By the end of this decade, "there is a high chance there will be no petroleum diesel used" in California, said agricultural economist Aaron Smith on Monday. This historic upheaval of the fuel market is being driven by state regulations promoting cleaner-burning fuels, he said. "Most California diesel is now made from animal fat, corn oil, soybean oil or used cooking oil."
The boom in production of renewable diesel fuel has pushed U.S. soybean oil prices so high the commodity is uncompetitive on the world market, said USDA analysts on Tuesday. Drought in Argentina, the world's leading soyoil exporter, also will be a major factor in the lowest volume of soyoil imports worldwide in five years.
The EPA should increase the advanced biofuels share of the fuel market by 1 billion gallons a year to reflect the land rush into renewable diesel production, said the trade group Clean Fuels America Alliance on Monday. The recommendation would raise the federal mandate for second-generation biofuels to 7.63 billion gallons in 2024, a 36 percent increase from this year.
The Renewable Fuel Standard is the most successful clean energy tool available to the government, which should make full use of it when setting the biofuel mandate for 2023 and future years, said farm and biofuel trade groups on Thursday. “What we’re really looking to take place with EPA is that they maximize the full potential of the RFS,” said Emily Skor, chief executive of Growth Energy.
Corn will become less important and sugarcane will become the dominant feedstock for making ethanol in the coming decade, said an agricultural outlook published jointly by the OECD and FAO on Wednesday. The report forecast a relatively slow growth rate for biofuels, averaging 0.6 percent a year worldwide, with growth in the United States constrained by declining gasoline consumption.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine will strain world grain supplies for months to come, driving up prices and inflation rates, said a panel of economists on Tuesday. "God forbid we have a weather problem this year," said Dan Basse, head of AgResource Co., who described war in the Black Sea region as the greatest supply shock since World War I.
Verbio North America says it will more than double the capacity of its plant in central Iowa to produce renewable natural gas from corn stover, and it plans to begin production of corn ethanol in the final months of the year. The facility was the first of three plants in the nation to return to biofuel production after faltering as a producer of cellulosic ethanol, made from grasses, woody plants and crop residue.
During congressional committee work on the Biden administration's $3.5 trillion "build back better" bill, majority-party House Democrats approved a $35 billion expansion of child nutrition programs last week and were expected to vote on Monday for an additional $66 billion for forestry, rural economic development and agricultural research.
Projects in 23 states across the nation will receive a combined $26 million to install pumps, tanks, and other equipment for selling higher-blend biofuels, said the USDA on Thursday. The projects are expected to expand the availability of higher-blend fuels by 822 million gallons annually.
The ethanol industry is optimistic the Biden administration will issue far fewer exemptions from the ethanol mandate than the Trump administration did despite a Supreme Court setback. Justices overturned, 6-3, an appellate court ruling that greatly restricted the eligibility of small refineries for "hardship" waivers from complying with the Renewable Fuel Standard.
The Department of Agriculture announced the first round of grants on Thursday from a $100 million program for the installation of pumps and storage tanks to increase the sale of higher blends of biofuels, such as E15 or E85. Projects in 14 states, from California to Florida and New York, will be funded by the $22 million in grants, said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue.
Grants totaling $100 million will be available to install or retrofit fuel pumps and storage tanks to handle higher blends of corn ethanol and biodiesel than now commonly offered, said the USDA, with details to be available by mid-spring. "USDA will continue to do its part to encourage the use of home-grown energy," said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue.
Congress is on the verge of retroactive restoration of the $1-a-gallon biodiesel tax credit, a result of the last-minute inclusion of a package of tax breaks in a mammoth government funding bill. The House passed the bill on Tuesday, and the Senate is expected to approve it by the end of the week.
Administration officials will hold their first White House meeting in a month on the Renewable Fuel Standard, as ethanol makers and corn growers fear an attack on the ethanol mandate. The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association said if the White House weakens the RFS, it "will be viewed as nothing less than a declaration of war on rural America and a complete abdication of [President Trump's] repeated promises to protect the RFS."
Biodiesel makers in Argentina and Indonesia should face anti-dumping duties of up to 277 percent on their shipments to the United States, ruled the Commerce Department in a case brought by domestic producers.
An investigation by activist groups Mighty Earth and ActionAid USA challenges the notion of biodiesel as the environmentally responsible fuel of the future. Burned: Deception, Deforestation and America’s Biodiesel Policy claims that growing demand for biodiesel in the U.S. contributes to a host of problems, from deforestation in Argentina and Indonesia to algae blooms in Lake Erie and the Gulf of Mexico’s dead zone.
Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley said that he doubts there is room for a compromise with oil-state senators over the Renewable Fuel Standard, and that there had been no discussion among senators about one.
President Trump will meet oil industry leaders and their congressional allies for a discussion of the biofuels mandate, reported Reuters, based on two sources. The meeting "could set the stage for negotiations to overhaul the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard," said the wire service; the industry has pressed for years to eliminate the mandate or revise its requirement to blend biofuels into gasoline and diesel fuel.