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Former Senators who helped develop RFS call for investigation into waivers

Biofuels Digest - Thu, 04/26/2018 - 4:35pm

In Washington, former Senators Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and Jim Talent (R-MO), who played key roles in developing the RFS, called for Congress to investigate the EPA’s recent waivers to major refiners and failure to follow the law.

‘Who better to help clarify the intent of these small refinery exemptions than those who helped write the law in the first place? It is no surprise that they stand against the actions of the EPA,’ said Kurt Kovarik, NBB’s vice president of federal affairs. ‘The EPA’s decision to give handouts to large, profitable refiners has a direct and lasting negative impact on biodiesel producers, renderers and farmers. We will continue our push to return transparency and certainty to the marketplace.’

Thirteen years after working to enact the RFS, Senators Dorgan and Talent say EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s use of waivers skirts the law and threatens to undermine the renewable fuels industry.

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EPA refinery waivers created demand destruction of at least 1.6 billion gallons of ethanol in 2016-17

Biofuels Digest - Wed, 04/25/2018 - 5:03pm

In Washington, the EPA’s recent actions in exempting small refineries from their Renewable Fuel Standard blending obligations for 2016 and 2017 have effectively lowered the volumetric obligations by at least 1.6 billion gallons, according to an analysis of the agency’s own monthly compliance data by the Renewable Fuels Association. The Secretary of Agriculture told the Senate agriculture committee that the direct result of the waivers was demand destruction for ethanol. The volume of lost blending obligations for these two years is 10 times the collective volume of lost volume from 2013-2015.

In recent weeks, it’s been widely reported that EPA has exempted as many as 25-30 small refineries from their RFS blending obligations in 2017, and as many as 20 refineries from their 2016 obligations. Despite numerous requests from industry stakeholders, including RFA, and lawmakers for additional information, EPA has not disclosed the exact number of exemptions granted or the volume of required renewable fuel blending that was effectively erased.

However, recently updated data found in EPA’s EMTS database provides some clarity on the volume of gasoline and diesel fuel that was exempted from blending requirements in 2016 and 2017. “The EPA data strongly imply that small refiner exemptions have resulted in effectively lowering the 2017 required volume of renewable fuels by 1.11 billion gallons, or 6%. The data also show that small refiner exemptions also effectively reduced the 2016 RFS requirement by 523 million gallons,” according to the analysis.

Based on EPA’s EMTS database, the actual annual consumption of gasoline and diesel fuel in 2013-2015 was very close to the volume of gasoline and diesel fuel obligated for RFS compliance, as reported by obligated parties. “This means RFS blending obligations applied to virtually every gallon of gasoline and diesel fuel produced and consumed in the United States,” the analysis explained. “However, something clearly changed in 2016 and 2017. The EPA data show large discrepancies between actual gasoline and diesel consumption and the volumes obligated for renewable fuel blending as reported by obligated parties. The difference was 5.2 billion gallons in 2016, virtually doubling to 10.3 billion gallons in 2017. The only reasonable explanation for these large discrepancies between actual gasoline/diesel consumption and the volume of gasoline/diesel obligated for renewable fuel blending is the surge in small refiner exemption approvals,” the analysis found.

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Universal Biofuels produces biodiesel from lower quality, high Free Fatty Acid waste feedstock

Biofuels Digest - Wed, 04/25/2018 - 5:01pm

In California, Aemetis, Inc. announced that its Universal Biofuels subsidiary completed the production of high quality distilled biodiesel from lower quality, high Free Fatty Acid (FFA) waste feedstock using the recently constructed pre-treatment unit at the biorefinery located on the East Coast of India. Using the lower cost, high FFA waste feedstock, the pre-treatment unit allows for production that meets or exceeds the biodiesel quality specifications of international fuel standards.

The production of high quality distilled biodiesel from high FFA waste feedstock was scheduled as a part of commissioning the pre-treatment unit for production of high quality distilled biodiesel for BP Singapore under a three-year supply agreement.  The India biorefinery is now scheduled to process the first production run of feedstock from BP Singapore that already has been delivered to the India plant.

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Brazilian sugar mills likely to see smaller premiums for anhydrous ethanol this season

Biofuels Digest - Wed, 04/25/2018 - 5:00pm

In Brazil, thanks to anticipated increased demand for hydrous ethanol as mills take advantage of higher returns compared to sugar while also keeping prices at the pump low enough to encourage demand, Platts reports that mills also expect to earn smaller premiums for anhydrous ethanol than in previous years as a result of the focus on hydrous. Mills are negotiating long term contracts this week, most of which remain unsigned just days before the deadline for contract signatures.

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EPA seeking candidates for Mobile Sources Technical Review Subcommittee

Biofuels Digest - Wed, 04/25/2018 - 4:59pm

In Washington, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) invites nominations from a diverse range of qualified candidates to be considered for appointment to its Mobile Sources Technical Review Subcommittee (MSTRS). Vacancies are anticipated to be filled by Fall, 2018. Sources in addition to the Federal Register Notice may also be utilized in the solicitation of nominees. Nominations must be postmarked or emailed by May 22, 2018. The MSTRS provides the Clean Air Act Advisory Committee (CAAAC) with independent advice, counsel and recommendations on the scientific and technical aspects of programs related to mobile source air pollution and its control, including issues related to biofuels.

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Small Indonesian oil palm farmers union sues government for misuse of subsidies

Biofuels Digest - Wed, 04/25/2018 - 4:56pm

In Indonesia, small oil palm farmers have had enough of the subsidy for oil majors to blend biodiesel with no knock on effects for them, so as a result the main oil palm farmers union SPKS said it is going to sue the government for failing to invest part of the more than $1 billion collected in 2017 or since its launch in 2015 for “human resource development, research and development, and rejuvenation of plantations” as outlined in the subsidy fund’s charter.

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North Carolina community tells Waylek Energy “no thanks”

Biofuels Digest - Wed, 04/25/2018 - 4:55pm

In North Carolina, the Stanley City Council voted against Waylek Energy’s proposed $45 billion biofuel plant in line with the wishes of more than 70 local residents who protested the project during the council meeting. Noise and air pollution as well as safety issues were the main concerns raised by community members who worried the location of the proposed project was too close to residential areas. Company representatives weren’t present at the council meeting that had been delayed by two weeks in order to provide more time for deliberations.

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EU-funded project develops nanocatalysts for biofuel production

Biofuels Digest - Wed, 04/25/2018 - 4:54pm

In Germany, an EU project developed innovative nanocatalysts to create an integrated modular and highly efficient process for producing fuels from renewable energy sources. Fifteen partners across eight countries joined efforts in the EU-funded project BIOGO-FOR-PRODUCTION to radically transform production processes and realize these essential improvements.

The project focused on developing an integrated, coherent and holistic approach for transforming biofuel production from sustainable sources. Project partners utilized novel technology to prepare nanoscale catalysts with reduced dependence on precious metals and rare earth materials as well as innovative industrial methods for every production step.

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Central European countries call on Europe to set biofuel blending at minimum 12% by 2030 without 1G cap

Biofuels Digest - Wed, 04/25/2018 - 4:53pm

In Belgium, “Long term sustainable solution in line with market realities” – is the message from the Visegrad 4+3 group representing the biofuel industry in seven Central European countries in a joint declaration to the RED 2 Directive trilogue process published Wednesday. The group represents biofuel associations and 31 biofuel companies from Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, Lithuania, Latvia and Bulgaria.

The joint declaration calls on policy makers to ensure the use of proven crop based biofuels is not reduced or capped and to set a minimum 12% level of actual (not multiple counted) renewables in transport by 2030. It advocates reasonable policy support for advanced biofuels. It adds that multiple counting supports fossil fuel, increases oil’s market share in transport, leads to higher GHG emissions and precludes private investments in renewables.

“Our investments are, quite simply, responsible for basically all of the GHG savings in our region’s transport sector in the past decade. It makes no sense to put these jobs or that oil displacement at risk. With a grounded RED II, we would continue to invest, including in exactly the advanced biofuels that everyone is hoping will flourish and become viable in coming years. With a bad policy — we will not invest,” the joint declaration said. The V4+3 organizations supply chains involve 500,000 people in their rural regions, all of whose livelihoods are put at risk by any proposal whose practical impact will be to reduce the use of safe, sustainable EU-grown crops in domestic EU biofuels production.

“Crop-based biofuels currently play a key role in decarbonizing transport: they effectively reduce GHG emissions, bring protein rich animal feed of high quality, and directly displace imported fossil fuels. They are the first step, and the foundation, for further transport decarburization.  No proposal to force them out of the market or reduce their consumption should be entertained” said Ferenc Hódos of the Hungarian Ethanol Association.

“We propose reasonable and realistic phasing in of advanced biofuels, on the top of crop-based biofuels; taking cost, sustainability and viability criteria into account.” said Zuzana Jakubičková, Director of Legal Affairs, Slovakian Biofuels Association.

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