Moving Grain: EPA Finalizes Ethanol, Biodiesel Blending Requirement

    Hankinson Renewable Energy plant near Hankinson, North Dakota

    EPA Finalizes Ethanol and Biodiesel Blending Requirement

    On June 3, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized the renewable volume obligation (RVO), at 20.63 billion gallons for 2022. The RVO is the EPA-set minimum of renewable fuel that must be blended with gasoline or diesel and made available to consumers, for a given year.

    EPA’s 2022 RVO includes 15 billion gallons of ethanol, up from 12.5 billion gallons finalized in 2020 and 13.79 billion gallons in 2021. The 2022 biodiesel volume is set at 2.76 billion gallons, up from the 2.43 billion gallons set in both 2020 and 2021.

    The 2022 ethanol and biodiesel totals comprise the highest RVO to be finalized since EPA’s Renewable Fuel Standard was created in 2007. According to EPA, the increased RVO will help reduce the Nation’s dependence on oil.

    The high blending requirements are also intended to diversify the fuel supply by raising domestic biofuel production. The additional blending requirements will require more grain and should increase the demand for transporting grain and biofuels.

    Oregon Rail-to-Barge Facility Receives $2 Million State Grant

    The Oregon Transportation Commission approved a $2.1 million grant for the Morrow County Grain Growers (MCGG) cooperative to expand its rail-to-barge grain facility at the Port of Morrow on the Columbia River. The grant will cover two-thirds of the project’s $3 million dollar cost.

    Grain News on AgFax

    The MCGG board, which is responsible for the final costs not covered by the grant, must issue the final approval. The Port of Morrow facility is currently the only one on the Columbia River that can unload grain from rail cars into barges headed to downstream export elevators.

    The expansion will install a new 600,000-bushel grain bin, which will enable the facility to handle Canadian Pacific trains of 134 or more railcars. According to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers data, from 2016 to 2020, grain shipments originating or moving through the Columbia River system ranged between 27.5 million tons and 33.8 million tons—or 66-74 percent of all shipments on the river.

    From 2016 to 2020, wheat was the primary grain commodity shipped on the Columbia, with shipments ranging between 12.7 million tons and 16.4 million tons.

    Port of Houston Starts Ship Channel Expansion Project

    On June 1, the Port of Houston started Project 11 to expand the Houston Ship Channel—the planning for which started in 2010. Scheduled for completion in 2025, the $1.1 billion expansion project will allow the ship channel to accommodate an additional 1,400 vessels per year.

    Along the Houston Ship Channel’s 26-mile reach to the Galveston Bay, Project 11 will increase the channel’s width from 530 feet to 700 feet. It will also increase the upstream segments’ depth from the current 45 feet to 46.5 feet.

    Currently, the channel accommodates about 8,200 vessels and 215,000 barges each year, hauling more than 247 million tons of cargo. The Port of Houston handled 5 percent of total U.S. exported bulk grains, soybeans, and grain products in 2020.

    Snapshots by Sector

    Export Sales

    For the week ending June 2 unshipped balances of wheat, corn, and soybeans totaled 26.1 million metric tons (mmt), up 2 percent from the same time last year and up 10 percent from the previous week.

    Net corn export sales were 0.280 mmt, up 51 percent from the previous week. Net soybean export sales were 0.430 mmt, up significantly from the previous week. Net weekly wheat export sales for the new marketing year 2022/23 (which began June 1) were 0.451 mmt.


    U.S. Class I railroads originated 23,867 grain carloads during the week ending June 4. This was a 10-percent increase from the previous week, 12 percent more than last year, and 13 percent more than the 3-year average.

    Average June shuttle secondary railcar bids/offers (per car) were $432 above tariff for the week ending June 9. This was $1,366 less than last week and $727 more than this week last year.


    For the week ending June 11, barged grain movements totaled 828,930 tons. This was 42 percent higher than the previous week and 1 percent higher than the same period last year.

    For the week ending June 11, 528 grain barges moved down river—159 more barges than the previous week. There were 704 grain barges unloaded in the New Orleans region, 25 percent higher than last week.


    For the week ending June 9, 32 oceangoing grain vessels were loaded in the Gulf—6 percent fewer than the same period last year. Within the next 10 days (starting June 3), 38 vessels were expected to be loaded—16 percent fewer than the same period last year.

    As of June 9, the rate for shipping a metric ton (mt) of grain from the U.S. Gulf to Japan was $79.50. This was 1 percent less than the previous week. The rate from the Pacific Northwest to Japan was $45.25 per mt, 2 percent less than the previous week.


    For the week ending June 13, the U.S. average diesel fuel price increased 1.5 cents from the previous week to $5.718 per gallon, 243.2 cents above the same week last year.

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