Tag Archives: ethanol

LINCOLN, Neb. — The Nebraska Ethanol Board (NEB) has submitted comments to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on its proposed supplemental rulemaking to the 2020 Renewable Volume Obligations (RVOs) under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).


On Oct. 15, the EPA released the details of its RVO proposal, which fails to ensure the RFS is upheld and continues to allow the EPA to blatantly abuse Small Refinery Exemptions (SREs). Despite earlier promises from the Trump administration that the EPA would reallocate SREs in 2020 based on the average of actual gallons waived from 2016 to 2018, the agency’s proposed approach fails to account for its previous shortfalls and does not ensure 15 billion gallons of ethanol blending will occur in 2020.


“Many farmers have had it! Multiple ethanol plants have stopped production. In addition, months of unfruitful promises from the EPA and Trump administration have left the ethanol industry where we started ­– suffering,” said Jan tenBensel, NEB Chairman and a farmer from Cambridge, Nebraska.


This tumultuous battle has caused a lot of distress throughout the industry, impacting ethanol producers, farmers, and investors eager to see the success of ethanol, which will in turn improve air quality and boost the economy. NEB maintains that it wants to see the EPA make up for the destruction that has occurred and to set safeguards into place that will ensure SREs are only granted to refineries who truly prove economic hardship.


“We need to have a relationship with the oil industry, which is what the RFS was intended to be when it was established many administrations ago,” said NEB Administrator Roger Berry. “We do not want to see the demise of the oil industry. Our world has not yet reached a point where we can be independent of oil. What we want is to work with them to make a sustainable future powered by a healthier fuel. If we continue to ignore the dire need to clean up our air with the addition of biofuels in our fuel, we are going to put ourselves into a world of hurt. This goes beyond pocketbooks for us. The success of the ethanol industry is important for the future of the world we ALL live in – not just farmers, ethanol producers, and environmentalists.”    


Regardless of the EPA’s decisions, the NEB urges the public to continue supporting ethanol. There are many simple ways to do this:

·         Submit your own comments to the EPA.

·         Create demand by continuing to use ethanol and asking others to as well. Buy flex fuel vehicles. If you are a dealership, sell more flex fuel vehicles. 

·         Share with friends and family how and why you support ethanol. Are you a corn farmer? Do you work in an ethanol plant? Do you fill up with ethanol? Ask us for a free ethanol performs bumper sticker!

·         Stay in the know. The ethanol industry is not going away. There is constant policy work being done to see its success, and there are organizations working to increase its availability. Read up on ethanol regularly and become an advocate.

·         Educators – make ethanol part of your curriculum by exploring agriculture, science, and clean air initiatives.

·         Ethanol producers – work with fuel retailers to make selling higher ethanol blends easier.

·         Fuel retailers – empower your patrons to help our environment and economy all while saving a few bucks by simply filling up with higher ethanol blends at the tanks. You can do this by educating your employees and patrons about the benefits of ethanol, and selling ethanol blended fuels.

A new analysis of vehicle owner’s manuals and warranty statements by the Renewable Fuels Association reveals that nearly all new 2020 automobiles are explicitly approved by the manufacturer to use gasoline containing 15 percent ethanol (E15). However, RFA’s annual review also shows automakers are offering far fewer model year 2020 flex fuel vehicles (FFVs) capable of running on blends containing up to 85 percent ethanol (E85).
According to the RFA analysis, manufacturers responsible for 95 percent of U.S. light-duty vehicle sales unequivocally approve the use of E15 in their model year 2020 automobiles. For the first time ever, BMW models will carry the manufacturer’s approval to use E15; in fact, the BMW Group approves the use of up to E25 in its 2020 models, including its line of Mini automobiles.
“As this analysis shows, virtually all new cars, SUVs, and pickups are approved by their manufacturers to use E15, a lower-cost, higher-octane, cleaner-burning fuel available today at more than 1,900 retail stations in 30 states,” said RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper. “RFA has worked diligently with the automakers over the past decade to ensure a smooth market transition to E15, and we are thrilled that each year more manufacturers recognize the benefits of E15 to their customers. We are especially pleased that beginning with the 2020 model year, BMW now approves not just E15—but up to E25—in its new vehicle offerings.”
For the ninth consecutive year, all new General Motors vehicles are clearly approved to use E15, while Ford has explicitly endorsed E15 in eight straight model years. Among major manufacturers, only Mercedes-Benz, Mazda, Mitsubishi, and Volvo—representing less than 5 percent of U.S. sales collectively—do not include E15 as an approved fuel in their owner’s manuals.
RFA estimates that nearly 97 percent of the registered vehicles on the road today are legally approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to use E15, and almost half of those vehicles also carry the manufacturer’s endorsement to use E15. In 2011, the EPA approved the use of E15 in cars and light-duty trucks built in 2001 or later. However, automakers did not start including E15 as an approved fuel in owner’s manuals and warranty statements until 2012, the year E15 was first sold commercially.
Meanwhile, automakers continue to dramatically curtail production of FFVs. Only two automakers—Ford and General Motors—are offering FFVs in model year 2020. Just 16 models will be available as FFVs in 2020, with six of those models available only to fleet purchasers. That’s down from more than 80 different models from eight manufacturers being available to consumers as recently as 2015.
“It is frustrating and disappointing to see automakers hitting the brakes on FFVs, especially at a time when more consumers are actively seeking out E85 and other low-carbon flex fuels,” said Cooper, pointing out that E85 sales in California have quadrupled since 2013 and doubled in just the last two years. “EPA has failed to maintain meaningful incentives for FFV production, and the auto industry has responded by abandoning this low-cost, high-impact technology. Not only do flex fuels like E85 save drivers money at the pump, but they also significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and harmful tailpipe pollution. Rather than encouraging more petroleum use, our lawmakers, regulatory officials, and automakers should be taking definitive actions to put more—not fewer—FFVs on the road.”

LINCOLN, Neb. — The Nebraska Ethanol Board is urging Nebraska fuel retailers to join fellow Midwest states like Iowa and Minnesota in making E15 fuel more widely available to motorists. A move by the Trump Administration in May promised a surge in year-round sales, but consumers are asking for more availability in Nebraska.

To help fuel retailers learn more about the ease of selling E15, the Board is hosting a free E15 Workshop, including a keynote from Growth Energy’s Sara Brenden. The workshop will take place on Nov. 13 at the Divots Conference Center in Norfolk, Nebraska, from 1:30 to 5 p.m.

Some retailers have been reluctant to retrofit their pumps for E15 due to misconceptions about cost and installation.

 “Many gas stations can begin to sell E15 with very little investment in their current infrastructure,” said Roger Berry, administrator for the Nebraska Ethanol Board. “That’s why we are holding this complimentary workshop to debunk the myths and allow retailers to hear firsthand from others who’ve gone through the process.”

Berry explains that the process depends on everyone’s unique circumstances, but it can be as simple as a quick switch.

“If a pre-blended E15 is available at the rack where the fuel retailer sources their fuel, they can often times replace one of their current choices, such as an 89-octane mid-grade that they generally sell very little of, with very little to no investment. The retailer does not have to install the more expensive blender pumps in order to sell E15.”

Additionally, some of cost burdens can be relieved through a grant program from the Nebraska Corn Board, who will award qualifying retailers money for equipment and infrastructure to offer higher blends of ethanol fuel. Jeff Wilkerson, director of market development for the Nebraska Corn Board, is one of several presenters who will highlight ways to make the process simple and affordable.

Brenden, manager of market development at Growth Energy, will begin the workshop with a keynote on Why E15. According to Growth Energy’s website, E15 offers retailers a competitive advantage and can generate more than 40 percent of total gasoline sales at retail. Growth says consumers have driven more than 10 billion miles on E15 and retailers have conducted millions of transactions.

To see the full agenda and to register, please visit the workshop informational page or www.ethanol.nebraska.gov.

This the second in a series of E15 workshops hosted by the Nebraska Ethanol Board. Previous participants have said:

       “I found the Fuel Retailer’s E15 Workshop to be fascinating. It was very informative and I learned a lot about the ethanol industry. We already sell some E15, but this inspired me to work towards making the switch to E15 at more locations. I also learned some good ideas to better promote the product and grow our sales.”

       “We have been pondering whether to take on E15. With what I learned and will be sharing with my team, I feel pretty strongly that we will be making the move. The E15 workshop was very educational and helpful.”

The workshop is free thanks to the event sponsors: Stanley Petroleum Maintenance, Inc., Nebraska Corn Board, Renewable Fuels Nebraska, Nebraska Fuel Retailers Association, and the Nebraska Ethanol Board. Light snacks and beverages will be provided throughout the day.

The increase in E15 sales will provide an additional value-added market for Nebraska farmers and ethanol plants who are experiencing many challenges this year. Weather, the strain of tariffs that have cut U.S. exports drastically, and the EPA’s indiscriminate approval of small refinery exemptions (SREs) are weighing heavily on the industry. Fuel retailers who offer E15 will not only be driving customers seeking lower costs and environmental change to their stores, they will have a real impact on Nebraska’s farmers and economy, Berry said.

A broad coalition of biofuel and farm advocates have sent a letter to the White House this week calling on President Trump to fix a flawed proposal from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which “fails in its mission to reinvigorate farm economies and reopen biofuel plants across America’s heartland.” The letter was signed by 60 organizations, including the American Soybean Association (ASA) and 17 state soybean affiliates. It notes that the EPA’s draft plan undermines the administration’s commitment to restore integrity to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and accurately account for biofuel demand destroyed by Small Refinery Exemptions (SREs).

“The flawed proposal swaps out a critical component of the SRE remedy sought by farmers and the biofuels industry,” wrote farm and biofuel leaders. “Instead of recovering the gallons exempted by EPA, it proposes to recover only those gallons previously recommended for exemption by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). This one EPA modification converts a commitment to fully account for SREs into a bureaucratically uncertain path that recovers only one fraction of those gallons lost to SREs and could result in RFS backsliding in 2020. This lack of certainty sabotages efforts toward market recovery and will stop biorefineries from reopening.”

Just days after Kansas farmer Dennis McNinch completed corn harvest, he went to Michigan to testify at a public hearing on EPA’s proposal to address how it will account for ethanol waivers granted to refineries in the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). McNinch represented the Kansas Corn Growers Association at the hearing on Oct. 30. He serves on the National Corn Growers Association’s Corn Board and is chairman of the Kansas Corn Commission.

 The hearing kicked off a public comment period on EPA proposal, which is open until Nov. 29. Farmers are encouraged to submit comments online at kscorn.com/action.

 “I went to Michigan to testify because EPA needs to know how these decisions affect corn farmers in Kansas,” McNinch said. “They need to hear from more farmers, and we can all do that by taking a few minutes to submit comments online at the kscorn.com website.”

 At issue is EPA’s proposal to account ethanol demand lost through EPA refinery exemptions going forward in the RFS. The recent expansion of RFS waivers has reduced RFS requirements by more than 4 billion gallons over three years. However, EPA’s proposal uses a formula that would return just half of the actual waived gallons to the 2020 RFS and doesn’t provide certainty for future years. EPA proposes to base its formula on the amount the Department of Energy (DOE) recommended in waivers, instead of the amount EPA actually waived. Because EPA consistently waived nearly double the gallons the DOE recommended, the proposal using DOE numbers to redistribute future waived gallons is half of what the President committed to in early October.

 McNinch said in his testimony:

“Earlier this month, the President announced that he intended to see to it that the EPA would adhere to the 15 billion gallon annual ethanol blending requirement as set out by the RFS, and that starting in 2020 the waived gallons created by the SRE’s would be reallocated using a three-year average of the actual waived gallons granted by the EPA. This was great news to our industry. Then, just a few days after the President’s announcement the EPA came out with a different formula using a three-year average based upon the DOE’s recommendation. This proposal falls short of what I heard the President say and still does not ensure that the 15 billion annual ethanol blending requirement is met, thus putting the agriculture economy at risk.

 My request today is simple, please follow the spirit and intent of the RFS. If your agency is going to grant waivers to the small refiners, please make sure that those waived gallons are reallocated back into the fuel supply as originally suggested by the President. Our industry needs stability, meeting the annual RVO requirement of 15 billion gallons of ethanol blended into our nation’s fuel supply would be a great start.”

 The Kansas Corn Growers Association is asking corn farmers to submit comments on EPA’s proposal and tell EPA to keep the RFS whole. Comments can be made through the Kansas Corn’s online portal at kscorn.com/action.