The Renewable Fuels Association National Ethanol Conference (NEC) concluded on February 13. During the last few quarters, ethanol margins have been at the lowest levels in many years resulting in reduced production and the permanent closure of some plants. A number of plants are seeking buyers. In this climate, the focus of the NEC was on the future of the industry. Here are some key points gleaned from multiple conference presentations.
Members of the Husch Blackwell bioenergy team are deep into the Winter/Spring conference season, attending major national and regional conferences in biogas, biodiesel, ethanol and biomass. Here are some of the themes that are consistent across the conferences.
The biodiesel industry is gathering at the National Biodiesel Board’s National Biodiesel Conference in San Diego starting January 19. With turmoil in the federal Renewable Fuel Standards program and low petroleum prices, the industry will be highlighting the important role biodiesel has to play in lowering carbon in the atmosphere. Biodiesel is commercially available and produces up to 90 percent less carbon emissions than petroleum diesel. Further, many biodiesel technologies are capable of using waste products as the primary input. National carbon reduction goals under the Paris Climate Accord generally are not being met, and in some cases carbon emissions are increasing. Here in the U.S., carbon emissions increased last year, largely based on increased use of transportation fuel given a stronger economy. While it seems that substantial federal action on carbon reduction is not likely until after the 2020 election cycle, there are significant carbon reduction strategies in effect or being implemented in various Canadian provinces and at the Canadian federal level. In the U.S., the primary drivers are carbon cap-and-trade programs in California and Oregon, as well as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative of nine northeastern states. Conference sessions will focus on these programs and the potential for additional similar programs here in the U.S.
On November 16, 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published the proposed Renewables Enhancement and Support Growth Rule, which proposes changes to EPA’s Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program and other renewable fuel regulations designed to encourage market growth of ethanol and renewable fuels in the U.S. and provide Continue Reading EPA Proposes Rule to Ease Barriers in Renewable Fuel Standard Program
An uptick in recent federal enforcement actions involving renewable fuel credits is signaling that market participants can expect more fraud investigations and prosecutions as federal regulators strive to maintain control over the renewable fuel credit program. The enforcement actions involve the trading of Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) under the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) program. Continue Reading Fraudulent RIN Cases Underscore Continuing Concerns for Renewable Fuel Credit Program