The Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG) helps members develop and bring to market their innovative biobased and renewable chemical products through insightful policy and regulatory advocacy. BRAG is managed by B&C® Consortia Management, L.L.C., an affiliate of Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.

By Lynn L. Bergeson

Recently, the North Dakota Corn Utilization Council (NDCUC) announced the implementation of its new program, the North Dakota Unleaded88 Expansion Program, in partnership with the North Dakota Ethanol Council (NDEC). The goal of the program is to partner with fuel retailers to provide drivers with Unleaded 88, which consists of a higher octane fuel containing 15 percent ethanol blend with 85 percent gasoline. Through June 30, 2020, NDCUC will grant funds to fuel retailers for infrastructure needs to offer Unleaded88. Claiming that Unleaded88 provides a safe, economical, and cleaner fuel option to consumers, NDCUC’s Chairman, Terry Wehlander states that 40 to 60 percent of North Dakota’s corn crop is purchased by its five ethanol plants. Therefore, Wehlander and the Chairman of NDEC both argue that increasing the availability of Unleaded88 will create more market stability for consumers and agricultural producers. Retailers interested in applying for the program can find the application and guidelines on NDCUC’s website and submit the application via e-mail.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On August 30, 2019, the National Chicken Council submitted a letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) expressing concerns with the proposed required volume obligations (RVO) for 2020 combined with the recent waiver that will increase the use of ethanol-15 (E15) under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Representing companies that produce and process over 95 percent of the chicken in the United States, the National Chicken Council’s concerns are related to its broiler production, which comprises the largest single user of corn not operating under RFS. In its letter, the National Chicken Council claims that under RFS since 2007, broiler producers have faced $68.5 billion in higher feed costs for the production of broiler meat.  Calling for greater efforts to create a more sustainable approach under RFS, Mike Brown’s, National Chicken Council President, concluding statements express the view that both the proposed RVOs for 2020 and the waiver allowing for E15 sales year-round are overly aggressive. These measures, according to the letter, are also overly reliant on corn-based ethanol, stating that it is likely to cause disruptions to the feed supply in the U.S.

Tags: RFS, E15

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On August 28, 2019, from 10:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. (CDT), the Nebraska Ethanol Board (NEB) will host a free workshop for fuel retailers across the state to demonstrate the benefits and ease of offering ethanol-15 (E15) fuel to customers. The one-day workshop will cover misconceptions about the cost of offering E15, best practices, and resources to make implementing and labeling infrastructure easy and affordable. Space is limited, and interested parties must register by August 23, 2019.

Tags: E15, Biofuel

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On May 30, 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released in final the regulatory changes allowing gasoline blended with up to 15 percent ethanol (E15) to take advantage of the 1-psi Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) waiver that applies to E10 during the summer months. This means that E15 can now be sold year-round in the U.S. without additional RVP control rather than just eight months of the year. EPA also released in final the rulemaking regulatory changes to modify certain elements of the renewable identification number (RIN) compliance system under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program. Aiming to increase transparency to the market and deter price manipulation, the reforms to RIN markets include a requirement for public disclosure when RIN holdings exceed specified thresholds, and the collection of additional data to improve EPA oversight.

Tags: EPA, E15, Biofuel

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On April 29, 2019, the National Chicken Council submitted a letter to EPA’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality outlining the potentially negative impact of the changes to the biofuels policy on the poultry industry. In his letter to EPA, Mike Brown, President of the National Chicken Council, reported concern with EPA’s proposal on year-round ethanol-15 (E15) use under the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) Program. The National Chicken Council believes that EPA has failed to consider the impact of such volume waivers on the boiler industry, and for poultry and livestock feeders generally. Brown assures EPA that a year-round E15 use waiver “will result in a rapid expansion of corn use under the RFS adding the potential for price and supply volatility in the corn market.” Instead of the aforementioned proposed modifications, the National Chicken Council is suggesting that EPA consider a predictable, transparent off-ramp based on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) stocks-to-use-ratio in the June World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report. Partial waivers would then be structured for the remainder of the year. The structure of the partial waivers is further detailed in the letter.

Tags: E15, RFS, Biofuel

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On February 27, 2019, Senators Rand Paul (R-KY) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) introduced the Fuel Choice and Deregulation Act of 2019 (S. 581).  The legislation would remove “burdensome” regulations on domestic energy production.  The bill “provides new economic opportunity for Kentucky farmers by allowing fuel producers and automobile manufacturers to innovate and bring new products to market that will lower costs for consumers, increase domestic energy production, and protect the environment,” said Senator Paul.  The Fuel Choice and Deregulation Act would remove regulations blocking higher ethanol blends, such as gasoline blended with up to fifteen percent ethanol (E15), from entering the marketplace.  It also removes the requirement for EPA certifications on aftermarket vehicle conversions.  The bill specifically would reform Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) requirements by allowing higher blend levels of ethanol to exceed the current 9.0 pounds per square inch (psi) standard, and it prevents EPA from regulating biomass fuel.  RVP is a measure of how quickly fuel evaporates into the atmosphere. EPA regulates RVP in conjunction with ozone emissions in the summer months.  Congress previously directed EPA to issue a “one pound waiver” for ethanol blends of ten percent, allowing E10 to be sold at 10.0 psi.  Last year, President Trump signed an executive order directing EPA to look into the possibility of allowing year-round sales of E15.  This bill extends the Congressional waiver to higher blends of ethanol, including E15.

Tags: Biofuel, E15

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On May 8, 2018, President Trump met with a group of Republican Senators and told them that he is considering allowing exported ethanol to count toward the volumes mandated by the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).  During this meeting, Mr. Trump also reiterated support for expanding sales of E15, and withdrew his verbal proposal to cap the price of RINs, which had been widely criticized by the ethanol industry. These announcements came after increasing concern about the future stability of the RFS after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently granted over two dozen hardship waivers to small refineries for 2017, a drastic increase from EPA’s prior practice of granting between six to eight hardship waivers annually.
 
The ethanol industry reacted favorably to some of these proposals, with the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO), a member of the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®), releasing a statement thanking President Trump for rejecting the RIN cap and for his support of year round sales of E15. Brent Erickson, Executive Vice President of BIO’s Industrial & Environmental Section, stated:  “Ensuring that E15 can be sold year round in states and regions where it is already approved will give advanced and cellulosic ethanol more opportunity to compete in the market in coming years. E15 reduces the price of gasoline by 5 to 15 cents per gallon, and it lowers tailpipe and greenhouse gas emissions all year round. . . . BIO and its members continue to oppose unnecessary changes to the Renewable Fuel Standard. EPA has already provided unwarranted waivers to oil refiners that are destroying demand for all biofuels and undercutting industry investments. We thank Senators Grassley and Ernst for standing with us in opposition to the damaging proposal for a cap on RIN prices.” Mr. Trump’s proposal to allow RINs from exported ethanol to count towards mandated volumes under the RFS was greeted with more caution, with Erickson stating: “We remain concerned about the impact counting RINs from exported renewable fuels would have on the development of advanced biofuels and we look forward to working with the Senators to ensure the RFS continues to promote production and use of homegrown biofuels.” Kevin Skunes, President of the National Corn Growers Association, was also distrustful of this proposal, stating:  “Offering RIN credits, which are supposed to be derived from a domestic renewable fuel use, for ethanol exports would threaten trade markets and impact corn farmers’ economic livelihoods.”

Tags: RFS, E15, RIN

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On April 30, 2018, 18 pro-ethanol Senators sent a bi-partisan letter to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt requesting a “transparent timeline … on the regulatory pathway forward to address the Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) issue,” “an expected timeline of the rulemaking process to clarify how the agency will make this change to allow higher ethanol blends access to the marketplace” and “immediate clarity to allow higher ethanol blends to be sold in the interim while the outdated regulation is being changed” as related to President Trump’s commitment to allow for 15 percent ethanol blends (E15) to be sold year-round and Pruitt’s statements in an EPA budget hearing in front of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Environment regarding EPA’s issuance of a waiver that would allow year-round sales of gasoline containing 15 percent ethanol.

Tags: EPA, E15, Biofuel

 

 

By Kathleen M. Roberts

On April 13, 2017, the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) released a statement regarding the passage of a bill, HSB 187, by the Iowa House Appropriations Committee that would cut the value of the Iowa biofuels tax credits and complicate the mechanism for receiving the credit.  According to the bill, the value of the tax credits would be determined based on annual sales, and the amount of the credits would be capped on an annual, statewide basis.  The purpose of the biofuels tax credits was to incentivize consumers to purchase higher blends of ethanol and biodiesel, such as E15, E85, and B11, by offering a tax credit to fuel retailers.  IRFA states, however, that the amendments to HSB 187 undercut the entire purpose of the tax credits since fuel retailers cannot pass the price reduction to the consumer if they do not know what the credit is at the time the fuel is sold.


 
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