EU Recognises Importance of Crop-Based Ethanol to Achieving Climate Goals
(ePURE/EurActiv) RED II agreement by negotiators is a step in the right direction, allowing Member States to use sustainable biofuels in fighting climate change — Negotiators from the European Parliament, Council and Commission agreed early Thursday morning on a new target for renewables in transport – a deal that clearly recognises the importance of separating bad biofuels like palm oil from good ones like European ethanol.
The agreement sets a target of 14% renewables in transport by 2030. It would freeze the use of high-ILUC risk biofuels such as palm oil at current levels and phase it out by 2030, while capping crop-based biofuels at Member States’ 2020 levels, with a maximum of 7%. The agreement also sets an ambitious and much needed target for advanced biofuels.
“Europe needs all sustainable renewables in the energy transition to achieve Europe’s climate goals and ethanol is critical to transport decarbonisation,” said Emmanuel Desplechin, Secretary General of ePURE, the European renewable ethanol association. “Of course, this is not a perfect solution. Allowing Member States to undermine the transport target by lowering the crop cap or relying on artificial multipliers gives the illusion of progress and puts Europe’s commitment to decarbonising transport into question. Capping crop-based biofuels at 2020 levels also unfairly penalizes sustainable biofuels like European renewable ethanol, which if given the chance could drive EU decarbonisation even further – but it is a major improvement over the initial proposal from the Commission.”
“Member States should now get on with the work of implementing the 2020 objectives and show that Europe is a place that can provide the policy stability investors need. A solid crop-based ethanol industry is needed to spur investment in advanced ethanol,” Desplechin said.
European renewable ethanol delivers significant greenhouse gas reductions compared to fossil petrol and works at scale in today’s vehicle fleet. Its production – from crops grown by European farmers, as well as from agricultural residues and waste – does not cause adverse indirect impacts. It is also an important domestic source of animal protein at a time when European livestock farmers rely heavily on imports.
A new study from Ricardo Energy & Environment confirms that, with a large number of vehicles with internal combustion engines still on the road in coming decades, low-carbon fuels such as renewable ethanol will be crucial to decarbonising transport. READ MORE
Biofuel industry welcomes RED II clarity on palm oil, used cooking oil and advanced targets (Platts)
EU to phase out most harmful biofuels (EU Observer)
EU reaches deal on REDII, sets new goals for renewables (Ethanol Producer Magazine)
Africa: New EU Biofuel Rules Not Enough to Help People or the Planet (Oxfam International/AllAfrica)
Activists blast EU for extending deadline to ban palm oil in biofuels (South Africa Today)
Excerpts from EU Observer: “One of the most sensitive issues during the negotiations was biofuels from food and feed crops,” said Dutch Green MEP Bas Eickhout in a press statement.
“The signal that the EU is moving away from the most harmful biofuels, palm oil and soy, is even stronger,” the statement said.
However, a Dutch version of that press release was more carefully worded, saying that by 2030 palm oil and “most probably soy” would be banned.
This indicates that the draft legislation, which still needs formal approval by parliament and council, will leave some details to be determined later by the commission.
One factor that will have to be taken into account is World Trade Organization rules. There could also be concerns about the effect of the measures on relations with Indonesia and Malaysia – the two largest producers of palm oil used in Europe.
In 2030 a 32 percent share of the EU’s energy must be from renewable sources. In 2016 it already reached 17 percent, on track for the 20 percent share target of 2020.
The 32 percent is higher than what EU leaders agreed to in 2014, when they said in a Brussels summit that renewable energy levels should be at “at least 27 percent”. READ MORE
Excerpts from Ethanol Producer Magazine: An infographic published by AEBIOM explains that for bioenergy to account toward the overall renewable energy targets and gain public financial support, the biomass will need to meet sustainability and greenhouse gas (GHG) emission saving criteria. Exemptions are given to waste and industrial residues, for which only GHG criteria and a few other elements apply. Exemptions are also given to installations below 20 MW for solid biomass fuels and 2 MW for gaseous biomass fuels, unless member states decide otherwise.
The GHG savings criteria for biofuels, biogas and bioliquids begin at 50 percent before 2015, and increase to 60 percent after 2015 and 65 percent after 2021. For electricity, heating and cooling production from biomass fuels, the GHG reduction criteria are set at 70 percent after 2021 and 80 percent after 2026. Percentage reductions are compared to fossil fuels.
For electricity-only installations, energy generated will only be accounted to targets and supports if fossil fuel is not used as the main fuel; if facilities of 50-100 MW meet best available technology associated energy efficiency levels or use biomass carbon capture and storage (CCS); and if facilities above 1000 MW have an electrical efficiency of 36 percent or apply biomass CCS.
A range of sustainability criteria are set for both agricultural biomass and for forestry biomass.
In a statement, AEBIOM said the approach ensures that biomass is produced sustainably, irrespective of geographical origin, without creating unnecessary administrative burden on small installations and countries with a well-established system of forest management.
Novozymes has also spoken out on the provisional deal. Tina Sejersgård Fanø, executive vice president of agriculture and bioenergy at Novozymes, said the compromise on REDII should provide necessary clarity and direction for investment, but criticized the deal for limiting the contribution of sustainable conventional biofuels.
“That is at odds with the international consensus that they are necessary to achieve the Paris Agreement. All good solutions are needed in the energy transition required to achieve Europe’s climate goals—and sustainable biofuels are critical to transport decarbonization,” Sejersgård Fanø said. “We also regret the amount of multipliers that can be used to achieve the transport target; these are misleading European citizens on the real level of ambition—and provide more space for the continuous use of fossil fuels in transport. We believe it is important now that Member States quickly implement the REDII into ambitious, national legislation, with limited use of multipliers, to ensure that investments in renewables are made early on—and for Europe to be on track to achieve net zero carbon emissions by the mid-century.”
Now that a provisional deal on the REDII has been reached, the text of the directive must be formally approved the European Parliament and the Council. Once endorsed by both co-legislators in the coming months, the REDII will be published in the Official Journal of the Union and will enter into force 20 days after publication. Member states will then have to transpose the new elements of the directive into national law 18 months after its entry into force. READ MORE
Pruitt Heads out on Ethanol Visit
by Kelsey Tamborrino (Politico’s Morning Energy) EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is expected to travel to Kansas this morning, where he’ll stop by East Kansas Agri-Energy’s ethanol plant in Garnett. The trip comes a week after the White House quashed the release of a plan to change the Renewable Fuels Standard amid sharp opposition from ag interests.
“Mr. Pruitt is planning on being here,”Bill Pracht, CEO of the ethanol plant, told Pro’s Eric Wolff. “I was kind of surprised,” he said, adding that he did not organize the visit. “He was coming to Kansas, doing one other event on a different issue, and the plant is on the way to the airport.” According to a consultant with a communications firm that has been helping to organize the trip, Pruitt is also expected to visit another ethanol plant in South Dakota. Pracht said he plans to give Pruitt a tour of the plant and have the administrator meet with his board and some local agricultural groups. EPA, which typically does not disclose Pruitt’s whereabouts, did not respond to requests for further details.
ME is wondering what kind of reception Pruitt will receives during his visit, since the administrator has drawn the ire of ethanol backers for granting dozens of ethanol compliance waivers to refiners. Ernst, herself a strong supporter of the ethanol industry, said Pruitt lied to her and other senators last year when he promised to uphold the RFS. Earlier this month, Ernst called Pruitt “about as swampy as you get,” while other ethanol groups accuse him of being sympathetic to refiners. “It’s clear that the refiners have the ear of Administrator Pruitt,” Brooke Coleman, executive director of the Advanced Biofuels Business Council, recently told Eric. “We feel like Administrator Pruitt is going to stay at it.” READ MORE
Growth Energy: Top 5 answers Pruitt owes farmers, biofuel workers (Ethanol Producer Magazine)
ON THE ROAD AGAIN (Poltico’s Morning Energy)
WILL ETHANOL TIP THE BALANCE? (Politico’s Morning Energy)
E15 gasoline remains crucial to ethanol ‘road map to success’: Growth Energy CEO (Platts)
SOUTH DAKOTA CORN RALLY PUSHES FOR YEAR-ROUND E15 SALES (Brownfield Ag News; includes AUDIO)
EPA ADMINISTRATOR PRUITT TO VISIT NEBRASKA (KNEB)
Trump’s EPA chief was in town. Here’s how local corn growers welcomed him. (Argus Leader)
Pruitt Visits South Dakota Farmers (Energy.AgWired.com; includes AUDIO)
Group Rallies to Protest During EPA Administrator’s Visit to South Dakota (KDLT News; includes VIDEO)
East Kansas Agri-Energy hosts Pruitt for roundtable (Ethanol Producer Magazine)
AgriTalk: What Would You Say To EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt? (AgriTalk/Farm Journal’s Pork Business; includes AUDIO)
Farmers, Ethanol Industry Say EPA Administrator Is Hurting Industries (KELO Land; includes VIDEO)
Sen. Inhofe Criticizes Scott Pruitt, Wants Face-to-Face Meeting with Embattled EPA Chief (Washington Post)
A right-wing dark money group called on Trump to fire Scott Pruitt– More and more Republicans are growing weary of the EPA administrator’s escalating ethics problems. (Vox)
Why Trump would really, really rather not fire Scott Pruitt — The EPA administrator has given the White House most of the few policy wins it has to date. (Vox)
Ethanol Backers Rally in Sioux Falls (WNAX)
South Dakota’s rural champions rally against EPA’s war on biofuel (Ethanol Producer Magazine)
Farmers and ethanol supporters voice concerns at tractor rally (Hub City Radio; includes AUDIO)
Pruitt says he backs E15; ethanol industry calls for him to be fired (Lincoln Journal Star)
Nebraska Groups Press Pruitt (DTN The Progressive Farmer)
EPA chief Scott Pruitt hears ethanol concerns, but visit stays mostly Nebraska Nice (Omaha World Herald)
Farmers protest Pruitt’s ethanol policies (Associated Press/Post Register)
MINNEAPOLIS | FARMERS IN TRUMP COUNTRY PROTEST PRUITT’S ETHANOL POLICIES (STL News)
Trump learns not to mess with biofuel policy (The Western Producer)
Pruitt faces revolt in Trump country (Politico)
‘CONSERVATIVE’ ATTACK ADS AGAINST PRUITT FUNDED BY ETHANOL-LINKED GROUP [VIDEO] (Daily Caller)
EPA Administrator Gets an Earful from Corn Farmers (Ag News Wire)
Excerpt from Ethanol Producer Magazine: Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor offered up tough questions to greet U.S. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt during his expected travel through farm communities in Kansas, South Dakota, and Nebraska.
Pruitt is not expected to appear before the media, but local agricultural stakeholders may be able to question the regulator about the EPA’s efforts to undercut U.S. biofuel consumption, a key source of demand for grain amid the five-year plunge in farm income. As recently as last week, the administrator sought to advance regulatory changes targeting the Renewable Fuel Standard—changes the president rejected. In the spirit of opening a candid dialogue about the concerns of rural communities, Skor suggested the following questions:
1. Administrator Pruitt, President Trump committed to lifting EPA rules against year-round sales of E15, and you told him that you had the authority to make it happen. This change would reduce renewable identification number (RIN) prices, promote rural growth, and lower fuel costs for drivers. Why didn’t the EPA provide relief this summer, leaving consumers without affordable fuel options with gas prices on the rise?
2. Administrator Pruitt, an estimated 1.6 billion gallons of ethanol demand have been destroyed by your EPA’s “small” refinery waivers—including some to the world’s largest oil companies. As required by law, how do you ensure 15 billion gallons of blending despite the incredible increase in waivers granted by your EPA?
3. How will you commit to protecting total biofuel targets from now on, including 15 billion gallons of conventional ethanol, against any future waivers that undercut statutory goals that President Trump promised to uphold?
4. Farm income has plunged 52 percent, while refinery profits are surging. How much more income must farmers lose before the EPA acts on the president’s E15 pledge and sets aside other efforts to destroy biofuel demand?
5. U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, along with Midwest lawmakers, farm groups, and rural champions across the heartland said your export scheme would destroy demand for billions of gallons of ethanol—dispelling misinformation from refiners. Why did you ignore Secretary Perdue and force the president to kill the proposal? READ MORE
Excerpt from Politico’s Morning Energy: Following his talks Tuesday with Kansas farmers, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is expected to travel today (June 13, 2018) to a sorghum farm in Reliance, S.D., where corn growers will take to their tractors to protest his moves on biofuels. In particular, the farmers are angry about his proposed changes to the Renewable Fuel Standard, and they’re accusing him of siding with oil refiners.
Already, Pruitt faced some heat when he met with farmers and ethanol producers in Kansas on Tuesday. “To be honest, Administrator Pruitt, we’re mad as hell,” Kansas Corn Commissioner Dennis McNinch told Pruitt, according to a KCC press release. “We are under attack once again from the oil industry as they try to unravel the RFS using their latest scare tactic claiming that RINs are about to put them out of business. Big oil is enjoying wide profit margins today. People like Sen. [Ted] Cruz believe that the oil industry needs to be thrown a bone. How many bones do they need?”
From Pruitt’s corner, the administrator called the visit “a candid and productive dialogue” on the RFS in a statement. Statements from farmers indicate Pruitt also said EPA has the authority to reallocate blending requirements from exempted small refiners to large refiners, which farmers say would stabilize biofuel credit prices. Bill Pracht, CEO of the East Kansas Agri-Energy, the ethanol producer Pruitt visited, said in a separate statement he told Pruitt that biofuel credit prices had been so volatile over the last year that the company had idled a brand new biofuel plant.
The administrator tweeted out images from his trip Tuesday. “I strongly believe the most effective way to make decisions is to hear directly from stakeholders,” he wrote. “The Trump Administration is committed to standing up for the American farmer.” READ MORE
Excerpt from Politico’s Morning Energy: EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s conservative support is wavering, but it could be his handling of biofuels policy that ends up being his downfall. The scandal-plagued administrator — who most recently came under fire for having one of his aides help his wife in her job search — will continue his trek across red, Trump-backed states today, with a stop in Nebraska. The administrator’s tour this week seems to signal his recognition that he needs to improve his standing with farmers, Pro’s Eric Wolff reports, who are angry over his changes to the Renewable Fuel Standard.
With stops already in Kansas and South Dakota behind him, Pruitt has faced his fair share of protest from corn-state farmers that have nothing to do with the various ethical and fiscal controversies swirling in Washington. Instead, farmers say Pruitt is taking money out of their pockets by weakening federal rules mandating the use of the biofuels that President Donald Trump promised to support. “Pruitt needs to follow through with what the President promised to Iowans, and if he can’t, then we need to find someone who will,” GOP Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said in a statement.
Republicans on the ground say it may be too late for Pruitt to save himself. “My personal opinion is farmers are demanding accountability and I think that Mr. Pruitt probably is a dead man walking,” said Dane Hicks, the GOP chairman in Anderson County, Kansas, where Pruitt stopped on Tuesday. “I can’t imagine he rebounds from this in any way to salvage his position. I would expect his resignation soon.” Read more from Eric here.
WE’LL SEE WHAT HAPPENS TODAY: Pruitt’s trip to Nebraska today puts him in another state where Republicans have criticized him for not doing enough on ethanol. EPA won’t release details on that trip, but sources tell POLITICO he will meet with Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts and the Common Sense Nebraska Coalition to discuss the Waters of the United States rule. According to John Duff of Sorghum Growers, Pruitt told farmers yesterday the new WOTUS rule would go to the White House on Friday. Today’s roundtable discussion will run from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., according to a schedule obtained by ME.
That’s not all: On Friday, Pruitt will attend a picnic with farmers and Ricketts on “impaired water de-listing,” according to the schedule. And there could be news on the Renewable Volume Obligations front next week, as well. When asked why biodiesel isn’t promoted more, Pruitt told farmers Wednesday: “Wait until next week. You’ll be very happy,” Duff also tweeted. READ MORE
Excerpt from The Western Producer: Who wins is important to Canadian farmers because that policy is what makes U.S. ethanol production hugely successful, processing 40 percent of America’s giant corn crop.
If that demand were to be severely restricted it would create a huge corn surplus that would sink the corn market and pull down other crop markets with it.
Corn prices that averaged $3.68 per bushel in 2015, would have averaged only $2.75 without the regulations requiring ethanol use, according to a study published in the American Journal of Agricultural Economics.
Voters in farm states are already frustrated over Trump’s trade battles with China, NAFTA partners Canada and Mexico, and the European Community. They worry the frictions will limit demand for American agricultural products. Republican leaders warned the trade and ethanol issues could cause the party headaches in the midterm elections this fall.
The mandates also help to consume surplus production that would otherwise drive down crop prices, potentially triggering other farm support plans funded by the taxpayer.
Another incentive for countries that don’t have large petroleum resources is that using home-grown biofuel reduces the need to import expensive crude oil, helping to balance trade deficits. READ MORE