Many will remember the "leaked" report from the World Bank that blamed biofuels for 75% of the run up in commodity prices a few years ago. Now, a new report from the Bank's Development Prospects Group comes to a different conclusion. The authors of the report find that "“…the effect of biofuels on food prices has not been as large as originally thought..". That sounds familiar.
Many people, including me, have been puzzled by the silence, or at least perceived silence, of the environmental community over the oil spill in the Gulf. As millions of gallons of oil kill ocean life and ruin coastlines, many in the environmental community seem oddly muted in their protest. Finally, the National Wildlife Federation is exposing the record of spills, accidents and other incidences that have released countless gallons of oil into the environment all across the country since 2000…all while a new oil spill in Michigan highlights the risk of oil to all parts of the country.
East Coast media has long had disdain for agriculture, and by extension, ethanol. Much of this dislike stems from a fundamental lack of understanding about the industries and issues important to rural America. While the Wall Street Journal has long been the standard bearer for such vitriol, when it comes to ethanol, the New York Times doesn't fall too far behind. The Times' latest anti-ethanol effort is disguised as a choice between good and bad energy subsidies. The Times argues that subsidies for wind and solar are critical to those industries' survival and our nation's goal of reduced oil consumption (we don't use oil to produce electricity, by the way). The Times then says investments in ethanol, which does replace oil directly in American gas tanks, is unworthy. To be clear, we should be increasing investments in all renewable energies, not picking and choosing winners. Supporting its position, the Times relies on many of the canards offered by ethanol critics about environmental concerns and land usage. My friends over at the Corn Commentary take exception with the Gray Lady's portrayal and perception of ethanol, and offer a rebuttal. Worth a read.
The Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, along with the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Energy and Environment Subcommittee, today asked EPA some very relevant questions concerning its deliberation on the E15 waiver - in particular the EPA's apparent decision to approve E15 for only those vehicles 2001 and newer. The RFA agrees with some of the line of questioning the members of Congress are pursuing, particularly given the importance of moving beyond E10 and the success of the Renewable Fuels Standard.
Earlier this week, I attended the 12th Annual Agriculture Media Summit which took place at the Crowne Plaza Hotel on the Riverfront in St. Paul, MN. Here, numerous journalists, editors, photographers, publishers and communicator specialists in agriculture gathered to network with those in their industry and promote and enhance the viability of agriculture media as an effective and efficient communications medium. This year seemed to have a large focus on the social media world. It was hash tag (#) galore at #AgMS with people tweeting to win prizes like the iPad, updating their followers of their location or highlighting the new skills and applications that had been discussed during the breakout sessions.
Three major farmer and ethanol groups today called on Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson to formally approve the use of E12 (12% ethanol) in the nation’s gasoline supply. The groups – American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE), National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) and the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) – in a formal letter to the EPA Administrator wrote, “based on the EPA’s delay in acting upon the full E15 waiver and on our concerns that the Agency will restrict the use of E15 to cars made in 2001 and thereafter, we encourage the EPA to formally approve the use of E12 for all motor vehicles as an immediate interim step pending any ongoing additional testing on E15.”
Big Oil's lobbyists and their band of merry men are apparently launching a new ad to attack ethanol yet again. This time, as in some previous campaigns, they are calling for more testing of higher level ethanol blends and attempting to scare members of Congress about the boogeyman that would be E15. Getting a lecture from Big Oil is rich, indeed.
Moving to E15 will require cooperation between the ethanol industry and those in the business of bringing fuel to American drivers. Today, that cooperation was on display as the RFA joined representatives from the nation's major gasoline marketing trade associations to address some of the challenges a move to E15 may present.
For years now, we have heard environmentalists and some in the government tell us that gasoline production and oil use don't have indirect greenhouse gas emissions. It is only biofuels like ethanol, we have been told, that must suffer penalties for these so-called indirect emissions. According the a new groundbreaking report to be published in Environmental Science, requiring our military to protect the free flow of oil comes with environmental consequences. And those impacts are potentially HUGE.
This week, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a report critical of ethanol tax incentives, but devoid of any comparisons to other energy tax incentives (like those for Big Oil). The report relied on what were, in large part, worst-case assumptions and also failed to give credit for co-products now an undeniable component of the industry that must be taken into account. After a thorough review, we have come up with some of key takeaways and criticisms of the report.
Farmers and ethanol producers agree that extending current tax incentives for ethanol is the right policy. Read what leaders in the industry had to say in its entirety.
A new report from the Congressional Budget Office takes the issue of ethanol tax incentives completely out of context. Nowhere in the report does CBO compare ethanol incentives to those provided to fossil fuels. Neither does CBO give credit to America's ethanol industry for the environmental and efficiency improvements it has made or the production of coproducts such as livestock feed and corn oil.
The Energy Information Administration (EIA) put out their weekly ethanol production statistics, this week showing that there was a drop in ethanol production. According to EIA data, ethanol production for the week ending 7/9/2010 was 821,000 barrels per day (b/d), or 34.5 million gallons daily. That is down 4% from 855,000 b/d from the previous week.
Total ethanol exports for May fell 58% from April’s totals. Compared to March and April total exports of 48.3 million gallons and 40.8 million gallons, U.S. producers exported only 17.1 million gallons in the month of May. Still, May exports were well above the five-year monthly average. Further, through the first five months of 2010, the U.S. has exported 25% more product than in the entire 2009 calendar year.
For the first time ever under the RFS, EPA today put out for review its estimates for RFS targets in 2011. Under the law, these are not required until November. Of note, EPA has revised down cellulosic ethanol use from original RFS targets for the second year in a row. While this may be prudent for EPA based on market conditions, it does send a chilling effect through the investment community with respect to cellulosic ethanol technologies. EPA's estimates underscore the need for Dept. of Energy and USDA to construct loan guarantee programs that work for cellulosic ethanol companies.
POLITICO is reporting that an extension to the ethanol tax incentive may be in the works on the Senate side as Senate Finance Chairman Baucus and his committee are putting together a package of tax provisions to include an extension of the 45-cent per gallon tax credit for ethanol. The inclusion of this tax credit is suggested to be a going-away present for Senator Grassley (R-IA), a long time supporter of biofuels, ethanol in particular. The fact that leadership is considering this inclusion is more reflective of the fact ethanol enjoys bipartisan support than the term limits imposed by the Senate GOP with respect to committees.
This morning USDA’s July WASDE report was released. While it made some changes to the corn supply-demand estimates, it is likely that supply will get a boost with a larger yield estimate likely next month. This morning's report suggests corn producers are still on track for a record crop in 2010. If the corn crop can avoid significant stress during pollination, we should be looking at another record or near-record average yield. But harvest is still several months away and nothing is certain until the crop is in the bins. Read more to see key facts related to today's report.
Every week or so, Joel Velasco of UNICA posts a new entry to UNICA's new Sweeter Alternative “blog”. This "blog" appears to more of a non-blog as readers don’t have any opportunity to express their views or respond to the slanted opinions served up by UNICA. In a June 28 post, RFA was accused of "cherry picking" data for a recent presentation to the House Ag Committee that shows Brazil’s increased ethanol output over the past decade has come primarily through expansion of the land area dedicated to growing sugarcane. Since there’s no opportunity for the public to comment on UNICA’s web site, I will address the "cherry picking" allegations here.