Tag Archives: Biofuels

Long-Time Ethanol Board Administrator to Retire

Todd Sneller, Outgoing NEB Administrator
Sarah Thornton Caswell, Upcoming NEB Administrator

LINCOLN, Neb. – Todd Sneller, administrator of the Nebraska Ethanol Board, will retire Sept. 14 after more than 40 years of service with the state of Nebraska.

Sneller started his career in 1976 as a staff assistant with the Agriculture Products Industrial Utilization Committee, now the Nebraska Ethanol Board. He left for a brief period from 1978 to spring 1979 to work as a business development consultant for the Nebraska Department of Economic Development. In May 1979, the Nebraska Ethanol Board recruited him to serve as their administrator, a role he has held ever since.

“It has been my privilege to work with a host of forward-looking policymakers at the state and national level during my career,” Sneller said. “I’ve had the opportunity to work with top business leaders during the process of developing a new economic sector in the state.”

Starting his administrator career when the U.S. faced the third serious oil supply shortage of the 1970s, Sneller engaged in advancing ethanol from a concept to a partial replacement of fossil fuels. The U.S. gasoline supply now contains more than 10 percent ethanol and Nebraska ranks No. 2 nationally in ethanol production. The state has 25 plants with an annual production capacity of 2.5 billion gallons of ethanol.

“Nebraska’s ethanol industry generates more than $5 billion annually,” Sneller said. “That economic impact in concert with the corn, livestock and bio-products sectors plays a significant role in the economy of Nebraska and in agriculture specifically. Perhaps most importantly, ethanol plants greatly contribute to the economic health of the Nebraska counties where they reside.”

The Nebraska Ethanol Board selected Sarah Thornton Caswell of Omaha as the next administrator. Caswell has extensive experience in the bio-industry sector and recently served as vice president of Government and Regulatory Affairs for Edeniq, a technology firm serving the biofuels industry. Caswell earned her juris doctor from American University’s Washington College of Law in Washington, D.C., and is a member of the Illinois Bar. She will assume the role of board administrator Sept. 17.

“Todd’s contributions to ethanol development extend beyond Nebraska, but his dedicated efforts in the state have helped create a new economic sector,” said Jan tenBensel, Nebraska Ethanol Board chairman. “We are pleased to have Sarah Caswell take the reins as the Board continues to advance into bio-products created from the ethanol platform.”

Established in 1971, the Ethanol Board assists ethanol producers with programs and strategies for marketing ethanol and related co-products. The Board supports organizations and policies that advocate the increased use of ethanol fuels – and administers public information, education and ethanol research projects. The Board also assists companies and organizations in the development of ethanol production facilities in Nebraska. For more information, please visit www.ethanol.nebraska.gov.

GBC Welcomes Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts to the Coalition’s 2016 Leadership Team


The Coalition announced today that Missouri Governor Jay Nixon will become chairman and Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts will become vice chairman of Governors’ Biofuels Coalition this year.governors_biofuels_coalition__hi_res_logo

“For more than 20 years, the Governors’ Biofuels Coalition has worked in a bipartisan way to strengthen American energy independence and create jobs in rural communities,” Governor Nixon said. “I look forward to working with Governor Ricketts to promote the production and use of biofuels because, in addition to diversifying our energy portfolio, they also give consumers more choices at the pump, reduce harmful emissions, and increase family incomes in rural America. I thank Governor Branstad for his outstanding leadership, and I look forward to building on his success.”

Now that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has issued its final biofuel blending rule, the Coalition will continue to advocate for policies that grow the biofuel industry such as, proposing legislation that will encourage investment in the nation’s advanced biofuel industry; asking EPA to enforce Section 202 of the Clean Air Act to limit aromatics and open the market for ethanol as a source of clean octane; dropping the obsolete vapor pressure restrictions on higher ethanol blends; and restoring the fuel economy credits (CAFE).

“I’m honored to serve as the next vice chairman of this organization, and will continue working to strengthen the energy independence of Nebraska and our country. Nebraska was one of the founding members of the Coalition, and the Coalition continues to play a major role in our nation’s energy policies, including the renewable fuel standard,” Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts said.

Governor Nixon and Governor Ricketts both thanked Iowa Governor Terry Branstad for not only his leadership of the Coalition last year but for his tireless national leadership on renewable energy policy, and making Iowa a model of renewable energy development for all our states.

For over 20 years, the Governors’ Biofuels Coalition has provided regional and national leadership on biofuels policy development. The bipartisan Coalition is comprised governors from across the nation. The governors share a concern that the nation’s dependence on imported petroleum is both economically and environmentally unsustainable, and presents an unacceptable risk to our national security.  The Coalition’s policy activities address all aspects of biofuels development and use.  For more information, visit www.GovernorsBiofuelsCoalition.org.

EPA Finalizes the 2014-2016 RFS Volume Standards

The following statement was sent by Paul Argyropoulos, Senior Policy Advisor with the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality.

EPA is finalizing the volume requirements and associated percentage standards that would apply under the RFS program in calendar years 2014, 2015, and 2016 for cellulosic biofuel, biomass-based diesel, advanced biofuel, and total renewable fuel. EPA is also finalizing the volume requirement for biomass-based diesel for 2017.

The final requirements will boost renewable fuel production and provide for robust, achievable growth, supporting future expansion of the biofuels industry. The final rule considered the many public comments EPA received on the proposal, and incorporates updated information and data. EPA is finalizing 2014 and 2015 standards at levels that reflect the actual amount of domestic biofuel used in those years, and standards for 2016 (and 2017 for biodiesel) that increase steadily over time.

Final Renewable Fuel Volumes
  2014 2015 2016 2017
Cellulosic biofuel (million gallons) 33 123 230 n/a
Biomass-based diesel (billion gallons) 1.63 1.73 1.90 2.00
Advanced biofuel (billion gallons) 2.67 2.88 3.61 n/a
Renewable fuel (billion gallons) 16.28 16.93 18.11 n/a
(Units for all volumes are ethanol-equivalent, except for biomass-based diesel volumes which are expressed as physical gallons.)


Final Percentage Standards
  2014 2015 2016
Cellulosic biofuel 0.019% 0.069% 0.128%
Biomass-based diesel 1.41% 1.49% 1.59%
Advanced biofuel 1.51% 1.62% 2.01%
Renewable fuel 9.19% 9.52% 10.10%

The final volumes represent substantial growth over historic levels. The final 2016 standard for advanced biofuel is nearly 1 billion gallons, or 35 percent, higher than the actual 2014 volumes, while the total renewable standard requires growth from 2014 to 2016 of over 1.8 billion gallons of biofuel, or 11% higher than 2014 actual volumes. Biodiesel standards grow steadily over the next several years, increasing every year to reach 2 billion gallons by 2017.

EPA’s final rule uses the tools provided by Congress to adjust the standards below the statutory targets, but the steadily increasing volumes in the proposal indicate that biofuels remain an important part of the nation’s overall strategy to enhance energy security and address climate.

The Final Rule and other Resources are available on the EPA website: http://ow.ly/VhQ5H

Ethanol Backers Swarm EPA in K.C.

This article was originally published in the Lincoln Journal Star.

Nebraskans who don’t agree on much otherwise were among the vanguard of ethanol advocates telling the Environmental Protection Agency Thursday not to slash billions of gallons of ethanol from the Renewable Fuel Standard.

The EPA proposes to reduce the standard passed by Congress setting a minimum amount of ethanol that must be used in motor fuel in coming years to accommodate what’s called the “blend wall,” a theoretical volume that may not easily be overcome because of better mileage performance in motor vehicles and the limited use of fuels containing more than 10 percent ethanol.

Ethanol advocates believe the government is caving in to an oil industry tactic to limit the use of the biofuel made primarily from corn. The oil industry prefers no minimum standard and has opposed the ethanol industry for as long as it has been in existence.

The EPA conducted a hearing on the proposed standard Thursday in Kansas City, Kansas. It is the only public comment hearing in the country before the EPA issues its final rules by late November.

Hundreds of people took turns reading prepared three-minute statements on the EPA proposal to lower biofuel requirements set by Congress by 4 billion gallons this year and 5 billion gallons next year.

Among those who want no reduction in the RFS were Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts and, on the other side of most political fences, Jane Kleeb, leader of the Bold Nebraska populist advocacy organization.

Nebraska is second in ethanol production behind Iowa. A number of farmers and other Nebraska advocates for renewable energy were among hundreds demonstrating or testifying in Kansas City.

Among them was Art Tanderup a farmer from Neligh, who raises corn, soybeans and rye.

He told the hearing he uses no-till farming methods to capture carbon and build soil health, soil sensors to preserve water and solar panels provide most of the farm’s electrical energy. He said he has an electric hybrid car, uses ethanol in his and biodiesel when we can get it.

“Times have changed,” Tanderup said in a statement. “This country can no longer be fossil fuel-dependent. Renewable fuels are part of the answer.”

Nebraska Energy Office Director David Bracht testified on behalf of the state.

Ricketts added a statement: “The EPA’s lack of commitment to the RFS is already driving potential investment away from our state. On a trade mission earlier this month, the CEO of a major biofuels company told me that his business previously had interest in expanding in the United States, but that the EPA’s recent proposal to reduce the RFS is a hurdle to future expansion plans.”

Ricketts didn’t identify the company.

Bracht said Nebraska’s corn and biofuels sectors set a course of action in 2005, when the RFS was established.

“They recognized the value this policy had in diversification of the U.S. domestic fuel supply, while providing economic benefits for healthy, sustainable rural communities,” Bracht said. “Our state has joined others in the Midwest and proved our ability to create a supply chain that has, and can, fulfill a consistently growing demand for ethanol. We’ve done it, and we can continue to do it, if given the chance.”

Among others adding support were Nebraska Department of Agriculture Director Greg Ibach, and Paul Kenney, chair of the Nebraska Ethanol Board.

“The EPA’s proposal to dramatically reduce the amount of corn ethanol in the RFS would not only harm Nebraska’s 24 ethanol plants, but it would also be devastating to our state’s farmers who produce the feedstock for the plants and the cattle feeders who rely on the high-quality feed ethanol plants to provide for their cattle,” Kenney said in a statement.  A byproduct of ethanol production is distiller’s grain, used to feed cattle in Nebraska feedlots.

“All the work and investment that Nebraska corn and livestock farmers have put into building the ethanol industry is at risk,” said Tim Scheer, a farmer from St. Paul and chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board.  “We’ve already seen corn prices drift at or below the cost of production and cutting the use of corn for ethanol could drive prices even lower.”

Todd Becker, CEO of Green Plains, the largest ethanol producer in Nebraska and the fourth largest producer in the country, said ethanol companies have more than $5 billion in capital invested in Nebraska alone, and these investments have helped to create more than 3,000 jobs in the state.

By adhering to the Renewable Volume Obligations established by Congress, the policy can continue to drive investment in the private sector as it was intended, Becker said.

Oil industry groups also attended, and they are happy the EPA proposed scaling back the mandate. They generally favor letting market forces dictate energy use.

“Most cars can only operate on a 10 percent ethanol blend,” said Bob Greco, a director at the American Petroleum Institute.  “As long as the EPA mandates stay below 10 percent, then that’s an acceptable level.”

Kleeb countered: “Big Oil is anti-farmer.”

“Always has been. Always will be,” she said in a statement.

The EPA and Department of Energy science shows that ethanol and other biofuels represent reductions in greenhouse gas emissions ranging from 34 percent for corn ethanol to over 100 percent for advanced biofuels like cellulosic ethanol that are entering commercial scale production.

“And the last time I looked,” Kleeb said, “a farmer who grows ethanol has not soaked dolphins in oil, nor have they destroyed farmland with oil pipelines bursting.”

Sustaining RFS Critical to Market Stability, Energy Security

The following article is reposted from 25x’25 Alliance and you can find the original article here.

With the Obama administration poised to announce the long-awaited Renewable Fuel Standard biofuel blending requirements for 2014, this year and next, it’s important to look at the many reasons why this country is pursuing alternatives to petroleum-based transportation fuels.

To start with the most obvious, fossil fuels are finite resources. While there may be debate over how much oil is left in the Earth’s reserves, and just how much of that can be safely extracted without causing irreversible environmental damage, there is no disagreement over the fact that the world is consuming millions of years’ worth of stored carbon in less than two hundred years. At the current rate of production and consumption, recoverable stores will be gone, by the most generous estimates, by the end of this century.

Given the limitations of supply on fossil fuels, the obvious advantage of biofuels is that they are renewable, made from organic materials, including waste, making available a virtually infinite supply of clean, domestically produced fuels.

Because we can grow our own source of transportation fuels, they are much safer to produce when compared to the drilling and other activities tied to the extraction of oil. As their name suggests, biofuels are biodegradable, making them much less toxic than oil, especially when considering catastrophes like the BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico five years ago.

And has been demonstrated by research and studies from the private and public sectors including the Department of Energy’s national laboratories, using biofuels to accelerate the transition of transportation fuels to higher octane/lower carbon fuel blends will significantly lower emissions of greenhouse gases and toxic pollutants resulting from petroleum gasoline use.

The fact that consideration is even being given to reducing the amount of biofuels to be blended in our nation’s transportation fuels is the result of a number of causes, not the least of which is the undue influence of the oil industry, which is seeking to maintain a virtually monopolistic hold on the market. While the oil industry claims there is not enough demand for gasoline to satisfy the biofuel requirements set by the RFS, the biofuel industry claims oil companies have failed to meet infrastructure demands set by law when the RFS was reauthorized by Congress in 2007.

Another factor for weakening the RFS offered by some is a general complacency over the issue due to low oil prices and, as a result, some of the lowest prices seen at the gas pump in years. After $100-plus for a barrel of oil and gasoline running from $3-$4 per gallon, the steep drop in prices over the past eight months have, in the opinion of some, lulled consumers – and policy makers – into a sense of economic relief.

But a report issued last week by the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate suggests that the low prices are a distraction that could divert the attention needed to meet future energy needs. Simply put, oil prices continue to bring with them a high degree of volatility that will pose a much bigger challenge to long-term energy market stability and could undermine a transition to clean energy.

The report says that overall, cheaper oil does provide a stimulus to the world economy, but with uneven effects. The world now uses 90 million barrels per day, so an oil price of $60 per barrel instead of $100 would save consumers $1.3 trillion per year. But the authors warn that countries cannot bank on future low fossil fuel prices, and while it is tempting to think lower prices are here to stay, history tells us that large price swings are a poor guide to what happens next.

And the volatility in oil prices hurts the economy. The market value of oil is 5 percent of world gross domestic product. Given that oil’s price can move by 50 percent within a matter of months, there are few short-term options to reduce consumption, and it has widespread knock-on effects on other key inputs to economic activity. Energy price volatility delays business investment, requires costly reallocation of resources, reduces consumer expenditures and slows job growth.

Despite low oil prices now, there are good reasons to continue to expand investments in renewable energy. The long-term focus still favors steps to reduce dependence on fossil fuels, including support of renewable sources of fuel and power (which would also reduce GHG emissions), along with increasing energy efficiency.

The White House is strongly urged to recognize the volatility of oil prices and the contributions that expanded use of biofuels can make to achieving national GHG emission targets when it releases the 2014-2016 RFS blending requirements in the next week or so. Reversing the course set out by the RFS eight years ago will compromise national and energy security, negatively impact the economy, cost U.S. jobs, endanger public health and derail the commercial scale production of advanced biofuels.