2015: The Year That Was (Part 1)

  • Tuesday, 22 December 2015 00:00

2015 was another big year for the ethanol industry with record production and consumption levels. In this two-part series, we run through some of the big announcements and moments of the year


Anti-ethanol Senators Pat Toomey and Dianne Feinstein begin what will be a year-long misguided effort to dismantle the RFS. In January, the duo teamed up to include an anti-RFS amendment in the Keystone XL pipeline bill. Their effort, needless to say, fails. On our end, we offer a very obvious way on how non-electric car drivers (and those that can't afford such exorbitant vehicles) can do their part in reducing harmful greenhouse gas emissions. E15 sales in Minnesota surpass 160,000 gallons for the very first time. 


Emissions smallThe University of Illinois of Chicago says making E15 the new regular in Minnesota would reduce an additional 358,000 tons of CO2 in the state annually. This would amount to removing emissions from 75,368 passenger vehicles from Minnesota's roads for a year. The analysis, which was made in response to a query from the Minnesota Bio-Fuels Association, highlights the signifiant role E15 has in combating climate change. Meanwhile, according to the latest data from the USDA, corn use for ethanol production in the 2014/15 marketing year would account for 22 percent of total corn supply. What food vs fuel?


As the EPA's announcement on its RFS proposal for 2014, 2015 and 2016 looms closer, the anti-ethanol rethoric heats up with several major national dailies guilty of shoddy journalism. Former Tonight Show host Jay Leno joins the bandwagon and gets slammed by automotive expert, Bobby Likis. Additionally, following its analysis for Minnesota, the University of Illinois of Chicago says making E15 the new regular in Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, North Carolina, Ohio, Wisconsin and Michigan would reduce 3.76 million tons of CO2 annually. The Minnesota Department of Commerce announces first quarter sales for E15 in the state surpassed 500,000 gallons. 


The United Nation's FoMN Biofuels App FB Imageod and Agriculture Organization (FAO) shows world food prices falling in tandem with oil prices, once again refuting all notion that biofuels raise food prices. In other news, our analysis shows that drivers in Minnesota would collectively save $240 million a year if E15 is the new regular. Meanwhile, we launched the first-of-its-kind Minnesota Biofuels Locator app for Android devices. 


ABF Economics, in a study commisioned by the Minnesota Bio-Fuels Association, details the economic impact of Minnesota's ethanol industry. Among the key findings : the ethanol industry contributed $2.34 billion to the state's economy in 2014 and supported over 18,000 jobs. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) releases a report stating most fuel dispensing equipment in the country is compatible with E15. The EPA finally releases its much-delayed RFS targets for 2015 (13.4 billion gals.) and 2016 (14 billion gals.), which are far below the stipulated amounts in the RFS. On the same day, the USDA announces it would invest $100 million with states under a Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership program to expand access to E15 and E85. 


The Minnesota Bio-Fuels Association and other organizations begin rallying supporters to send the EPA letters opposing the latter's RFS proposal during the EPA's Open Public Comment period. Ethanol supporters aren't the only ones puzzled by the EPA's proposals with economists from the University of Illinois weighing in. We are among the many organizations and supporters that deliver testimonies at the EPA's RFS Hearing at Kansas, KS. Meanwhile, back home, Minnesota leads where the EPA fails : a bill that would provide grants to fuel retailers in the state to make minor upgrades to dispense E15 becames law. The Minnesota Biofuels Locator app becomes available for iOS devices. 

Check back Blogging For Biofuels tomorrow for Part 2.