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Energy Tomorrow Blog

The Renewable Fuels Farce

renewable fuel standard  rfs34  ethanol in gasoline  blend wall  epa  cellulosic biofuels  refinieries  e85 

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted October 2, 2014

Update: EPA waves white flag on 2014 RFS requirements.

The absurdity surrounding the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) continues:

Those Late 2014 Ethanol Requirements – EPA now is 10 months late with setting this year’s requirements for ethanol use. Under the RFS, the agency is required to tell obligated parties, like refiners, how much ethanol they’re required to use in a calendar year by November of the previous year. Thus, requirements for 2014 ethanol use were due in November, 2013.

As it is we’re getting closer to the point where the absurd becomes the ridiculous, with the growing possibility EPA could end up setting 2014’s requirements in 2015. It would be like something from one of the late, great Johnny Carson’s “Carnac the Magnificent” sketches: “Oh Unfortunate Ones, here’s how much ethanol you should have used …”

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More Good News on Methane Emissions

greenhouse gas emissions  methane emissions  oil and natural gas development  epa  hydraulic fracturing  horizontal drilling 

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted September 30, 2014

Some talk – some take to the streets – pushing for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. The oil and natural gas industry is actually doing it. New EPA data supports:

  • Methane emissions from oil and natural gas systems decreased 12 percent since 2011.
  • The largest reductions come from hydraulically fractured natural gas wells – down 73 percent since 2011.
  • Industry’s overall greenhouse gas emissions (CO2 equivalent) decreased 1 percent in 2013 compared to 2012.
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The Facts on Methane and Fracking

hydraulic fracturing  fracking  natural gas benefits  emission reductions  methane  epa  greenhouse gases 

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted September 23, 2014

Environmental groups want more regulation targeting methane emissions from oil and natural gas production. While this is what environmental groups often do, the new methane alarm is especially curious given the fact situation.

This is reflected in the dramatic decline in emissions of methane (CH4) from 2006 to 2012, according to EPA’s Inventory of Greenhouse Gases  – 39.4 percent to be exact. This occurred while natural gas production was growing 37 percent during the same time period, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

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Facts, Credible Research Undercut E15 Claims

air quality  e15  renewable fuel standard  epa  greenhouse gas emissions 

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted September 12, 2014

One of the oft-repeated claims of ethanol producers is that higher-ethanol blend fuels like E15 are better for air quality than the E10 gasoline that’s the staple of the U.S. fuel supply. Short response: No. And while we’ve addressed the ethanol/air quality claim recently here and here, spurious assertions often have more lives than Lulu, my daughter’s cat. So let’s look at the facts and credible research again.

We’ll underscore “facts and credible research,” because an advocacy group is promoting a study on ethanol, air quality and potential cancer risks that isn’t an original study at all. Rather, it’s an overly simplistic exercise in data aggregation that ignores the confounding effects of different test procedures, laboratories and fuel properties. In other words, it’s a crummy analysis that would send real scientists running in the other way.

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RFS - Still Late, Still a Problem

renewable fuel standard  epa  ethanol  blend wall  refinieries 

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted September 9, 2014

If you’re keeping track at home – and we sure are – EPA is now nine months late in issuing ethanol-use requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) for 2014. That’s no typo. EPA is nine months late with its ethanol rule for this year.

By law EPA was required to set 2014 ethanol-use levels last November, 2013. You know, so that folks obligated under the RFS to blend ethanol into the nation’s fuel supply could actually plan to comply with the law

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Our Energy, Our Benefits

economic benefits  gasoline prices  oil production  hydraulic fracturing  ethanol  epa 

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted August 29, 2014

New York Times: THREE RIVERS, Tex. — Whenever overseas turmoil has pushed energy prices higher in the past, John and Beth Hughes have curbed their driving by eating at home more and shopping locally. But the current crises in Ukraine and Iraq did not stop them from making the two-hour drive to San Antonio to visit the Alamo, have a chicken fried steak lunch, and buy fish for their tank before driving home to Corpus Christi.

“We were able to take a day-cation because of the lower gas prices,” said Ms. Hughes.

The reason for the improved economics of road travel can be found 10,000 feet below the ground here, where the South Texas Eagle Ford shale is providing more than a million new barrels of oil supplies to the world market every day. United States refinery production in recent weeks reached record highs and left supply depots flush, cushioning the impact of all the instability surrounding traditional global oil fields.

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E15, Science and the Facts

e15  ethanol blends  renewable fuel standard  epa  cellulosic biofuels  regulation 

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted August 27, 2014

There was an interesting article last year from Ian Boyd, a chief scientific adviser in the government of the United Kingdom.  In it Boyd looks at the role that science plays in public policy, including this clarification and warning:

Strictly speaking, the role of science should be to provide information to those having to make decisions, including the public, and to ensure that the uncertainties around that information are made clear. When scientists start to stray into providing views about whether decisions based upon the evidence are right or wrong they risk being politicised.

This comes to mind with a recent Huffington Post article lauding a proposal that would require Chicago service stations to offer E15 fuel, authored by Michael Wang and Jennifer Dunn, scientists with the Argonne National Laboratory.

Wang and Dunn write that mandating E15 – containing 50 percent more ethanol than the E10 gasoline that’s the staple of the U.S. fuel supply – is a “step in the right direction,” because of its environmental benefits. Actually, the Chicago ethanol mandate would be a giant leap backward for consumers, small business owners and, yes, the environment.

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Stricter Ozone Rule = Nonattainment for Arkansas

ozone  ozone standards  economic impacts  arkansas  epa  emissions  jobs  Economy 

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted August 22, 2014

The national standard for ground-level ozone hardly needs tinkering. As noted  earlier this year by Howard Feldman, API’s director of scientific and regulatory affairs, air quality in the U.S. has been steadily improving in recent years, and the health case for a more stringent ozone standard, which EPA may propose, hasn’t been made:

“We recognize that EPA has a statutory duty to periodically review the standards. However, the current review of health studies has not identified compelling evidence for more stringent standards. Tightened standards could impose unachievable emission reduction requirements on virtually every part of the nation, including rural and undeveloped areas. These could be the costliest EPA regulations ever.”

Costly nationally and to the states individually. A report for the National Association of Manufacturers says the U.S. could see a $270 billion per year reduction in GDP and 2.9 million fewer job equivalents per year on average through 2040. We’ve looked at potential state impacts in North CarolinaOhioLouisianaKentucky and Michigan. Today, Arkansas:

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Stricter Ozone Rule = Nonattainment for Michigan

ozone standards  economic impacts  michigan  epa  emissions 

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted August 21, 2014

As with other states we’ve recently highlighted – North CarolinaOhioLouisiana and Kentucky – the impacts of more stringent standards for ground-level ozone on Michigan could be wide and significant. According to a recentreport from the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), Michigan could see $75.3 billion gross state product loss from 2017 to 2040 and 83,092 lost jobs or job equivalents per year.

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Retailers, Consumers and Higher Ethanol Blends

e15  e85  ethanol blends  renewable fuel standard  consumers  epa 

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted August 20, 2014

Other voices continue to weigh in on the higher-ethanol blend fuels, E15 and E85. Three associations representing independent petroleum marketing companies and fuel retail outlets have written the White House, expressing concern for the fuels’ compatibility with the nation’s vehicular fleet and consumer acceptance.

In separate letters to John Podesta, White House counselor for energy and climate policy – the Petroleum Marketers Association of America (PMAA) in one and the Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers of America (SIGMA) and the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) in another – the associations caution that pushing more and more E15 and E85 into the fuel supply could cause problems for retailers and consumers.

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