Energy Tomorrow Blog
Posted August 20, 2020
Natural gas as the essential partner for renewables such as wind and solar is something we’ve talked about a lot (see here, here and here). Californians have been schooled on this point recently, with millions suffering under rolling blackouts during soaring temperatures because electrical utilities couldn’t keep pace with skyrocketing demand.
The state’s renewables mandate has played a role in their misery. By requiring that 60% of California’s electricity must come from renewables by 2030 and through green energy subsidies, the state has seen the competitive balance tilt away from other, more flexible power sources, including cleaner natural gas.
John D. Siciliano
Posted January 16, 2020
Natural gas can’t be beat when it comes to its superior performance in heating a home, especially when compared to heat pumps and other appliances that rely solely on electricity.
Natural gas-powered appliances are both more cost-effective and environmentally friendly for homeowners when compared to their all-electric counterparts, according to consumer studies and government reports.
So, why are some groups campaigning to ban homeowners from using natural gas in favor of these more expensive alternatives?
Posted September 18, 2019
As the United States’ leading source for electricity generation, natural gas is indispensable to our power grid. And, as a cleaner-burning fuel, it is essential to climate progress, accounting for more than 60% of power-related carbon dioxide emission reductions since 2005, which are at their lowest levels in a generation.
Worldwide energy demand grew last year by 2.3% – the fastest this decade – and natural gas emerged as the fuel of choice, accounting for 45% of the rise in consumption, according to the International Energy Agency. These numbers demonstrate the ongoing importance of abundant American natural gas in meeting the growing global push for sustainable, affordable fuels. Given this, the U.S. natural gas and oil industry is laser-focused on balancing the realities of consumer demand with the risks of a changing climate.
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 May 16, 2019
Updated and new API standards that address the ethanol blended into the nation’s gasoline supply – developed in partnership with the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) – will enhance the natural gas and oil industry’s ability to safely trade and/or ship its products.
Certainly, our industry has disagreed with RFA over policies and specific provisions related to the Renewable Fuel Standard’s mandates for increasing ethanol use in the nation’s gasoline. Even so, we agree on the need for technical standards to help ensure the safe transfer of products and work together to develop them.
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.