Iowa's ethanol industry can produce more than 4.1 billion gpy from more than 1.3 billion bushels of corn. This comes from the 42 corn ethanol plants and two cellulosic plants operating across the state.
(Source: Office of Sen. Chuck Grassley, Iowa Capital Dispatch, 30 July, 2020) Contact: Office of Sen. Chuck Grassley, www.grassley.senate.gov
More Low-Carbon Energy News Chuck Grassley, Ethanol,
"We are writing to urge you to uphold the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and immediately reject the requests for a waiver of the RFS under Section 211(o)(7) of the Clean Air Act recently received by the Environmental Protection Agency(EPA) from five state governors.
"Across our states, biofuels lower fuel prices, create hundreds of thousands of jobs in the new energy economy, many of which are in rural areas, provide an important market for farmers, cut our reliance on foreign oil, reduce emissions and harmful air pollutants, and provide critical inputs to our food supply.
"Our nation is facing unprecedented challenges as a result of the global health pandemic caused by COVID-19, with the impacts being felt across all of society. Waiving the RFS would cause further harm to the U.S.economy, especially our most vulnerable rural communities. It would also exacerbate the effects experienced by the biofuel sector as a result of COVID-19, causing far-reaching detrimental impacts on employment, farmers, food security, fuel prices, and the environment. The resiliency of America's renewable fuel industry has already suffered as a result of the EPA's drastic expansion of the small refinery waiver program in recent years.
"The U.S. Department of Homeland Security identified the biofuels sector as an essential critical infrastructure workforce during the COVID-19 response. However, as motor fuel demand has plummeted, prices have slumped to record lows and producers are suffering heavy losses. At this point more than 70 ethanol facilities with an annual production capacity of 6.1 billion gallons have been fully idled, and approximately 70 more plants have reduced their operating rates by a combined amount of 1.9 billion gallons annualized. At least 46 pct of the ethanol industry's total production capacity is now idled, and eight biodiesel and renewable diesel facilities remain offline. Highly-skilled jobs across the country are being lost at an alarming rate.
"Biofuel plant closures have ripple effects through the U.S. economy. Farm income is directly linked to the health of the renewable fuel industry. Plant shutdowns are causing commercial CO2 supply shortages and inhibiting the ability of meat packers and other food sectors to refrigerate, preserve,and supply food and beverages at current, affordable rates. Ethanol plants also produce low cost, high-protein animal feed (distillers grains). Supply shortages as a result of biofuel plant closures are impacting livestock feed procurement, rations, and prices. Biodiesel producers provide value to surplus and waste oils, fats and greases from food, feed and other biofuel production. Without the biodiesel industry, excess feedstocks will clog the supply chain, causing livestock producers to potentially raise prices for consumers. Removing biofuels from gasoline and diesel will also lead to an increase of greenhouse gas emissions, particulate matter, and toxics-causing degradation to our air quality.
"Recent requests for a waiver of the RFS are unjustified and clearly do not satisfy the rigorous requirements necessary for EPA consideration. RFS waivers can only be granted by EPA if there is a demonstration of 'severe harm' to the economy or environment of a state, region or the United States that is directly caused by the RFS. None of these standards are met today and the following reasons clearly demonstrate the case for rejecting the waiver requests:
"We urge you to direct the EPA to reject all calls to waive the RFS. The RFS is more important now than ever as farmers, the biofuel sector, and rural America struggle to remain operational during the COVID-19 crisis." (Source: US Senate, 8 May, 2020)
More Low-Carbon Energy News RFS, Renewable Fuel Standard, "Hardship" Waiver,
"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,
"President Trump made a commitment to Iowa and other biofuels producing states, and I look forward to seeing this promise fulfilled. The EPA shouldn't undercut President Trump's support of the Renewable Fuels Standard. I urge EPA to adjust the proposed supplemental rule to account for actual waived gallons using hard data from past practice to provide certainty to the marketplace." -- Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) in a letter to EPA Dir. Wheeler this week on the EPA's proposed supplemental rule on the Renewable Fuel Standard. Contact: Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), www.grassley.senate.gov
More Low-Carbon Energy News Grassley, RFS, Ethanol,
"This is a small step in the right direction, but I'm very skeptical that every company receiving waivers truly needs them." -- Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa)
"I'm committed to holding EPA accountable and ensuring they not only uphold the intent of the RFS but that they're more transparent and forthcoming in this exemption process." -- Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa)
As previously noted, "hardship waivers" were intended for refineries producing 75,000 bpd or less and those that 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. (Source: Various Media, Fort Dodge Messenger, 18 Aug., 2019)
More Low-Carbon Energy News RFS, "Hardship" Waivers", Ethanol,
In a response to an April 10 letter from Grassley, Energy Secretary Rick Perry indicated that EPA had, on at least one occasion, issued an exemption when his department recommended no exemption and ignored recommendations to grant only partial exemptions in other cases. Perry also noted that the agency has not changed how these analyses are applied or scored from the prior Obama Administration.
Perry also noted that he was aware of instances in which DOE recommended a partial or even no exemption for certain refineries, yet EPA subsequently granted a full exemption. This contradicts former oil industry lobbyist and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt's claim before Congress that EPA simply followed DOE's recommendations.
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
Under Pruitt's direction, the EPA handed out 54 exemptions over two years and not a single request for an exemption was been denied. (Source: DOE, FeedStuff, 29 July, 2019)
More Low-Carbon Energy News RFS, "Hardship Waiver", Pruitt,
"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,
"If you have a windmill anywhere near your house, congratulations, your house just went down 75 pct in value. And they say the noise causes cancer."
"No, wind's not so good and you have no idea how expensive it is to make those things. They're all made in China and Germany, by the way, just in case you, we don't make them here, essentially." -- Pres. Donald Trump
The Donald's comments were clearly and immediately described as "IDIOTIC" by his fellow Republican, Sen. Chuck Grassely (Iowa). Good on you, Grassely! Contact: Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), www.grassley.senate.gov
More Low-Carbon Energy News Trump, Wind, Grassely,
"It is time to get our America First fuel policy back on track, and we encourage the acting EPA administrator to hold oil refiners accountable and maintain the integrity of the Renewable Fuel Standard." -- Kyle Gilley, Snr VP External Affairs and Communications, POET, www.poet.com
"The final targets open new possibilities for advanced and cellulosic biofuels, but without a check on abusive EPA waivers, we'll continue to see plants closing their doors or idling production. The agency cannot fulfill the president's commitments in the heartland without putting a lid on handouts to oil giants like Chevron and Andeavor." -- Brooke Coleman, Exec. Dir., Advanced Biofuels Business Council, www.advancedbiofuels.org
"It reflects continued growth in the renewable natural gas industry. The growth in production of renewable natural gas and the completion of nearly 50 new production facilities from coast to coast since 2014 is proof positive that the RFS is working as intended for cellulosic and advanced biofuels." -- Johannes Escudero, CEO, Coalition for Renewable Natural Gas, www.rngcoalition.com
"While the numbers are a positive step forward and they hold promise with a 15-billion-gallon commitment to starch ethanol and 418 million gallons of cellulosic biofuels, the billions of lost gallons due to excessive small refinery exemptions need to be accounted for." -- Emily Skor, CEO, Growth Energy, www.growthenergy.org
More Low-Carbon Energy News Grassley, POET, RFS, Growth Energy,
"We welcome the administration's proposal to grow the biodiesel volumes, following two flat-lined years. This is a positive signal for our industry and we're pleased the EPA has acknowledged our ability to produce higher volumes. We've consistently demonstrated that we can do much more. The fact remains, though, instability in the RFS program caused by the EPA has done significant damage that can only be rectified for biodiesel through consistent and predictable growth in volumes, according to Kurt Kovarik, NBB VP Federal Affairs.
"Kovarik pointed to decisions by the EPA administrator to provide numerous (hardship) waivers to petroleum refiners that release them from their obligations under the RFS, effectively reducing the overall volumes under the program in 2016 and 2017. Those exemptions have effectively destroyed current demand for biodiesel by 300 million gallons.
"As a candidate on the campaign trail, Donald Trump pledged he would support biofuels and protect the RFS, Kovarik added. While this is just a proposal, we hope the administration is serious about growing biodiesel volumes and will fulfill the president's promise to support and grow the RFS.
The EPA proposed to raise the renewable volume obligations (RVO) for the biomass-based diesel category from 2.1 billion gallons in 2019 to 2.43 billion gallons in 2020. The agency also proposed to slightly increase the advanced biofuel category, for which biodiesel also qualifies, from 4.29 billion gallons in 2018 to 4.88 billion gallons in 2019.
"The RFS requires the EPA to grow the volume of advanced biofuels like biodiesel delivered to U.S. consumers. Since taking office, Trump's EPA has recommended zero growth for the biomass-based diesel category.
"This summer, 39 U.S. senators sent a letter to EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler urging him to increase biomass-based diesel and advanced volumes and accurately account for small refinery hardship exemptions in the annual RFS volumes. NBB specifically thanked Sens. Patty Murray, D-Washington; Roy Blunt, R-Missouri; Heidi Heitkamp, D-North Dakota; and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, for leading the letter.
"Noting that EPA proposes to set the 2020 biomass-based diesel volume at 2.43 billion gallons, the senators wrote, 'While these proposed increases are encouraging, these volumes continue to underestimate the existing potential of the biodiesel and renewable diesel industries in our states. We believe the biodiesel industry can do more and that EPA should demonstrate more confidence in the RFS program's ability to drive growth.' Comments from the senators and NBB demonstrate that the increased biomass-based diesel volume is achievable with available feedstocks. Calling on EPA to accurately account for small refinery hardship exemptions, the senators added, 'It is critical that EPA appropriately account for any small refiner economic hardship exemptions that it reasonably expects to grant during the 2019 compliance year in the final rule, or EPA will not be able to fulfill its duty to ensure RVOs are met.'
"We (NBB) join the senators in calling on EPA to raise biomass-based diesel volumes to an appropriate level that will drive additional growth. Biodiesel production has consistently exceeded the annual volume obligations set by EPA. The industry continues to operate below capacity, which limits job creation and economic growth. Moreover, EPA must fully and accurately account for small refiner hardship exemptions under the RFS. NBB estimates that the exemptions granted by EPA for 2016 and 2017 reduced demand for biodiesel and renewable diesel by about 300 million gallons. That lost demand is equal to or greater than the annual production of some of the nation's top biodiesel-producing states, including Washington, Missouri, North Dakota and Iowa. The volumes that EPA sets are meaningless if the agency does not ensure they are met at the end of the year.
"NBB and its members continue working to move the needle for higher volumes, meeting with the administration, working with biodiesel champions on the Hill, and collaborating with key industry stakeholders. The EPA is set to finalize volumes before Nov. 30." (Source: NBB, 24 Oct., 2018) Contact: NBB, Kurt Kovarik, VP Federal Affairs, (800) 841-5849, www.biodiesel.org
More Low-Carbon Energy News Renewable Fuel Standard, National Biodiesel Board,
"The nation's corn growers thank Senator Chuck Grassley, Senator Joni Ernst and USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue for their advocacy and steadfast support for farmers, rural communities and renewable fuels. We greatly appreciate their efforts.
"With the expectation that the Administration was preparing to take drastic actions to unravel the RFS, farmers are very pleased those actions have been set aside and strongly encourage the Administration to keep the President's commitment to America's farmers and (leave) the RFS intact." (Source: NCGA, Wisc. AgConnection, 7 June, 2018) Contact: National Corn Growers Association, Kevin Skunes, Pres., (202) 326-0644, www.ncga.com
More Low-Carbon Energy News RFS, Biofuels, NCGA,
"I'm done playing around. I've supported Pruitt but if he pushes changes to RFS that permanently cut ethanol by billions of gallons he will have broken Trump's promise and should step down and let someone else do the job of implementing Trump's (biofuel) agenda. Trump was elected with an agenda; Pruitt was not elected," Grassley said.
Grassley's position is in response to growing farm-state frustration with the EPA's management of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) compelling refiners to use biofuel such as corn-based ethanol. Iowa is a top producer of both corn and ethanol.
(Source: Wallaces Farmer, Others, Bloomberg, 17 May, 2018)
Contact: Sen. Chuck Grassley (R), www.grassley.senate.gov
More Low-Carbon Energy News Grassley, Scott Pruitt, Biofuels,