California Biodiesel Alliance News
California's Biodiesel Industry Trade Association
We begin by welcoming Chemol as our newest Business level member here and in the Members section below.
DEADLINE: Monday, July 27th! if you haven't done so, please join CBA and 36 U.S. senators, including Feinstein and Boxer, who recently called for the EPA to increase RFS RVO numbers for biodiesel and biomass-based diesel. Click
to do it online in just a few minutes ---- and please make it personal!
This issue brings good breaking news on the federal biodiesel tax incentive and RFS issues; positive updates on CBA's legislative efforts; important related regional news; lots more news and policy information with a California angle; and an uplifting story about possibilities for biofuel crops on low-use grazing fields around the world.
NOTE: The readoption of the LCFS and adoption of the ADF regulations have been postponed and will be considered by the California Air Resources Board in September.
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Finance Extends Expired PTC, Other Tax Incentives
By Darren Goode
The Senate Finance Committee, 23-3, gave wide approval to extending through 2016 a wind production tax credit and dozens of other incentives that expired last year.
The committee by voice vote also approved a bipartisan amendment from Sen. Chuck Grassley that would convert a $1 per gallon tax credit for the blending of biodiesel to a credit for the domestic production of biodiesel. The change is needed because "blending occurs during many different stages," which makes the existing blender credit susceptible to abuse and has U.S taxpayers subsidizing biodiesel imports, Grassley said.
Changing it to a production tax credit would save taxpayers $90 million through next year, he said. The extenders package includes an extension of the biodiesel credit through next year. Finance aides have indicated the change may have implications on trade that may need to be addressed, Grassley acknowledged.
Several amendments were withdrawn, including from Sen. Ben Cardin extending public building energy efficiency credits to those owned by "S" corporations, which pass corporate income, losses, deductions, and credits through to their shareholders when filing federal taxes.
Cardin said these efficiency credits shouldn't be dependent on the business structure used for taxes. His language isn't in the bill because Finance aides haven't been able to score it yet. The bill already extends the building efficiency credit through 2016 and has extended it to also include buildings owned by nonprofits and tribal governments.
RFS Critics Running On Empty
When asked why he chose now to introduce a bill that strikes down the Renewable Fuel Standard, Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) turned the question around: "Man, is there a better time?"
Perhaps not - but Cassidy's bill, S.1584, comes at a time when the anti-RFS movement has all but lost momentum, with bills to vanquish the ethanol mandate languishing in committee and kept in the cold by comprehensive reform efforts.
The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which has labored this year to produce a comprehensive energy bill, is unlikely to include any provision addressing the RFS. Chairman Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said in an interview Wednesday that she had not spoken to Cassidy about his bill, while hinting that the RFS wasn't at the top of her agenda, anyway.
"I'm in the camp that we've got a lot of stuff that needs to be done when it comes to energy," she said.
The RFS mandates that transportation fuel sold in the U.S. must contain a minimum volume of renewable fuels - ethanol, for example, or advanced biofuels. While RFS opponents have labeled 2015 as the year for reform, the half-dozen bills introduced so far this year to repeal or scale back the biofuel mandate haven't progressed, and it's unclear if the anti-RFS movement has gained any traction.
I'm in the camp that we've got a lot of stuff that needs to be done when it comes to energy.- Sen. Lisa Murkowski
Cassidy's bill, which was introduced on Tuesday, has been referred to the Environment and Public Works Committee. Kristina Baum, a committee spokeswoman, said by email Wednesday that the panel plans to review the RFS, but she added that she wouldn't be able to provide more information until that discussion had progressed. A similar measure in the House - the Renewable Fuel Standard Elimination Act (H.R. 703), sponsored by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) - was introduced in early February and has languished in the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Goodlatte has another bill that could be more palatable to on-the-fence lawmakers. The RFS Reform Act of 2015 (H.R. 704) would eliminate corn-based ethanol quotas, while keeping quotas in place for other biofuels like biodiesel, and cap the percentage of all biofuels blended into gasoline at 10 percent. That bill has 54 cosponsors, including seven Democrats. But it too, is awaiting consideration by the Energy and Commerce Committee, which did not respond to a request for comment on scheduling hearings for RFS-related bills.
Other measures that would tackle biofuels face similarly blurry fates. The Corn Ethanol Mandate Elimination Act of 2015 (S. 577), whose title says it all, is sponsored by Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Penn.) and counts Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), as well as Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), among its cosponsors. But the legislation has been stuck in the Environment and Public Works Committee since its introduction on Feb. 26.
Nevertheless, RFS opponents haven't lost hope.
On a press call hosted by the American Petroleum Institute on Wednesday, representatives from the American Motorcyclist Association, the Environmental Working Group and the National Council of Chain Restaurants sounded optimistic that 2015 is still the year for RFS reform.
"The stars are beginning to align - clearly the momentum is building," said Jack Gerard, API's president and chief executive officer.
The EWG, an environmental advocacy group, says the RFS has led to more greenhouse gas emissions. NCCR, the leading chain restaurant trade group is opposed to the RFS because of its alleged effect on food commodity prices.
But the Renewable Fuels Association, the top ethanol trade group, isn't holding its breath.
"Cassidy's bill is political posturing, it's just more of the same," Communications Director Tony Jackson said Wednesday in a phone interview. "These bills have been introduced before and haven't gone anywhere - we think that's going to be the case this time around as well."
The National Biodiesel Board, which represents the biodiesel industry, agrees. "The RFS has strong bipartisan support on the Hill, and we don't anticipate RFS legislation moving any time soon," Public Affairs Director Ben Evans wrote in an email Wednesday.
The next test for the RFS comes on Thursday. The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee has called EPA Assistant Administrator Janet McCabe to testify during a hearing titled "Re-examining EPA's Management of the Renewable Fuel Standard Program."
Gerard said the scheduled hearing is a "positive sign" that "folks are saying from a lot of jurisdictions on the Hill" that the RFS needs reform.
CBA-Supported State Legislative Efforts Move Forward
With the state legislature on recess until August 17th, we are happy to report that the two main efforts CBA is focusing on have made important progress so far. AB 1032 has passed the House, both policy committees in the Senate, and is now headed to the Senate Appropriations Committee. AB 1032 would allow for a refund for that portion of non-taxed dyed biodiesel removed from a terminal that buyers have already paid tax on. A detailed article on this subject entitled California Eyes Level Playing Field for Bio-Blended Off-Road Diesel appeared in last month's issue of the CBA newsletter.
Another CBA-supported effort, the Biofuels Initiative, to secure $200 million for biofuels from Cap and Trade Auction proceeds, continues to gain visibility and garner support. According to a recent OP Ed piece in the Sacramento Bee .... " that investment would also reduce greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 6 million tons annually and set the stage for even greater reductions. This initiative would also result in direct, long-term economic benefits, including creating more than 25,000 jobs in inland counties, and stimulating an estimated $11.5 billion in economic development." The article was written by Johannes Escudero, Executive Director of the Coalition for Renewable Natural Gas; Tim Cremins, Director of the California-Nevada Conference of Operating Engineers; and Jose Mejia Director of the State Council of Laborers.
Click here to search and follow the other key legislation that CBA is supporting, including:
SB 32, to extend the state's landmark climate law, would direct the Air Resources Board (ARB) to enforce GHG reduction targets for 2030, 2040, and 2050 (80% below 1990 levels) and to do so with a concern for jobs, health, disadvantaged communities, innovation, and policy collaboration beyond our state's borders.
SB 350 would put into law the goals Gov. Jerry Brown announced in January by creating enforceable state standards for increasing the state's renewable power mandate to 50%, cutting petroleum consumption by 50%, and requiring a 50% improvement in the energy efficiency of buildings.
(Office of Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr.)
Governor Brown to World's Mayors: It's Up To Us to Make it Happen
VATICAN CITY - Speaking on the first day of the Vatican's symposium on climate change and modern slavery hosted by the Pontifical Academies of Sciences and Social Sciences, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today urged the world's mayors to "light a fire" and join California in the fight against climate change.
"We have fierce opposition and blind inertia. And that opposition is well-financed, hundreds of millions of dollars going into propaganda, into falsifying the scientific record, bamboozling people of every country. We have to fight that propaganda and overcome the inertia and the tremendous opposition," said Governor Brown. "Mayors, you are at the bottom of this power chain and you have got to light a fire. We have to join together. We have to make a change. It's up to us to make it happen."
Governor Brown's remarks came during the first day of the Vatican's symposium, which aims to drive awareness, dialogue and action at the local level on climate change and modern slavery - two pressing, interconnected issues highlighted in the pope's recent encyclical.
Pope Francis will address the symposium later today and Governor Brown will address the symposium again during tomorrow's program. A livestream of the events is available here.
CBA Note: Click here to read the full text of our former Jesuit seminarian governor's speech.
CARB Approves $373M in Clean-Vehicle Grants
July 1, 2015
The California Air Resources Board (CARB) has approved $373-million in grants to bolster alternative-fuel vehicles, including fleet-eligible rebates for low- and zero-emission passenger vehicles, the board announced.
The budget for the annual Funding Plan for Low Carbon Transportation Investments and the Air Quality Improvement Program is up by $150 million over last year's budget, CARB reported. Most of this budget is subject to approval by the state legislature when it considers the proposed expenditure of cap-and-trade auction proceeds as part of the state budget. The grants cover fiscal year 2015-2016.
The majority of the funding - $350 million - comes from the funds in the state's Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund dedicated to low-carbon transportation investments, and supports a variety of programs for a wide range of cars, trucks, and off-road equipment, according to CARB. An additional $23 million comes from the Air Quality Improvement Program.
Light-duty vehicles will receive $200 million, including $163 million for the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project that offers up to $5,000 in vehicle rebates for the purchase or lease of new, eligible zero-emission and plug-in hybrid light-duty vehicles.
Heavy-duty vehicle and freight-equipment projects receive $167.5 million, including $12 million for Hybrid and Zero-Emission Truck and Bus Voucher Incentive Project (HVIP) to encourage commercial deployment of hybrid and zero-emission trucks and buses.
Also included in the funding plan are increased investments for light-duty pilot projects in disadvantaged communities, including $20 million to expand air district administered retire-and-replace pilot programs that help low-income residents afford the cleanest cars; the funding of $20 million for pilot deployment of zero-emission trucks and $45 million for pilot deployment of zero-emission buses; and the funding of $59 million for advanced technology demonstration projects for larger vehicles, CARB reported.
The Funding Plan builds on previous investments designed to benefit disadvantaged communities, including pilot programs to help owners of older, dirty vehicles move up to much cleaner, newer cars (including electric vehicles).
Overall, the Funding Plan dedicates 50 percent of the low-carbon transportation funds to benefit disadvantaged communities, and 10 percent of those dedicated funds is to be invested directly in those communities, according to CARB.
(Ethanol Producer Magazine)
Clean Fuel Standards Face Political Attacks in Washington, Oregon
y Erin Voegele | June 30, 2015
Clean fuel standards under development in Oregon and Washington have been under attack by their respective state legislatures in recent weeks.
The Oregon Clean Fuels Standard continued moving forward in March when Gov. Kate Brown signed S.B. 324 into law. That bill removed the sunset date on the program, allowing it to be implemented past the end of this year.
A recent statement released by the Low Carbon Fuels Coalition indicates the Oregon Clean Fuels Standard was being used as a bargaining chip in the state's transportation budget debate. However, following a June 24 hearing on the transportation budget package, Brown issued a statement noting the hearing demonstrated both transportation and greenhouse gas emissions reductions are important and complicated policy questions that deserve adequate and focused attention. "We worked hard to find a way to address them as a package, but no solution emerged that accomplished that to the satisfaction of all parties. They should be decoupled and considered separately, thus avoiding the 'my way, or no highway' situation in which we now find ourselves," she said.
Washington is also in the process of establishing a state clean fuels standard. In February, the Washington Department of Ecology published a discussion document to jumpstart dialogue on a potential rulemaking for a state clean fuel standard.
On June 23, the Low Carbon Fuels Coalition released a statement noting that Gov. Jan Inslee is poised to initiate formal rulemaking to establish the state's clean fuels standard. However, on June 29, the Washington Senate passed a transportation bill that includes a provision that would effectively prohibit the enactment of a clean fuels standard in the state. The bill, SB 5987, is currently pending in the Washington House of Representatives.
According to information published by the Low Carbon Fuels Coalition, Inslee has advised that he will sign the bill if it reaches his desk. The coalition is urging stakeholders to contact the members of the Washington House and ask them to vote against the bill.
Note: On July 15th Governor Inslee signed SB 5987.
Huge Potential of Grazing Land for Biofuel Surge
Copyright: Paul Smith/Panos
[SAO PAULO] Converting grazing land into fields to grow crops for biofuels could provide up to 30 per cent of the world's energy needs, according to a report.
The report says at least 500 million hectares are available for sustainable biofuel production even when rising food demand, growing urbanisation and the desire to preserve forest and protected lands are taken into account. Most of this land is in Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa, and is being used for low-intensity animal grazing, it says.
The study predicts that, if biofuel technology continues to develop rapidly, only around 50-200 million hectares would be needed to grow the biomass needed for biofuels to provide 30 per cent of global energy by 2050. A lot of this land could come from arid, low-intensity grazing lands, which could instead be used to, for example, grow agave for ethanol production, the authors write.
The impact on herders could be minimised by increasing livestock density while ensuring the sustainable use of land that remains as pasture, the report says.
These conclusions are based on an analysis of almost 2,000 scientific studies and assessments on global land use, led by researchers from the Sao Paulo Research Foundation in Brazil and the Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment, a global network that reviews scientific knowledge on environmental issues.
Glaucia Mendes Souza, a biologist at the University of Sao Paulo and one of the report's editors, says mixing land uses would help developing countries integrate biofuel production into their existing agricultural systems.
"By combining forestry with bioenergy production or integrating areas of grasslands and woodlands, countries would be able to minimise the effects of climate change but not compromise food safety," she says.
Around 87 per cent of global energy demand is currently met by climate-altering fossil fuels, says the report.
But it points out that "inefficiently used land, extensive pastures, degraded lands and excess agricultural capacity" stand in the way of growing more biofuels, especially in developing countries.
The report's authors call for better public policies to support the entire biofuel chain, including those designed to increase agricultural efficiency, encourage the conversion of biomass into fuel and examine the environmental impacts of plants grown for fuel.
Heitor Cantarella, director of the Centre for Soils and Environmental Resources at the Agronomy Institute of Campinas in Brazil, says: "There is room for bioenergy in the world energy matrix. Besides, energy produced from biomass could be crucial for addressing global warming reduction targets."
CALIFORNIA INDUSTRY NEWS
(EERE) Energy Department Awards $18 Million to Develop Valuable Bioproducts and Biofuels from Algae
July 9, 2015 - 3:11pm
The Energy Department today announced six projects that will receive up to $18 million in funding to reduce the modeled price of algae-based biofuels to less than $5 per gasoline gallon equivalent (gge) by 2019. This funding supports the development of a bioeconomy that can help create green jobs, spur innovation, improve the environment, and achieve national energy security.
Algal biomass can be converted to advanced biofuels that offer promising alternatives to petroleum-based diesel and jet fuels. Additionally, algae can be used to make a range of other valuable bioproducts, such as industrial chemicals, bio-based polymers, and proteins. However, barriers related to algae cultivation, harvesting, and conversion to fuels and products need to be overcome to achieve the Department's target of $3 per gge for advanced algal biofuels by 2030. To accomplish this goal, the Department is investing in applied research and development technologies that can achieve higher yields of targeted bioproducts and biofuels from algae-increasing the overall value for algae biomass.
The projects selected include:
- Producing Algae and Co-Products for Energy (PACE), Colorado School of Mines, Golden, CO - Colorado School of Mines, in collaboration with Los Alamos National Laboratory, Reliance Industries Ltd., and others, will receive up to $9 million to enhance overall algal biofuels sustainability by maximizing carbon dioxide, nutrient, and water recovery and recycling, as well as bio-power co-generation.
- Marine Algae Industrialization Consortium (MAGIC), Duke University, Durham, NC - Duke University will receive up to $5.2 million to lead a consortium including University of Hawaii, Cornell University, Cellana and others to produce protein-based human and poultry nutritional products along with hydrotreated algal oil extract.
- Global Algae Innovations, Inc., El Cajon, CA - Global Algae Innovations will receive up to $1 million to increase algal biomass yield by deploying an innovative system to absorb carbon dioxide from the flue gas of a nearby power plant.
- Arizona State University, Mesa, AZ - Arizona State University will receive up to $1 million for atmospheric carbon dioxide capture, enrichment, and delivery to increase biomass productivity.
- University of California, San Diego, San Diego, CA - The University of California, San Diego will receive up to $760,000 to develop an automated early detection system that can identify and characterize infestation or infection of an algae production pond in order to ensure crop health.
- Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, CA - Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory will receive up to $1 million to protect algal crops by developing "probiotic" bacteria to combat pond infestationand increase ecosystem functioning and resilience.
The Energy Department's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy accelerates development and facilitates deployment of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies and market-based solutions that strengthen U.S. energy security, environmental quality, and economic vitality. Learn more about EERE's work with industry, academia, and national laboratory partners on a balanced portfolio of research in biomass feedstocks and conversion technologies here.
(NACS ONLINE) Students Offer Glimpse Into Future of Transportation
Winning submissions from Fuels Institute's first-ever student case competition now available online.
July 13, 2015
ALEXANDRIA, Va. - Earlier this year at the Fuels Institute's Spring Meeting, attendees chose the winners of the inaugural Future of Transportation Case Competition, which asked undergrad and graduate students to undertake a broad industry reinvention of both the motor fuels and vehicles industries.
From abstracts submitted from 21 schools, three finalists were chosen to present their ideas to conference attendees, who then cast their votes for the most viable and economical solution. Those submissions, along with the two honorable mentions, are now available online (PDF).
University of Wisconsin students Justin Goninen, Daniel Schmidt and Mike Lyons, took home the top prize of $5,000 for their "Electricity and Petroleum as Long-Distance Fuels" proposal, which focuses on a unique 15-year, five-city initiative to develop a model battery swap retail program similar to concepts pioneered in Israel.
Northwestern University captured second place and the $2,500 prize for its "Integrating Electric Vehicles in the Future Transportation Value Chain" proposal, and the third place prize of $1,000 went to the University of Texas at Dallas for its "Monetizing Environmentalism" proposal. Honorable mentions were "Mileage-Based Fuel Contracts" from the University of California, Davis, and "Biodiesel and Electric Vehicles in a MultiFuel World" from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
In addition to the student competition, the Fuels Institute, founded by NACS in 2013, commissions and publishes comprehensive, fact-based research projects that address the issues identified by the affected stakeholders. These projects will help to inform both business owners considering long-term investment decisions and policymakers considering legislation and regulations affecting the market.
The Fuels Institute will host a second case competition in the near future; information will be available at fuelsinstitute.org.
(DOMESTIC FUEL) Take a Ride on the Waves with Algae
Posted on July 13, 2015 by Joanna Schroeder
It's time to start surfing the waves with algae. One of the hottest technologies during the BioEnergy 2015 conference was the algae surfboard developed by U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) funded scientists at the University of California San Diego (UCSD) California Center for Algae Biotechnology.
Traditionally surfboards have petroleum, aka fossil fuels, as a component. However, these algae surboards are made from algal oil, produced by Solazyme (also a San Diego-based company). According to DOE, the algal oil is converted to polyols by UCSD chemists and then sent to surboard manufacturer Arctic Foam. Once here, the company shapes the foam boards and then coats them with fiberglass and a renewable plant-based resin.
Does it work? DOE said early surfer reviews have given the prototype a "perfect ten". The "surfboard of the future" is a bit more flexible than traditional surfboard and this appeals to many surfers.
The team of scientists along with Solazyme and Artic Foam are planning to continue their work and the hope is that polysols will eventually be able to replace components of not only surfboards, but other products that require similar petroleum-based chemicals.