Corn Commentary

Ethanol is World’s Lowest Cost Motor Fuel

corn-pumpDespite claims by detractors that ethanol makes the price of fuel more expensive, a new analysis released by the Renewable Fuels Association shows that over the past four years, ethanol has been the most economically competitive motor fuel and octane source in the world.

The ABF Economics study
found that even after accounting for transportation costs to the reference markets of Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York, ethanol came out far cheaper than gasoline blend stock, according to RFA Senior Vice President Geoff Cooper. “The average over the past four years has been a 30-40 cent per gallon discount, and that’s been as high as a dollar in some cases,” he said.

Cooper says the study also found U.S. ethanol has been more cost competitive than Brazilian ethanol which has particular relevance in the California market. “Over the past four years, U.S. based ethanol has been 80 cents per gallon less expensive than ethanol imported from Brazil,” said Cooper, noting that Brazilian ethanol gets a lower carbon intensity score under California’s low carbon fuel standard. “So consumers in the California market place are bearing that cost,” he added.

Cooper adds that bigger corn crops and more efficient use of corn in making cellulosic ethanol will also contribute to lowering the cost of production.

Listen to Geoff explain the findings of the analysis here:
Geoff Cooper, Renewable Fuels Association

EPA Chief Hopes RFS Rule Coming “Soon”

epa-mccarthyA final rule on the volume obligations for this year under the Renewable Fuel Standard is taking longer than expected, but Environmental Protection Agency administrator Gina McCarthy says they want to get it right.

“I’m hoping it will come out soon,” she said during a press conference on agricultural issues this week. Explaining about the delay in releasing the final rule, which was expected by the end of June, McCarthy said it has become clear that there is concern “not only about what the volumes of the fuels are but the way in which we are adjusting those volumes.”

McCarthy stressed that the administration “continues to have a strong commitment to biofuels” and they want to make sure the final rule “clearly reflects that interest.”

“My goal is always to make sure we get it right,” she concluded.

Listen to McCarthy explain here: EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy on RFS rule release

Don’t Worry, Consumers! Big Oil Will Make Those Pesky Choices for You

Standing at the pump, have you even wondered who decides which options you will have? Maybe the gas station owner? The government? Who knows?

If you thought that it impacted what you pay, would you care? What if it was cheaper and kept money in the United States and out of oil regimes in the Middles East? Maybe then?

According to a report card released today by the Renewable Fuels Association, Big Oil is taking care of the big decisions in most cases. The biggest names in the oil industry have been stacking the deck in favor of their product for years by writing a series of restrictions into every franchise agreement. If consumers want to go to a name they know, chances are they have to take whatever Big Oil is willing to give.

The reasoning behind the regs is simple. By making it cost prohibitive or even forbidden to carry renewable fuel blends currently available, like E15 or E85, they make sure that their pockets will be as full as possible. As for consumer wallets? Oh well.

Take a second to find out more by clicking here.

Big Oil does an incredible job of watching out for itself. What they fail to do is watch out for consumers, the environment, the U.S. economy and U.S. energy security.

Next time you fill up, take a second to wonder why you are paying more, and losing more, because of the undue influence of a modern monopoly. Take a look at the options. They do exist.

Be Proud to Support American Ethanol

As we prepare to celebrate our nation’s Independence Day, many of us will be out on the roads driving to see family, friends and fireworks. But, thanks to upheaval in a little country halfway across the world, gas prices are up again so we are going to be paying more at the pump, a stark reminder that we are not so independent when it comes to our energy sources.

ethanol-prideNational Corn Growers Association president Martin Barbre says that this Independence Day, more than ever before, it’s important for us to remember the great strides our country has made in moving toward energy independence and to keep moving forward, not backward.

“The Environmental Protection Agency wants a 10 percent reduction in corn ethanol this year, and earlier this year nearly 200,000 people around the country demanded the EPA not cut the Renewable Fuel Standard,” says Barbre. “Because it’s produced here in the United States, every gallon of ethanol blended into fuel means a gallon of gas from foreign oil that we don’t need. It provides a cushion in times such as these with Mideast violence and gives drivers a choice that helps clear the air and boost the economy.”

He suggests that all Americans (especially farmers!) do their part to support domestically produced ethanol. Buy a flex fuel vehicle. If you already have an FFV, fill up with E85 whenever possible and if it’s not available at your gas station, tell the manager you want it.

Renewable Fuels Association president and CEO Bob Dinneen also reminds us that ethanol saves Americans money at the pump, stretches the fuel supply and is the perfect remedy for skyrocketing gas prices.

In this interview Dinneen talks about that, as well as the new milestone reached this week in cellulosic ethanol production and why the government needs to be expanding the use of biofuels rather than contemplating scaling back our nation’s renewable energy policy and striking a blow for American energy independence. Share it with your friends on social media.

Ethanol Report on Energy Independence

Filling up with domestic, renewable ethanol is a great way to celebrate our great nation’s 238th birthday, and we at NCGA wish everyone a memorable and safe holiday weekend.

Corn Fiber is Pathway to Cellulosic Ethanol

quad-countyThe very first commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol gallons flowed from the Quad County Corn Processors (QCCP) distillation unit in Galva, Iowa this week, made from a “bolt-on” process that allows a plant to convert the kernel’s corn fiber into cellulosic ethanol, in addition to traditional corn starch ethanol.

“Our Adding Cellulosic Ethanol (ACE) project will not only increase our plant’s production capacity by 6 percent, but it will also continue to boost energy security and provide consumers with more low-cost, cleaner-burning ethanol without adding any additional corn to the production process,” said QCCP CEO Delayne Johnson, who also noted the new technology will improve the plant’s distillers grains (DDGs) co-product. “As a result of the new process, the DDGs will be much more similar to a corn gluten meal. It will increase the protein content of the livestock feed by about 40 percent, and we also expect to see a boost in corn oil extraction by about 300 percent,” he said.

corn-cobsOddly enough, within 24 hours after Quad County made that announcement, the Environmental Protection Agency gave its final blessing to allow crop residue such as corn fiber to qualify as a fuel pathway for the production of cellulosic biofuel. EPA decided that crop residue actually does meet the lifecycle greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction requirements for cellulosic biofuel under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) provided that “producers include in their registration specific information about the types of residues which will be used, and record and report to EPA the quantities and specific types of residues used.”

“Cellulosic ethanol and corn ethanol are not mutually exclusive,” says Renewable Fuels Association president and CEO Bob Dinneen. “There are synergies that will make the production of both at existing facilities very attractive.”

Cellulosic ethanol is no longer a “phantom fuel” and corn is helping it become a reality.

NCGA CEO Addresses FEW

few14-tolmanCall it the Rick Tolman Farewell Tour.

National Corn Growers Association CEO, Rick Tolman took the podium this past week for the last time as CEO of the National Corn Growers Association to address the general session at the Fuel Ethanol Workshop in Indianapolis. It was the 30th year for the workshop and during his remarks he commented on how things have changed in the past 30 years – from the acres of corn planted and bushels harvested to the gallons of ethanol produced and where things are headed in the future of the industry.

“It’s so exciting to see the tremendous growth the industry has made,” said Tolman. “We have so many ethanol plants now and it’s part of the mainstream, it’s in almost every gallon of gasoline across the country … and ten years ago that wasn’t the case … we’ve made tremendous progress.”

In an interview after his address at FEW, Tolman talked about this year’s corn crop, which is expected to be another record. Emergence pushed past the five-year average last week, according to the latest USDA report, and 75 percent of all acres are rated in good to excellent condition as of June 8.

Tolman says while we have planted a few less acres this year we continue to push through the 10-million bushel barrier that was so difficult to reach early in his 14-year tenure as NCGA CEO. He will be stepping down from that position at the end of September. Interview with NCGA CEO Rick Tolman

2014 Fuel Ethanol Workshop Photo Album

Getting More Ethanol Per Bushel

scott-kohlSomewhere between corn ethanol and cellulosic ethanol is a midpoint that can be found in the corn kernel.

“Generation one is starch to ethanol and generation two is corn stover and grasses but there is cellulose in the corn kernel,” explained ICM, Inc. technical director Scott Kohl during a session last week at the Corn Utilization and Technology Conference. “That’s the Generation 1.5 – the fiber in the corn kernel.”

Kohl says ICM is developing processes to separate that fiber from the rest of the kernel to make more ethanol so that the yield from a single bushel of corn will increase. “We’ve run nearly 2,000 hours of pilot runs on that system,” he said. “We are now in the process of getting the financing arranged to have the first plant running by the middle of 2015.” Kohl says the process will raise the ethanol yield from corn by 10 percent and the distillers protein content will also increase.

At CUTC, Kohl also talked about new products from dry grind mills through ICM’s patent-pending Fiber Separation Technology (FST), which is precursor to the Gen 1.5 process. “In order to get the fiber ready for the Gen 1.5 process we have to separate and purify it,” he said. “With the new process (plants) are going to make ethanol, high protein, high fiber, and a lot more oil.”

Find out more in this interview: Interview with Steve Kohl, ICM


2014 CUTC Photo Album

In Battle Against Misinformation, Barbre Leads by Example

NCGA President Martin Barbre put pen to paper this week to correct an anti-ethanol article run by the St. Louis Post Dispatch. Taking decisive action to address the misinformation published, Barbre not only shed light on an important subject for readers but also led by example.

To read “Opinion Piece on Ethanol Gets Three Things Wrong,” click here.

So often, farmers see, hear or read fallacies about their industry perpetuated in the media. It is easy to fall victim to inertia. It is easy to get worked up among one’s peers. It takes greater effort and even a bit of hutzpah to speak out publicly, answering back critics in a respectful, well-considered manner. Yet, it is only in using your voices, your energy and your knowledge that you can become an advocate and shape the world around you.

Newspapers accept letters to the editor and opinion pieces every day. Likewise, calling the local television or radio newsroom producer can yield results too. So, take the initiative. Write a letter, offer to speak as an expert on a news program and provide a farmer’s point of view. The first step away from that resting position is the hardest; realize it gets easier from there.

Fight Back Against AAA

If the president of AAA had to take a true/false test on ethanol, he would probably score FFF.

According to AAA President & CEO Bob Darbelnet, “More than 90 percent of the vehicles on the road today are not approved by manufacturers to use E15, including most 2001-2013 models.” Notice how he carefully words this misrepresentation “not approved by manufacturers.” This is based on the owner’s manuals of the vehicles, which were all written before extensive testing proved that higher blends of ethanol are perfectly safe for them, allowing the government to approve the use of E15 blends in 2001 and newer vehicles.

aaa-cancelThis November 2013 statement by Darbelnet was used by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in an article about Missouri approving the retail sale of E15 this month.

That made Missouri Corn Growers CEO Gary Marshall mad enough to cancel his 33-year membership with AAA and write a letter to Darbelnet explaining why and pointing out the facts.

“Approximately 80 percent of the vehicles on the road today are 2001 or newer and approved by the EPA to use the ethanol blend,” wrote Marshall. “In terms of possible engine damage, E15 is sold in 12 other states with no issues reported. We are unaware of AAA’s Roadside Assistance program picking up a single driver stranded alongside the road due to an engine issue caused by E15.”

If your organization is concerned about warranties, it should be noted E15 wasn’t approved by EPA when many vehicle owner’s manuals were written. Just like aftermarket fuel additives, such as stabilizers and octane boosters, specific fuels or additives are not always listed in a vehicle’s owner manual. According to the Renewable Fuels Association, use of these non-mentioned fuels and fuel additives does not necessarily void a vehicle warranty. In fact, vehicle manufacturers may not deny a warranty claim based on use of a different fuel if that fuel did not contribute to the problem for which the warranty claim is made.

Marshall informed Darbelnet that he is canceling his membership because he refuses “to support an organization so clearly aligned with the oil industry.” Every member of my family is also a long-time AAA member. I just used it last week when I was driving to Ft. Lauderdale with my oldest daughter to see my family and our car broke down halfway into a 10 hour trip. I’ve never had a problem with their service and it gives me great piece of mind to know that our daughters have someone to call if they have car trouble.

However, there are alternatives. According to Consumer Reports, there’s actually “an army of other businesses” offering roadside assistance plans – including insurance companies, carmakers, oil companies, credit-card issuers, even cell-phone service providers.

We’re looking at our options now and plan to cancel our AAA membership as soon as possible. No reason to support a company so outspokenly against a fuel we believe it and the farmers who make it possible.

Potential for Ethanol Exports to China

A trade mission to China last week revealed great potential for U.S. ethanol producers.

china1The USDA-led a mission to promote U.S. biofuels and agricultural product exports was part of President Obama’s “Made in Rural America” export and investment initiative, designed to help rural businesses and leaders take advantage of new investment opportunities and access new customers and markets abroad. Leaders from state departments of agriculture in Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Washington participated in the mission, along with representatives from 28 U.S. biofuels and agriculture companies and organizations.

Growth Energy Chief Economist Jim Miller, who formerly served as USDA Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services, participated in the trip led by the current under secretary Michael Scuse. “Our goal was really to gauge what are the intermediate term opportunities to export ethanol to China, as well as to discuss the situation concerning our exports of distillers dried grains to China, which happens to be our largest export market for that commodity,” said Miller during a telephone press conference Tuesday regarding the mission.

National Farmers Union president Roger Johnson says the trip revealed that the potential ethanol export market in China is substantial. “Demand for ethanol is high, and domestic production meets less than half of their projected ethanol needs,” said Johnson. “However, in order to meet this demand, it is clear that we must first resolve some government regulatory and environmental issues.” Johnson added that there are issues with exports of the ethanol co-product distillers grains (DDGs) to China. “DDG exports to China will likely continue to be difficult and sporadic until China modifies its biotech approval process so it is comparable to that of the rest of the world,” he said.

Kelly Davis of the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) was also on the trip. Listen to their observations here: China Mission Press Conference Opening Remarks



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