Tag Archives: ethanol

On Friday, Governor Pete Ricketts celebrated Renewable Fuels Month during a ribbon cutting event at Bosselman Travel Center in Grand Island. At the event, Governor Ricketts pumped gas for motorists, highlighting the new flex fuel pumps now offering a variety of ethanol blends at Bosselman Travel Center.

“Corn ethanol and soy biodiesel not only help build demand for Nebraska’s crop farmers, but they also help build our state’s economy and create local jobs,” said Governor Ricketts. “Just this week, I visited with U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue about the importance of higher ethanol blends, and I will continue to encourage the Trump administration to act quickly on the approval of the use of E-15 all year long. With infrastructure like the pumps we just launched in Grand Island, we will continue to grow demand for our locally-produced, clean-burning ethanol products.”

Governor Ricketts has been a constant advocate for Nebraska’s biofuel industry. He has served as chairman of the Governor’s Biofuels Coalition, testified before the Environmental Protection Agency in support of the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) twice, and successfully worked to recruit new investment in the state’s biofuels infrastructure and industry.

Over 90 percent of all fuel in Nebraska is blended with locally-produced ethanol. This homegrown industry supports over 1,300 jobs across the state and 25 ethanol plants. The ethanol industry promotes higher prices for corn, soybeans, and other agricultural products as well, supporting the agriculture industry at large. In 2017, over 2.1 billion gallons of ethanol and nearly 6.4 million metric tons of distillers grains were produced in Nebraska.

With more than 1 billion gallons being produced across the country, soy biodiesel is another important biofuel for Nebraska. Like ethanol, biodiesel burns cleaner than petroleum diesel, is locally produced, and helps our nation’s farmers. Biodiesel adds $0.74 per bushel to the value of soybeans, and the industry supports more than 60,000 U.S. jobs and $2.6 billion in wages.

“Nebraska’s ethanol industry is really a win for everyone,” said Dave Merrell, chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board and farmer from St. Edward. “By using ethanol, we are reducing greenhouse gas emissions and limiting cancer-causing toxic chemicals from entering into our atmosphere, which makes our air cleaner to breathe. Additionally, we produce a locally-grown feed for our livestock industry.”

“Bosselman Enterprises is among several key marketing partners working with Nebraska biofuel producers to offer a wider range of cleaner-burning fuel products,” said Jan tenBensel, chairman of the Nebraska Ethanol Board. “This new infrastructure provides greater access to high performance renewable fuels at a lower cost to consumers. Consumers save money at the pump, the agricultural sector benefits from increased demand for ag products, our economy benefits from fuel cost savings, and we have more choices at the pump.”

“As a Nebraska farmer, I feel a great amount of pride in the work we all do to provide our world with a safe and abundant supply of food, fuel, and fiber,” said Tony Johanson, chairman of the Nebraska Soybean Board and farmer from Oakland. “We know we need to ensure the sustainability of our planet, but how sustainable are we if we are burning fossil fuels? By producing and using renewable fuels, such as ethanol and biodiesel, we were able to replace the need for 540 million barrels of imported crude oil and 2.9 million gallons of imported petroleum diesel in 2017. That is significant.”

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, a leading supporter of corn-based ethanol, says he’ll call for Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt’s resignation if Pruitt doesn’t work to fulfill federal ethanol mandates.

Grassley is showing frustration with Pruitt’s lack of action to uphold the Renewable Fuel Standards law.

On a conference call with agriculture reporters Tuesday Grassley said Pruitt had better follow through with ethanol mandates or “I’m going to be calling for Pruitt to resign because I’m done playing around with this.”

Grassley says President Donald Trump has committed to upholding 15 billion gallons of ethanol to be mixed into the nation’s fuel supply but Pruitt has been allowing refineries to evade some of that commitment by issuing waivers. Grassley says that has reduced ethanol content to 13.8 billion gallons.

Washington, D.C. – President Donald Trump, Tuesday, reaffirmed he will approve year-round sales of 15-percent ethanol fuels without a Renewable Identification Number (RIN) cap. However, he has asked Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt and Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue to work out the details on an additional item: Reallocating RINs from exempted small refinery gallons to ethanol exports.

“We appreciate the Trump Administration’s strong support of the Renewable Fuel Standard, but the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) is concerned any move that would relate RINs to exporting ethanol could be severely detrimental to the competitiveness of ethanol exports and would harm the U.S. grains industry,” said Tom Sleight, USGC president and CEO. “We believe RINs for exported ethanol could be perceived as an export subsidy, against our World Trade Organization obligations. They could put a target on our back globally.”

U.S. ethanol producers are some of the most cost-competitive industries in the world, and as such, believe in free and fair trade within the global marketplace. Last year, ethanol exports reached a record high of 1.37 billion gallons.

“We are already seeing the impact of trade policy barriers on ethanol exports and we would like to have the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) look at the implications of export credits for RINs,” Sleight said.

OMAHA (DTN) — The White House is ready to allow year-round E15 fuel sales and plans to reallocate ethanol gallons lost as a result of small refinery waivers granted by EPA in recent years, Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, announced following a closed-door White House meeting on Tuesday. E15 fuel is a blend of 15% ethanol and 85% of gasoline.

It appears any proposal to cap the price for Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) is no longer on the table, Grassley said. In addition, the EPA and USDA are expected to consider a proposal to attach RINs to ethanol exported out of the United States, a source with knowledge of the meeting told DTN on background.

EPA has taken heat for an increase in the number of waivers granted to small refiners in recent years. Ethanol producers have said the waivers have led to lost ethanol demand. At least 40 waivers issued by EPA in the past two years have led to a recent decline in RIN prices.

EPA reportedly will examine how to reallocate RFS gallons lost by a recent spate of waivers granted in the past few years.

When waivers are granted, EPA is obligated to reallocate the gallons to other obligated parties to the RFS. This is required to be completed prior to setting renewable volume obligations for a given year. That was not done in 2016 and 2017.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, took to Twitter to laud the meeting as a win for oil, ethanol and corn interests.

Cruz was part of the White House meeting between Sens. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, Pat Toomey, R-Pa., President Donald Trump, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt.

“Terrific final decision from @POTUS meeting: E15, year-round plus RINs for all exports. This is a WIN-WIN for everyone. More corn will be sold (good for farmers), plus lower RINs (saves blue-collar refinery jobs), plus more ethanol exports (good for America),” Cruz tweeted out.

Grassley was more guarded in a tweet, saying nothing about attaching RINs to exports: “Had WH mtg on RFS/ethanol. No RIN cap & got E15 yr round. Need to see Perdue+Pruitt plan. Devil in details.”

In a statement to DTN, Grassley said the White House’s actions will help agriculture.

“President Trump agreed to allow for the sale E15 year-round,” he said. “That’s good news for farmers and consumer choice at the pump. Allowing higher blends of ethanol to be sold in the summer months fits in well with EPA’s deregulatory agenda. There was also an agreement to not pursue an artificial cap on RIN prices, which would have destroyed demand for biofuels and hurt biofuels workers.

“I told the president and Administrator Pruitt that EPA’s ‘hardship’ waivers for billionaires are hurting biofuels and undermining the RFS. They also undercut the president’s commitment to meet the annual 15-billion-gallon volume obligation set by Congress under the RFS. There was discussion about how to reallocate the waived obligations so that demand for biofuels wouldn’t be hurt. While details weren’t decided, I look forward to reviewing a plan being developed by Secretary Perdue and Administrator Pruitt. Any fix can’t hurt domestic biofuels production.”

The full implementation of E15 will not happen overnight as it still faces a number of roadblocks to full market expansion.

Brooke Coleman, executive director of the Advanced Biofuels Business Council, said in a statement to DTN, “President Trump scored a big win by putting a final nail in the coffin of the refinery-backed RIN cap scheme. We’re also encouraged that the White House has told EPA Administrator Pruitt to get to work immediately on a long-overdue fix to summer regulations that limit sales of E15.”

Roger Johnson, president of the National Farmers Union, questioned how fast EPA might act on E15 because if some kind of approval is not achieved by then, then year-round E15 would not come until 2019 at the earliest.

“The only way they could do it now is to do an emergency rule, otherwise you have lost E15 for this summer,” Johnson told DTN.

EXPORT RINS

As for examining the possibility of attaching RINs to exports, the idea was proposed by Valero Energy Corp. in 2017 and opposed by ethanol interests. The RINs program is designed to spark domestic blending of ethanol and there are concerns that attaching RINs to exports undermines the RFS.

In an Oct. 19, 2017 letter to Midwest senators, Pruitt said the agency would not pursue the RINs export proposal (https://www.ernst.senate.gov/…).

Growth Energy Chief Executive Officer Emily Skor said in a statement to DTN the idea would harm agriculture and biofuels.

“Attaching a RIN to ethanol exports would have a crippling impact on American agriculture, significantly reducing demand for ethanol and corn,” she said.

“It would also have major trade implications, as export RINs would be considered a subsidy by our global trading partners, who will likely challenge this as unnecessary advantage to U.S. ethanol.”

Renewable Fuels Association President and Chief Executive Officer Bob Dinneen said the RFA continues to oppose the idea of attaching RINS to exports.

“The notion of allowing exported ethanol to count toward an oil company’s RFS obligation is extremely problematic,” Dinneen said in a statement. “Depending on potential implementation, allowing exports to qualify for RFS compliance could dramatically reduce domestic ethanol demand, while most certainly resulting in retaliatory trade barriers from the countries importing U.S. ethanol. Our trade partners in the international market certainly would not understand why the lowest-priced ethanol in the world requires an export subsidy.”

Dinneen said the “real disgrace” would be that “ethanol producers and farmers would bear the brunt of any retaliatory tariffs.”

EPA previously rendered a ruling on such a proposal, “if a gallon of ethanol is produced in the U.S. but consumed outside of the U.S., the RIN associated with that gallon is not valid for RFS compliance purposes since the RFS program is intended to require a specific volume of renewable fuel to be consumed in the U.S.”

Small refiners have decried the costs to comply with the RFS, spending many millions of dollars to buy RIN credits. Most notably, Philadelphia Energy Solutions filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy based by-and-large on what it said was exorbitant RIN costs. The waivers issued by EPA has driven down the price of RINs.

OMAHA (DTN) — EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt told members of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee Thursday he wants to work with Congress to reform the Renewable Fuel Standard. However, he provided few answers as to why the agency approved a recent rash of small-refinery waivers.

Pruitt told the committee it was important to create transparency in the market for renewable identification numbers, or RINs, so as to reduce fraud and to understand what drives prices. RINs are biofuel credits used for compliance with the RFS. In addition, Pruitt told the committee that EPA continues to work on making E15 available year-round.

Pruitt revealed on Thursday that the agency has received more waiver requests already in 2018 than it did in 2017 and 2016, setting the 2018 number at “more than 30.” If all the waivers were granted, it would be the highest number of waivers the agency has issued in a single year.

Rep. David McKinley, R-W.V., asked Pruitt what Pruitt could do to help small refiners who “can’t handle RINs” costs. Small-refinery companies have cited high RIN costs as a reason for requested waivers.

Pruitt did not directly address why the number of exemptions have been on the rise, telling the committee transparency in the RIN market is the issue.

“Congress have been very helpful in providing a waiver,” he said, pointing to a need to provide transparency in the RIN trading platform. “The RIN trading platform is causing concern. It is our hope we can chart a path forward. What’s really driving this in many respects is RINs prices; escalating RINs prices and volatility in the market.”

Rep. Gene Green, D-Texas, said he is concerned about EPA’s unwillingness to provide additional details on small-refinery waivers.

“The EPA is a federal government agency and secrecy is not something I think EPA ought to be worried about,” Green said.

Pruitt said, “What’s really driving this in many respects is just the RIN prices, dropping to 40 cents and up to 85 cents, and the rest. You just see a lot of pressure on those small refineries in particular. It’s just escalating RIN prices and instability in the market.”

Green asked Pruitt if EPA grants waivers to facilities above 75,000 barrels per day. Only those refineries that produce 75,000 barrels per day or less qualify for waivers.

“We look at it on a facility-by-facility basis, and the statute says its 75,000 barrels; it’s subjectively determined,” Pruitt said.

RFS SUPPORT QUESTIONED

Rep. Dave Loebseck, D-Iowa, questioned Pruitt’s support for the RFS.

“During the confirmation process, you stated support for the Renewable Fuel Standard,” he said. “Over the past several weeks, information was revealed that makes me question that. I’ve heard from farmers across the country on this who are concerned. I’m extremely disappointed in the action, lack of transparency, and accountability in the process is unacceptable.”

Loebseck said the EPA administrator is required to reassign RFS gallons waived to another obligated party.

“It is my understanding the process has happened as required under statute,” Pruitt said, without providing details.

The EPA has drawn fire for a seeming lack of transparency on waivers dating back to 2016, including declining to provide details about the companies receiving waivers and the amount of biofuel blending excluded. When asked by numerous media outlets, including DTN, and by biofuel groups for details about those waivers, EPA has declined to provide information, stating that to do so would expose proprietary business information.

The agency granted nearly 40 RFS waivers to so-called small refiners since 2016, including about 25 in 2017 alone. Included in last year’s total is a request by Andeavor, which posted a $1.5 billion profit last year. Also, the New York Times reported that oil giants Exxon and Chevron have requested waivers for 2018.

Waivers granted to small refineries in 2016 and 2017 may have prevented about 1.6 billion gallons of biofuels from entering the fuel supply, according to a review of EPA data performed by the Renewable Fuels Association.

Further, the price of D6, or conventional-ethanol RINs, has fallen by 50% since mid-February from about 70 cents to 35 cents.

E15 PROCESS

When asked why it was taking so long to move to year-round E15 availability, Pruitt said the agency is trying to “ensure the legal basis” is solid, because there “will be litigation.” He said the agency plans to finish the review soon.

“I’m here to tell you farmers are very disappointed by this,” Loebseck said. “I think this program, the waiver program, is in need of oversight. We need to make sure these waivers are not abused.”

In recent weeks, President Donald Trump said publicly he supports agency action to allow year-round sales of E15.

“It is a legal determination, it is not a policy determination,” Pruitt said about E15.

In addition, a number of lawmakers continue to draft legislation to reform the RFS. On Thursday, Pruitt indicated the agency is ready to work with Congress on the law.

“I really believe Congress’ role in this is terribly important,” he said. “We need Congress and our regulatory response together.”

Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill., said he agreed that RFS reform should come from Congress.

“I take this seriously,” he said. “I believe no matter the real intentions of the law, the best way to settle this is by statue.”

Other members of Congress, including Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, have said the RFS is not in need of reform.

Democrats on the House committee spent much of Thursday’s hearing pressing Pruitt on travel and other expenditures that have raised ethics questions about his management of the agency. Pruitt also testified before the House Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee on Thursday afternoon.

“The administration has brought secrecy and scandal to EPA,” Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., said. “Clearly, you do not believe in EPA’s mission. In December you promised to be transparent. I think every indication we have is you should resign.”

KEARNEY — KAAPA Ethanol Holdings will present revised plans Friday to city officials for its new company headquarters.

During its regular meeting, the Kearney Planning Commission will hear vacation, rezoning and development plan requests from representatives of KAAPA Ethanol Holdings, which plans to build its headquarters adjacent to the lot where the former Grandpa’s Steakhouse operated until it closed in 2013.

Revised plans for the 13,005-square-foot administrative building at 11 S. Central Ave. call for it to be encircled with stone masonry and capped with a gable roof, according to city documents. The building will feature large banks of windows and glass doors. The property currently is zoned as a community commercial district and developers hope to rezone it to community commercial district with a planned development overlay.

Original construction plans were approved in January by the Kearney City Council. During that meeting, Dan Lindstrom, an attorney who represented KAAPA Ethanol Holdings, said the project will be good for Kearney.

“This is an opportunity for the city to redevelop this property that’s dilapidated,” Lindstrom said.

In a previous interview with the Hub, KAAPA Ethanol Chief Executive Officer Chuck Woodside said the goal for the new office is to have space for 15 people, including the chief executive officer, chief financial officer, merchandising, logistics, finances and human resources.

Also during Friday’s meeting, Platte Valley Auto plans to request approval for rezoning and development plan approval for a 12,000-square-foot collision center at their property at 44th Street east of Fourth Avenue. The existing auto sales building at 4210 Second Ave. does not have the room for the collision center addition, according to city documents.

Presenter Jordan Starostka of Starostka Group Unlimited is requesting to rezone the property from community commercial district with a planned development overlay to general commercial district with a planned development overlay.

Commissioners also will:

– Consider a request for a conditional-use permit for sand and gravel pumping operations and a temporary construction batch plant at 335 Cherry Ave. The applicants, Kappas Enterprises and Werner Construction Inc. applied for the permit for removal of construction aggregate from an existing gravel pit and a temporary construction batch plant on the Kappas property. A permit for the temporary batch plant was approved by the Kearney City Council in 2011 for the construction of the East Kearney Expressway. Material will be removed from the north side of the existing sandpit and hauled to the on-site batch plant.

– Review a request by Matt Thomas, the owner, for planned district development plan approval for Eastbrooke Gardens at 5611 Eastbrooke Dr. Paul Brungardt of Brungardt Engineering will present plans for a duplex development located at the northeast corner of 56th Street and Eastbrooke Drive, according to city documents. Plans for the development show the 4.6 acre lot with 16 duplexes along a private loop drive. Twelve of the living units will have three bedrooms and the other four living units will have four.

– Consider rezoning, preliminary and final plat, annexation, and development plan approval requests for Millennial Estates Second located north of 35th Street Drive, south of 39th Street and west of Grand Avenue.

The proposed residential subdivision consists of four blocks with 28 single-family lots and eight duplex lots for a total of 36 lots. The presenters, Starostka and Lindstrom, are requesting to rezone the property from agricultural district to urban residential mixed density with a planned development overlay. Plans call for 28 single-family lots developed as one-story ranch houses with basements.

*Story Credit to The Kearney Hub

LAVISTA, Neb. (DTN) — Although President Donald Trump made clear on Thursday his support for granting a waiver to allow year-round sales of E15, the EPA told DTN on Friday the agency hasn’t yet made a decision on E15. E15 fuel is a blend of 15% ethanol and 85% of gasoline.

At a White House meeting Thursday focusing on agriculture and trade, Trump said his administration will approve E15. Talking briefly to reporters, the president said regarding ethanol, “We’re going to raise it up to 15% and raise it to a 12-month period.”

Trump’s brief comment came after news reports last week surfaced that EPA granted small-refinery hardship waivers at a breakneck pace in 2017.

On Friday, an EPA spokesperson said the agency hasn’t reached a decision on E15.

“EPA has been assessing the legal validity of granting an E15 waiver since last summer,” the spokesperson said. “The agency has been awaiting a clear outcome from the ongoing RFS (Renewable Fuel Standard) discussions with the White House, USDA and Congress before making any final decisions or developing any associated regulatory actions.”

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts recalled Thursday’s meeting when he addressed state ethanol leaders at the Nebraska Ethanol Board conference early Friday. In regard to Trump’s E15 comments, Ricketts said, “That is a big deal. We have been asking for that for quite some time.” Ricketts credited the Trump administration for listening to farmers.

Todd Sneller, administrator of the Nebraska Ethanol Board, told DTN on Thursday that even if EPA grants a waiver for E15, it would be awhile before the fuel becomes widely available.

“I think everybody reacted positively; the one caveat is this may take 12 months or so,” Sneller said at the forum Thursday.

Sneller added that Trump will be directing EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to draft a rule and get it out for public comment. Sneller also said a number of people have met with Pruitt on this topic, and the administrator has said he feels that the agency has the authority to advance a rule on E15.

Ricketts also acknowledged there remains a great of work ahead to get EPA to change the policy. The governor added that more advocacy will be needed to get EPA to finalize a rule on year-round E15.

“The thing we have to remember is the president is the one elected by the American people and the administrator works for the president,” Ricketts said.

“This is the first time the president has said he supports E15 year-round,” Ricketts said. “That’s one of the key things we have to do is continue advocating that with the EPA and the president to make sure that gets implemented.”

Because of concerns about ozone depletion, EPA restricts E15 sales in certain parts of the country from June 1 to Sept. 15.

Sneller said the restriction has prevented fuel marketers from going all in on E15.

“They were concerned about liability issues,” he said. “I think that’s weighed heavily on their minds. I think when that impediment has been removed, that starts to free a pathway for some to start making investment in infrastructure. I think the imprimatur of EPA being on that product helps. So I think a number of good things flow through the marketplace with that first step coming from EPA.”

Robert White, vice president of industry relations for the Renewable Fuels Association, said granting an E15 waiver is good for the industry.

However, RFS waivers granted to small refiners could nullify market gains from E15. At this point, it is uncertain how much biofuel blending didn’t occur because of the waivers. Estimates are the volume could be more than 1 billion gallons not blended between 2016 and 2018 — far exceeding potential E15 gallons coming online in the short term and nullifying market gains that could be realized by E15.

“What’s happening is the RIN (renewable identification numbers) value is going down,” White said.

Ricketts told ethanol producers that lawmakers and governors also expressed concern about the way EPA has been granting RFS exemptions to small refiners.

“We think going to E15 helps reduce the price of RINs,” Ricketts said. “What we want to do is make sure we don’t undermine the RFS in general.”

Ricketts said he and others will continue to ask EPA for more transparency on how those small-refiner waivers are being granted.

White, who is heavily involved in expanding ethanol markets at the retail station level, said the E15 experience is similar to what occurred with E10.

When the EPA approved the use of E15 in vehicle models 2001 and newer, the agency also required warning labels on pumps to limit E15 use to flexible-fuel vehicles, limited E15’s availability because of ozone concerns, and required retailers to jump through a number of other hoops.

“When E15 was coming down the pike, I kept telling our members it took us 32 years to do E10,” White said. “You have to tamper your expectations because, if this was something set up easy by EPA, it’s still going to take time. Well, they didn’t. They made it almost impossible to do with RVP restrictions, (you) get surveyed at your retail, you have to register with EPA — something retailers never had to do before — and they don’t like it.”

However, gasoline retailers, including Scheetz, decided to take a chance on E15 and “were all financially rewarded,” White said.

The ozone restrictions, in particular, have been the major barrier to E15, he said.

“There’s no doubt I can tell you there’s thousands of stations that have said we can’t go down this road until we can offer it year-round,” White said, “whether it’s chains or mom and pops. You can’t discount the importance of this. It’s unfortunate it has taken maybe six or seven years, but none of that comes overnight.”

Steve Seabrook, vice president of commercial relations for Poet Ethanol Products in Wichita, Kansas, said E15 is not allowed to be blended in the major gasoline markets of California or New York. Without those states, E15 potentially can be blended in 67% of the conventional gasoline market in the United States.

“The industry has to stand up and say ‘no’ to a partial waiver,” he said. “We need a 100% RVP waiver on E15 or it won’t matter.”