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November 16, 20233 min read

November/December 2023 Ethanol Industry News

USDA to Help Fund Gevo Effort to Produce Low-CI Corn for SAF

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will set aside up to $30 million to help advanced biofuels producer and ACE member Gevo Inc. measure the impacts of "climate-smart" farming practices and scale up the production of low-carbon-intensity (CI) corn that it will use to make sustainable aviation fuel, the Colorado-based company said this fall.

Funding for Gevo's Climate-Smart Farm-to-Flight Program will come from a USDA Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities grant. The company's program is designed "to count all the carbon at the field level and reward farmers on a performance basis for delivering low-CI corn," said Paul Bloom, Gevo's chief carbon officer and chief innovation officer, in a statement.

Gevo’s program will focus on corn grown near its 65 million gallon per year Net-Zero 1 SAF facility currently under construction in Lake Preston, South Dakota, adding it aims to collaborate with majority female-owned farms in southeastern portions of Iowa and Nebraska, as well as Native American tribal organizations in South Dakota.

"When Net-Zero 1 and other production facilities come online, the feedstocks in the program will be a key to the equation," said Gevo Chief Executive Officer Patrick Gruber in a statement. "This [USDA] grant will help ensure we count all the carbon through the entire business system and reward farmers for the good work they are doing."

ACE Urges NHTSA to Develop a More Technology-Neutral Approach to Meet Fuel Economy Standards

On October 16, American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) CEO Brian Jennings submitted feedback to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on its proposed rulemaking for Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standards for Passenger Cars and Light Trucks for Model Years 2027–2032 and Fuel Efficiency Standards for Heavy-Duty Pickup Trucks and Vans for Model Years 2030–2035, calling on NHTSA to develop a technology-neutral approach to meet fuel economy standards and decarbonize transportation fuel.

“In contrast to NHTSA’s proposed rule and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) so-called “multipollutant proposal” for model years 2027 through 2032, we support technology-neutral policies which provide market participants with a host of options for compliance, because the tasks of decarbonizing the transportation sector and maximizing fuel economy are too important and complex for a one-size-fits-all solution,” Jennings stated in submitted comments.

ACE’s comments discussed 1) legal problems associated with the proposal including vehicles that operate only on electricity, 2) the economic feasibility of NHTSA’s proposed rule, 3) energy security and environmental concerns about the proposal, and 4) how high-octane fuels such as higher ethanol blends should be part of the solution to achieve fuel economy standards and reduce carbon pollution from transportation emissions.

“If the overarching goal for the Biden Administration is net-zero emissions by mid-century, let’s start making progress right now by taking full advantage of the 15 billion gallons of domestically produced ethanol available today as an affordable way to boost octane and meaningfully reduce GHG emissions from gasoline powered engines,” Jennings comments concluded.

 ACE Supports Legislation to Require EPA to Adopt GREET Model

The Adopt GREET Act has been reintroduced in the both the House and Senate led by U.S. Senators John Thune (R-S.D.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn) and U.S. Representatives Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.), Mark Pocan (D-WI), Adrian Smith (R-NE) and Angie Craig (D-MN). The legislation would require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to update its outdated lifecycle modeling for ethanol and biodiesel, specifically by adopting the latest Argonne National Lab’s GREET Model.

“We appreciate Reps. Johnson, Smith, Craig and Pocan, as well as Senators Thune and Klobuchar for leading the reintroduction of legislation, which will lay the foundation for ethanol to decarbonize the transportation sector by requiring EPA to apply the latest GREET model,” said American Coalition for Ethanol CEO Brian Jennings. This gold-standard modeling tool would more accurately account for corn ethanol’s carbon intensity when establishing regulations which could impact ethanol use in the future.”