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RFA VP of Industry Relations Receives Nebraska Corn Board’s Ethanol Industry Appreciation Award

WASHINGTON — Renewable Fuels Association Vice President of Industry Relations Robert White has been awarded the Nebraska Corn Board’s 2017 Ethanol Industry Appreciation Award for his years of support.

The award, given Thursday evening during a formal ceremony, is presented to individuals or industry partners who go above and beyond to help ethanol markets and expand demand for ethanol. The Ethanol Industry Appreciation Award was first presented in 2007 and White is the first non-Nebraskan recipient.

“Mr. White leads the effort to increase the availability and consumption of ethanol through consumer education, social media and marketing,” said Dennis Gengenbach, secretary and treasurer with the Nebraska Corn Board. “He is a well-sought out technical expert for the industry on ethanol, E15, E85 and blender pumps.”

“I am very humbled and honored to receive this award from the Nebraska Corn Board,” said White. “I have the unique privilege of interacting with farmers daily, and enjoy the relationships that have developed over the years working together to expand the market for corn and ethanol. Thank you again for this treasured award.”

As part of his job, White works with petroleum marketers and retailers, state and federal agencies, commercial fleets, and individual consumers to increase awareness about the benefits of ethanol and encourage greater development and use of renewable fuels.

“The RFA Board of Directors has made expanding market opportunities for ethanol its highest priority,” said RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen. “Robert has led those efforts for RFA and does an amazing job. I am grateful the Nebraska Corn Board has recognized Robert’s efforts on behalf of the RFA and I know the entire RFA membership and staff join the Corn Board in their accolades. But more important, we look forward to working with Nebraska’s farmers and others to continue to grow this important value-added market.”

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RFA Applauds Legislation to Provide Year-Round Consumer Access to Higher Ethanol Blends

WASHINGTON — On Thursday, two bills were introduced in Congress that would extend the Reid vapor pressure (RVP) waiver to ethanol blends above 10 percent. Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Bob Dinneen had the following statement:

“I applaud the leadership of Senators Fischer, Donnelly and Grassley, and Representatives Loebsack and Smith, for calling attention to this critical issue that hinders stations from offering year-round access to E15 and other higher level ethanol blends. Major marketers like Thornton’s, Kum & Go, Sheetz and RaceTrac already offer the fuel blend, but the industry is being hamstrung by EPA’s nonsensical disparate treatment of higher level blends. Ethanol is the lowest cost, cleanest and highest octane source of fuel on the planet. Greater consumer access to higher level blends remains our top priority and we are committed to working with leaders in Congress and the administration to make that a reality.”

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Ethanol: The Evolution of an Industry

Ethanol: The Evolution of an Industry

The ethanol industry has come a long way over the past four decades.  Discover why ethanol is important to the nation’s economy and security and how it is helping consumers.

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Thanks to Record Production, Demand, ‘State of the U.S. Ethanol Industry is Strong,’ RFA CEO Says

SAN DIEGO — With the fourth straight year of record profitability for the U.S. ethanol industry last year, the outlook for the domestic ethanol industry remains strong, Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) President and CEO Bob Dinneen declared today during his annual State of the Industry address at the National Ethanol Conference. Addressing more than 1,000 attendees, he touted the ethanol industry’s ability to navigate any market or policy challenges that lay ahead.

Last year was “a record year for production, a record year for net exports, a record year for domestic demand, and a record year for E15 sales and infrastructure build-out. It was, in short, a pretty darn good year,” said Dinneen. “Thus, I can once again say with great confidence and respect for what you have been able to accomplish that the state of the U.S. ethanol industry is strong, poised for continued growth, steeled for the challenges we know will persist, but resolute in our commitment to consumers seeking relief and choice at the pump, farmers in need of value-added markets for their commodities, and Americans all across the country concerned about the air we breathe and the national security threat posed by our stubborn dependence on imported energy.”

In 2016, 200 plants across 28 states—including six right here in California—produced a record 15.3 billion gallons of clean-burning, high-octane ethanol, while supporting 74,420 direct jobs and 264,756 indirect and induced jobs across the country. Meantime, so far this year, the U.S. ethanol industry is producing at an annualized rate of 16.1 billion gallons, meaning a fifth straight year of growth, Dinneen touted.

Not resting on its laurels, the U.S. ethanol industry is focused on future growth, Dinneen told attendees. “We must expand existing markets and open new markets for ethanol here and abroad. We must continue adding value to our plants and pursuing technologies that will make us more efficient and profitable.”

“Of course, we will be doing this with a new President, new leadership throughout the government, and a political climate less than welcoming to expanded corn ethanol. Success will depend on our ability to build partnerships with new allies and a coalition reflecting today’s political reality,” Dinneen said, echoing the theme of this year’s conference, “Building Partnerships, Growing Markets.”

The ethanol industry already has a strong base of support, both in Congress and from President Trump, who spoke favorably about ethanol and the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) throughout the campaign. “President Trump’s support for ethanol and the RFS is unwavering,” Dinneen said.

The RFA also anticipates the Trump administration will stand up for American trade, and fight back against any trade distorting tariffs, such as those recently imposed by the Chinese on U.S. ethanol and dried distillers grain exports.

Domestically, the ethanol industry will focus on building demand, including growing the marketplace for 15% ethanol (E15), Dinneen told attendees. Major marketers like Thornton’s, Kum & Go, Sheetz and RaceTrac already offer the fuel blend, but the industry is being hamstrung by EPA’s “nonsensical disparate treatment of E10 and E15 with regard to volatility regulations.” One of RFA’s top priorities will be to secure RVP parity for all ethanol blends, Dinneen said.

The future for the U.S. ethanol industry is bright, but will ultimately be successful if new partnerships are built and the new partnerships and remain united. “I am committed to presenting a united and unbreakable front so there is no ambiguity as to where the entire ethanol industry stands. And I am confident others share my commitment and will work with us toward a common purpose – growing demand and making this industry the success it must be if we are to achieve the energy, environmental, rural economic, and consumer goals that define our mission,” Dinneen concluded.

Dinneen’s full remarks, as prepared for delivery, can be found here.

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RFA Statement on Senators’ Letter to EPA on E15 Volatility Regulation

WASHINGTON–Today, five Senators, led by Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), sent a letter to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, asking him to address EPA’s volatility regulation that makes it more difficult to sell ethanol blends above 10% year-round. The senators asked the administrator to extend the 1-psi RVP waiver to E15 and other higher ethanol blends, “to eliminate this needless obstacle to consumer choice.” Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Bob Dinneen had the following statement:

“We applaud Senator Ernst and the other senators for their leadership on this critical issue.  The single most vexing issue facing the ethanol industry today is access to the consumer, access that has been denied by arcane rules from EPA that provide neither air quality or consumer price benefit.  On behalf of the members of the Renewable Fuels Association, I’d like to thank Senators Ernst, Grassley, Blunt, Roberts, and Thune for their effort and add my voice to the growing thunder of those that seek higher octane, home-grown ethanol with savings at the pump.”

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Putting the Ethanol into EMV

This article originally appeared in SIGMA’s January/February 2017 Independent Gasoline Marketing Magazine. EMV, which stands for Europay, Mastercard and Visa, is the global standard for credit cards equipped with computer chips, and the technology used to authenticate the transactions. In order to avoid liability of fraudulent transactions, all fuel retailers must upgrade their dispensers to accept EMV by October 2020.

Many retailers face infrastructure costs that are simply out of reach. Financing is not as easy as it used to be, and upcoming challenges like EMV can be too much for small and medium retailers. For those in this situation, a strange friend can provide financial assistance to help offset costs. Ethanol has become a standard part of our nation’s fuel supply due to the phase out of MTBE and the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Sure, ethanol-free gasoline is out there, but for the most part, varying blends of ethanol occupy nearly every gallon of gasoline sold from E10 to E85.

In July 2012, E15 became available to consumers, first appearing in Kansas, and has since spread into 30 states. E15 is approved for 2001 and newer light duty cars, trucks, and SUVs, along with all flex fuel vehicles (FFVs). This vehicle segment is more than 80% of all vehicles on the roads today, and consumes more than 90% of all unleaded fuel. When E15 first debuted, you heard from ethanol opponents about how bad this fuel would be, the misfueling concern for retailers, and the damage that would come from its presence in the marketplace. Well, four and a half years later, there has not been one reported case of misfueling or engine damage. Millions upon millions of gallons of E15 have been sold, and all at a discount to E10. In fact, E15 is averaging a 2% discount to E10 today.

The cost of getting into E15 was also grossly misstated by ethanol opponents. The first station in Kansas had to change labels, and I provided those to the retailer at no cost. That said, we know that every station is different and will likely require different upgrades. Some stations may need new dispensers, while others might need a new tank or to replace some underground piping. But it is simply careless to state that all stations will need expensive upgrades. Underground fiberglass piping and fittings installed in service stations have been compatible with up to 100 percent ethanol for more than 40 years. Double wall underground storage tanks built in 1990 or later are fully comparable for ethanol levels up 100%.

The cost for retailers is unknown until an equipment site survey is conducted. Can you spend hundreds of thousands of dollars installing E15? Sure. Do you need to do so? Not likely. Find out for yourself. Don’t just trust a blanket statement from someone that doesn’t want you to make the move anyway.

However, E85 is a different animal. The fuel blend, which debuted in 1996, is restricted to FFVs. These vehicles can use any blend of ethanol from 0% to 85% and there are more than 21 million of these vehicles on the roads today. E85 requires different infrastructure than E10, or even E15. Most tanks are compatible, but the majority of dispensers will either require a conversion kit or new equipment. All dispenser manufacturers offer E85 capable equipment, along with all other manufacturers that produce various other fuel system components. Because E85 it is an alternative fuel, it is protected under the Petroleum Marketing Practices Act (PMPA) and existing branding contracts cannot prohibit you from offering E85.

Let’s get back to the money and how ethanol can help you! Many Midwest states have provided incentives to drive ethanol production and consumption with retailer incentives. Some states have grant programs, while others have tax credits. There are even initiatives from ethanol supporters like state corn grower organizations that help provide retailers with funding to help offset costs of installing infrastructure to support higher blends of ethanol. The State of Iowa, for example, offers a grant that will cover more than 70% of the costs of equipment and installation.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has provided limited funding opportunities for fuel retailers in the past, but that was restricted to very small businesses in rural areas through the Rural Energy for American Program (REAP). The announcement of USDA’s Biofuels Infrastructure Partnership (BIP) Program changed that history. USDA offered $100 million for infrastructure to offer higher blends of ethanol like E15 and E85. This money was matched with an additional $110 million from states, fuel retailers, ethanol proponents, and the ethanol industry to make the program $210 million strong. Funding was distributed to 23 different states to manage with the goal of installing nearly 5,000 new dispensers at approximately 1,500 stations. This program will continue through 2017.

The ethanol industry also has an infrastructure initiative called Prime the Pump. This effort has awarded numerous chains with funding to help them with costs to introduce E15 and E85. Several awards have been given out to notable chains across the country.

The cost of getting into higher blends of ethanol continues to evolve. If you missed the announcement in August, Wayne Fueling Systems has stopped producing its Ovation dispenser as E10-only, and now only offers those dispensers as E25 and E85 capable. Its Helix model will follow suit sometime in early 2017. If you have ordered a Wayne Ovation dispenser since late June, your dispenser can sell blends up to E25 (the rest of your fuel system should be evaluated before such a switch).

EMV compliance can be expensive, but ethanol can help you out. Not only can it help offset the costs you already will be required to spend, but it also can help differentiate yourself from the competition. Since annual surveys show that more than 70% of consumers base their fuel purchasing decision on cost alone, wouldn’t having a higher ethanol blend like E15 make sense? It is higher octane at a lower price, and approved for more than 80% of the vehicles on the roads today. If E15 or E85 were a problem, do you think several major chains would have made the leap?

The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) represents the U.S. ethanol producers, and has been doing so since 1981. We do not have anything to sell, but we do have lots of information to give away. We can help you track down the money, fill out the applications, do site equipment surveys, and even help pick out the right conversion kits or equipment. If you are interested in learning more about available funding and equipment options, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly at rwhite@ethanolrfa.org or our Director of Market Development, Cassie Mullen, at cmullen@ethanolrfa.org.

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New RFA Brochure Outlines 2017 Flex Fuel Vehicle (FFV) Offerings

WASHINGTON — More than 21 million automobiles on U.S. roadways today are flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs), which can run on fuel blends containing up to 85 percent ethanol (E85). Is your vehicle one of them? Finding out is easy, thanks to a new brochure released today by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA). The brochure compiles all of the FFV models available in the current model year (MY2017), as well as previous model years going back as far as MY1999. The RFA brochure lists only those FFV models that are available for purchase by both individual consumers and fleet managers, a key difference from other lists that do not distinguish what models are actually available to consumers.

For MY2017, General Motors leads the pack with 17 FFV model offerings, followed by Ford/Lincoln/Mercury with 12 FFV models available and Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep with nine. Toyota offers two FFV models for MY2017, while Audi and Mercedes-Benz each offer three MY2017 FFVs. All the data used in the brochure was collected directly from the automakers.

“There are more than 3,600 retail stations across the country offering higher ethanol blends. This brochure can help consumers who want to take advantage of higher level ethanol blends in their vehicles, and for retailers to educate their customers about the capabilities of their vehicles,” said RFA Vice President of Industry Relations Robert White. “Ethanol is the cleanest, most affordable, highest octane fuel source on the planet today. Now consumers don’t have to wonder if they can use higher-octane flexible fuels like E20, E30 or E85; they have an easy-to-use guide that makes it clear.”

In addition, every vehicle on the road today is approved to use at least 10 percent ethanol blends (E10), and those built since 2001 are legally approved to use 15 percent blends (E15).

To view a copy of the FFV brochure, click here.

For more information on pricing and availability of E85, other flex fuels, and E15, visit www.E85prices.com.

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DOE Data: Half of United States Broke Through So-Called “Blend Wall” in 2015

WASHINGTON — Recent data from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) shows that gasoline consumed in 25 states and the District of Columbia contained more than 10.0 percent ethanol on average in 2015, demonstrating that the so-called “E10 Blend Wall” continues to crumble. The national average ethanol blend rate was 9.91 percent according to the DOE data. According to the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), the data completely undermine legislation proposed by Reps. Bill Flores (R-Texas) and Peter Welch (D-Vt.) that suggests the gasoline market cannot withstand more than 9.7 percent ethanol content.

The data show that ethanol comprised 12.5 percent of the gasoline pool in Minnesota in 2015. Not coincidentally, ethanol flex fuels like E85 are available at roughly one out of every eight stations in the Gopher State. In Iowa, gasoline contained an average of 11.5 percent ethanol in 2015, up from 10.3 percent in 2014 and just 9.5 percent in 2013. The 2015 data is the latest available and was just published by DOE’s Energy Information Administration.

Ethanol also exceeded 10.0 percent of gasoline consumption in 2015 in coastal states like California, Oregon, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and even Louisiana. For the first time ever, not a single state had average ethanol content below 9.0 percent in 2015, the data show. Vermont ranked last in average ethanol concentration at 9.18 percent.

In 2014, the national average ethanol content was 9.83 percent and 22 states (plus the District of Columbia) were above 10.0 percent on average.

RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen said the DOE data underscore that the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) is working as intended to drive increased use of ethanol and other biofuels. “As E15 and ethanol flex fuels like E85 have gained in popularity in recent years, the so-called blend wall has been reduced to a pile of rubble,” Dinneen said. “This data clearly shows that the RFS is delivering on its promise to expand consumer access to lower-cost, cleaner fuel options at the pump. And with EPA putting the RFS back on track in 2017, the share of renewables in our nation’s motor fuel will only continue to grow.”

2015-state-ethanol-blend-rate-map

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RFA Offers Recommendations for EFF Provisions at REGS Rule Hearing

WASHINGTON — At a public hearing today in Chicago, Geoff Cooper, senior vice president at the Renewable Fuels Association, testified before the Environmental Protection Agency to provide recommendations for the agency’s proposed Renewables Enhancement and Growth Support (REGS) rule. Cooper’s testimony focused primarily on strengthening ethanol flex-fuel (EFF) provisions, telling EPA officials that the recommendations are intended to boost flexibility and allow “EFF producers, distributors, and consumers to capitalize on economic efficiencies in the marketplace.”

Cooper noted that the RFA supports increasing the sulfur limit for certified natural gasoline to 30 ppm. “Along with EPA’s proposal to limit natural gasoline content to 32% of the finished EFF blend, this would ensure the finished fuel does not exceed 10 ppm sulfur,” he stated.

Cooper also stressed the RFA’s opposition to EPA’s plan to establish a quality survey program (stemming from the industry’s negative experience with the E15 fuel survey) that would collect and analyze EFF samples as the costs for implementing such a program would outbalance the benefits.

“As the E15 survey has demonstrated, the costs of such programs often outweigh the benefits and the program scope can quickly expand beyond its intended purpose,” he said. “As an alternative to physical sampling, EPA’s proposal discusses a survey arrangement in which the independent surveyor reviews PTDs to ensure that EFF bulk blender-refiners and blender pump-refiners used appropriate parent blendstocks to make EFF. This alternative is certainly preferable to physical sampling, and we agree with EPA that it would greatly reduce the cost of compliance assurance.”

The Renewable Fuels Association agrees with EPA that it is unreasonable to subject E15 retailers to the registration, reporting and batch testing requirements that apply to gasoline producers, Cooper testified. He noted the importance of the proposal in highlighting the different volatility treatment between E10 and E15, and pushed the EPA to take action to resolve the issue.

“RFA first encouraged EPA to level the playing field for the RVP of E10 and E15 in 2010, when we formally requested that EPA use its administrative authority to simply apply the 1.0 psi RVP waiver for E10 to E15 as well … We understand the REGS rulemaking process is not intended to address RVP standards for E15, but it does accentuate the importance of resolving this barrier. We again strongly encourage EPA to take immediate action separately to either limit the RVP of conventional gasoline to 8.0 psi in the summertime, or extend the 1.0 psi waiver to E15.”

View Cooper’s testimony as prepared for delivery here.

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RFA Analysis: Automakers Approve E15 in More than 80% of New 2017 Vehicles

WASHINGTON — More than 80 percent of new 2017 model year (MY) vehicles are explicitly approved by the manufacturer to use 15 percent ethanol blends (E15), according to an analysis of warranty statements and owner’s manuals conducted by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA). That is up from last year, when approximately 70 percent of MY2016 vehicles were approved by automakers for the use of E15.

For the first time, Hyundai Motor Company has approved the use of E15 in MY 2017 Hyundai and Kia vehicles, joining the majority of its auto competitors. Together, Hyundai and Kia represent slightly more than 8 percent of the U.S. light-duty automobile market.

In 2012, EPA approved the use of E15 in vehicles built in MY 2001 or later. However, auto manufacturers did not retroactively endorse the use of E15 in legacy vehicles that were already on the road.

Other key points from RFA’s analysis include:

  • The Detroit Three (Chrysler, General Motors and Ford), which collectively represent 45 percent of U.S. market share, all clearly allow E15 in their vehicles. GM started approving the use of E15 with its MY 2012 vehicles, while Ford joined the following year and Chrysler began E15 approval with its MY 2016 vehicles.
  • Other automakers explicitly offering E15 approval for MY 2017 vehicles include Honda, Toyota, Volkswagen Group, and Tata Motors (maker of Land Rover and Jaguar). Altogether, auto manufacturers with approximately 81 percent of the U.S. market share now approve the use of E15 in their MY 2017 vehicles.
  • With 9 percent of the U.S. market share, Nissan Motor Corporation remains the largest vehicle manufacturer that does not explicitly approve E15 in its vehicles. Despite announcing earlier this year that it is developing a vehicle powered by an ethanol fuel cell, the automaker only approves the use of E10 in its vehicles. Curiously, Nissan approves the use of gasoline containing up to 15 percent MTBE, a toxic additive that is banned in more than two dozen states.
  • Mazda, Subaru and The Daimler Group (maker of Mercedes-Benz) also continue to exclude E15 from fuel approvals and warranty statements. Together, these three manufacturers own about 7.5 percent of the U.S. market share.
  • Of note, BMW Group’s Mini vehicles again allow the use of 25 percent ethanol blends. The manufacturer states, “Fuels with a maximum ethanol content of 25 percent, i.e., E10 or E25, may be used for refueling.”
  • While neither automaker approves the use of E15, both Mercedes-Benz and Nissan produce some flex fuel vehicle models that are capable of operating on up to 85 percent ethanol blends (E85).

RFA estimates that approximately 25–30 percent of the 230 million vehicles on the road today are clearly approved by the automaker to use E15. Meanwhile, roughly 90 percent of vehicles on the road were built in 2001 or later, meaning they are legally approved by EPA to use E15.

“This analysis demonstrates that automaker acceptance and approval of E15 continues to expand rapidly,” said RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen. “More than four out of every five new vehicles carries the manufacturer’s explicit endorsement of E15, putting to rest the myth propagated by the American Petroleum Institute that automakers don’t allow or warranty the use of this lower-cost, higher-octane fuel blend. We applaud Hyundai for joining the ‘E15 Club’ with its model year 2017 vehicles, and we’re thrilled to see Mini going above and beyond to offer E25-compatible vehicles. At the same time, we encourage Nissan, Mazda, Subaru and Daimler to get with the times and offer their customers greater freedom and flexibility when it comes to making a fuel choice at the pump.”

E15 is sold today at nearly 400 retail stations in 28 states, including major chains such as Sheetz, Thorntons, RaceTrac, Kum & Go and Murphy USA.

The RFA analysis can be found here.

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