Geoff Cooper, Senior Vice President
Blog Posts by Geoff Cooper, Senior Vice President
June 27, 2014
Geoff Cooper breaks down why the conclusions from the new CBO report on the RFS are largely based on a careless analysis that relies on unsupported assumptions.
June 12, 2014
Lifecycle analysis experts and economists issued a 13-page response today to the Environmental Working Group’s May report titled “Ethanol’s Broken Promise.”
June 02, 2014
Contrary to EWG's recently-released study, peer-reviewed studies by analysts clearly show first-generation ethanol significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions relative to gasoline.
May 06, 2014
U.S. ethanol exports totaled 84.0 million gallons, a 25% increase over February.
April 21, 2014
James Conca’s recent article in Forbes badly mischaracterizes the recent IPCC reports and rehashes long-disproven myths and misinformation about corn ethanol. RFA responded with facts.
March 10, 2014
CARB must do the right thing and follow the advice of the scientific community.
February 27, 2014
Chain restaurants are outrageously suggesting the RFS is increasing food and commodity prices, but the facts prove otherwise.
U.S. Ethanol Exports Top 620 Million Gallons in 2013 While Imports Fall, DDGs Exports Set New Record
February 06, 2014
U.S. ethanol exports totaled 621.5 million gallons in 2013, the third-highest annual total on record.
January 08, 2014
U.S. ethanol exports surged to 82.4 million gallons (mg) in November, up 54% from the previous month and the highest monthly level since March 2012.
November 06, 2013
Big Oil has developed a laundry list of excuses for refusing to embrace the RFS, but let's be honest. Its crusade against the RFS isn’t about the interests of the American consumer. It’s about money, market share, and snuffing out competition.
October 16, 2013
The markets were abuzz last week with a rumor about EPA’s pending 2014 RVO proposal that suggested the agency was mulling the idea of cutting the “renewable fuel” portion from 14.4 billion gallons to 13.0 billion. Here's an examination of the likely impacts of “Big Oil’s dream scenario.”
September 19, 2013
It’s time for a reality check. RFA's Geoff Cooper offers rebuttals to API’s far-fetched arguments from its recently-released report, tells the “rest of the story” that was conveniently omitted from the report’s misleading charts, and underscores the importance of staying the course with the RFS.
September 04, 2013
Ethanol exports totaled 35.1 million gallons (mg) in July, up just 3% over June shipments. Imports totaled 56.8 mg, meaning the U.S. was a net importer for the second straight month.
August 29, 2013
According to a recent study, government data show that nearly 30% of the natural gas extracted as a byproduct of fracking for oil in North Dakota is being burned off, or “flared.” That’s right, three out of every 10 cubic feet of natural gas extracted in North Dakota ends up being burned at the wellhead and released into the atmosphere.
August 06, 2013
U.S. ethanol exports fell to 34 million gallons (mg) in June, down 17% from May and the lowest monthly total since August 2010. Meanwhile, ethanol imports were 35.7 mg in June, meaning the U.S. was a net importer for the first time in six months.
August 01, 2013
It’s not surprising that many oil companies are yet again reporting huge profits for their quarterly financial results, but what is somewhat surprising is what these companies are telling investors, analysts, and the SEC about the real impacts of the RFS and RINs on their bottom line and U.S. fuel prices. Here are several revealing statements from these companies.
July 08, 2013
U.S. ethanol exports totaled 40.8 million gallons (mg) in May, nearly identical to April’s total of 40.9 mg, according to recently released government data.
June 04, 2013
U.S. ethanol exports totaled 40.9 million gallons (mg) in April, down 30% from March and the lowest monthly total since November 2012. Fuel ethanol imports totaled just 17.1 mg.
May 28, 2013
Geoff Cooper responds to US ethanol causing "indirect land use change" and the continuous annual reduction in deforestation rates resulting in the lowest point since 1988.
May 06, 2013
One of the questions posed by the House Energy & Commerce Committee asked whether ethanol and the RFS have impacted corn prices. Our response? Yes, of course ethanol expansion has added value to corn prices—that was the point!
May 02, 2013
The U.S. remained a net exporter in March by a slim margin. March exports of ethanol totaled 58.8 million gallons, up 38% from February. Canada was again the leading destination.
March 22, 2013
Recent rhetoric from Big Oil about the economic impacts of RINs got us thinking: If oil refiners and gasoline marketers actually decided to invest in the modern fuel distribution infrastructure needed to dispense greater than E10 blends, what would it cost them in comparison to the wild “compliance cost" claims they make today?
March 12, 2013
Oil companies have suggested that increased prices for conventional ethanol RINs (Renewable Identification Numbers) are leading to higher gasoline prices at the pump. Some have even deceptively claimed RINs are adding as much as $0.10 per gallon to the retail price of gasoline. This assertion is completely absurd and is easily disproven with a series of very simple calculations. Truth be told, ethanol continues to sell at a discount to gasoline and continues to offer savings at the pump, even when the impact of higher RIN prices is considered.
March 08, 2013
U.S. ethanol exports increased 16 percent over December, as shipments of denatured and undenatured (non-beverage) ethanol totaled 63.6 million gallons (mg), according to government data released yesterday.
February 20, 2013
The study's findings stand in stark contrast to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) acreage data, which show increased corn and soybean acres in the region have occurred via crop switching, not cropland expansion.
Posted in Land Use
February 11, 2013
Final data is in: Ethanol exports total 739 million gallons for 2012.
January 31, 2013
Food prices rose just 1.8% in 2012, the second-lowest annual rate in the last 20 years. The new data demonstrates the absurdity of the alarmist rhetoric coming from Big Food.
January 11, 2013
U.S. ethanol exports fell to their lowest level of the year in November. The monthly total was down 25 percent from October and the lowest since November 2010. November exports of both ethanol and distillers grains reflect the difficult operating environment following last summer’s historic drought.
January 07, 2013
“Don’t believe everything you read.” Never have truer words been spoken. Here is a fact check of the January 6th New York Times article “As Biofuel Demand Grows, So Do Guatemala’s Hunger Pangs” by Elisabeth Rosenthal.
December 12, 2012
U.S. exports of ethanol (denatured and undenatured, non-beverage) totaled 53.6 million gallons (mg) in October, up 8.6% from September and the highest since July. Canada was again the top destination. Year-to-date exports stood at 643.3 mg, implying an annual total of 772 mg.
December 11, 2012
Today’s WASDE report was a non-event as far as the corn balance sheet. However, there were some important surprises on the global side. Total global grain supplies were raised slightly to 2705.6 MMT, the second-largest on record.
December 03, 2012
Food groups have been running a scare campaign against ethanol and the RFS, preying on the emotions of American consumers. Data show that food prices are NOT increasing abnormally and the average household pays less of its income on food today than it did 10 years ago.
Posted in Renewable Fuel Standard
November 08, 2012
U.S. ethanol exports (denatured and undenatured, non-beverage) totaled 49.4 million gallons (mg) in September, down 2% from August and the lowest monthly total of the year. Canada was the leading destination in September, bringing in 26.1 mg. Meanwhile, the U.S. imported 105.7 mg of ethanol, 92.5 mg of which was destined for fuel use. Nearly all of the ethanol imports came from Brazil. Distillers grains exports for the month totaled 600,545 metric tons (mt), up 11% from August. China was again the leading destination.
October 12, 2012
U.S. ethanol exports in August fell to their lowest level in 22 months, according to government data released yesterday. August exports totaled 50.2 million gallons (mg), down 21% from July and the lowest since November 2010. Exports of denatured ethanol for fuel use totaled 33.2 mg, while undenatured ethanol for fuel use tallied 12.1 mg. Exports of distillers grains also dropped to their lowest volume of the year in August, with 541,639 metric tons (mt) being exported.
September 21, 2012
An EPRINC report released on Sep. 14 entitled “Ethanol’s Lost Promise” advocates repealing the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The paper suggests removing the RFS could reduce the oil refining sector’s ethanol consumption down to 6.1 billion gallons annually (compared to 12.5 billion gallons in 2011). EPRINC suggests the void left by smaller ethanol supplies could be filled with imported gasoline, increased gasoline yields at the expense of diesel/distillate production, expanding U.S. refining capacity, and other infeasible options. In response to RFA’s reaction to its study, EPRINC tried to defend it with yet more conflicting and misleading statements. Once again, RFA is stepping forward to refute fiction with fact.
September 18, 2012
A report released this week by EPRINC, an oil industry-funded research group, suggests a multi-year suspension of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) could reduce U.S. ethanol use by more than half. In this analysis, the RFA points out that in attempting to tear down the RFS, the EPRINC report actually underscores the importance of the program and highlights the lack of sensible or economic options available to refiners if ethanol use is severely curtailed.
September 05, 2012
Less than a month ago, the famously anti-ethanol editorial writers at the Wall Street Journal howled that the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) was exacerbating drought-related "corn shortages" and "driv[ing] food prices up in a way that punishes consumers around the world…" And reaching deep into their dead-and-buried-biofuel-myth grab bag, they pulled out this emotional beauty: "…biofuel mandates increase hunger and hunger-related diseases at home and abroad…" Yet, yesterday, inconspicuously stashed on the WSJ "Real Time Economics" blog, is a short post by Neil Shah entitled "Hard to Pass Food-Price Spikes on to Consumers." In it, Mr. Shah breaks down data from the U.S. Departments of Labor and Agriculture and concludes the impact of the drought on food prices will be "manageable" and "far from crippling for the average consumer."
August 28, 2012
This summer, several governors have submitted letter to the EPA requesting a waiver of the RFS for 2012 and 2013. Analysis from the RFA shows that waiving the RFS requirements for 2013 would actually result in a net increase in annual household spending of approximately $24-$85 due to increased spending on gasoline. Thus, waiving the RFS in 2013 would do more harm to American consumers than if EPA allows the program to continue to function as designed.
August 13, 2012
U.S. exports of ethanol (denatured and undenatured, non-beverage) totaled 59 million gallons (mg) in June. Year-to-date exports stood at 426.4 mg, implying an annualized total of 852.9 mg; however, anecdotal information suggests ethanol exports dropped off precipitously in July.
August 10, 2012
As expected, this morning's supply-demand estimates from USDA showed a big reduction in the size of the 2012 corn crop and average yield. Today's report estimates average yield at 123.4 bushels per acre (bpa), down nearly 23 bpa from USDA's July estimate and the lowest yield since 1995.
August 09, 2012
Tomorrow morning’s USDA World Agriculture Supply-Demand Estimates (WASDE) report may very well be the most highly anticipated report in the agency’s long and storied history. It will offer USDA’s first survey-based estimates of the 2012 corn crop and average corn yields; and the universal expectation is that the persisting hot, dry weather in the Corn Belt this summer has substantially reduced the size of the crop.
July 16, 2012
Extreme hot and dry weather across much of the Midwest this summer has caused government and private analysts to significantly reduce their projections of the size of the 2012 corn crop. This white paper briefly examines the potential impacts on the RFS and outlook for the ethanol industry.
July 11, 2012
U.S. exports of ethanol (denatured and undenatured, non-beverage) totaled 58.6 million gallons in May, down 21% from April and the lowest level since August 2011. May U.S. distillers grains exports totaled 761,470 metric tons (mt), reaching the highest level since November 2010.
June 08, 2012
U.S. ethanol exports (denatured and undenatured, non-beverage) totaled 74.4 million gallons (mg) in April. At 54.8 mg, denatured ethanol for fuel use accounted for the majority of April exports. Undenatured ethanol for fuel use totaled 13.3 mg, while denatured ethanol for non-fuel use was reported at 6.0 mg. Exports of undenatured ethanol for non-fuel tallied 342,000 gallons.
May 15, 2012
America’s growing use of domestically-produced ethanol reduced wholesale gasoline prices by an average of $1.09 per gallon in 2011, according to updated research conducted by economics professors at the University of Wisconsin and Iowa State University.
May 10, 2012
U.S. exports of ethanol (denatured and undenatured, non-beverage) totaled 83.4 million gallons (mg) in March, according to government data released this morning. Exports of distillers grains (or DDGS), the animal feed co-product manufactured by ethanol dry mills, totaled 641,402 metric tons (mt) in March.
May 10, 2012
This morning, USDA released its first estimate of the 2012 corn crop--and it is a big one. According to today’s USDA projections, record U.S. corn production of 14.79 billion bushels is expected in 2012. This should put an end to the phony “food vs. fuel” campaign, but we know better—even the most stubborn facts haven’t stopped ethanol’s critics from continuing to pursue their respective political agendas in the past.
May 01, 2012
In recent testimony before the Joint Economic Committee, Mr. Thomas O’Malley, chairman of PBF Energy, attempted to tar and feather ethanol and the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) as the root cause of refinery closures in the Northeast. Mr. O’Malley’s comments are more reflective of the petroleum industry’s crusade against renewable fuels and a willingness to play fast and loose with the facts.
April 12, 2012
According to government data released today, the U.S. exported 74.8 million gallons (mg) of ethanol (denatured and undenatured, non-beverage) in February. Year-to-date exports stand at 151.1 mg, indicating an annualized total of just over 900 mg for 2012.
March 09, 2012
Government data released today showed the U.S. exported 76.3 million gallons (mg) of ethanol (denatured and undenatured, non-beverage) in January. This marks the highest total ever for the first month of the year, which is typically a slow month for U.S. ethanol exports.
March 06, 2012
Gas prices are dominating the headlines and we have yet to embark on the summer driving season, the traditional kick-off to high gas prices. With Congress holding hearings this week on gas prices, the President holding a press conference today, voters taking to the polls today, and the energy world gathering in Houston this week, we have analyzed the data to provide background information on the downward pressure exerted by domestic ethanol production on gasoline prices.
February 10, 2012
2011 was a huge year for ethanol exports. According to government data released this morning, the year ended with record monthly ethanol exports of 172.7 million gallons (mg) in December. More than 40% of December exports went to Brazil.
January 13, 2012
U.S. exports of denatured and undenatured (non-beverage) ethanol set a new monthly record of 152.5 million gallons (mg) in November, according to government data released this morning.
January 10, 2012
Countless stories and editorials have noted that the tax incentive for the use of ethanol has been allowed to expire. What the majority of these stories fail to note is that ethanol remains the lowest cost transportation fuel on the market today – and thus, is saving consumers’ money.
December 21, 2011
An in-depth analysis of U.S. land use patterns released today by the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows total cropland decreased by 34 million acres from 2002 to 2007, the lowest level since USDA began collecting this data 1945. The RFA said the new report is one more addition to the mounting body of evidence that proves increased ethanol production has not resulted in expansion of total U.S. cropland or a decline in grassland and forest.
December 12, 2011
There’s a hot new craze called the “Ethanol Shuffle” that’s sweeping seaports from Sao Paulo to Los Angeles and Houston to Maceio. It’s not a new dance for longshoremen and ship captains; no, this is a shuffle of an entirely different sort. This shuffle is all about the confounded realignment of the global ethanol trade.
December 09, 2011
U.S. exports of denatured and undenatured (non-beverage) ethanol totaled 121.4 million gallons (mg) in October, just shy of the record of 127.4 mg established in June, according to government data released this morning.
Posted in Ethanol
November 10, 2011
Ethanol exports rebounded sharply in September, as shipments to Brazil hit their highest level since April. According to U.S. government data released today, a total of 105.8 million gallons (mg) of denatured and undenatured (non-beverage) ethanol were exported in September. Year-to-date exports stood at 746.5 mg at the end of September, almost double the amount exported in the entire 2010 calendar year.
October 13, 2011
According to government data released today, U.S. ethanol exports went down sharply in the month of August. Exports of denatured and undenatured (non-beverage) ethanol totaled 52.1 million gallons (mg). Meanwhile, distillers grains (DDGS) exports hit their highest level of the year. DDGS exports for the month totaled 829,489 metric tons (mt).
October 05, 2011
Reps. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Jim Costa (D-CA) are pushing legislation that would require the EPA to waive a portion of the annual Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) when the corn stocks-to-use ratio falls below 10 percent. But history shows the ratio is, at best, a crude and highly volatile indicator of supply-demand that is not fit to serve as a mechanism for important public policy decision-making.
Posted in Renewable Fuel Standard
September 30, 2011
According to the USDA quarterly grain stocks report released this morning, end stocks of corn for the 2010/2011 marketing year stand at 1.13 billion bushels. That is nearly 200 million bushels higher than many experts were predicting and an indication that the market is working to ensure sufficient supplies of corn remain available for all uses.
September 08, 2011
U.S. ethanol exports in July set a new monthly record, according to government data released today. Exports of denatured and undenatured (non-beverage) ethanol totaled 127.4 million gallons in July, edging out the April total of 120.1 million gallons to set a new record. July exports were nearly double the amount exported in June.
August 25, 2011
America is home to the most innovative, productive and efficient ethanol and grain producers in the world. This increasing productivity and efficiency contributes directly to ethanol’s ability to lower greenhouse gas emissions from gasoline on a lifecycle basis. American farmers and ethanol producers are consciously investing in technology that dramatically lowers their carbon footprint while producing more fuel, feed, and food than ever before.
August 18, 2011
In the second part of RFA’s series on the improving efficiencies of corn ethanol production, the focus will be specifically on input use—both on the farm and at the biorefinery.
August 09, 2011
Over the past 30 years, and in particular in the past decade, ethanol production has quietly become increasingly efficient. From improvements in corn production to greater efficiencies at ethanol biorefineries, America’s leading renewable fuel is providing more with less.
June 23, 2011
Despite several anti-biofuels groups trying to spin results, a new study released by the Geneva-based International Center for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) strongly supports the argument that biofuels policy has had almost nothing to do with food price increases in recent years. The study found that “…US ethanol subsidies during this period (2005-2009) had little impact on consumer prices and quite modest impacts on crop prices.”
June 20, 2011
It is en vogue for many international non-governmental organizations to blame biofuels for food insecurity and price volatility, as though such issues didn’t exist before the advent of biofuel production. Erroneously, many argue that simply stopping biofuel production will halt hunger as we know it. Unfortunately, these groups often contradict themselves and nearly universally fail to address the chief driver of food price increases: the soaring price of oil.
June 09, 2011
Today was a busy day for ethanol and grain market data junkies. First, USDA released its June supply-demand estimates, which showed a downward revision to 2011 planted and harvested corn acres. Second, government data on April exports of ethanol and distillers grains was released, showing another record month of ethanol exports and huge shipments to Brazil.
June 01, 2011
Whether it’s the surprising price spread between WTI and Brent crude prices, declining oil imports, lower gasoline prices at the pump, or the frayed nerves of a Saudi oil minister, U.S. ethanol is clearly having a meaningful impact on U.S. and global oil supplies, demand, and prices.
May 25, 2011
For millions of Americans, Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start to summer. Despite gas prices that are nearly 40% higher than a year ago, families across the nation will celebrate the upcoming holiday weekend by taking a road trip. As families hit the road this weekend, the increasing availability of ethanol will ensure they spend considerably less on gasoline than would otherwise be the case.
May 25, 2011
Since its very inception, the global biofuels industry has unfairly been portrayed by some ardent detractors as a sector that creates an unavoidable “food vs. fuel” choice. Luddites and Malthusians have suggested that crop-based biofuels simply can’t provide significant volumes of energy for transportation without starving the world’s poor. Unfortunately, these extreme views of biofuels have sometimes been fortified by alarmist rhetoric and doomsday sound bites from leaders of major international organizations, quasi-governmental groups, and NGOs. Against this backdrop, it was quite refreshing to see two reports in the last week that highlight the extraordinary potential of biofuels to serve as agents of rural development and enhancers of food security in developing nations.
May 12, 2011
Yesterday, USDA’s first estimate of 2011 corn supply and demand; and March ethanol export data was released. The USDA released it's first estimate of the 2011 corn crop, as well as 2011/12 demand. USDA is predicting 92.2 million acres of corn to be planted, 85.1 million harvested acres, and an average yield of 158.7 bushels per acre. This would produce a total crop of 13.5 billion bushels, an all-time record.
May 05, 2011
The Energy Policy Research Foundation (EPRINC) recently released a white paper inexplicably suggesting that the cost of the Federal ethanol program exceeds its benefits by a factor of 3 to 1. Among other debatable claims, the paper asserts that the rising cost of corn is a major obstacle to the expansion of the corn ethanol industry, irrespective of the fact that crude oil prices have surged to levels not seen since the 2008 commodity bubble and gasoline prices are approaching record highs.
April 20, 2011
The spin machines at the public relations firms employed by the nation's factory farms, junk food processors, and animal slaughter facilities are in full tilt. Predictably as the corn price rises as it did a few summers ago, these groups are feverishly trying to pin higher price on U.S. ethanol producers. A new anlysis concludes that such efforts are not supported by the facts.
April 13, 2011
U.S. ethanol exports have increased 4% since January, according to government data that was released today. Distillers grains exports were down 13% compared to January, but slightly above February 2010 totals.
April 08, 2011
This morning, the USDA release their April WASDE report, which will likely ease some of the tension in the world corn market, as the report showed that the corn supply and carry-out are generally expected to be larger than most market participants were expecting. The following is the RFA's analysis of the report.
March 31, 2011
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released its annual Prospective Plantings report this morning, showing U.S. farmers intend to plant 92.2 million acres of corn, 76.6 million acres of soybeans and 58 million acres of wheat this year. The following is an analysis of the USDA Prospective Plantings report from Renewable Fuels Association Vice President of Research and Analysis Geoff Cooper.
March 29, 2011
A new pseudo-analysis published by the controversial and discredited Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons claims that biofuels expansion is increasing hunger and poverty-related health risks in developing nations. The four-page article was written by Indur Goklany, a long-time biofuels critic and contributor to the Cato Institute. Based on an ill-conceived and opaque method that misinterprets and misrepresents the findings of the World Bank and other researchers, the paper is nothing more than anti-farmer and anti-biofuel vitriol cloaked as real analysis. It simply can’t be taken seriously and it’s not at all surprising that the only publication that would ever consider publishing this piece would be the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons.
March 10, 2011
The new year began with a bang for U.S. ethanol exports, according to government data released today. Ethanol shipments (consisting of both denatured and undenatured, non-beverage, ethanol) totaled 57.2 million gallons in January, marking the second highest monthly total on record. At 714,000 metric tons, January exports of distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) were virtually identical to December 2010 levels (713,600 metric tons). Exports to China—the leading export market in 2010—fell by 30% in January, likely as the result of China’s DDGS anti-dumping investigation.
March 08, 2011
In an attempt to inject some sanity and facts into the recently rekindled “food versus fuel” fervor, RFA has repeatedly highlighted the fact that in 2010/11, the U.S. ethanol industry will use just 3 percent of the global grain supply on a net basis. It just isn’t reasonable to suggest that using such a small slice of the global grain supply could be solely responsible for the recent surge in food prices—especially when the U.S. industry uses nary a bushel of food grains like rice or wheat. Nevertheless, some opponents of biofuels have challenged the legitimacy of our 3 percent figure. But we have nothing to hide. It’s really a straightforward calculation, replicable by anyone with access to USDA data, a pencil and the back of an envelope.
February 11, 2011
According to government data released today, 2010 was a record-breaking year for exports of ethanol and distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS).
February 09, 2011
The USDA has released its February estimates of U.S. and global grain supplies. Some revisions, all of which were expected, slightly reduce USDA's estimates of leftover corn at the end of the marketing year. Let the wild claims and "alarm bells" ring from ethanol's detractors begin.
February 01, 2011
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released their “preliminary” triennial Congress report on January 19th. The report does not offer any original research; rather, it summarizes and analyzes the results of previous studies. It also admittedly lacks the proper context to compare the attributes of biofuels to petroleum fuels and other energy options. The RFA has analyzed the draft report and has provided initial comments.
January 13, 2011
Total U.S. exports of denatured and undenatured (non-beverage) ethanol reached 38.9 million gallons in November, up 11% from October. The November totals were the third-highest in 2010. Between January and November 2010, U.S. ethanol exports totaled 324.9 million gallons, nearly a three-fold increase over 2009 total exports. Through November, the industry was on pace to export more than 350 million gallons in 2010.
January 13, 2011
The final USDA report on the size of the 2010 corn crop and subsequent supply is out. Not surprisingly, USDA has adjusted its final estimates to reflect increased ethanol demand, the importance of distillers grains and other feed coproducts, and the difficult growing season American farmers endured. Right on cue, prolific End of Days prognosticators like Lester Brown of the Earth Policy Institute are pointing the finger of blame at ethanol for lower than expected corn supplies. But, as is always the case, there are far more factors that must be considered.
December 10, 2010
October was another strong month for U.S. ethanol exports, according to government data released today. October shipments of denatured and undenatured (non-beverage) ethanol totaled 34.9 million gallons, down 9.9% from September.
December 01, 2010
Environmental lawyer Timothy Searchinger’s ILUC hypothesis, already reeling, took another crippling blow today when Brazil President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva announced that deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon has fallen to its lowest rate since the government began collecting data in 1988. Data from the Brazilian government clearly show that Amazon deforestation rates in Brazil have been plunging for the last seven years, and the 2010 rate is less than one-quarter of the rate experienced in 2004 when deforestation reached more than 10,700 square miles. All of this has occurred while U.S. biofuels production has increased dramatically (nearly 300% since 2004), proving once again that there is no correlation between U.S. ethanol output and deforestation. Will the ENGOs and regulators notice?
November 10, 2010
U.S. ethanol producers exported 38.8 million gallons of ethanol (denatured and undenatured, non-beverage) in September, up 31% from August, according to government data released today. This is the third highest monthly export total of the year, trailing only March and April. Year-to-date ethanol exports now stand at 251.1 million gallons, meaning the industry is on pace to export some 330 million gallons in 2010.
November 08, 2010
Last week, NRDC’s Nathanael Greene noted my frustration with his organization’s hasty dismissal of new Department of Energy research that shows “…minimal to zero indirect land use change was induced by use of corn for ethanol over the last decade.” NRDC immediately attempted to trash the DOE work, which was conducted by seasoned scientists at the agency’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Nathanael went so far as to suggest it “tells us nothing about ILUC.” It’s interesting that NRDC could reach such a conclusion without actually ever having seen the study (it hasn’t been published yet), without ever having laid eyes on the raw data underlying the analysis, or without ever having experimented with the methodology that ORNL used.
October 26, 2010
Ethanol prices have strengthened over the past several months in response to higher corn prices and growing ethanol demand. Some have attempted to single out the escalation in ethanol prices as a primary driver of the slight increase in retail gasoline prices. Yet, a quick look at the data shows retail gasoline prices and ethanol spot prices are not well correlated, even when lagged to account for the fact that it may take some time for ethanol price increases to work through to the retail level.
October 20, 2010
Since a polemic paper from environmental attorney Tim Searchinger was released in February 2008, a false notion that American ethanol production from grain was leading to Brazilian rainforest destruction has permeated discussions around ethanol's environmental contributions. Now, a team of researchers from the Department of Energy have analyzed real world data from the period of greatest American ethanol expansion and found this notion to be without merit.
October 14, 2010
Last Friday’s USDA Crop Production and WASDE reports, which slashed estimates for the 2010 corn crop and average yield, sent the anti-biofuels crowd scurrying to find their trusty “Food vs. Fuel” playbooks. The alarmist rhetoric over the past several days seems virtually cut and pasted from the raft of doomsday press releases and manufactured “studies” that cluttered the media channels in 2008 when record oil prices and rampant speculation pushed grain prices to unprecedented levels and food prices to the highest levels in recent memory. For opponents of ethanol and beneficiaries of cheap corn, pointing the finger at biofuels has become the reflexive knee-jerk response any time grain prices start to rise.
October 14, 2010
U.S. biofuel producers exported 29.6 million gallons of ethanol (both denatured and undenatured, non-beverage alcohol) in August, up 18% from July, according to government data released today. Year-to-date ethanol exports stand at 212 million gallons, nearly double the amount of total exports in 2009. Total exports in August were the third highest of the year, trailing only March and April. The U.S. remains on pace to export more than 300 million gallons of ethanol in 2010, equivalent to roughly 2.5% of expected domestic production.
October 05, 2010
EPA is poised to make a decision on E15, but appears set upon a bifurcated market and partial waiver approach. By only approving E15 for 2007 and new vehicles, EPA is once again artificially limiting the U.S. ethanol market without providing any scientific justification. What does it all mean? How many new ethanol gallons will be sold? These are important questions and the answers are not at all clear.
September 08, 2010
While most Americans got a head start to the long Labor Day weekend by knocking off early Friday, corn futures traders had their most active day in 133 years. According to Drover’s, a record 556,034 corn futures contracts (the equivalent of 2.8 billion bushels of corn!) changed hands last Friday, marking the single busiest day in the corn markets since the Chicago Board of Trade began trading grain in 1877.
September 01, 2010
Not since the commodity prices spikes of 2008 have speculators held such a prominent role in grain markets. But, as a review of the data demonstrates, the speculators are back in a big way and just waiting for the opportunity to artificially inflate corn and other commodity prices.
August 05, 2010
Despite the fact that real-world data and events have disputed the ILUC theory at every turn (e.g., grain and oilseed exports haven’t fallen off, soybean acreage hasn’t decreased, livestock feed use remains steady, Amazon deforestation is decreasing, etc., etc.), EPA’s final rule for the RFS2 institutes a severe ILUC penalty against corn ethanol and other biofuels. But there’s a major problem with how EPA derived its ILUC penalties: the agency based the penalties on modeling scenarios where each individual biofuel was isolated and volumes of that biofuel were increased while other biofuel volumes were held constant. Of course, that’s not how the RFS2 works—the regulation requires simultaneous increases of several types of biofuels. When EPA modeled a scenario in which all biofuels volumes were increased simultaneously in accordance with RFS2 requirements, the amount of land use change was half of what it was in the cases where EPA isolated individual biofuels. If EPA had used this modeling case to develop its LUC penalties, the hit to corn ethanol would have been 10.8 g CO2e/MJ, rather than EPA’s estimate of 28.4 g/MJ. Such a reduction in LUC emissions means overall lifecycle GHG emissions for 2022 average corn ethanol would be 38% less than baseline gasoline emissions, rather than the 21% estimate finalized by EPA.
July 19, 2010
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.
July 16, 2010
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.
July 14, 2010
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.