Tag Archives: RFS

EPA Announces Final RFS Volumes for 2018

LINCOLN, NEB. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) set the 2018 Renewable Volume Obligation (RVO) under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The administration will require refiners to mix 19.29 billion gallons of biofuels into the U.S. gasoline and diesel supply next year.

This blending requirement includes conventional biofuels such as corn-based ethanol at 15 billion gallons, advanced biofuels at 4.29 billion gallons and biodiesel at 2.1 billion gallons for 2018. In July, the EPA had proposed an overall 19.25 billion gallon blending target, which included cuts to biodiesel. This final announcement abandons that proposed decrease, and instead upholds the RVO levels relative to 2017.

Although oil refiners pushed the EPA to reduce volume requirements – the amount of biofuels that must be blended with the nation’s fuel supply – the administration kept the levels steady. In an already depressed farm economy, this reflects a positive step forward for the renewable fuels industry.

“Setting the conventional biofuel target consistent with statutory levels helps to ensure that biofuels like corn-based ethanol will continue to play an important role in meeting demand for less-expensive, cleaner-burning transportation fuels,” said Todd Sneller, Nebraska Ethanol Board administrator.

“The RFS is an important floor for biofuel demand in the U.S., but producers also continue efforts to expand domestic and international markets,” Sneller said. “Successfully expanding biofuel demand will generate additional opportunities for investment in new technologies and increased production capacity.”

Many domestic fuel marketers are adding infrastructure that accommodates a growing slate of ethanol products including E15 and higher blends. Biofuel producers are also making headway in international markets with recent announcements from Japan, Mexico and China.

  • Mexico announced they would start using 10 percent ethanol blends nationwide excluding three cities – Monterrey, Guadalajara and Mexico City. Ethanol fuels may soon be allowed to expand into these cities pending government approval.
  • Japan announced they would allow gasoline blenders to use ethanol sourced from the U.S., which is significantly less expensive than the Brazilian sugarcane ethanol Japan has been using.
  • China also announced that it will start using 10 percent ethanol blends, as well as exempt a value-added tax on imports of U.S. dried distillers grains.

Domestically, the Renewable Fuel Standard is an important cornerstone for consumer demand, but industry experts are looking to eliminate barriers like reid vapor pressure on E15 and working with fuel marketers to expand ethanol blend options via additional infrastructure improvements, Sneller added.

“Next-generation biofuels continue to evolve, but the new processes, productions, technology deployment and jobs will not be realized if demand for biofuels stagnates,” Sneller said. “Biofuels make an increasingly important contribution to public health and the environment by displacing toxic compounds and harmful emissions from traditional fossil fuels.”

Many improvements in ethanol feedstocks and production have dramatically reduced ethanol’s carbon intensity. With increasing fuel economy standards, higher-octane gasoline blended with ethanol reduces the carbon impact of fuels while allowing automakers to achieve higher efficiency, further adding to ethanol’s low carbon footprint.

“It is critical that ethanol not only participate in federal programs but also in low carbon fuel standards at the state level,” Sneller said. “Omaha is close to exceeding the EPA’s level of acceptable ground-level ozone, but Nebraskans can take steps now to lower vehicle emissions by simply using more biofuels when they fill their tanks.”

 

 

Nebraska Drivers Save $17 Million Using Ethanol-blended Fuel

LINCOLN, NEBRASKA — In 2016, Nebraska drivers will save approximately $17 million by using ethanol-blended gasoline. The savings is based on lower prices for ethanol compared to wholesale gasoline and the state’s projected spark-ignition fuel consumption of 900 million gallons.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, ethanol is blended into virtually all U.S. gasoline. The most common ethanol blend sold nationwide is E10, a blend of 90 percent gasoline and 10 percent ethanol. Between August 2015 and August 2016, the cost of wholesale ethanol averaged 18 cents per gallon less than the minimum octane gasoline allowed to be sold in most of the U.S.kum_and_go_e85_e15_flex_fuel_pumps_2016

According to the Department of Energy, this year’s gasoline consumption by U.S. motorists will exceed 140 billion gallons and 97 percent of this fuel will contain ethanol. U.S. gasoline refiners continue to supply lower-octane gasoline which is typically enhanced with high octane ethanol to meet fuel standards. The octane-boosting capability and cleaner-burning attributes of ethanol make it an indispensable part of the U.S. motor fuel supply.

The significant role of ethanol in the nation’s fuel supply is likely to expand in 2017 to meet the requirements of the national Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), noted Nebraska Ethanol Board Administrator Todd Sneller.

“Higher octane fuel reduces ‘engine knocking’ and provides better vehicle performance,” he said. “Adding ethanol to boost octane reduces the toxicity of gasoline. It’s a win-win for consumers and the environment.”

Adding 10 percent ethanol to low octane gasoline increases the octane rating to levels recommended by auto manufacturers and required by federal regulations.  In most parts of the country regular gasoline enhanced with ethanol has an octane rating of 87 which is the minimum octane recommended by automakers.

According to EPA’s Urban Air Toxics report to Congress, U.S. refiners increasingly boost octane by adding refining by-products such as benzene, toluene, ethyl benzene and xylene. Several of these chemicals are known and suspected carcinogens, and they’re more expensive additives. According to a February 2016 study by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the price of petroleum-based additives range from 35 cents to a dollar per gallon more than ethanol.

“These products of oil refining, known as aromatics, can produce cancer-causing emissions which damage the human immune, respiratory, neurological, reproductive and developmental systems,” Sneller said. “Ethanol is much less expensive and cleaner-burning than these toxic petroleum-based chemicals.”

Nebraska is the nation’s second largest producer of ethanol with 25 plants producing a combined capacity approaching 2.5 billion gallons annually. The ethanol industry has a $5 billion annual economic impact in the state.

“Future growth in the ethanol industry is likely tied directly to automaker efforts to meet increasingly stringent U.S. fuel economy standards,” Sneller said. “New vehicles will have more efficient, higher compression engines that require even higher octane fuels. Ethanol will continue to play a role as a high-octane, low-carbon renewable choice in the U.S. and abroad.”

Growing Beyond the RFS to Drive Demand for Ethanol

Lincoln, Neb.After years of uncertainty, the final volumes for the amount of corn ethanol were announced late last year, and corn ethanol is essentially at its limit under the RFS, according to Doug Durante, Clean Fuels Development Coalition (CFDC) executive director.

Doug_Durante_CFDC
Doug Durante, CFDC

Durante gave a recap of the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) and what it means for the ethanol industry during a Nebraska Ethanol Board meeting Jan. 21 in Lincoln. He discussed the regulatory roadblocks that, if eliminated, would open the market for higher ethanol blends.

“The RFS helped kick start the significant volumes of ethanol production we see today, but we cannot rely on the RFS to ensure a continued market,” Durante said. “The industry needs to grow beyond the RFS and create new, consumer-driven demand that capitalizes on the health benefits of ethanol’s clean octane and the ability to meet low-carbon fuel standards.”

Durante suggested that ethanol advocates find additional pathways to create market demand that allows the industry to move beyond the RFS volume obligations. He noted that eliminating the following burdens on ethanol would help create more opportunities for ethanol:

  • Removing unnecessary seasonal Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) restrictions
  • Raising the minimum octane for fuel
  • Enforcing limitations on levels of toxic aromatics in gasoline
  • Correcting the flawed EPA MOVES model and lifecycle analysis
  • Reinstating meaningful flex fuel vehicle (FFV) credits for vehicle manufacturers
  • Streamlining the certification of higher ethanol blends up to E30
Ethanol_Road_Blocks_UAI
To view a detailed White Paper on this topic, visit cleanfuelsdc.org.

“Given the restrictions and possible expiration of the RFS, the transition to more open and free ethanol markets must begin now,” Durante said. “Ethanol production and utilization has only scratched the surface of its potential.”

Durante’s national ethanol advocacy efforts and his relationship with the Nebraska ethanol industry span more than 35 years. He frequently consults on international biofuel projects including initiatives that focus on the use of biofuels to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

CFDC works closely with the Urban Air Initiative (UAI), which has conducted a significant body of research over the past several years showing how toxic compounds known as aromatics, which are added to gasoline to boost octane, are causing a host of respiratory illnesses in urban populations. Durante advocates for a cleaner alternative – ethanol – which is a natural octane enhancer and a clean, low-carbon fuel choice. CFDC and UAI have collaborated with the Nebraska Ethanol Board on fuel testing and analysis as well as public information programs in Nebraska.

Durante, a veteran of biofuel policy and ethanol market development, is headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, and represents members of the Clean Fuels Development Coalition on Capitol Hill. Previously, he served as an ethanol advisor to members of Congress and as a technical and policy advisor to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Energy.

Clean Fuels Director Addresses Ethanol Board

Doug_Durante_Clean_Fuels_Development_Coalition_Executive_Director
Doug Durante, Clean Fuels Development Coalition

Lincoln, Neb. – Doug Durante, Clean Fuels Development Coalition (CFDC) executive director, will give a recap of the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) and what it means for the Nebraska ethanol industry during the Nebraska Ethanol Board meeting Thursday, Jan. 21, in Lincoln.

After years of uncertainty, the final volumes for the amount of corn ethanol were announced late last year, and corn ethanol is essentially at its limit under the RFS, according to Durante. He will discuss the specific regulatory roadblocks that, if eliminated, would open the market for higher ethanol blends.

“The Nebraska ethanol industry, capable of producing significantly more ethanol than current levels, cannot count on the RFS to ensure a market,” Durante said. “The industry needs to move beyond the RFS and create new, consumer-driven demand that capitalizes on the health benefits of clean octane and the ability to meet low-carbon fuel standards.”

Durante’s national ethanol advocacy efforts and his relationship with the Nebraska ethanol industry span more than 35 years. He frequently consults on international biofuel projects including initiatives that focus on the use of biofuels to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

CFDC works closely with the Urban Air Initiative (UAI), which has conducted a significant body of research over the past several years showing how toxic compounds known as aromatics, which are added to gasoline to boost octane, are causing a host of respiratory illnesses in urban populations. Durante advocates for a cleaner alternative – ethanol – which is a natural octane enhancer and a clean, low-carbon fuel choice. CFDC and UAI have collaborated with the Nebraska Ethanol Board on fuel testing and analysis as well as public information programs in Nebraska.

Durante, a veteran of biofuel policy and ethanol market development, is headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, and represents members of the Clean Fuels Development Coalition on Capitol Hill. Previously, he served as an ethanol advisor to members of Congress and as a technical and policy advisor to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Energy.

The Ethanol Board meeting will be held at Country Inn and Suites in Lincoln at 8:30 a.m. Durante will speak at approximately 9 a.m.

World-Herald Editorial: EPA Relents on Ethanol but Still Falls Short

The following Omaha World-Herald editorial is reposted from it’s original release Dec. 2, 2015.

A new EPA rule requires that more than 18 billion gallons of renewable fuel be blended into U.S. gasoline in 2016.

That means Americans will wind up using more ethanol and biodiesel made in the Midlands. It’s better-than-expected news for the nation’s top two ethanol producing states, Iowa and Nebraska.

But it’s not good enough. While the EPA’s 18-billion-gallon goal is an increase from what the agency first suggested in June, it’s still more than 4 billion gallons short of mandates Congress set in a 2007 law.

At least the EPA is requiring more renewable fuel than it originally proposed, although that’s little comfort to an ethanol industry that contributes almost $5 billion a year to Nebraska’s economy. Or to the industry’s investors and innovators, who see the goal posts shifting.

EPA officials say they used a lever in the law allowing them to reduce required amounts of renewable fuel when the targets didn’t prove realistic. They say the nation’s fuel supply has nearly reached the limit of how much corn-based ethanol can safely be used by the majority of vehicles.

The agency blames production and technological delays in the development of many next-generation biofuels such as cellulosic ethanol. But bureaucratic fiddling with fuel requirements bears responsibility for that situation, too. The unnecessary uncertainty has held up as much as $19 billion in potential investments in these new, more advanced fuels, the agricultural news service DTN reports.

President Barack Obama has said he wants to reduce our dependence on oil from those who seek to do us harm. But some of his actions contradict that, denying a pipeline from Canada and now throttling back the renewable fuel standard.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, got it right when he said, “It’s unfortunate that this administration, which claims to be for renewable and clean energy, would stand in the way of the production and use of more renewable fuels.”

Nobody got all they wanted out of the EPA’s new renewable fuels rule, not the oil companies in their odd alignment with some environmentalists and not Midwestern farmers.

Courts may have to settle the differences. Farmers and agricultural industry groups talked Monday of suing the Environmental Protection Agency for moving beyond its legal, statutory boundaries.

It’s reminiscent of the EPA’s “waters of the U.S.” regulatory overreach, which landed the agency in court this fall.

Congress writes the laws. The EPA should follow them.