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Al-Corn CEO Testifies at EPA Hearing

  • Tuesday, 08 August 2017 14:04

Rochester Post Bulletin

August 8, 2017

By Hannah Yang

Al-Corn CEO Randall Doyal was among a list of speakers to testify during an Environmental Protection Agency hearing on the use of ethanol and other fuels in the country's gasoline supply.

The Aug. 1 hearing was to collect public input on proposed 2018 Renewable Volume Obligations under Renewable Fuel Standard targets — the minimum amount of renewable fuels blended into the gasoline supply.

While the EPA's proposed 15 billion gallon requirement for ethanol appeared to satisfy ethanol proponents, requirements for biodiesel and advanced cellulosic ethanol have met some opposition.

"I do want to thank EPA for maintaining the 15 billion number for conventional, corn-based ethanol," Doyal's testimony reads. "Don't allow all the negative noise to cloud your thinking like exhaust from autos used to cloud our skies and pollute our air. We have made great strides toward energy security, renewable and cleaner fuels, cleaner air and reduced carbon emissions."

Some conservative groups want to scale back or eliminate the Renewable Fuel Standard. But those in the biofuels industry and Midwestern agriculture interests insist the standards have to be kept, or even increased, citing consumer freedom, energy independence and job creation.

Congress adopted the Renewable Fuel Standard in 2005 and expanded it in 2007. The program requires oil companies to blend increasing volumes of renewable fuels with gasoline and diesel. It would create more than 36 billion gallons of blended fuel in 2022.

While the proposed volume obligations would maintain the required volume of conventional ethanol, the volume for advanced biofuels and cellulosic ethanol were reduced, Doyal said.

"With the existing industry on the brink of generating cellulosic ethanol from corn kernel fiber simultaneously with starch-based ethanol, we are going to see significant quantities of new production available," he said. "The EPA's proposed RVO has a chilling effect on those developments."

What's cellulosic ethanol?

Cellulosic ethanol is produced from the stringy fiber of the plant, rather than from its seeds or fruit. It's a biofuel produced from grasses, wood, algae and other plants and is considered to have strong potential as a renewable fuel.

Bob Dinneen, of the Renewable Fuels Association, testified that many ethanol plants are in the process of adding bolt-on fiber conversion technology to their facilities, which could dramatically increase cellulosic ethanol production next year.

"We understand the agency's dilemma in establishing an appropriate RVO for cellulosic ethanol, but we truly believe the agency has erred on the side of pessimism with regard to the potential for significant growth in cellulosic ethanol commercialization," Dinneen said during the hearing.

Al-Corn generates about 50 million gallons of ethanol annually and is in the midst of a significant expansion and modernization of its plant in Claremont. The expansion will improve efficiencies and expand its capacity to create more than 120 million gallons of ethanol per year.

"Our project is moving along well. We can't say enough about the dynamic combination of Karges-Faulconbridge engineering with McGough construction management," Doyal said. "They are pushing our project ahead, and we hope to be operating the expanded capacity by April next year, if not sooner."

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