Cooperative Relies on RFS Waivers

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest By Todd NeeleyDTN Staff ReporterOMAHA (DTN) — The farmer-owned CountryMark cooperative and fuel refinery is caught in the middle of the small-refinery exemption controversy.The company operates in Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio and Kentucky — most of its customers at more than 100 retail stations are farmers and rural communities that have benefitted from the commodities markets bolstered by the Renewable Fuel Standard since 2005.It is — by EPA’s definition — a small refinery producing 75,000 barrels per day or less.In 2017 and 2018, CountryMark received small-refinery waivers to the RFS.It is one of the few refiners owned by farmers, and small-refinery waivers made CountryMark’s business more viable in 2017 and 2018.On the other hand, the refiner is a big supporter of the RFS. The company blends as much ethanol and biodiesel as possible and fulfills the rest of its legal obligation through buying biofuels credits.Kent Hoffman, an Indiana farmer and CountryMark board member, told DTN the refiner’s need for waivers started in 2015 when its bottom line took a hit when crude oil prices dropped. Yet costs to comply with the RFS continued to rise, he said.“In 2015 it was a huge loss for our refinery as crude oil prices collapsed,” Hoffman said.According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, lower crude oil prices led to a decline in U.S. production that began in the second quarter of 2015. By the end of 2015 prices dipped to below $40 a barrel — the lowest price since 2009.Click on the link to see the EIA price decline report: https://www.eia.gov/…The price of renewable identification numbers, or RINs, for all biofuels categories in 2015 remained mostly below $1 throughout the year. The highest price for any RIN in 2015 was $1.13 for a D3 cellulosic RIN on July 27, according to EPA’s database.Click this link to view EPA RIN trades and price information: https://www.epa.gov/…In 2016, the price of D3 RINs spiked to a high of $2.35 on Dec. 12, while the prices of other RINs ranged from 52 cents to $1.10 throughout the year.CountryMark’s RFS compliance costs ballooned to more than 350% of profits in 2016, Hoffman said.Refiner costs for natural gas to run the plant and maintenance was about $18.1 million, employee costs came in at around $20.4 million, he said.The costs to comply with the RFS, however, topped them all at about $22.9 million.“Over the next five years, we’re projecting $70 million for compliance costs,” Hoffman said.The refinery started as a gusher well discovered on farm ground in the southwestern tip of Indiana in the 1930s.The farmers who owned the newly discovered oil decided to cash in, so they built a 2,000 barrel-per-day refinery near Mount Vernon, Indiana. Today, it processes about 30,000 barrels per day.The CountryMark refinery brings to market about 450 million gallons of finished fuel products each year to farms, fleets and families. The refiner is owned and operated by CountryMark’s farmer cooperatives.WAIVERS NECESSARYMatt Smorch, CountryMark vice president of refining and logistics, said the process to apply for a waiver isn’t easy but sometimes necessary. The EPA asks companies for a lot of detailed financial information, so a waiver isn’t granted automatically.Because CountryMark has received waivers retroactively, he said the company is allowed to un-retire RINs it has on hand, even though it met its RFS obligation through blending and buying RINs throughout the year. Un-retiring RINs, he said, has led to more RINs flooding the market. That has created lower demand and lower prices for RINs.When it comes to CountryMark’s un-retired RINs in 2018, however, Smorch said the law allows the company to use just 20% of those credits for 2019 compliance.Since RINs prices have fallen, the company may not be petitioning EPA for a 2019 waiver.“Depending on how the rest of the year comes in and where the markets are at, and if our RFS compliance costs are not very high, with the way everything is this year we probably won’t apply for an exemption,” Smorch said.“It wouldn’t pass the red-face test.”The company supports the RFS because it understands its importance to the rural economy and its cooperative members, he said.“We’re a farmer-owned cooperative so we blend as much in our products that we can, and we incent our members to blend,” Smorch said. “Even with everything we do through blending, we are still short.”The company blends 60% to 65% of its obligation and fills the rest through RINs purchases.“We have to go out and buy credits,” Smorch said. “Typically we buy biodiesel and sell it at the diesel price. That’s part of our cost. We don’t own retail. We have branded stations but we don’t own them. With the way the RFS is set up today, mandates are so high that it’s hard to meet in the marketplace. If we fall short of blending, the waivers are a fallback.“Is applying for an exemption something we will do every year? Probably not. It really is there for a safety valve. We’re very supportive of the RFS. We’re in rural Indiana, our refinery is in the southwest part of the state. This is what saving rural jobs looks like.”BIOFUELS DEMANDEthanol and biodiesel interests contend 85 waivers granted by the EPA has destroyed biofuels demand to the tune of about 4 billion gallons since 2016.President Donald Trump reportedly is ready to make a peace offering to farm country at some point, to alleviate the sting felt in rural America where agriculture interests have doubts about where the president stands on the RFS.Smorch said he is unconvinced small-refinery waivers have led to reduced demand for biofuels, especially since the exemptions were granted retroactively.That’s because, as an example, CountryMark already blended as much biofuels as it could and bought RINs throughout the year to comply with the RFS. The company would like to blend more but doesn’t have the ability.If CountryMark decided it was going to meet its RFS obligation only through blending, it would face the daunting task of having to blend ethanol at a blend rate of greater than 12% of all of its gasoline and sell all diesel fuel at greater than B5, or a 5% biodiesel blend.CountryMark, however, is expanding its fuel offering of E15 and continues to look for other biofuels opportunities.Hoffman said the ability to ask for waivers is important to CountryMark’s business.“It is critical to our survival,” he said.“Waivers have made a huge difference on our profitability.”Todd Neeley can be reached at todd.neeley@dtn.comFollow him Twitter @toddneeleyDTN(BAS/CZ)© Copyright 2019 DTN/The Progressive Farmer. All rights reserved.last_img read more

Factual Aims, Credibly, to Become Wikipedia 2.0

first_imgTags:#Location#NYT#web We first wrote about Factual in September and I’ve been excited about it ever since. The company’s location data seems to be getting good reviews from data consumers, but there are clearly sets that need cleaning up, too.Have you spent any time on Factual? What’s your assessment of the site’s viability? The company has assembled a very strong team, but it’s in a crowded market, too. If it can build a community of human editors, business users willing to write-back changes to its data set and strong technology to do the bulk of the heavy lifting and judgement calls on credibility, we may find the web using Factual to describe the world much like users use Wikipedia today to discuss and learn about it. That would be an exciting platform. 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… marshall kirkpatrick Imagine an online community that combines user contributions, editing and fact checking like Wikipedia, with automated data extraction like Google and complex artificial intelligence to create a rich description of the world around us that is continually refined over time. That’s what well-backed data startup Factual is aiming to create and every time I learn more about it, I fantasize about getting in and contributing to that community just like early contributors to Wikipedia did.While Wikipedia is a huge destination site, however, Factual is a data service that will be used as a platform by other sites that want to borrow the data it has captured and refined about places, people and things in the real world. Founder Gil Elbaz, one of the inventors of the technology that became Google’s advertising platform and the leader who raised money from red hot investors Andreesen Horowitz for Factual, did a fascinating interview with GPS Business News this morning where we learned more about the technology behind his site.Elbaz tells interviewer Ludovic Privat that any partner site or individual can submit a data set, a data point or an opinion about a data point.“So if you go to one of our tables and double click into a cell, you’ll find a rich history of opinions about what, for example, is the right phone number for a business. Then it’s our job to examine all these opinions and look for some sort of consensus or pattern that leads us to believe that one of them is right and one is wrong. “The job of cleaning this data, looking for spammy submissions, analyzing the sources or users that are submitting this data and then trying to boil it down into the right answer requires a lot of technology…It also comes from a sophisticated machine-learning stack that can leverage a significant proportion of the web and use various natural language technologies to structure unstructured or semi-structured data that’s on the web and pull facts from the web to validate them. “It is a living, breathing database in the sense that our partners and end-users can access our write-to API and correct things in the database in real-time and our developers have real-time access to these corrections.”Elbaz says the company is incentivizing partners to participate in the refinement of the data, including through a program where users of the data can opt-in to sharing any improvements they make back with Factual. The company announced partnerships with Facebook Places and the wildly popular social game MyTown by Booyah, earlier this month. Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… Related Posts last_img read more

Gilas cadets crush host Malaysia for 3rd victory

first_imgEthel Booba on hotel’s clarification that ‘kikiam’ is ‘chicken sausage’: ‘Kung di pa pansinin, baka isipin nila ok lang’ Cignal guns for crown vs CEU five CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/POOLKUALA LUMPUR—Malaysia managed to ruffle Gilas Pilipinas’ feathers, but it paid a big price for doing so.Before a loud crowd cheering for the host squad, the Philippines blew Malaysia apart, 98-66, to score its third straight win Wednesday night and inch closer to the Southeast Asian Games men’s basketball gold medal.ADVERTISEMENT MOST READ Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Hotel says PH coach apologized for ‘kikiam for breakfast’ claim As a result, Cruz and Amer were ejected with 5:41 left in the third quarter with Gilas protecting a 57-41 lead.Surprisingly, no Malaysian player was expelled after the incident.This fueled the Filipinos, who widened the gap to 73-46 going into the final period.Naturalized player Christian Standhardinger scored 18 points and got 18 rebounds for Gilas.Kobe Paras also had a solid outing for the second straight game to finish with 16 points off the bench.ADVERTISEMENT LATEST STORIES Lacson: SEA Games fund put in foundation like ‘Napoles case’ Trump signs bills in support of Hong Kong protesterscenter_img View comments Celebrity chef Gary Rhodes dies at 59 with wife by his side Pagasa: Storm intensifies as it nears PAR Robredo should’ve resigned as drug czar after lack of trust issue – Panelo Trending Articles PLAY LIST 00:50Trending Articles02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games03:07PH billiards team upbeat about gold medal chances in SEA Games05:25PH boxing team determined to deliver gold medals for PH03:04Filipino athletes share their expectations for 2019 SEA Games00:45Onyok Velasco see bright future for PH boxing in Olympics02:25PH women’s volleyball team motivated to deliver in front of hometown crowd01:27Filipino athletes get grand send-off ahead of SEA Games00:36Manny Pacquiao part of 2019 SEA Games opening ceremony The Philippines needed some time to heat up, trailing Malaysia, 15-20, in the first quarter as it put up poor defense and could not hit its shots.Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next NATO’s aging eye in the sky to get a last overhaul The win, which came after victories over Thailand and Myanmar, assured the Philippines of a place in the semifinals.Filipino fans packed the MABA stadium cheering for the Gilas Cadets, which is practically guaranteed the gold medal here.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSSEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completionSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSBoxers Pacquiao, Petecio torchbearers for SEA Games openingThings got a little hot in the third quarter when Kuek Tian Yuan fouled Kevin Ferrer and locked up the arm of the former UST star.This drew the ire of the Gilas players with Baser Amer, Bryan Cruz and Troy Rosario engaging Malaysian players in a pushing contest.last_img read more

House Dems Say No Backfill for WallDiverted Funds

first_img ADC AUTHOR A key House Democrat said this week she will not support adding military construction funding in fiscal year 2020 to backfill projects delayed to build a southern border wall ordered by the president.“If the administration follows through and steals money from previously approved projects, the chairwoman’s mark will not provide funding for backfill. I am not joking,” said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), who chairs the Appropriations Committee’s milcon panel, referring to the version of the bill the committee will eventually consider.House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) is trying to block a shift of $1 billion in excess money from the Army’s recruitment budget to build a wall, Politico reported.Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz at Naval Surface Warfare Center-Panama City. Navy photo by Boatswain’s Mate 1st Class Taylor Baxleylast_img read more

Hasina heads for tainted victory The Guardian

first_imgPrime minister Sheikh HasinaThe incumbent Awami League is heading for record consecutive third term in the 11th general election due on 30 December, says a report published in The Guardian on Thursday.The British newspaper says, “Bangladeshis will vote on Sunday on whether to grant a record third consecutive term to a prime minister who has overseen one of the fastest growing economies in the world, but whose government is accused of rampant human rights abuses.”Terming the election campaign as ‘bloody’, the article referred that the opposition activists have described the campaign as the most stifled in the 47 years.The report said scores of opposition figures including Hasina’s major rival, Khaleda Zia, have been jailed or disappeared in the months leading to the election.“Police harassment of opposition activists has reached unprecedented levels,” The Guardian quoted Jatiya Oikya Front leader Kamal Hossain as saying.Kamal Hossain told The Guardian that around 70 candidates of the opposition parties were too afraid to campaign in their constituencies after a spate of attacks on rallies and party offices by armed thugs.The report also referred to the attack on Kamal Hossain’s motorcade on 14 December.Two members of the Awami League were killed in the opening days of the campaign and dozens of supporters of both parties have been injured in scuffles and clashing rallies, said the report.The international election monitors and press freedom groups have complained of unnecessary delays in issuing visas, according to The Guardian.The report also said the ruling Awami League has framed an estimated 300,000 cases against the major opposition BNP and arrested thousands of its members in the run up to the election.The report, however, praises the economic development Bangladesh has made in last decade and said PM Hasina is hoping that the voters would focus on extraordinary economic progress the country made in last one decade.If the voting is free, the grievances shown by the people during recent safe road movement and quota reform movement might make an impact in voting, the report says.“Despite the buoyant balance sheet, the capital, Dhaka, has been shut down twice this year by protests that some analysts say are evidence of a wider malaise, which could be registered at the ballot boxes if Sunday’s voting is unimpeded,” the report reads.The report also quoted Bangladesh Enterprise Institute’s research director Shahab Enam Khan as saying that the road safety movement in August was stoked by popular outrage at unsafe driving and a wider culture of impunity.  “Public security issues in terms of law and order, how the law is being enforced, whether people have confidence in the judiciary, will be determinate,” Shahab quoted as saying.The report also said that the Bangladesh government was earlier accused of trampling human rights referring to a rise in enforced disappearance and crackdown on anti-narcotics drive which saw around alleged narcotics trader dead.last_img read more

trolling effect standup comedians face the heat

first_imgBollywood films are seeing cuts and beeps by the censor board, musicians are facing flak and being misinterpreted, actors are being judged on the basis of their religion. So, is stand up comedy the only platform devoid of interference from “moral policing”? In stand-up comedy, artistes take bold pot shots at politicians or comment on social issues like the beef ban – yet most of them feel that people in India are not quite ready to be criticised or mocked. Also Read – Add new books to your shelfStand-up comedian Appurv Gupta, who has more than 200 shows to his credit, says “online trolls are making sure that even comedians won’t say what they want to say”.”These days, everyone is getting hurt over even small things and if we say something that affects them emotionally or forces them to think about their past decisions, then they can go to any level – especially on internet – and they make sure that either they win the argument, or you stop arguing with them,” Gupta said. Also Read – Over 2 hours screen time daily will make your kids impulsive”I, as a comedian, think twice before writing a small tweet and think about the consequences; so I doubt whether I have freedom of speech, specially at this point of time. Things were different 2-3 years back. I don’t know whether this change is good or bad for everyone, but, yes, freedom of speech is facing a struggle in India,” he added.On the other hand, Amit Tandon, who has done more than 700 shows in India and on foreign shores, feels stand-comedy is “one of the voices” against the negativity escalating in the country, but he believes that “other people are doing better jobs than comedians, like RTI (Right To Information) activists, NGOs, etc”. “In fact, stand-up comedy shows you that there is still freedom of speech because, despite all the FIRs, no comedian has actually gone to jail. It shows that it is okay to speak against the government,” Tandon quipped.On a positive note, Neeti Palta, who gives a female point of view on a variety of subjects, from Indian idiosyncrasies, to daily irritants, to current affairs – all the while poking fun at men, pointed out that since the time of “Akbar and Birbal, comedy has always been used as a tool to sugarcoat hard truths and make them more palatable. And so is the case today”.”It reflects the ethos of the era it exists in. Be it a poking fun at intolerance or a bunch of idiots who are all too easily offended, or the current political scenario, or even the alter lives we lead in cyber space. Everything is rich ground for material,” she said.Arjun Anand, co-founder at Punchliners, a stand-up comedy platform, said that every comedian expresses his perspective through distinct forms of comedy. But he believes that “sensitive issues must be handled sensitively”.Sorabh Pant concurs, saying that he thinks twice about his jokes only when it is related to Indian politicians.”I want to make sure that I am not saying anything that is incorrect. I will criticise (Prime Minister) Narendra Modi, (Chief Minister of Delhi) Arvind Kejriwal and (Congress leader) Rahul Gandhi, but I am also going to figure out their positive side to keep it balanced because all three of them have quite a vast number of supporters in the country and it is a little unfair to disrespect them,” Pant said.last_img read more