"As the country follows the advice of local and state governments and remain at home, motor fuel use has rapidly decreased. The decrease in fuel consumption has left (biofuel) production facilities little choice but to idle production or close completely.
"Farm income and prices for corn and other crop commodities are directly linked to the health of the renewable fuel industry. Ethanol plants use 40 percent of all corn grown in the United States. Among other feedstocks, biodiesel and renewable diesel producers currently use over 8 billion pounds of soybean oil a year, creating demand that adds 13 percent to the cash price of a bushel of soybeans.
"We have seen a significant drop in the price of corn and soybeans because of the decline in demand. Keeping plants open is vital for our states and we ask that you use the authority given by Congress to assist the biofuel industry during extremely difficult times. We are supportive of the proposals the biofuel industry has put forward to reimburse feedstocks and also believe that adding additional CCC funds to the Higher-Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program will drive future biofuel demand,” the senators continued," the letter said.
(Source: Various Media, Atlantic News Telegraph, 8 April, 2020)Contact: Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), www.grassley.senate.gov; Sen. Joni Ernst, www.ernst.senate.gov
More Low-Carbon Energy News Chuck Grassley, Ethanol,
NASS collects crop data on acres planted and harvested, production, price and stocks for these crops, along with the data on livestock.
Download details HERE. (Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, April, 2020)
Contact: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, 800-727-9540, www.nass.usda.gov
More Low-Carbon Energy News USDA, Ethanol,
Total corn consumed for alcohol and other uses in January was 519 million bushels. Total corn consumption was down 2 pct from December 2019, but up 5 pctfrom January 2019. Corn use for fuel alcohol was at 469 million bushels, down 2 pct from the previous month, but up 6 percent from the same month of 2019. Corn consumed in January 2020 for dry milling fuel production and wet milling fuel production was 90 percent and 10 percent, respectively.
Download the full Grain Crushings and Co-Products Production Report HERE. (Source: Grain Crushings and Co-Products Production Report, USDA, Mar., 2020) Contact: USDA, www.usda.gov
More Low-Carbon Energy News USDA, Corn, Corn Ethanol, Biofuel,
These actions have the potential to increase USDA's annual consumption of E15 by up to 9 million gallons, E85 by 10 million gallons, and biodiesel and renewable diesel blends by up to 3 million gallons.
The agency also announced it will offer $100 million in grant funding this year for the newly created Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP) to help transportation fueling and biodiesel distribution facilities install, retrofit, and/or upgrade fuel storage, dispenser pumps, related equipment and infrastructure to be able to sell ethanol and biodiesel.
Download HBIIP program details HERE.
Download the USDA order HERE. (Source: USDA, 28 Feb., 2020) Contact: USDA, Sonny Perdue, Sec.,www.usda.gov
More Low-Carbon Energy News USDA, Biofuel Fleet, Biofuel, Biodiesel, Biofuel Infrastructure,
"The plan to reach 30 pct for biofuels in 2050 is especially troubling. The USDA's historic approach to 'market-driven blend rates' has been to aggressively pursue unachievable biofuel mandates that put manufacturing jobs at risk, result in more emissions and create a reliance on foreign fuels. Ethanol is cheaper than gasoline and does not need a mandate. If the USDA is truly interested in 'market driven' approaches, it should advocate eliminating the renewable fuel standard (RFS) so that renewable energy can economically compete on its own, rather than trying to promote mandates that drive quantities of ethanol-laced fuels that consumers may not want, while putting jobs at risk and raising costs at the pump. In fact, the blend rate is gradually increasing despite falling renewable identification numbers and small refinery exemptions. This shows that ethanol is economic on its own and that markets, not mandates, should determine our nation's fuel mix.
"Calling for a 30 pct biofuels goal for 2050 is not something that should be coming out of the Trump administration. It sounds like an objective of the $93 trillion Green New Deal which President Trump and every free market and taxpayers group including CAGW has said is both unachievable and devastating to the economy. The USDA should withdraw its proposal and the RFS should be eliminated."(Source: The Waste Watcher - Against Government Waste , 21 Feb. 2020) Contact: The Waste Watcher -Against Government Waste www.cagw.org
More Low-Carbon Energy News USDA, Biofuel Blend, RFS,
"Today's recognition by USDA and Secretary Perdue's unwavering support will help drive biofuel innovation in the coming years and decades. We look forward to continuing our longstanding working relationship with USDA to ensure that Americans across the country have expanded access to cleaner fuels like E15 and E30 at the pump."
Growth Energy is the leading biofuel trade association in the country. We represent producers and supporters of ethanol who are working to bring consumers better choices at the fuel pump, grow America's economy, and improve the environment for future generations. Our growing membership base now represents nearly half of all American ethanol plants along with many of the largest and most prominent fuel retailers in the country and the industry's top associate members whose businesses support the ethanol industry, according to the Growth Energy website.(Source: Growth Energy, 21 Feb., 2020) Contact: Growth Energy, Emily Skor, CEO, Elizabeth Funderburk, (202) 545-4000, EFunderburk@GrowthEnergy.org, www.growthenergy.org
More Low-Carbon Energy News USDA, Growth Energy, Biofuel, Biofuel Blens, RFS,
Under the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) refineries are presently required to blend 20.09 billion gallons of biofuel in 2020 – roughly 10 pct of projected crude oil production, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
(Source: KLO, Various Media, Reuters, 20 Feb., 2020)
More Low-Carbon Energy News USDA news, RFS news, Ethanol news, Ethanol Blend news,
NBB VP of Federal Affairs, Kurt Kovarik noted NBB is "grateful to the USDA for following through on a pledge to support infrastructure projects that facilitate higher biofuel blends.
"American consumers are increasingly demanding access to clean, low-carbon, advanced biofuels, like biodiesel. We look forward to working with the USDA to strengthen the market for higher blends of biodiesel," Kovarik added. (Spource, NBB, NAFB, 1 Feb., 2020) Contact: NBB, Kaleb Little, Dir. Communications, Kurt Kovarik, VP Federal Affairs, (800) 841-5849, www.biodiesel.org
More Low-Carbon Energy News National Biodiesel Board,
This Request for Information (RFI) solicits information on options for fuel ethanol and biodiesel infrastructure, innovation, products, technology, and data derived from all HBIIP processes and/or science that drive economic growth, promote health, and increase public benefit.
Through this RFI, USDA seeks input from the public, including but not limited to: retail fueling stations, convenience stores, hypermarket fueling stations, fleet facilities, and similar entities with capital investments; equipment providers, equipment installers, certification entities and other stakeholder/manufacturers (both upstream and down); fuel distribution centers, including terminals and depots; and those performing innovative research, and/or developing enabling platforms and applications in manufacturing, energy production, and agriculture.
Download the full Advanced Biofuel Payment Program
HERE (Source: USDA Rural Business-Cooperative Service, USDA, 27 Dec., 2019) Contact: Rural Business-Cooperative Service, Bette Brand, Admin., (202) 690-4730, 202-690-4737 - fax., www.rd.usda.gov
More Low-Carbon Energy News USDA, RFS, Advanced Biofuel,
"IFB also urges USDA to move quickly on an infrastructure package to accommodate higher blend levels."
The Illinois Farm Bureau (IFB) represents 75 pct of the state's farmers with membership of more than 386,291 and a voting membership of 79,159. Illinois is the nation's third-largest producer of ethanol with roughly 75 pct of it corn production being converted into ethanol.
(Source: Illinois Farm Bureau, 21 Dec., 2019) Contact: Illinois Farm Bureau , t Richard Guebert, Jr, Pres. www.ilfb.org
More Low-Carbon Energy News RFS, Biofuel, Ethanol Blend, USDA, US DOE, Renewable Volume Obligation ,
The research is aimed at developing new bio-based jet fuel manufacturing technology and crop feedstocks with vegetable oil compositions tailored for this technology.
The research team will use camelina as an oilseed platform to develop vegetable oil formulations with shorter carbon chains that are better suited for the processing technology. These genetic strategies will be transferred to other vegetable oil feedstocks, such as soybean and oil-rich sorghum, which are currently being developed by university faculty for the U.S. DOE Center for Advanced Bioenergy and Bioproducts Innovation (CABBI).
Research at UNL builds on prior US DOE and Nebraska Center for Energy Sciences Research'funding.
(Source: University of Nebraska, Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, UNL IANR NEWS, 17 Dec., 2019)
Contact: UNL Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources,
National Institute for Food and Agriculture, www.nifa.usda.gov; U.S. DOE Center for Advanced Bioenergy and Bioproducts Innovation, www.cabbi.bio
More Low-Carbon Energy News Camelina, Oilseed, USDA, National Institute for Food and Agriculture,
The individual grants, which range from
$381,750 to $2,421, are being funded through the Rural Energy for America Program. (Source: USDA Rural Development Nebraska, PR Dec., 2019) Contact: USDA Rural Development Nebraska, Karl Elmshaeuser, Dir., 402-437-5551, www.rd.usda.gov; Rural Energy for America Program, www.ggs-greenhouse.com/blog/reap-energy-grant?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIs8_m44mz5gIVC1YMCh0jKgeOEAAYASAAEgL_8_D_BwE
More Low-Carbon Energy News USDA Rural Development , Energy Efficiency, Energy Efficiency Grants,
If granted, the funds would support TCL&P's on-bill financing program allowing customers to borrow up to $30,000 at no interest for 10 years for renewable energy and energy efficiency installations and upgrades. The repayment, plus a $5 administration fee, would be secured through a lien on the property and added to the customer's monthly power billing.
Qualifying borrowers could use the money for everything from insulation upgrades to new windows to renewable energy projects like rooftop solar, as previously reported.
TCL&P executive director Tim Arends previously touted the idea as a way to help curb the utility's peak energy demand.
The USDA gave tentative approval to the utility's application, as previously reported.
(Source: Traverse City Light & Power, Traverse City Record Eagle, 1 Dec., 2019)Contact: Traverse City Light & Power, Tim Arends, 231-922-4940, www.tclp.org
More Low-Carbon Energy News Energy Efficiency, Energy Efficiency Funding,
The program offers financial assistance in the form of easement payments for specific conservation actions on private forest and tribal lands in Virginia, Tennessee and Kentucky. Under the program, landowners develop a carbon forest project with TNC and get assistance with carbon credit development and marketing as well as some potential additional income from the sale of credits.
The program offers a 30-year term and permanent easement options for private landowners or a 30-year contract for tribal lands.
The USDA will pay 75 pct of the value of the land enrolled in 30-year easements plus 75 pct of the average cost of the approved conservation practices.
Landowners who select the permanent easement option can get 100 pct of the easement value of the enrolled property.
(Source: NRCS, Nature Conservancy,CBS 19, 13 Nov., 2019) Contact: Nature Conservancy,
Steve Lineman or Greg Meade, (276) 676-2209, (703) 841-5300, www.nature.org; USDA NRCS, Easement Program Manager Diane Dunaway, (804) 287-1634
More Low-Carbon Energy News Nature Conservancy, Reforestation, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service,
More specifically, the report found While West Virginia's renewable energy production decreased from 2013 to 2017 -- one of only nine states for which that is the case. The remaining 41 states all increased renewable energy production over that time period, and the average increase in production across all states is greater than 25 pct.
California, Rhode Island, Oregon, Arizona, North Carolina, New York, Iowa, Minnesota, Massachusetts and Nevada are the top 10 in that order while southern states -- Arkansas, Delaware, Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee, Alabama and West Virginia -- dominate the bottom 10.
In determining its ranking, the report considered: renewable output as a percentage of total energy production; 5-year change in renewable energy output; per-capita carbon emissions;
5-year change in carbon emissions; number of policies and incentives encouraging renewable energy development; total USDA energy investments; and average USDA funding per program.
(Source: Smart Asset 10.14.2019, VermontBiz, 16 Oct., 2019)Contact: Smart Asset, www.smartasset.com
More Low-Carbon Energy News Renewable Energy,
As previously reported,
Delta Air Lines, in partnership with NWABF, is investing $2 million to assess the biofuel refinery project's feasibility.
Additionally, the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture funded NARA with $39.5 million over 5-years. (Source: Northwest Advanced Bio-Fuels, LLC (NWABF), Washington State Univ. Evergreen, 3 Oct., 2019) Contact: Washington State University, NARA, Ralph Cavalieri, (509) 335-5581, firstname.lastname@example.org,
www.nararenewables.org; Northwest Advanced Bio-Fuels, LLC
Chris Whitworth,Dir. Project Dev., www.facebook.com/NWABiofuels; Gevo, Patrick Gruber, CEO, 303-858-8358, email@example.com, www.gevo.com
More Low-Carbon Energy News GEVO, Aviation Biofuel, Woody Biomass,
The agreement will ensure the blending of 15 billion gallons of ethanol with fuel supplies starting in 2020 and will also ensure the biomass-based diesel volume is met. EPA will also start the process for streamlining labeling and removal of other barriers for the sale of E15 fuel.
Among other changes, the EPA will begin to account for projected numbers of gallons exempted when coming up with Renewable Volume Obligations (RVO) for refiners, which means greater certainty for farmers and producers. It will ensure that more than 15 billion gallons of conventional ethanol are blended into the nation's fuel supply starting in 2020. Additionally, the USDA will invest in infrastructure projects to facilitate higher blends of biofuel, such as E85.
(Source: US EPA, McDonough County Voice, Various Other Media, 4 Oct., 2019)
More Low-Carbon Energy News RFS, Biofuel, Ethanol Blend, USDA, US DOE,
Researchers from Illinois State University, the Ohio State University, the University of Wisconsin at Platteville and the University of Minnesota will join Phippen's team.
The integrated pennycress crop program will focus on improving pennycress genetics for plant breeding and preservation, agronomic management, ecosystems and supply chain management for post-harvest seed control, with the goal of commercially launching pennycress as a cash cover and biofuels crop in 2021. St. Louis-based CoverCress Inc. is working closely with Phippen and his team for some of the breeding and post-production side of the research.
The end goal is to produce 50 billion gallons of biofuel in the next 25 years. (Source: Western Illinois University, Journal-Courier, 18 Sept., 2019) Contact: Western Illinois University, Prof. Win Phippen, (309) 298-1251, WB-Phippen@wiu.edu; CoverCress Inc., Funded for www.covercress.com; USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, https://nifa.usda.gov
More Low-Carbon Energy News Pennycress news, Biofuel news,
The facility would utilize forestry waste and wood "slash" to produce sustainable fuels. The result would qualify under an approved carbon-reducing pathway recognized by the American Society of Testing and Materials.
Delta expects the study to be completed by the middle of 2020, at which time it will "evaluate the next steps in moving forward with the project's development" with the expectation that the project would be in production by the end of 2023. Biofuels produced at the facility could provide around 10 pct of the airline's annual jet fuel consumption in the West Coast region.
As previously reported, Delta operated its first carbon-neutral delivery flight, using biofuels on a new A321. The airline also purchases offsets for domestic flights into and out of seven high-traffic airports. (Source: Delta, Air Travel, Sept., 2019) Contact: Delta, Graeme Burnett, VP Fuel Management, www.delta.com; Northwest Advanced Bio-fuels,
Dave Smoot, www.nifa.usda.gov
More Low-Carbon Energy News Woody Biomass, Biofuel, Aviation Biofuel, Delta Air Lines,
Congress appropriated $50 million for REAP grants and loan guarantees in fiscal year 2019.
REAP funding can be used for energy audits, renewable energy systems including biomass, geothermal, solar, hydropower biomass and others as well as energy efficiency upgrades such as HVAC energy efficiency improvements, insulation, lighting and refrigeration.
(Source: USDA, Farm & Dairy, 29 Aug., 2019) Contact: USDA, (202) 690-4730, (f) 202-690-4737, www.rd.usda.gov; REAP, www.rurdev.usda.gov
More Low-Carbon Energy News USDA, Renewable Energy, Energy Efficiency, REAP,
Perdue either couldn't or wouldn't say what action the president will or might take, but noted that Trump believes the EPA waivers were "way overdone." Ethanol advocates contend that oil refinery waivers have reduced ethanol production by 2.6 billion gallons since Trump moved into the White House.
When grilled on the Trump administration's biofuels, trade and Renewable Fuel Standard and related policies Perdue replied "EPA will continue to consult with our federal partners on the best path forward to ensure stability in the Renewable Fuel Standard. The president will always seek to engage with stakeholders to achieve wins for the agriculture and energy sectors." So sayeth Sonny!(Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, CBS, Various Media, 28 Aug., 2019) Contact: Office of US Sec of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue, (202) 720-2791, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.usda.gov, twitter.com/SecretarySonny
More Low-Carbon Energy News RFS, "Hardship" Waivers, Ethanol, Sonny Perdue, Trump,
To view the report in its entirety, view the Report to the President of the United States from the Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity (PDF, 5.4 MB). In addition, to view the categories of the recommendations, please view the Rural Prosperity infographic (PDF, 190 KB).
USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. (Source: USDA, 25 Aug., 2019) Contact: USDA Rural Development, www.rd.usda.gov
More Low-Carbon Energy News USDA Rural Development news, Energy Efficiency news,
Biodiesel production in 2019 is projected to drop 9 pct year-over-year to 2.5 billion liters, following a 15 pct drop in 2018 with declining exports and production capacity use falling to 50 pct. Domestic consumption reflects little change at 1.3 billion liters, a near record high since 2017 but with no sustained upward movement since the B10 mandate was essentially met.
Exports are forecast at 1.2 billion liters, down 400 million liters from last year. Argentina's duty-free quota of 1.36 billion liters with a minimum set price to the EU is not expected to fill this year. No biodiesel exports are expected in 2019 to the US despite its preliminary lowering of countervailing duties due to remaining anti-dumping duties. (Source: USDA Foreign Agricultural Service, GAIN Network, 7 Aug., 2019) Contact: USDA Foreign Agricultural Service, gain.fas.usda.gov
More Low-Carbon Energy News Fuel Ethanol, Argentina Ethanol,
China's central and provincial authorities have not renewed subsidies for ethanol production. Without clear incentives and enforceable compliance measures, the country's ethanol industry will struggle to raise the level of biofuels use in transportation fuels to meet China's E10 goal by 2020. As a result of restrictive ethanol investment and trade policies, China will most likely achieve a blend rate of only 3.0 to 3.5 pct by 2020. Biodiesel remains neglected except for a limited program in Shanghai, the USDA report claims. (Source: USDA Foreign Agricultural Service, GAIN Network, 7 Aug., 2019) Contact: USDA Foreign Agricultural Service, gain.fas.usda.gov
The report notes nearly half of the EU's renewable energy is presently generated from the combustion of solid biomass -- wood chips and pellets -- not including municipal solid waste. The EU consumed an estimated 27.35 million metric tons of wood pellets in 2018, with consumption projected to rise to 30 million metric tons this year. According to the report, the EU's 656 wood pellet plants are expected to produce 18.1 million metric tons of wood pellets this year and imports are expected to rise from 10.355 million metric tons in 2018 to 12.2 million metric tons in 2019.
Report details are HERE. (Source: USDA Foreign Agricultural Service's Global Agricultural Information Network, July, 2019) Contact: USDA Foreign Agricultural Service's Global Agricultural Information Network, gain.fas.usda.gov
More Low-Carbon Energy News Woody Biomass, Wood Pellet,
Under the present announcement, USDA is investing $1 million in renewable energy projects.
The REAP grant funding can be used for energy audits and renewable energy systems such as biomass, geothermal, hydropower and solar, or for energy efficiency improvements to HVAC systems; insulation; and lighting and refrigeration, and others. (Source: USDA, Elko Daily Free Press, 11 July, 2019) Contact: USDA Rural Energy for America Program, www.rurdev.usda.gov
More Low-Carbon Energy News Rural Energy for America Program, Renewable Energy, Energy Efficiency,
"We strongly oppose giving the Secretary (Perdue) any role in the decision-making process over the petitions. We would view any decisions to further delay, reduce, or deny hardship relief to small refineries, or reallocate the obligations of small refineries to other refineries, as the result of the Secretary of Agriculture's impermissible interference. We are confident that others, including the federal courts, would do the same," the thirteen Senators wrote.
The small-refinery exemptions have reduced ethanol use by about 2.6 billion gallons, and 38 refiners are waiting for EPA to decide on new exemptions.
Senators writing the letter included Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) as well as senators representing Louisiana, Montana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah and West Virginia.
As previously noted, "hardship waivers" were intended for refineries producing 75,000 bpd or less and suffered "disproportionate economic hardship" from the costs of RFS compliance. The waiver frees the refineries from an obligation to provide the EPA with biofuels credits proving compliance. In 2017, the number of small refineries filing for exemptions retroactively for 2016 jumped from 14 the previous year to 20. The rate in which EPA granted these petitions also increased dramatically from 53 pct to 95 pct (Source: Various Media, DTN, Progressive Farmer, July, 2019)
Contact: Office of Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue,(202) 720-2791,
More Low-Carbon Energy News Hardship Waiver, Ethanol, Ethanol Blend, RFA, Sonny Perdue,
REAP grants are divided into two categories. The Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvement Program awards money for renewable energy developments and efficiency improvements, while the Energy Audit and Renewable Energy Development Assistance Program allows recipients to conduct energy audits and provide assistance for farms and rural businesses.
Congress appropriated $50 million for REAP grants and loan guarantees in fiscal year 2019. (Source: USDA Rural Dev., Capital Press, 25 June, 2019) Contact: USDA REAP, rurdev.usda.gov
More Low-Carbon Energy News USDA REAP, Energy EfficiencyRenewable Energy for America Program,
"During the past five years, ethanol has been the fastest-growing agricultural export. As more nations adopt policies for lower-emission vehicle fuels, domestically produced ethanol can provide an immediate solution for their goals. We assert that there is little justification for EPA to maintain such an outdated calculation that otherwise could be easily corrected with existing, available analysis -- and straightforwardly address an unnecessary obstacle to international trade," the Senators wrote.
"Peer-reviewed science conducted by the USDA has affirmed that U.S. ethanol lowers greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 39-43 pct versus gasoline. EPA has rejected all calls to update these calculations, instead using nearly 10-year-old data, which ignores the technological advancements in ethanol production", the Senators said.
The Senators called for the EPA to adopt the scientific model Greenhouse Gas & Regulated Emissions & Energy Use in Transportation (GREET) developed by the DOE Argonne National Laboratory, after studying 100 fuel production pathways and 85 vehicle systems to measure the life-cycle carbon emissions of vehicle fuels. More than 30,000 organizations worldwide use the updated GREET model, including the FAA, NASA, Ford and GM, BP and others. EPA does not use the updated model. (Source: Office of Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa),Feedstuffs, 25 June, 2019) Contact: Office of Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), www.grassley.senate.gov
More Low-Carbon Energy News EPA, Chuck Grassley, GHGs, Ethanol,
Shah received $1 million in USDA grant funding to test the effectiveness of a new method that harvests and transports corn plants intact, the ears together with the stalks, and will work with farm equipment companies to develop machinery that could be commercialized.
The system testing involves harvesting the corn plant so the ears and a portion of the stalks are not separated in the field but are transported as a single package to the biorefinery. Separating the corn kernels from the rest of the plant requires a combine, which is expensive and currently used in the field only a few months of the year.
If, instead, farmers collected and baled the cobs and stalks at the same time, they could be stored and a stationary machine that separates the grain from the rest of the plant could operate throughout the year, maximizing its use.
(Source: Ohio State Univ., AgCUE Online, 28 May, 2019) Contact: Ohio State Univ., College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES),
Assistant Prof., Ajay Shah, (330) 263-3858,
email@example.com; CFAES, (614) 292-6125, https://cfaes.osu.edu
More Low-Carbon Energy News Corn Stover, Ethanol, Cellulosic Ethanol,
"Climate change is not a future or hypothetical issue for family farmers and ranchers -- they are already suffering its effects every day. Higher average temperatures, altered precipitation patterns, and more frequent and severe natural disasters have added several more layers of uncertainty to the already difficult job of food production. As the climate continues to change, we can only expect the challenges to multiply. This serious and immediate problem requires serious and immediate action -- and we are glad that the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry is taking the first steps by holding this hearing.
"Though the agricultural sector is among the most directly impacted by climate change, it is also among the most capable of mitigating and adapting to its effects. Farmers and ranchers are not only able to cut greenhouse gas emissions on their operations, but they can also offset greenhouse gas emissions from other sectors by sequestering carbon in the soil, growing biofuels, and engaging in on-farm energy production. Many of the USDA's existing conservation programs support these important efforts with financial and technical assistance. We encourage Congress to continue providing farmers with the tools they need by expanding and enhancing these programs. Additionally, we recommend robust investments in public agricultural research as well as the creation of market-based incentives for climate-smart practices.
"Farmers Union members understand the urgent threat that climate change poses to agriculture, and they want to do everything they can to lessen the damage. But this work isn't free or easy -- it often requires significant time, money, and expertise. We look forward to working with you to identify policies and solutions that help family farmers and ranchers achieve their sustainability goals."
The NFU advocates on behalf of nearly 200,000 American farm families and their communities. (Source: National Farmers Union, Website, May, 2019) Contact: National Farmers Union, Hannah Packman, (202) 559-9890, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.nfu.org
More Low-Carbon Energy News Climate Change, National Farmers Union,
The 3-year study is intended to expedite the development of a commercialized cellulosic biofuel sector by improving the efficiency of the logistics systems of woody biomass feedstock required for biofuel production.
The study will determine woody biomass quality in the Southeast and identify the relationship with conversion performance. Additionally, the cost and energy use for woody biomass feedstock size reduction through both conventional and advanced technologies will be obtained at an industrial scale, and the cost and quality of the feedstock will be incorporated to address the challenges of balancing cost and quality in feedstock logistics for scaling up biofuel production.
The study includes the evaluation of alternative pre-processing technologies in feedstock logistics systems for hardwood logging residues and an energy crop -- hybrid poplar -- to supply biofuel production.
The UTIA multidisciplinary research team includes agricultural economists, forest scientists, chemists, and biosystems engineers, with collaboration from a bioenergy company, Proton Power, Inc., and a biomass research and development company, Forest Concepts, LLC. (Source: University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture, Bioenergy Insight, 13 May, 2019) Contact: University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture, (865) 974-6756, https://ag.tennessee.edu/Pages/default.aspx
More Low-Carbon Energy News Woody Biomass, Biofuel,
This year the Forest Service received 140 proposals, demonstrating the expanding interest in using wood in traditional and unconventional ways as an innovative building material or a renewable energy source. Of the 41 projects selected, 29 focus upon expanding markets for wood products and 12 seek to increase markets for wood energy. Some of the proposed projects will help fuel small-scale, combined heat and power projects and biochar market development.
Projects will take place in 20 states including Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Massachusetts, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, North Carolina, Nebraska, Nevada, Oregon, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Virginia, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin.
The Forest Service notes that over the past decade, low harvest rates, aging forests, mortality from insect and disease infestations, and extreme weather events have combined to create conditions prime for catastrophic wildfires. These grants support the development of consumer products that use the excess forest material.Download information on the Forest Service Wood Education and Resource Center
(Source: U.S. Forest Service, PR, 8 May, 2019) Contact: U.S. Forest Service, www.fs.usda.gov
More Low-Carbon Energy News U.S. Forest Service, Woody Biomass, Biomass,
Collaborating as Augean Renewable Natural Gas (RNG), Brightmark Energy, Promus Energy, and DeRuyter Dairies developed the project. Brightmark Energy will manage the joint venture and Promus Energy, the original developer, will serve as the project manager.
he Augean biogas project is supported by a $1.4 million in grant funding from Yakima County and a $500,000 Rural Energy for American Program (REAP) grant from the USDA.
Brightmark is currently developing similar biogas projects in New York, Wisconsin, Florida, and Minnesota, and is seeking feedstock suppliers with an interest in collaborating on waste to energy projects. The company develops, owns and operates waste and energy projects.
Promus Energy LLC, based in Washington State and New Mexico, was launched in 2010 to convert organic wastes into low carbon intensity, high-value renewable products, focusing specifically on dairy-derived renewable natural gas (RNG) and recovery of nutrients and fiber. (Source: Brightmark Energy, PR, 6 April, 2019)
Contact: Brightmark Energy, Bob Powell, CEO, (415) 689-8395,
Promus Energy LLC, www.promusenergy.com
More Low-Carbon Energy News Brightmark Energy, Biogas, Anaerobic Digestion,
"These new findings provide further evidence that biofuels from America's heartland reduce greenhouse gases even more than we thought, and that our farmers and ethanol plants continue to become more efficient and effective," said Secretary Sonny Perdue. "Expanding the sale of E15 year-round will provide consumers with more choices when they fill up at the pump, including environmentally friendly fuel with decreased emissions. I appreciate EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler moving expeditiously to finalize the E-15 rule before the start of summer driving season," Perdue added.
The study, led by Dr. Jan Lewandrowski of USDA's Office of the Chief Economist, and published in the journal Biofuels, supports findings of other research that ethanol has a significantly better GHG profile than previously estimated.
The study attributes much of these additional benefits to revised estimates of the impacts of land-use change as a result of demand for ethanol. Where previous estimates anticipated farmers bringing additional land into production as a result of increased corn prices, recent analysis finds only modest increases in crop acreage. Additional improvements at ethanol refineries, combined with on-farm conservation practices that reduce GHG emissions, such as reduced tillage and cover crops, have further decreased emissions associated with corn ethanol. The study projects that with added improvements in refineries and on farms, a reduction of over 70 pct in lifecycle emissions is possible by 2022.
The study is available for download HERE. Additional information on the greenhouse gas profile of biofuels is available at www.usda.gov/oce/oeep. (Source: USDA, 2 April, 2019) Contact: USDA, www.usda.gov
More Low-Carbon Energy News USDA, Ethanol, Corn Ethanol, Carbon Emissions, GHGs,
Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor notes the increase in ethanol exports over the past three years is due in part to expanded role that ethanol-blended fuels play in helping countries around the world achieve their economic and environmental goals.
Growth Energy expects the global demand for the cleaner, more affordable fuel blend will continue to rise in 2019.(Source: Growth Energy, USDA, Various Media, HoosierAg, 6 Mar., 2019)
Contact: Growth Energy, Emily Skor, CEO, (202) 545-4000, www.growthenergy.org; USDA Foreign Agricultural Service, www.fas.usda.gov
More Low-Carbon Energy News Ethanol, USDA, Growth Energy,
The Council was awarded just under $14 million from the one-time program, which granted a total of $200 million for organizations working in overseas market development for U.S. agriculture and food products Much of the funding will be used to dramatically expand the Council's ethanol programs, which it coordinates with corn and sorghum checkoff organizations, Growth Energy and the Renewable Fuels Association, as well as USDA.
The funding will build upon existing market development and marketing programs operated with support from Council members and USDA through the Market Access Program and Foreign Market Development program.
(Source: US Grains Council, PR, 23 Feb., 2019) Contact: U.S. Grains Council, (202) 789-0789, (202) 898-0522, www.grains.org
More Low-Carbon Energy News U.S. Grains Council, Ethanol,
The Riverbank biorefinery project recently won a $12 million California state tax waiver and a $5 million California Energy Commission Notice of Proposed Award. Preliminary engineering for the project has been completed and construction is expected to get underway in mid-2019.
(Source: Aemetis, PR, 12 Feb., 2019) Contact: Aemetis, Eric McAfee, CEO , Todd Waltz, (408) 213-0940, email@example.com, www.aemetis.com
More Low-Carbon Energy News Riverbank , Aemetis, USDA, Cellulosic Ethanol,
" As the Senate proceeds to consider the nomination of Andrew Wheeler to serve as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), I write to encourage you to secure tangible documentation from Mr. Wheeler that EPA will resolve two critically important issues before casting your confirmation vote: finalizing a legally -defensible Reid vapor pressure (RVP) rule to allow E15 use year-round before June 1, and reallocating ethanol blending obligations waived for 2016 and 2017 through the Small Refinery Exemption (SRE) provision of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).
"I urge you hold Acting Administrator Wheeler to this high standard because of the harm done to renewable fuels by former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. Prior to his confirmation by the Senate, Mr. Pruitt pledged to support the RFS as the law of the land and the President's commitment to expanding ethanol use. However, while leading EPA, he undermined the RFS through an unprecedented number of backdoor refinery waivers which erased more than 2 billion gallons of ethanol blending obligations between 2016 and 2017. Furthermore, he refused to reallocate those blending obligations to other refiners, as called for under the law, and failed to initiate a rulemaking to allow E15 use year-round despite the fact it is a priority for the President. EPA's broken promises and abuse of the RFS compel Acting Administrator Wheeler to repair the damage by reallocating the blending obligations and finalizing a legally-defensible rule to allow E15 use year-round before June 1.
"During his recent confirmation hearing, Acting Administrator Wheeler assured Environment and Public Works committee members that EPA is 'still on schedule to issue a final rule allowing year-round E15 sales' but added there 'may be a slight delay' due to the recent government shutdown. The shutdown is not a credible excuse for a delay in the E15 rulemaking. In fact, recent history proves the Trump Administration can expedite high-priority rulemakings.
"Take for example the USDA newly-proposed work requirements for recipients of supplemental nutrition assistance program (SNAP) benefits. In December, as Congress was negotiating the Farm Bill, the Senate insisted that House conferees drop new food stamp work requirements from the final legislation. In response, to secure enough Republican votes in the House of Representatives to pass the Farm Bill conference report, USDA put forward a rulemaking to impose the work requirements through executive action. The Farm Bill conference report was adopted by Congress on December 12. The President waited to sign the Farm Bill until December 20, the same day USDA published the SNAP work requirement rulemaking.
"In just eight days USDA was able to issue a rule at the direction of the President to fulfill a promise to Republicans in the House of Representatives. It has been more than 100 days since the President Directed EPA to initiate a rulemaking to allow E15 use year-round. What is taking EPA so long to act? There is no better way to guarantee the RVP rule and reallocation of refinery waivers are addressed than by insisting Mr. Wheeler provide tangible evidence of his intentions on these issues prior to voting to confirm him.
"The RVP rule is particularly time-sensitive. Under EPA's existing and outdated RVP regulations, E15 cannot be sold in most areas of the country from June 1 to September 15, leaving just four short months from today to complete the rulemaking process. Unfortunately, EPA needlessly
plans to combine the RVP rule with reforms to the way Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) are handled under the RFS. RIN reforms are highly-controversial among oil refiners so EPA's proposal will likely pit refiners against each other, causing a protracted dispute. If RIN reforms prevent EPA from finishing the RVP rule by June 1, it will result in another summer that E15 cannot be sold in many parts of the country when fuel demand is at its peak. Acting Administrator Wheeler should be encouraged to decouple RIN reforms from the RVP rule to ensure E15 can be offered for sale by June 1." (signed) Brian Jennings, CEO
American Coalition for Ethanol. (Source: ACE, 29 Jan., 2019)Contact: American Coalition for Ethanol, Brian Jennings, CEO, Ron Lamberty, VP, (605) 334-3381, https://ethanol.org
More Low-Carbon Energy News ANdrew Wheeler, American Coalition for Ethanol, Andrew Wheeler, Ethanol.Ethanol Blend,
The consortium will conduct and oversee 29 treatment and control sites across California and assess whether soil amendments -- pulverized rock, compost and biochar -- can bring additional carbon Capture and storage (CCS) co-benefits, such as improved crop and rangeland productivity and soil health to California growers and ranchers across diverse regions.
The sites range from croplands in the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys to the Imperial Valley, as well as ranchlands from Marin County to Southern California.
In addition to UC Berkeley and UC Davis, the consortium also includes scientists from UC Merced, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab and California State University, East Bay. The group will be working with the California Collaborative for Climate Change Solutions (C4S), Larta Institute, the Almond Board of California, commercial manufacturers of compost and biochar, ranchers and farmers, carbon offset registries, the USDA California Climate Hub, and UC Cooperative Extension. (Source: UC Davis, PR, 16 Jan., 2019) Contact: UC Davis, John Muir Institute of the Environment , Benjamin Houlton, Dir., (530) 752-7627, johnmuir.ucdavis.edu; California Strategic Growth Council, www.sgc.ca.gov,
UC Working Lands Innovation Center Grant Award, www.sgc.ca.gov/programs/climate-research/docs/20181221-CCR_Summary_2019CCR20007.pdf
More Low-Carbon Energy News UC Davis, CCS, CO2, Carbon Sequestration, Greenhouse Gas,
No-till farming is a way of growing crops or pasture from year to year without disturbing the soil through tillage. No-till is an agricultural technique which increases the amount of water that infiltrates into the soil, the soil's retention of organic matter and its cycling of nutrients.
The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 -- Farm Bill -- reauthorized many expenditures in the prior United States farm bill: the Agricultural Act of 2014. The $867 billion reconciled farm bill was passed by the Senate on December 11, 2018, and by the House on December 12, 2018. (Source: No-Till Farmer, Washington Post, USDA, Wikipedia, Jan., 2019)
But environmentalists say that burning trees releases CO2 previously trapped inside the plant. And when forests are cleared to produce energy, it can take them decades to regrow, if they ever do. The result is a power source that can generate more carbon dioxide emissions than the coal it is sometimes meant to replace.
On the down side, the EPA's own science advisers have warned that assuming biomass emissions are carbon neutral "is inconsistent with the underlying science."
The federal agencies joint letter is in response to a provision Congress added to a spending bill directing federal agencies to establish policies that "reflect the carbon neutrality of forest biomass for energy production." Even before that directive, under former EPA administrator Scott Pruitt, the agency declared that it generally considered burning biomass for energy as carbon neutral.
The EPA has also proposed giving utilities credit for cutting carbon dioxide emissions when they replace some coal in power plants with biomass -- a substitution that would qualify as an efficiency upgrade under the EPA's proposed relaxation of the Obama-era Clean Power Plan curbs on greenhouse gas emissions from electricity.
(Source: HoumaToday, Herald, Various Media, Nov., 2018)
More Low-Carbon Energy News Carbon Neutral, Biomass, Woody Biomass,
The Forum boasted record attendance, including a diverse group of international members and guests. Discussions included updates from leading bio-process companies on new processes and commercial advances that can add value to the forest products industry. Highlights of the Forum included commercial progress of nanotechnology presented by keynote Sean Ireland, VP, Business Development for Fiberlean Technologies; evolutionary value added technologies for the chemical recovery cycle and soap removal / tall oil production; commercial progress of wood to bioproducts from Velocys, Ensyn, and Red Rock; and commercial progress for lignin conversion to end products.
USDA Administrator Bette Brand attended the meeting and tour. "The USDA recognizes the importance of the partnership between government and private industry designed to bridge the early financial issues of start-up companies in the biorenewable area that we believe will help improve economies in rural communities," said Ms. Brand ommented. Meeting attendees participating in USDA programs included Velocys, Ensyn, Red Rock Biofuels, REG, and American Biocarbon.
Masood Akhtar, President of BDC commented, "In BDC's view, it is important for the government to be confident in the companies they financially assist, and the scale up requirements of the USDA have been critical to the success of new start up companies." "The success of the BDC meeting is due to a combination of the mission of the organization, the make-up and participation of the membership and guests, and the ingenuity and progress of the entrepreneurial management teams in the up and coming bio-industry," Akhtar concluded. (Source: BDC, PR, Oct., 2018) Contact: BDC, Ben Thorp, Chairman, (804) 743-3105, Ben.Thorp@biorenewabledc.org, www.biorenewabledc.org; Velocys, Jeff McDaniel, VP, (614) 733-3300, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.velocys.com; ThermoChem Recovery International, Chris Doherty, VP, (410) 525-2400,
More Low-Carbon Energy News Biorenewable Deployment Consortium, Velocys, ThermoChem Recovery International ,
The new plaintiffs contend they have a "fundamental right to be left alone free from human interference in the wilderness" and are asking a federal court to rule that the U.S. government is violating that right by contributing to a dangerous concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and thus created a dangerous atmosphere. The lawsuit specifically names the U.S. Department of Interior, the USDA, the EPA, Department of Defense and other agencies.
The new lawsuit is taking a new tack.
While the first suit focuses on constitutional rights to life, liberty and property and protection of public trust resources, the new suit focuses on "the simple right to be let alone, the right long recognized and protected under banners like privacy and liberty," according to the Animal Legal Defense Fund.
(Source: Animal Legal Defense Fund, Oregonian, 22 Oct., 2018) Contact: Animal Legal Defense Fund, (707) 795-2533, https://aldf.org
More Low-Carbon Energy News Climate Kid, Climate Lawsuit, Climate Change,