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RFA Offers EPA Advisory Committee Recommendations (Ind. Report)
Renewable Fuels Association
Date: 2020-09-11
At a recent EPA Farm, Ranch and Rural Communities Advisory Committee meeting Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) Pres. and CEO Geoff Cooper suggested the following steps the EPA needs to take immediately to support U.S. ethanol producers and rural America:

  • adopt the recent Tenth Circuit Court decision (Renewable Fuels Association et al. v. Environmental Protection Agency) nationwide;

  • deny all pending so-called "gap year" small refinery exemption (SRE) petitions;

  • decide the 31 pending SRE petitions for 2019 and 2020 according to the Tenth Circuit Court criteria;

  • publish the proposed rule for 2021 renewable volume obligations (RVOs);

  • as ordered by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in ACEI v. EPA, restore the 500 million-gallon conventional renewable fuel volume that was illegally waived from the 2016 RFS requirements, (Source: RFA, AgWired, Sept., 2020 Contact: Farm, Ranch and Rural Communities Advisory Committee, www.epa.gov/faca/farm-ranch-and-rural-communities-federal-advisory-committee-frrcc-membership; Contact: Renewable Fuels Association, Geoff Cooper, Pres., CEO, (202) 289-3835, www.ethanolrfa.org

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Renewable Fuels Association,  Ethanol,  Renewable Fuel,  Geoff Cooper,  


  • Trump Reportedly Denies Retroactive RFS Waivers (Ind. Report)
    RFS
    Date: 2020-09-11
    Reuters is reporting U.S. Pres. Trump has instructed the EPA to deny dozens of oil refiner requests for retroactive "hardship waivers" under the Renewable Fuels Standard.

    The president's could be seen as an effort to shore up his support in the Corn Belt states.

    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 the now vanquished administrator Greg Pruitt's direction, the EPA handed out 54 exemptions over two years and not a single request for an exemption was denied.Under the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard, the nation's oil refineries are required to blend billions of gallons of biofuels such as ethanol into the fuel or buy credits from those that do. But the EPA can waive their obligations if they prove compliance would cause them financial distress. (Source: Chronicle Herald, 10 Sept., 2020)

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Trump,  RFS,  Refinery Waivers,  Biofuel Blend,  


    NBB Launches RFS Support Ad Campaign (Ind. Report)
    National Biodiesel Board
    Date: 2020-08-26
    The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) reports the launch of a two-week radio advertising campaign in six states including Iowa, Nebraska and Minnesota urging Pres. Trump to direct the EPA to reject the gap small refiner waivers from the Renewable Fuel Standard.

    NBB wants farmers to go to their website and complete a pre-written request to the President and EPA administrator to reject those gap small refiner waivers, 85 bof which have been issues over the past three years.

    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 the now vanquished administrator Greg Pruitt's direction, the EPA handed out 54 exemptions over two years and not a single request for an exemption was denied. (Source: NBB, WNAX 26 Aug., 2020) Contact: NBB, Paul Winters, Pres., Kurt Kovarik, VP of Federal Affairs, (800) 841-5849, www.nbd.org

    More Low-Carbon Energy News National Biodiesel Board,  NBB,  RFS Waivers ,  


    EPA Admin. Wheeler Comments on RFS Waivers -- Notable Quotes
    RFS Waivers
    Date: 2020-08-26
    "I have talked personally with a number of small refiners all over the country -- (the agency is) working with them to see what we can do to help them during this time.

    "We have extraordinary circumstances this year and we are looking at what relief we can provide everyone -- the ethanol industry is hurting as well." -- U.S. EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, 20 May, 2020

    More Low-Carbon Energy News RFS Waivers news,  Andrew Wheeler news,  


    EPA Urged to Stop Penalizing Ethanol Blends ( Editorials & Asides)
    Urban Air Initiative,American Coalition for Ethanol
    Date: 2020-08-17
    In Washington, the Urban Air Initiative (UAI) -- a coalition of state corn grower organizations -- along with the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) and the Clean Fuels Development Coalition last Friday filed comments asking the EPA not to penalize ethanol's ability to reduce carbon emissions.

    The EPA is proposing to penalize the current Tier 3 test fuel that all automakers will use to meet CO2 emission standards because it contains 10 pct ethanol. This Tier 3 test fuel lowers CO2 emissions compared to the prior E0 test fuel from 1975. The EPA is creating this new penalty against ethanol by manipulating test procedures to inflate the tailpipe CO2 emissions of vehicles certified as using E10. Since the penalty would presumably increase with higher ethanol volumes, this rule would be a major disincentive for automakers to transition to higher ethanol blends.

    "Basically ethanol can't win. First EPA ignores ethanol's ability to reduce toxic aromatics, and now it wants to penalize ethanol for being a more efficient, lower-carbon fuel additive. The EPA is making this more complicated than it needs to be. It's creating rules based on older, non-representative fuels in its testing. Plus, EPA has no authority to penalize a particular fuel. Automakers can take advantage of high octane ethanol but not if they are penalized before they even start. In short, let the market work," Urban Air President Dave VanderGriend commented.

    "EPA's anti-ethanol bias is not limited to how it has badly mismanaged the Renewable Fuel Standard, it extends to the Agency's proposal to artificially inflate CO2 emissions from vehicles being tested on E10 blends for Tier 3 Test Fuel Procedures," ACE CEO Brian Jennings commented. (Source: Urban Air Initiative, PR, 17 Aug., 2020) Contact: Urban Air Initiative, Dave VanderGriend, Pres., www. fixourfuel.com; Clean Fuels Development Coalition, 301-718-0077, www.cleanfuelsdc.org; American Coalition for Ethanol, Brian Jennings, (605) 334-3381, www.ethanol.org

    More Low-Carbon Energy News RFS,  American Coalition for Ethanol,  ACE,  Urban Air Initiative,  Ethanol,  Ethanol Blend,  


    RFA Report Details RFS Success (Opinions, Editorials & Asides)
    RFA
    Date: 2020-08-07
    Commemorating the 15th anniversary of Pres. George W. Bush's signing of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which created the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) has released a report detailing how the industry has benefited the nation over the past decade and a half.

    "As you'll see in this report, the RFS has been a smashing success," said RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper. "In addition to decreasing reliance on imported petroleum, the RFS has reduced emissions of harmful tailpipe pollutants and greenhouse gases, lowered consumer fuel prices, supported hundreds of thousands of jobs in rural America, and boosted the agricultural economy by adding value to the crops produced by our nation's farmers." The report details how, since 2005:

  • Ethanol and co-product output has quadrupled, and the number of jobs supported by the industry has more than doubled;

  • Ethanol has contributed substantially to the agriculture sector, supporting corn prices and farm incomes;

  • Ethanol consumption has more than tripled, enhancing U.S. energy security while saving consumers money at the pump;

  • The use of ethanol has reduced greenhouse gas emissions and cleaned up air pollution;

  • "As ethanol production has increased, U.S. food price inflation has fallen and the number of people globally who are undernourished has declined.

    The report also includes historical perspective from RFA Senior Strategic Advisor Bob Dinneen, who led RFA through this important policy change. "We've probably all seen the Schoolhouse Rock version of 'How a Bill Becomes a Law', Dinneen writes. "It does a great job of explaining the legislative process. But it cannot capture the circuitous adventure and machinations that occur before an idea materializes into legislative language. That is particularly true when it comes to the 2005 Energy Bill and the Renewable Fuel Standard." (Source: RFA, 6 Aug., 2020) Contact: Renewable Fuels Association, (202) 289-3835, www.ethanolrfa.org

    More Low-Carbon Energy News RFA,  RFS.Ethanol,  Renewable Fuels,  


  • Meridiam, Sevana Bioenergy Partner on Biogas Project (Ind. Report)
    Sevana Bioenergy
    Date: 2020-07-24
    Paris headquartered global investment firm Meridiam and Larkspur, California-based Sevana Bioenergy are reporting an agreement to develop an existing 2011-vintage biodigester project in Twin Falls, Idaho. The plant presently produces renewable electricity through the anaerobic digestion of dairy manure that is delivered to the grid under a power purchase agreement with Idaho Power.

    Sevana Bioenergy will serve as the development partner, service provider, and long-term co-investor of the project, the second phase of which is expected to start in Q3 -- upgrading the facility to produce renewable natural gas (RNG) transportation fuel to be marketed under the renewable fuel standard ( RFS) programmes in the federal and California market.

    Meridiam is a global investor and asset manager specialized in developing, financing and managing long-term public infrastructure projects. Founded in 2005, Meridiam invests in public infrastructure in Europe, North America and Africa, according its website. (Source: Meridiam Website, July, 2020) Contact: Sevana Bioenergy, info@sevanabioenergy.com, www. sevanabioenergy.com; Meridiam ,+33 1 53 34 96 99, 212 798 8690 -- NY Office, www.meridiam.com

    More Low-Carbon Energy News RNG news,  Biogas news,  Sevana Bioenergy news,  


    EPA Considering Retroactive Small-Refinery Waivers (Ind. Report)
    EPA, RFS
    Date: 2020-07-17
    The EPA on Thursday posted six additional pending requests for retroactive small-refinery exemptions to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) to the agency dashboard, bringing the grand total to 58 such requests for waivers for compliance years 2011 through 2018.

    The agency now lists seven pending requests each for 2011 and 2012, 11 each for 2013 and 2015, 12 in 2014, eight in 2016 and two in 2018, as well as 27 listed for 2019 and one for 2020. The agency granted 85 waivers for the period 2016 to 2018.

    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 the now vanquished administrator Greg Pruitt's direction, the EPA handed out 54 exemptions over two years and not a single request for an exemption was denied.Under the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard, the nation's oil refineries are required to blend billions of gallons of biofuels such as ethanol into the fuel or buy credits from those that do. But the EPA can waive their obligations if they prove compliance would cause them financial distress. (Source: EPA,DTN, 16 July, 2020)

    More Low-Carbon Energy News RFS,  Hardship Waivers,  Biofuel Blend,  


    Yet Another Letter to the President -- S.D. Congressman Calls for RFS Waivers Action (Opinions, Editorials & Asides)
    RFs
    Date: 2020-07-15
    In a recent letter to the EPA. South Dakota congressman Dusty Johnson (R) wrote: "President Trump has stood up for South Dakota's farmers, but the EPA is letting them down. For years, the EPA undermined the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) by granting waivers to big oil, essentially cutting billions of gallons of biofuels demand and cutting off a vital market to corn farmers.

    "My House colleagues and I have written President Trump twice recently, asking him to protect the RFS. This message is clear -- the EPA must follow the law and stop reducing the amount of renewable fuel in our fuel supply. Our farmers need this market. South Dakota's biofuels industry can produce more than 1 billion gallons annually, adding more than $980 million to the economy -- but this only happens if there is reliable market access. The EPA can get this done.

    "The nation's eyes were on South Dakota during President Trump's visit to Mount Rushmore. I'll continue to deliver agriculture's request that the EPA support clear, homegrown biofuels. The president supports farmers -- and it's time the EPA does, too." -- South Dakota congressman Dusty Johnson (R).

    Editor's Note: 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 the now vanquished administrator Greg Pruitt's direction, the EPA handed out 54 exemptions over two years and not a single request for an exemption was denied. (Source: Rep. Dusty Johnson , Mitchell Republic, 12 July, 2020) Contact: Rep. Dusty Johnson , (202) 225-2801, www.dustyjohnson.house.gov

    More Low-Carbon Energy News US EPA,  Andrew Wheeler,  Renewable Fuel Standard,  RFS Waiver,  


    ACE says EPA Misses Chance To Fix The RFS (Opinions and Asides)
    American Coalition for Ethanol
    Date: 2020-07-08
    The Sioux Falls, South Dakota-based American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) reports it is concerned that the EPA has missed important deadlines dealing with the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

    The EPA normally issues the Renewable Volume Obligations (RVO) petroleum companies must meet under the RFS by July 4, but have missed that deadline for 2021 and there's no indication when they may be released, according to ACE CEO Brian Jennings.

    EPA also has not responded to an April ACE request for an emergency interim final rule on RVOs to restore RFS volumes to help ethanol producers hurt by the pandemic. The EPA is also being inactive on dealing with small refinery waiver requests which they need to deny in accordance with a January court ruling that will likely will take Congressional intervention to enforce, Jennings added. (Source: American Coalition for Ethanol, July, 2020) Contact: American Coalition for Ethanol, Brian Jennings, CEO, (605) 334-3381, www.ethanol.org

    More Low-Carbon Energy News American Coalition for Ethanol ,  Ethanol. RFS,  Renewable Fuels Standard,  


    NWF Supports Governors' Requests for RFS Relief (Ind. Report)
    AFPM
    Date: 2020-07-08
    According to a recent American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) blog posting, National Wildlife Federation (NWF) has become the most recent US EPA petitioner seeking a general waiver to reduce 2020 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) compliance obligations.

    In a letter to the EPA' Administrator Andrew Wheeler, NWF President and CEO Collin O'Mara echoed the requests of six state governors and stressed the need for smaller biofuel mandates. In its letter, the AFPM noted:

  • "The RFS currently requires about 19 billion gal. of fuel derived from plants to be blended into gasoline. The overwhelming majority of that fuel is corn ethanol, and today 40 pct of the corn produced in the U.S. goes into our gas tanks."

  • "Increasing mandated blending levels increases the potential for further land conversion, presenting a marked threat to the battle against global climate change, with its consequent catastrophic effects on human health and the environment. Higher blends of ethanol necessitated by unrealistic RVOs diminish public health."

  • "In light of the clear and present danger to the environment, we join with the governors of six states in asking for a waiver to the RVO."

    The NWF letter concludes: “"In short, the corn ethanol mandate has led to the loss of important wildlife habitat, particularly in regions critical for monarch butterflies, ducks and other ground-nesting birds, and many other species -- threatening outdoor recreation opportunities as well as the economy. The mandate has also resulted in deteriorated water quality and harmful algal blooms in important surface waters as a result of increased farm runoff. Increasing mandated blending levels increases the potential for further land conversion, presenting a marked threat to the battle against global climate change, with its consequent catastrophic effects on human health and the environment. Higher blends of ethanol necessitated by unrealistic RVOs diminish public health. In light of the clear and present danger to the environment, we join with the Governors of six states in asking for a waiver to the RVO." (Source: National Wildlife Federation, AFPM, Hydrocarbon Engineering, 7 July, 2020) Contact: National Wildlife Federation, Colin O'Mara, CEO, www.nwf.org

    More Low-Carbon Energy News RFS,  Renewable Fuel Standard,  Ethanol,  


  • EPA Admin. Wheeler Comments on RFS Waivers -- Notable Quotes
    RFS Waiver
    Date: 2020-06-19
    "I have talked personally with a number of small refiners all over the country -- (the agency is) working with them to see what we can do to help them during this time.

    "We have extraordinary circumstances this year and we are looking at what relief we can provide everyone -- the ethanol industry is hurting as well." -- U.S. EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, 20 May, 2020

    More Low-Carbon Energy News FRS Waiver,  Andrew Wheeler,  


    SD Senator Introduces RFS Pathway Biofuels Legislation (Re g & Leg)
    Biofuel
    Date: 2020-06-19
    South Dakota Senator John Thune (R) has introduced bipartisan legislation that would help approve certain Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) pathway applications like corn fiber. The measure would compel the EPA to move forward on advanced biofuel applications rather than letting them sit idled at the agency awaiting action refinery applications for waivers move through the system, according to the Senator's release. (Soure: WNAX, 19 June, 2020) Contact: Senator John Thune, (202) 224-2321, (605) 348-7551, www.thune.senate.gov

    More Low-Carbon Energy News RFS,  Biofuel,  


    Biodiesel Board Urges EPA to Reject RFS "Gap" Waivers (Ind. Report)
    National Biodiesel Board
    Date: 2020-06-19
    The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) is urging EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler to immediately reject the flood of 52 small refinery exemption petitions for previous years going back to 2011.

    "EPA's consideration of small refinery exemption petitions going back to 2011 flies in the face of the recent 10th Circuit decision. By rolling back the clock, there appears to be no length EPA won't go to help refiners undermine the RFS. Make no mistake -- this handout to the oil industry comes at the expense of biodiesel producers and soybean farmers across the country, and particularly the Midwest. Allowing these gap filings renders the program completely unpredictable for renewable fuel producers. The agency must immediately reject these petitions to restore confidence that it will abide by the law in administering the RFS." NBB VP for Federal Affairs Kurt Kovarik said.

    NBB sent a June 1 letter to Administrator Wheeler saying, "EPA's first step upon receiving any petition for a small refinery exemption should be to evaluate its timeliness and validity before transmitting it to the Department of Energy." The letter makes the case that "gap" petitions or re-submissions of previously rejected petitions are inconsistent with the 10th Circuit's ruling. (Source: National Biodiesel Board, PR, NBB Website, 18 June, 2020) Contact: NBB, Kurt Kovarik, VP of Federal Affairs, (800) 841-5849, www.nbd.org

    More Low-Carbon Energy News National Biodiesel Board,  RFS,  RFS Waiver,  EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler ,  


    U.S. Gain Completes Testa Produce NG Fueling Station (Ind. Report)
    U.S. Gain
    Date: 2020-06-17
    Appleton, Wisconsin based U.S. Gain is reporting completion of a private natural gas fueling station at Testa Produce Inc's headquarters in Chicago. The new modular station will supply alternative fuel for the company's fleet of 40 natural gas delivery vehicles.

    The use of natural gas as an alternative fuel significantly reduces transportation-related emissions, improves air quality, and delivers economic savings, according to the release.

    U.S. Gain is a leader in development, procurement and distribution of alternative fuel and renewable energy for the transportation and energy markets. Over the past 10 years, U.S. Gain has diversified throughout the renewable natural gas (RNG) supply chain -- investing in and managing development projects at farms, landfills and wastewater treatment plants; generating, trading and monetizing clean fuel credits under the RFS, LCFS and CFP programs; designing, building and operating alternative fueling stations, both private and a public GAIN Clean Fuel network. (Source: U.S. Gain, PR, 15 June, 2020) Contact: Testa Produce, www.testaproduce.com; U.S. Gain, Ross Finlan, Business Development Manager, Bryan Nudelbacher, Dir. RNG Business Development, 920.381.2190; Stephanie Lowney, Director of Marketing & Innovation, slowney@usgain.com, www.usgain.com

    More Low-Carbon Energy News U.S. Gain,  RNG,  Natural Gas,  Alternative Fuel,  


    RFA Urges Trump to Reject Refinery Waivers (Ind. Report)
    RFA
    Date: 2020-06-12
    "One year ago today, you visited Southwest Iowa Renewable Energy in Council Bluffs to join us in celebrating a monumental achievement. At your direction, EPA had just completed regulatory changes finally allowing year-round sales of gasoline containing 15 pct ethanol (E15).

    "This long-awaited move unlocked the door to future demand growth for ethanol and corn. It also meant consumers would have increased access to cleaner and more affordable fuel options at the pump.

    "Just as expected, the marketplace responded quickly. In the year since the red-tape barrier was removed, E15 sales are up 50pct.

    "But E15 growth would have been exponentially larger if not for your EPA continuing to excuse oil refiners from their legal obligations to blend renewable fuels. As we told you a year ago, EPA's refinery waivers have caused devastating demand losses for ethanol and corn, and they under mine the expansion of E15.

    "Even after a federal court overturned some refinery waivers in January, your EPA continues to receive dozens of exemption requests from oil companies. EPA is now even considering giving retroactive waivers for years that pre-date your administration.

    "This needs to stop. It is hurting farmers, costing consumers, and derailing progress on energy and environmental security.

    "The economic pain in farm country caused by these refinery waivers was compounded this spring—first by the Saudi-Russia oil price war, and then by the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result of this 'perfect tsunami,' half of the ethanol industry was recently shut down, leading to layoffs across rural America. The ethanol industry and farmers are hurting like never before.

    Mr. President, we need your help. We ask that you stand up for the Renewable Fuel Standard. Please direct your EPA to abide by the January court ruling and end the abuse of the refinery waiver loophole.

    "You stood by us, farmers, and consumers when you directed EPA to allow year-round E15. Now, we humbly ask that you stand with us again and ensure ethanol demand is not eroded by illegal refinery waivers. Thank you,"

    Geoff Cooper, Pres. & CEO Renewable Fuels Associationwww.EthanolRFA.org

    More Low-Carbon Energy News RFS news,  Refinery Waivers news,  Biofuel Blend news,  RFA news,  


    Biofuel Leaders Question Retroactive RFS Exemptions (Ind. Report)
    Renewable Fuels Association
    Date: 2020-06-10
    In a 9 June letter to EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, the Renewable Fuels Assoc. wrote:

    "We are writing to request further information about petitions reportedly received by the U.S. EPA from small refiners seeking exemption from the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) for past compliance years.

    "The petitions in question were discussed during your testimony before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on May 20, 2020. On the same day, U.S. DOE Under Secretary Mark Menezes confirmed that EPA is 'send[ing] over' past-year petitions for DOE review. Mr. Menezes described the petitions as 'gap filings' intended to reconstitute after-the-fact a continuous string of exemptions for select oil companies 'to be consistent with the Tenth Circuit decision.'

    "This attempt to circumvent the courts and the RFS should be rejected out of hand. Even if EPA granted retroactive 'gap' exemptions without simultaneously returning the number of RINs associated with the exemption to the petitioner, such exemptions would be inconsistent with EPA's own policies and regulations, legal precedent, and Congressional intent.

    "These 'gap filings' appear to be little more than the latest in a string of oil industry tactics designed to subvert the law and sidestep a court order to uphold the RFS. Read the full letter HERE. (Source: Renewable Fuels Assoc., 9 June, 2020) Contact: RFA, www.fuelsamerica.org

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Renewable Fuels Association,  RFS Waiver,  RFS,  RFA,  Ethanol,  Ethanol Blend,  


    HollyFrontier Refinery Re-purposing to Renewable Diesel (Ind. Report)
    HollyFrontier
    Date: 2020-06-03
    Dallas-based independent petroleum refiner and marketer HollyFrontier Corporation reports it will spend between $125 million to $175 million to re-purpose its Cheyenne, Wyoming petroleum refinery to produce roughly 90 million gpy of renewable diesel by Q1, 2022. With the move, the Cheyenne refinery is effectively shedding its Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) biofuel blending obligation to produce saleable renewable diesel and compliance credits.

    "Demand for renewable diesel, as well as other lower carbon fuels, is growing and taking market share based on both consumer preferences and support from substantial federal and state government incentive programs," according to a statement from HollyFrontier CEO Mike Jennings. (Source: HollyFrontier, PR, Bloomberg, 3 June, 2020) Contact: HoolyFrontier, Craig Biery, Inv. Relations, 214-954-6510, www.hollyfrontier.com

    More Low-Carbon Energy News HollyFrontier,  Renewable Diesel,  Biouel Blending,  RFS,  


    Trump Urged to Reject Waiver Requests (Opinions, Editorials & Asides)
    EPA,Renewable Fuel Standard
    Date: 2020-05-11
    In the nation's capitol, a bipartisan group of 24 U.S. senators -- including Sens. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Tina Smith(D-Minn) Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich) have written the following to the White House:

    "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:

  • Challenging market conditions in the oil sector are the directresult of oversupply from international competitors combined with falling gasoline, diesel and jet fuel demand as a result of the COVID-19, not the RFS.

  • The RFS already accommodates demand reductions and provides flexibility to reflect the reality of motor fuel demand. EPA translates the annual RFS requirements into a percentage share of gasoline and diesel. Thus, the existing structure of the RFS regulations already results in an oil refiner's renewable volume obligations being proportionally reduced if overall motor fuel demand drops over the year

  • EPA has repeatedly found that RIN prices do not negatively impact refiners, a position reinforced by the 10th Circuit court in January 200. In addition, a record-large supply of RINs is available to refiners today, largely as a consequence of EPA's abusive expansion of the small refinery exemption program, so the threat of high RIN prices is currently non-existent.

    "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,  


  • Bankrupt Philly Refiner Offered Cap on RFS Obligation (Ind Report)
    Philadelphia Energy Solutions
    Date: 2020-05-11
    The Trump administration has offered to place a $10 million cap on bankrupt Philadelphia Energy Solutions' biofuel blending obligations, effectively cutting the refiner's regulatory liability by more than 70 pct and freeing more cash for the company's creditors. Under the deal PES will either surrender 161.8 million biofuel blending credits (RINs) valued at roughly $35 million or pay up to $10 million to meet its RFS obligations, according to Reuters.

    The Trump EPA previously waived $350 million in biofuels compliance costs for PES after its initial bankruptcy in 2018.

    As reported in Jan., Philadelphia-headquartered bioenergy developer SG Preston dropped its previously expressed interest in redeveloping the shut-down fire-damaged 335,000 bpd Philadelphia refinery, which is now being sold by creditors for $252 million and redeveloped under a bankruptcy court approved plan. (Source: Various Media,Reuters, May, 2020)

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Philadelphia Energy Solutions,  RFS,  Biofuel Blend,  RINs,  


    Governors Seeking RFS Refinery "Hardship" Waivers (Ind. Report)
    EPS, Renewable Fuel Standard
    Date: 2020-04-27
    ICIS is reporting the governors of Louisiana (D), Texas (R), Oklahoma (R), Utah (R) and Wyoming (R) have written to the US EPA asking for "hardship" waivers for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) for refiners in their states. In their appeal, the governors noted plunging fuel demand as the reason for the request.

    According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA) the states currently under the COVID-19 pandemic "stay at home orders" account for 95 pct of US fuel demand. Meanwhile, ethanol market producers and players say that it is a "convenient reason for them (oil refiners) to escape a US law", and that doing so would further harm ethanol demand.

    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 the now vanquished administrator Greg Pruitt's direction, the EPA handed out 54 exemptions over two years and not a single request for an exemption was denied.Under the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard, the nation's oil refineries are required to blend billions of gallons of biofuels such as ethanol into the fuel or buy credits from those that do. But the EPA can waive their obligations if they prove compliance would cause them financial distress.(Source: Various Trade Media, ICIS, 17 April, 2020)

    More Low-Carbon Energy News RFS,  Hardship Waiver,  Biofuel Blend,  


    Indian 1,200 MW Renewable Energy Projects Tender Expected (Int'l)
    Solar Energy Corporation of India
    Date: 2020-04-22
    On the Sub-Continent, the New Delhi-Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) has issued a second call for tenders for setting up of 1,200 MW of interstate transmission system (ISTS) connected renewable projects with guaranteed peak power supply. The detailed tender document is expected to be uploaded on SECI's website shortly.

    In this tender, a project is expected to have two components -- a solar photovoltaic (SPV) system or a wind energy system or a hybrid system of both technologies, Projects selected under this RfS were eligible for two-part tariffs: Peak Tariff and Off-Peak Tariff. (Source: SECI, Energy Infra Post, 19 April, 2020) Contact: Solar Energy Corporation of India, +91 011 7198 9200, corporate@seci.co[.in, www.seci.co.in

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Solar Energy Corporation of India,  


    EPA Considering RFS Blending Compliance Delay (Ind. Report)
    Renewable Fuel Standard
    Date: 2020-04-03
    Reuters is reporting US EPA chief Andrew Wheeler is considering delaying the deadline for oil refineries to comply with the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) biofuel blending regulation past March 31 to help the industry cope with fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Since the pandemic's onset, the oil industry has asked for broad regulatory relief to help it survive sharply reduced global demand for fuel and to lower related costs. (Source: US EPA, Reuters, 27 Mar., 2020) Contact: US EPA, Andrew Wheeler, Administrator, www.epa.gov/aboutepa/epas-acting-administrator

    More Low-Carbon Energy News US EPA,  Andrew Wheeler,  Renewable Fuel Standard,  


    Renewable Fuels Coalition Comments on Admin's Not Seeking SRE Ruling Re-hearing (Opinions, Editorials & Asides)
    Americans for Clean Energy
    Date: 2020-03-27
    Further to our 20th Jan. coverage, a coalition of the Renewable Fuels Association, National Corn Growers Association, American Coalition for Ethanol and National Farmers Union released the following statement:

    "We are pleased the Trump administration has decided not to side with oil refiners in seeking a re-hearing of this unambiguous and well-reasoned court decision in the Tenth Circuit. We trust this also means the administration does not plan to petition the Supreme Court for an appeal. Abiding by the court's ruling is the right thing to do at a time when our industries and rural America are already suffering from the effects of COVID-19, the Saudi-Russia oil price war and ongoing trade disputes.

    "We look to the RFS as a source of demand stability and certainty, especially in these troubling times. Requesting a re-hearing would have only prolonged uncertainty in the marketplace and exacerbated the pain and frustration already being experienced in the Heartland.

    "With this key milestone now behind us, we look forward to EPA applying the Tenth Circuit decision nationwide to all SRE (small refiner exemption) petitions, beginning with the 25 pending petitions for 2019 exemptions."

    The coalition also noted that fully restoring the integrity of the RFS means immediate action to restore 500 million gallons of inappropriately waived 2016 blending requirements, as ordered by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. District in 2017. (Source: Various Media, The Fence Post, 25 Mar., 2020) Contact: Renewable Fuels Association, Geoff Cooper, (202) 289-3835, www.ethanolrfa.org; American Coalition for Ethanol, Brian Jennings, CEO, (605) 334-3381 ext. 3389, www.ethanol.org; National Farmers Union, Roger Johnson, Pres., (202) 554-1600, www.nfu.org; NCGA, (636) 733-9004, (636) 733-9005 -fax, corninfo@ncga.com, www.ncga.com

    More Low-Carbon Energy News RFS,  Americans for Clean Energy,  RFS "Hardship" ,  Waivers,  Renewable Fuels Associatio,  National Farmers Union,  National Corn Growers Association,  American Coalition for Ethanol,  


    Renewable Fuels Coalition Urges EPA to NOT Appeal Court "Hardship" Waiver Decision (Ind. Report, Reg. & Leg.)
    American Coalition for Ethanol
    Date: 2020-03-20
    With the need for a decision only days away, the Renewable Fuels Association, National Corn Growers Association, American Coalition for Ethanol and National Farmers Union -- the coalition that scored a unanimous court decision against the U.S. EPA -- is now calling for the agency to not appeal the decision.

    The coalition took the EPA to court and won over several "hardship" exemptions the EPA granted to small refineries, releasing them from their renewable fuel obligations in 2016 and 2017. The Trump Administration sought and secured an extension of the appeal deadline until Tuesday, March 24, this year.

    "With the renewable fuels industry reeling from coronavirus, trade disputes and small refinery exemptions, now is certainly not the time for the Trump administration to take any action that would cause further pain for ethanol producers or the farmers that supply them. The best thing they could do to support our industry and keep ethanol plants open is to announce immediately that they will not appeal," the coalition wrote.

    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 the now vanquished administrator Greg Pruitt's direction, the EPA handed out 54 exemptions over two years and not a single request for an exemption was denied.Under the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard, the nation's oil refineries are required to blend billions of gallons of biofuels such as ethanol into the fuel or buy credits from those that do. But the EPA can waive their obligations if they prove compliance would cause them financial distress. (Source: American Coalition for Ethanol , Various Trade Media, 18 March 2020) Contact: U.S. Grains Council, Tom Sleight, Pres., (202) 789-0789, (202) 898-0522, www.grains.org; Renewable Fuels Association, Geoff Cooper, (202) 289-3835, www.ethanolrfa.org; American Coalition for Ethanol, Brian Jennings, CEO, (605) 334-3381 ext. 3389, www.ethanol.org

    More Low-Carbon Energy News American Coalition for Ethanol,  RFS,  "Hardship Wiver",  Renewable Fuel ,  


    US Renewable Fuel Prices Up With RFS "Hardship Waiver" Program Announcement (Ind. Report)
    Renewable Fuel
    Date: 2020-02-28
    Reuters is reporting U.S. renewable fuel prices were up by 25 pct the week following a Bloomberg reports that the Trump administration has decided to cut back on "hardship waiver" exemptions for oil refineries from the renewable fuel standard biofuel blending laws.

    Following the Bloomberg report, renewable fuel credits for 2019 traded at 35 cents each , up 7 cents while credits for 2020 traded at 40 cents each.

    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 the now vanquished administrator Greg Pruitt's direction, the EPA handed out 54 exemptions over two years and not a single request for an exemption was denied.Under the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard, the nation's oil refineries are required to blend billions of gallons of biofuels such as ethanol into the fuel or buy credits from those that do. But the EPA can waive their obligations if they prove compliance would cause them financial distress.

    (Source: Various Media, Successful Farming, Reuters, 26 Feb., 2020)

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Renewable Fuel Standard,  RFS,  "Hardship" Waiver,  


    "New USDA Mandate for Biofuels Should be Withdrawn" (Opinions, Editorials & Asides)
    USDA
    Date: 2020-02-24
    "When the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced its 'innovation agenda' to align USDA's resources, programs, and research to help the agriculture industry meet the 'climate demands of the future' the first reaction at Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) is that this looks and sounds far too much like more taxpayers subsidies for programs that already exist. According to an April 30, 2018 Government Accountability Office report, the Office of Management and Budget found $13.2 billion in climate change funding across 19 agencies in 2017. The GAO reviewed six agencies and found that 94 pct of their reported climate change funding went to programs that touch on, but aren't dedicated to climate change, such as nuclear energy research. The government should determine whether those are effective and consolidate or terminate ones that are not before creating costly new mandates and programs.

    "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,  


    Growth Energy Applauds Biofuel Targets in USDA's Agriculture Innovation Agenda (Opinions, Editorials & Asides)
    Growth Energy
    Date: 2020-02-24
    "We applaud USDA for setting these clear goals for E15 (by 2030) and E30 (by 2050) and Growth Energy's members are ready to deliver ahead of their timetable. Biofuels are a critical piece of meeting the demands of our future transportation needs while lowering our carbon footprint.

    "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,  


    Trump USDA Announces 30 pct Biofuel Goal for 2050 (Ind. Report)
    USDA
    Date: 2020-02-21
    In Washington, as part of a new department-wide sustainability initiative the USDA is reported to have announced a goal for biofuels to make up 30 pct of U.S. transportation fuels by 2050.

    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,  


    Green Plains Adding Corn-Based Livestock Feed (Ind. Report)
    Green Plains Inc
    Date: 2020-02-12
    Omaha-headquartered ethanol producer Green Plains Inc. reports it will invest $400 million over the next two years to refocus its business on the production of corn-based, high protein animal feeds at its various production facilities. With this refocusing, ethanol will become a low-margin byproduct for the company.

    According to Reuters, the company's new game plan is in response to an uncertain ethanol market outlook, the Trump administration's continued issuance of RFS ethanol blending "hardship waivers" and an almost 20 pct drop in revenues from ethanol sales in 2019.

    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 the now vanquished administrator Greg Pruitt's direction, the EPA handed out 54 exemptions over two years and not a single waiver request for an exemption was denied. (Source: Green Plains, Successful Farming, Feb., 2020)Contact: Green Plains, Jim Stark, VP-IR, (402) 884-8700, www.gpreinc.com

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Green Plains Inc.,  DDGs,  Ethanol,  RFS,  


    Oberon Fuels, SHV Energy Partner on Renewable DME (Ind. Report)
    Oberon Fuels,SHV Energy
    Date: 2020-02-12
    San Diego-based ultra-low-carbon, renewable dimethyl ether (rDME) transportation fuel producer Oberon Fuels reports it is partnering with the Netherlands-headquartered global propane fuel distributor SHV Energy to accelerate the use of renewable DME to reduce the carbon footprint of transportation fuel. The two firms will collaborate on: further developing DME fueling infrastructure and vehicle development; using SHV Energy's technical resources to test the use of rDME blended with propane, and; using SHV's global distribution network to facilitate greater use of rDME in numerous energy applications worldwide.

    Oberon Fuels, which raised over $30 million in private funding since 2010, received $2.9 million in California grant funding to upgrade its existing DME pilot facility to demonstration scale and facilitate -- the first production of rDME in the U.S., with a target production capacity of approximately 1.6 million gpy of DME.

    DME is approved as a renewable fuel under the U.S. EPA Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS), and is eligible for RIN credits when made from biogas by the Oberon process. California Air Resources Board (CARB) has estimated that dairy manure converted to DME by the Oberon process has a CI of -278 gCO2e/MJ compared to ultra-low-sulfur diesel which has a CI of 100 gCO2e/MJ, according to the company. (Source: Oberon Fuels, PR, Feb., 2020) Contact: Oberon Fuels, Ruben Martin, CEO, 619.255.9361, 619.756.6470 - fax, info@oberonfuels.com www.obersonfuels.com; SHV Energy, Bram Graber, CEO, +31 (0) 23 5555 700, +31 (0) 23 5555 701 - fax., www.shvenergy.com

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Oberon Fuels,  SHV Energy,  


    E15 Sales Surge After Removal of Regulatory Barrier (Report Attached)
    Renewable Fuels Association
    Date: 2020-02-07
    New analysis from the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) has revealed that around 500 million gallons of E15, a blend of 15% ethanol fuel, were sold across the US I 2019, setting a new record. The review, carried out by, extrapolated the Minnesota data nationally, finding that 499 million gallons of E15 were sold in 2019. This volume contained 75 million gallons of ethanol.

    The data also suggests that the impact of small refinery "hardship" waivers under the RFS took a toll on the industry. On a per-station basis, sales of E15 were lower in the first few months of 2019 than during the same period the year before. This change can be attributed to the fact that the EPA granted numerous exemptions under the RFS to small refineries, causing the price of RFS compliance credits (RINs) to fall. thus reducing the incentive for retailers to offer blends of fuel with higher ethanol content, reducing their ability to discount higher blends relative to gasoline.

    The full RFA analysis is HERE (Source: RFA, 4 Feb., 2020) Contact: RFA, Scott Richman, Economist, (202) 289-3835, www.ethanolrfa.org

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Renewable Fuels Association,  RFA,  Ethanol,  Ethanol Blend,  


    Biofuels Ind. Groups Applaud Court's RFS Waiver Ruling (Ind Report)
    Renewable Fuels Association
    Date: 2020-01-29
    Further to Monday, 27 Jan. coverage -- Court Disqualifies Recent RFS "Hardship" Waivers -- the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) and other biofuel industry groups are praising the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling striking down three small refinery "hardship" exemption waivers.

    The court ruled the EPA cannot "extend” exemptions to any small refineries whose earlier, temporary exemptions had lapsed" as was the case in the three over ruled exemptions.

    Geoff Cooper, President and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA)noted: "The Court has affirmed our long-held position that EPA's recent practices and policies regarding small refinery exemption extensions were completely unlawful. And while the decision addresses three specific exemptions, the statutory interpretation issues resolved by the court apply much more broadly."

    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 the now vanquished administrator Greg Pruitt's direction, the EPA handed out 54 exemptions over two years and not a single request for an exemption was denied. (Source: Various Media, Agri-Pulse, 28 Jan., 2020) Contact: Renewable Fuels Association, Geoff Cooper, (202) 289-3835, www.ethanolrfa.org

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Renewable Fuels Association,  RFA,  RFS,  "Hardship" Waiver,  Ethanol Blend,  


    Court Disqualifies Recent RFS "Hardship" Waivers (Reg & Leg.)
    Renewable Fuel Standard
    Date: 2020-01-27
    It is being widely reported that a U.S. appeals court has ordered the EPA to reconsider three recently issued Renewable Fuel Standard small refinery "hardship waivers" on the grounds that the refineries did not qualify for the waivers and their issuance was "flawed."

    The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit dated Jan. 24 came after a coalition of biofuel industry groups had challenged the 2016 exemptions for Holly Frontier's Woods Cross and Cheyenne refineries, as well as CVR Energy's Wynewood refinery.

    The court ruled the EPA overstepped its authority and errored in granting the waivers because the refineries had not received exemptions in the previous year. The court said the RFS is worded in such a way that any exemption granted to a small refinery after 2010 must take the form of an "extension".

    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 the now vanquished administrator Greg Pruitt's direction, the EPA handed out 54 exemptions over two years and not a single request for an exemption was denied. (Source (Source: Successful Farming, Various Media, Reuters, 25 Jan., 2020)

    More Low-Carbon Energy News RFS,  Renewable Fuel Standard,  "Hardship" Waiver,  


    US GAO to Investigate EPA RFS Small Refinery Exemptions, "Hardship Waiver" Program (Ind. Report, Reg. & Leg.)
    RFS,U.S. Government Accountability Office
    Date: 2020-01-15
    On Capitol Hill, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has replied in the affirmative to a request from bi-partisan group of U.S House members led by Rep. Abby Finkenauer, (D-Iowa) -- Chairwoman, Subcommittee on Rural Development, Agriculture, Trade, and Entrepreneurship Committee on Small Business House of Representative -- urging the agency to examine the review and approval of small refinery exemptions (SREs), including the DOE's viability of scores for the 40 compliance year 2018 SRE applications that had been reviewed as of that date.

    In its Jan. 10 reply, the GAO accepted the request as being within the scope of its authority and assigned Mark E. Gaffigan, managing director of Natural Resources and Environment to begin the investigation shortly.

    "Granting more than 80 small refinery exemption waivers isn't just something this administration can sweep under the rug," Finkenauer said in a statement announcing the GAO investigation.

    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 the now vanquished administrator Greg Pruitt's direction, the EPA handed out 54 exemptions over two years and not a single request for an exemption was denied. (Source: Office of US Rep. Abby Finkenaur, 10 Jan., 2020) Contact: Office of US Rep. Abby Finkenaur , https://finkenauer.house.gov/sites/finkenauer.house.gov; U.S. Government Accountability Office, (202) 512-3000, contact@gao.gov, www.gao.gov

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Renewable Fuel Standard,  "Hardship" Waiver,  


    Suncor Challenges EPA RFS Waiver Denial (Ind. Report, Reg & Leg)
    Suncor Energy
    Date: 2020-01-08
    Denver-based Suncor Energy U.S.A. Inc., a unit of Calgary, Alberta-based Suncor Energy, reports it has filed an appeal of the US EPA's October 2019 decision in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in Denver. The agency recently finalized a rule designed to account for biofuel gallons waived from the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

    In its appeal, Suncor, which received waivers for what were previously two refineries in Commerce City, Colorado, argued the agency's action was "arbitrary, capricious, and not otherwise in accordance with law." The EPA reportedly rejected Suncor's petition because the refineries no longer meet EPA's definition of a small refinery, which produces 75,000 bpd or less. Suncor previously received waivers for what were two small refineries, one that produced nearly 33,000 bpd and another at nearly 67,000 in 2018. The refineries were among the original facilities to receive waivers in 2006.

    According to the company's website, since 2006, Suncor has been making a significant impact in Canada's emerging biofuels industry. Suncor is using revenues from oil sands development to invest in biofuels, particularly ethanol produced from corn. Ethanol is a cleaner burning, renewable resource. The ethanol production industry is expanding in Canada and the United States. New government regulations require that a percentage of ethanol be blended into fuels to reduce the environmental impacts of vehicle emissions. Suncor operates Canada's largest ethanol facility -- the St. Clair Ethanol Plant in the Sarnia-Lambton region of Ontario. (Source: Suncor Energy, DTN, 6 Jan., 2019) Contact: Suncor Energy USA, 303-793-8000, www.suncor.com

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Suncor Energy ,  RFS,  "Hardship Waiver",  


    Valero, AFPM Seek "Point of Obligation" Clarification (Reg & Leg)
    Valero Energy ,American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers
    Date: 2020-01-08
    San Antonio-headquartered Valero Energy Corp., the second-largest U.S. oil processor by capacity, and the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers organization have filed a court petition asking the U.S. Supreme Court to determine whether the U.S. EPA is required to consider petitions to change the "point of obligation" under the Clean Air Act's Renewable Fuel Standard.

    The petition notes: "The Clean Air Act's Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program requires EPA to undertake annual notice-and-comment rule making to determine a 'renewable fuel obligation' for the nation's transportation fuel supply. The first of three annual 'required elements' is to determine the point of obligation -- i.e., to ensure that the obligation shall be applicable to refineries, blenders, and importers, as appropriate. EPA admits that it initially placed the point of obligation on refineries and importers, but not blenders, for reasons of administrative convenience. EPA has repeatedly refused to re-examine that placement in annual rule making, and it denied petitions for rule making seeking reconsideration out-side the statutorily-mandated annual assessment."

    The petition specifically questions: whether the requirement that EPA "shall" make a "calendar year" determination of the "appropriate" point of obligation requires EPA to consider in each annual rule whether the point of obligation remains appropriate.The petition also questions whether EPA can evade the annual duty by partitioning the point of obligation into a one-time collateral proceeding that ignores key evidence,relies primarily on the agency's own convenience, and claims more deference from a reviewing court than an annual rule would receive. (Source: AFPM Website, Valero Energy, Ethanol Producer, 6 May, 2019) Contact: American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, www.afpm.org; Valero Renewable Fuels, Joe Gorder, Pres., (800) 324-8464, www.valero.com

    More Low-Carbon Energy News American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers ,  RFS,  Point of Obligation,  Valero Energy ,  


    USDA Adv. Biofuel Payment Program Final Rule Released (Ind. Report)
    USDA
    Date: 2020-01-03
    The USDA Rural Business-Cooperative Service has released a final rule for the Advanced Biofuel Payment Program. The program provides quarterly payments to producers of eligible advanced biofuels. To be eligible for payments, the advanced biofuels produced must be derived from renewable biomass other than corn kernel starch at a biorefinery located in the U.S.

    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,  


    NBB Survey Finds Strong Support for Biodiesel Industry (Ind. Report)
    National Biodiesel Board
    Date: 2020-01-03
    Each year the NBB conducts online surveys of U.S. voters to track trends and gauge awareness of biodiesel. This year the poll gathered responses from 1,064 registered voters nationwide and showed consistent results with prior polling from 2017 and 2018. Among this years survey findings:
  • 54 pct of 2019 respondents had a positive impressions of biodiese, 44 pct had no impression and 3 pct negative;

  • 57 pct of respondents agreed that federal policy should encourage use of biodiesel and renewable diesel; Nearly 80 pct expressed support for existing federal programs that encourage increased production and use of advanced biofuels;

  • 78 pct of respondents support the federal tax incentive for biodiesel, 79 pct support the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), 79 pct of respondents would encourage local communities and governments to promote use of biodiesel.

  • 83 pct of respondents agreed that the government should "stand with American workers, manufacturers, rural economies and businesses" to support a clean fuels industry and "follow the law to implement an existing mandate that creates jobs and economic development across the country." (Source: National Biodiesel Board, 31 Dec., 2019) 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,  Biodiesel,  


  • The finalized rule incorporates the Wheeler plan

    Date: 2019-12-31
    that merely estimates future small refinery waivers based on DOE recommendations, according to Iowa Corn Growers Association. ICGA supports a simple, mathematical solution by averaging the past three years of actual waivers granted, then adding those gallons back into the RFS. ICGA’s supported resolution would have created market certainty, so as not to rely on the EPA or DOE Administrators for their annual decisions. “Apparently President Trump doesn’t care about his promise to Iowa’s farmers. He had the opportunity to tell his EPA to stick to the deal that was made on Oct. 4,” said ICGA President Jim Greif. “I can say for certain that ICGA pushed for a positive outcome, and we didn’t go down without a fight.” “The Environmental Protection Agency seems to be more concerned with politics than cleaner-burning, healthy air with renewable fuels. It was as simple as following the original Oct. 4 agreement with our elected officials and here we are with empty promises and no market certainty,” said Kelly Nieuwenhuis, ICGA member from Primghar and Chair of the Iowa Corn Industrial Usage and U.S. Production committee. During the comment period for the supplemental rule, ICGA sent out two calls to action with one directed at the EPA and the other at the President. Altogether the calls to action gathered over 1,000 farmer comments. Additionally, ICGA held a press conference along with other biofuels groups, worked with our entire delegation of public leaders, as well as attended roundtables, townhall meetings and EPA’s public hearing in Ypsilanti, Michigan. The final push was a meeting by ICGA with the director of the U.S. National Economic Council, Larry Kudlow, at the White House earlier this week. (Source: High Plains Journal, 29 Dec. 2019)


    Wheeler Disappoints Corn Growers, RFS Advocates (Ind. Report)
    Renewable Volume Obligations
    Date: 2019-12-30
    The High Plains Journal is reporting corn growers and renewable fuel standard (RFS) advocates were more then a little disappointed by the recent EPA Renewable Volume Obligations (RVO) rule as signed on Dec. 19 by EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler.

    "I'm disappointed the EPA chose to ignore the concerns voiced by renewable fuels producers, farmers and consumers. The flawed formula used to account for waived gallons creates unnecessary uncertainty in our markets, detrimental to so many across rural America. We must continue to work together to hold the EPA accountable for ensuring the 15 billion gallons mandated by the RFS are met. We must also continue to invest in infrastructure that builds demand and increases the availability of higher blends of biodiesel and ethanol across the state of Iowa."-- Mike Naig, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship

    The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship administers the Iowa Renewable Fuel Infrastructure program, which offers cost-share grants to help fuel retailers install infrastructure to increase the availability of ethanol and biodiesel. To date, the program has distributed or obligated over $33 million with $200 million added in private economic activity. (Source: Iowa Department of Agriculture, High Plains Journal, 29 Dec. 2019) Contact: Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Mike Naig, Sec., 515-281-5321, www.iowaagriculture.gov

    More Low-Carbon Energy News ANdrew Wheeler,  Renewable Volume Obligations,  RVO,   RFS,  "Hardship" Waiver,  Ethanol.Ethanol Blend,  EIA,  


    IFB Comments on RFS 2020 Ruling (Opinions, Editorials & Asides)
    Illinois Farm Bureau
    Date: 2019-12-23
    "Illinois farmers expected more than what EPA managed to deliver in its final supplemental rule. More than 1,600 Farm Bureau members told the agency in person and in writing that maintaining the integrity of the RFS only occurs by replacing each and every gallon in the annual Renewable Volume Obligation (RVO) that is waived for the benefit of small oil refiners. The EPA seems to be missing a real opportunity to rebuild trust with farmers and the biofuels industry.

    "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 ,  


    Trump Breaks Promise With RVOs, says NFU (Ind. Report)
    RFS,EPA,National Farmers Union
    Date: 2019-12-23
    In Washington, the US EPA's just released final renewable volume obligations (RVOs) under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) for the year 2020 is already drawing flak.

    As outlined, RVOs will account for a portion of the 4 billion gallons of demand for biofuels eliminated over the past three years due to the rampant misappropriation of small refinery "financial hardship" sexemptions (SREs). Rather than determine relief using an actual three-year average of exempted gallons, the agency has instead used much lower values recommended by the DOE The former would have increased the amount of biofuels in the transportation sector by approximately 1.35 billion gpy, while the latter will increase it by just 770 million gpy.

    National Farmers Union (NFU), a strong proponent of biofuels and the RFS, reports it was disappointed with EPA's proposal when it was first released and urged the agency to account for all 4 billion gallons worth of demand in the final rule. In a statement, NFU Vice President of Public Policy and Communications Rob Larew restated the organization's mounting frustration with the administration's destructive approach to biofuels policy.

    The NFU NFU represents more then 200,000 family farmers, fishers and ranchers across the country, with formally organized divisions in 33 states. (Source: National Farmers Union, Aberdeen News, 20 Dec., 2019) Contact: National Farmers Union, Roger Johnson, Pres., (202) 554-1600, www.nfu.org

    More Low-Carbon Energy News RFS,  EPA,  National Farmers Union,  


    White House Confirms 2020 Biofuel RVO Plan (Ind. Report)
    Renewable Fuel Standard
    Date: 2019-12-20
    Reuters is reporting the Trump administration plans to stick with its proposed 2020 Renewable Volume Obligations (RVO) biofuel blending requirements as proposed in October, despite the farming sector's complaint that the plan does too little for corn growers.

    Under the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) oil refiners are required to blend some 15 billion gpy of corn-based ethanol into their gasoline, but small facilities can be exempted if compliance would hurt them financially.

    The October proposal was intended to placate corn growers and compensate the biofuel industry for the administration's expanded use of refinery exemptions, but which the industry has largely panned as insufficient, according to Reuters. The EPA's October plan would raise the biofuels volumes that some refineries must blend in 2020 based on DOE recommendations for volumes that should be exempted.

    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. (Source: Reuters, Various Media, 19 Dec., 2019)

    For details see our Oct. 21 report as follows -- Proposed Volumes for 2020 and Biomass-Based Diesel Volume for 2021. The Trump administration EPA has issued the attached supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking seeking additional comment on the recently proposed rule to establish the cellulosic biofuel, advanced biofuel, and total renewable fuel volumes for 2020 and the biomass-based diesel volume for 2021 under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program.

    The notice does not change the proposed volumes for 2020 and 2021. Instead, it proposes and seeks comment on adjustments to the way that annual renewable fuel percentages are calculated. Annual renewable fuel percentage standards are used to calculate the number of gallons each obligated party is required to blend into their fuel or to otherwise obtain renewable identification numbers (RINs) to demonstrate compliance.

    Specifically, the agency is seeking comment on projecting the volume of gasoline and diesel that will be exempt in 2020 due to small refinery exemptions based on a three-year average of the relief recommended by the BOE, including where DOE had recommended partial exemptions. The agency intends to grant partial exemptions in appropriate circumstances when adjudicating 2020 exemption petitions. The agency proposes to use this value to adjust the way it calculates renewable fuel percentages. The proposed adjustments would help ensure that the industry blends the final volumes of renewable fuel into the nation's fuel supply and that, in practice, the required volumes are not effectively reduced by future hardship exemptions for small refineries. Consistent with the statute, the supplemental notice seeks to balance the goal of the RFS of maximizing the use of renewables while following the law and sound process to provide relief to small refineries that demonstrate the need.

    Download the Renewable Fuel Standard Program -- Proposed Volumes for 2020 and Biomass-Based Diesel Volume for 2021 HERE. Contact: EPA Renewable Fuel Standard, 800-385-6164, www.epa.gov/fuels-registration-reporting-and-compliance-help/forms/fuels-program-helpdesk

    More Low-Carbon Energy News RFS,  "Hardship" Waiver,  Ethanol.Ethanol Blend,  Iowa Renewable Fuels Association,  Red Trail Energy,  


    AEM Urges EPA to Support RFS and Corn Demand (Ind. Report)
    RFS
    Date: 2019-12-06
    Last week, The Milwaukee-based Association of Equipment Manufacturer (AEM) filed the following comments with the EPA urging them to support American agricultural equipment manufacturing jobs by reallocating Renewable Fuel Standard gallons lost through small refinery exemptions (SREs).

    "The current EPA proposal would base the number of reallocated gallons on Department of Energy (DOE) recommendations, not actual gallons waived. Basing the three-year average of waived gallons on DOE recommendations is an illogical approach that hurts our nation's farmers. Using the DOE recommendations results in 770 million gallons of reallocated biofuels. However, this is far short of the 1.36 billion three-year average when based on actual gallons lost -- a difference of 590 million gallons. Failure to reallocate real gallons lost would reduce corn demand in 2020 by 210 million bushels.

    "The current EPA proposal on gallon reallocation will hurt both farmers and equipment manufacturers. A modified proposal to properly reallocate gallons keeps the Administration's promise to our industries, and it also supports an environmentally friendly solution that strengthens our energy independence. Additionally, increased ethanol sales will benefit farmers, equipment manufacturers, and the greater U.S. economy. We encourage the EPA to base reallocated gallons on the real numbers, instead of a short-sighted, bureaucratic recommendation.

    "With commodity prices already low and the link between farm income and equipment sales well established, AEM strongly encourages the EPA to address our concerns." (Source: AEM, PR, 5 dec., 2019) (Source: AEM, Dennis Slater, Pres., Nick Tindall, (414) 272-0943 ntindall@aem.org, www.aem.org

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Renewable Fuel Standard,  "Hardship" Waiver,  


    POET Temporarily Halting Project Liberty Biofuel Prod. (Ind. Report)
    POET, Poet-DSM
    Date: 2019-11-22
    Sioux Falls, South Dakota-based POET-DSM Advanced Biofuel reports it is temporarily halting production of cellulosic biofuels at its Emmetsburg, Iowa, facility due in part to the uncertainties surrounding the EPA's Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) policies.

    The company, a 50/50 joint venture between Royal DSM and POET, LLC., will now focus on R&D aimed at improving mechanical reliability, creating additional technological efficiencies and licensing technologies in countries that support the use of low carbon fuels from crop residue and other biomass, according to the company. (Source: Poet-DSM, Biofuels 20 Nov., 2019) Contact: POET-DSM Advanced Biofuels, Steve Hartig, General Manager, (630) 780-8171, steve.hartig@dsm.com, www.poetdsm.com

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Project Liberty,  POET,  Poet-DSM,  Cellulosic Biofuel,  Advanced Biofuel,  


    ABA's EPA Biofuel Waivers Lawsuit Dismissed (Reg. & Leg.)
    Advanced Biofuels Association
    Date: 2019-11-15
    Following up on our 26th April coverage, the Washington, D.C., District Court of Appeals has dismissed the Advance Biofuels Association's (ABA) lawsuit challenging the EPA's use of small refinery exemptions on the grounds that the ABA failed to "identify a final agency action."

    In its suit, the ABA claimed the EPA was exceeding its authority when it granted a larger number of waivers under the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) to small oil refineries. The court did, however, note "the EPA's briefing and oral argument paint a troubling picture of intentionally shrouded and hidden agency law that could have left those troubled by the agency's actions without a viable avenue for judicial review."

    Since 2016, the EPA has granted a total of 85 waivers accounting for 4.04 billion gallons of biofuels that were not blended into the nation's fuel supply.

    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. (Source: Various Media, NAFB News Service, 13 Nov., 2019) Contact: Advanced Biofuels Association, www.advancedbiofuelsassociation.com

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Advanced Biofuels Association,  EPA RFS,  RFS Waiver ,  


    Notable Quote -- Sen. Chuck Grassley Comments on EPA, RFS
    Grassley,RFS
    Date: 2019-11-08
    "As the number one producer of corn, ethanol, biodiesel and cellulosic ethanol, the renewable fuels industry is an important sector of Iowa's economy. It generates nearly $5 billion of Iowa's GDP, over $2.4 billion in household incomes and supports 47,000 jobs across Iowa.

    "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,  


    Growth Energy Calls on EPA to Fix Flawed RFS Proposal (Ind. Report)
    Growth Energy, EPA, RFS
    Date: 2019-11-01
    In testimony before the US EPA on the agency's proposed supplemental rule on 2020 biofuel targets under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor called on EPA to fix this flawed draft proposal and reverse the demand destruction that has shuttered biofuel plants across the heartland. "As drafted, EPA's plan fails to accurately account for lost gallons and betrays President Trump's promise to rural America. It cuts the fix we were promised in half, if not more, and destroys what may be our last chance to bring back the ethanol plants that have shut down and help ease the burden facing American farmers," Skor said.

    To begin repairing the damage, Skor called on the EPA to uphold the president's commitment to farmers and biofuel workers. "Midwestern lawmakers and governors have seen the damage firsthand and worked with the president to secure a deal that would start to undo the damage -- a deal that would honor this administration's commitments to farmers, biofuel producers, rural America, as well as small refineries. But instead, the EPA has undercut the president's promise and has yet again tilted the table in favor of the nation's largest oil companies -- all at the expense of the American farmer," Skor said.

    Skor urged regulators to use the rolling average of actual exempted volumes from the three most recently completed compliance years in the final rule, as promised by the administration. She also called on the agency to formally bind itself to the revised methodology for future years and expedite work to remove additional barriers to the sale of E15. "EPA must fix this rule immediately by properly accounting for exempted gallons and restoring lost demand. American biofuel producers and farmers cannot afford anything less," concluded Skor. (Source: growth Energy, PR, 30 Oct., 2019)Contact: Growth Energy, Emily Skor, CEO, Elizabeth Funderburk, (202) 545-4000, EFunderburk@GrowthEnergy.org, www.growthenergy.org

    More Low-Carbon Energy News RFS,  Growth Energy,  


    Siouxland Energy Producing Ethanol at Half Capacity (Ind. Report)
    Siouxland Energy
    Date: 2019-11-01
    Following up on our 16th September coverage, Siouxland Energy Cooperative reports its 88 million gpy ethanol plant in Sioux Center, Iowa, is back in production at 50 pct capacity thanks to a carbon emissions-linked ratings system in California that put a greater premium on their product. As previously reported, the plant began a "hot idle" Sept. 9, the first such extended shutdown since it opened in 2000.

    Earlier this week in Washington, Siouxland CEO Kelly Nieuwenhuis told a House panel that the "EPA's abuse of small refinery exemptions under the RFS is crippling rural America." (Source: Siouxland Energy Cooperative, Sioux City Journal, 30 Oct., 2019) Contact: Siouxland Energy Cooperative, Kelly Nieuwenhuis, CEO, 712-722-4904, www.siouxlandenergy.com

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Siouxland Energy ,  Ethanol,  

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