Energy Tomorrow Blog
Posted September 16, 2019
An attack on a Saudi Arabian oil processing facility over the weekend has knocked out a significant part of Saudi production, at least temporarily, shaking oil markets. The precise amount and duration of the outage remains uncertain, and there are still unknowns about the attack that caused it, which in turn has inflated the risk premium on oil prices due to market fears about what may happen next within the region.
The market’s initial direction is clear, with Brent crude oil up more than $8 per barrel as of 3 p.m. Monday, per Bloomberg. Let’s break down what’s happened in context, recognizing that the U.S. energy revolution has fundamentally added to U.S. and global near-term deliverability of oil, natural gas and natural gas liquids, generally helping stabilize the global market against supply disruptions.
Posted September 3, 2019
The story of the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) is long and unfortunate – a program that is now largely obsolete thanks to surging domestic energy, whose mandates continue to loom over American consumers without many of the benefits it was supposed to provide. It lives on, protected by ethanol producers and corn state/presidential politics.
That’s the context for RFS policy tweaks expected soon from the White House – more fiddling with a flawed program that will attempt to force higher content of ethanol-blended fuel into the U.S. supply, potentially impacting consumers, while creating an uneven playing field in the refining sector.
Posted June 11, 2019
We’ve warned before (see here, here and here) that the broken Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and its mandates for ever-increasing ethanol use put consumers at risk. And that the administration’s recent decision to allow summer sales of E15 fuel – a blend containing 50 percent more ethanol than the E10 gasoline that’s widespread across the country – is an ineffective approach to addressing concerns with the RFS that will only serve to make things worse. Now, we can add another report to the long list of evidence that the RFS needs to be sunset – this time coming from the non-partisan U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO).The GAO recently reviewed the effects of the RFS and found that requiring the use of corn-based ethanol and biodiesel in gasoline supplies hasn’t lowered pump prices or significantly reduced greenhouse gas emissions – two of the main goals of the flawed RFS program. In fact, the review finds that gas prices outside of the corn-rich Midwest likely increased because of the program. To make matters worse, the review also found that there has been little, if any, reduction in greenhouse gas emissions – a main selling point used by proponents to justify the program.
Posted June 3, 2019
The administration’s decision to allow summer sales of E15 fuel – a blend containing 50 percent more ethanol than the E10 gasoline that’s widespread across the country – is a disappointing and ineffective approach to addressing concerns with the broken Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).
EPA’s rulemaking that extends the RVP waiver, effectively lifting a ban on summertime E15 sales, only worsens risks for U.S. consumers – given repeated warnings that pushing more E15 into the fuel supply could harm the vast majority of vehicles on the road that aren’t designed to use it, as well as engines in motorcycles, boats and lawn equipment for which E15 is incompatible. All to help farmers struggling under the weight of the administration’s own harmful trade tariffs.
It may seem obvious, but apparently it needs stating: EPA should be most concerned about the interests of U.S. consumers as it forms policy, not cleaning up messes caused by the administration’s flawed trade policy.
Posted April 25, 2019
To be clear, the oil and natural gas industry is not opposed to ethanol. We are opposed to incentivizing the use of E15 through extending the waiver as the majority of vehicles and refueling infrastructure are not designed for it. By pursuing this policy and pushing more E15 into the market, the EPA is putting consumers’ vehicles at risk for undue damage, potentially forcing them to pay for expensive car repair bills. In addition to being bad for consumers, this proposal goes beyond EPA’s statutory authority. This proposal conflicts with the clear language of the Clean Air Act. Furthermore it is inconsistent with nearly three decades of EPA statutory interpretation of its authority as well as congressional intent. If this rule is finalized, API will challenge this rule in court.
Posted February 27, 2019
EPA’s proposal to reform a key component of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) would only worsen the already broken RFS, a new study finds. The analysis by Covington & Burling for API affirms that the administration’s proposal to reform the market for Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) under the RFS misdiagnoses the problem with the RINs market and provides misguided and counterproductive changes.
Posted December 11, 2018
As debates continue over the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and its ethanol mandates, let’s remember that when the RFS was enacted more than a decade ago it was supposed to jumpstart a commercially viable cellulosic ethanol industry – ethanol made from the leaves, stems and other fibrous parts of a plant.
This has not happened. Far from it. Despite increased mandates under the RFS for cellulosic ethanol, those mandates have dwarfed actual production. The result is a costly proposition for American consumers and an object lesson on what can happen when government tries to use policy to favor a certain technology. Let’s explore the issue.
Posted November 19, 2018
EPA likely will need to take the lead in rescuing U.S. consumers from the potential negative impacts of the federal ethanol mandate, given the shrinking chance that Congress will pass significant reforms to the broken Renewal Fuel Standard (RFS) program.
That’s the view of the natural gas and oil industry, which continues to warn of the possible consumer risks posed by the RFS, which was launched before the shale energy revolution and has been largely made obsolete by surging domestic production.
Posted October 30, 2018
There has been a recent flurry of news about whether the Trump administration will succeed in easing the rollout of new international rules to power commercial ships with environmentally cleaner fuels.
The main fear is the change of rules could drive up demand and prices for low-sulfur fuels like diesel fuel – and ultimately the costs to consumers and businesses for their motor fuels, transportation, and everything that depends on them.
Posted October 29, 2018
The Trump administration’s plan to push more high ethanol-blended E15 into the nation’s fuel supply doesn’t sit well with U.S. voters – for the consumer reasons we’ve been talking about for months (see here, here and here).
A new national survey of 1,001 registered voters across the country, conducted by Harris Poll, shows bipartisan concern about expanded sales of E15, which contains 50 percent more ethanal than E10 fuel, which is standard in the U.S.