 36 months.”

Green Plains gave this illuminating presentation during the recent 14th Annual Farm to Market Conference that went into detail about Q1 results, some of the critical issues facing the ethanol industry, how driving demand through higher blends and expanding to export markets is working, two new technologies coming down the pike that could improve ethanol plants profitability and lead the way to high-protein feed, and more

Categories: Today's News

ePure says EU ethanol reduced GHG emissions by 71% compared to fossil fuels in 2018

Biofuels Digest - Thu, 05/30/2019 - 5:30pm

In Belgium, ePure says European renewable ethanol delivered an average of more than 71% greenhouse-gas savings compared to fossil fuels in 2018, well above the minimum legal requirements, according to new certified data from producers. That continues a seven-year trend, as the climate-change-fighting potential of EU ethanol keeps improving.

Ethanol produced by ePURE members is refined from European feedstock and works at scale in today’s petrol cars. Increasing its use across Europe – for example through the adoption of E10 petrol with up to 10% ethanol – would make an immediate emissions reductions impact and help Member States to achieve their climate and renewable energy targets.

Categories: Today's News

USGC data shows non-beverage ethanol fastest growing US export over the past decade

Biofuels Digest - Thu, 05/30/2019 - 5:29pm

In Washington, recent analysis by the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) shows non-beverage ethanol has been the fastest growing U.S. agricultural export over the past decade by a significant margin.

In 2018, U.S. ethanol exports totaled more than 6.5 billion liters (1.72 billion gallons or 609 million bushels in corn equivalent), valued at $2.7 billion. Using trade data on 47 different agricultural and ag-related product groupings tracked by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service (USDA’s FAS) via its Global Agricultural Trade System (GATS) system, analysis reveals the volume of ethanol exports grew by 18 percent per year over the past five years and 13 percent per year over the past 10 years.

Growth for each group was calculated on a fitted five- and 10 year-trendline and then adjusted for volatility. Of the 47 groups evaluated over the past five years, 21 showed negative growth over the period. The rest increased, but at a slower rate than ethanol.

These data track with increasing ethanol trade globally and demonstrate why ethanol market development is so important to U.S. farmers and ethanol producers.

Categories: Today's News

Canaplan sees Brazilian mills using up to 66% of cane for ethanol in 2019/20

Biofuels Digest - Thu, 05/30/2019 - 5:28pm

In Brazil, Reuters reports that Canaplan has increased its estimate of cane crushed for ethanol production during the 2019/20 season to between 65.5% and 66%, jumping from its estimate in April at the start of the crush of 62%. As a result, ethanol production for the season could reach 29.5 billion liters from its April estimate of 28 billion liters. Many analysts had expected mills to produce more sugar compared to ethanol than was the case last year but Canaplan said it changed its estimate based on what it has seen mills do during the first two months of the official crushing period.

Categories: Today's News

Trump to visit Iowa on June 11 to potentially announce year-round E15

Biofuels Digest - Thu, 05/30/2019 - 5:27pm

In Iowa, the Gazette newspaper reports that the White House has confirmed President Trump will visit Iowa on June 11 to attend a private Republican party fundraiser in West Des Moines and presumably to announce the implementation of year-round E15 blending, but the article didn’t confirm the rumored visit to an ethanol plant during the visit. The chairman of the state’s Republican party said that with primary season well underway, it’s clear that whoever is going to or remains in the White House will have to pass through Iowa where Trump will show a stark contrast to the Democrats who have been campaigning in the state recently.

Categories: Today's News


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