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Energy Tomorrow Blog

Politics Underline the Folly of the RFS

renewable fuel standard  rfs34  ethanol in gasoline  epa  blend wall  refinieries  regulation 

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted October 8, 2014

Others are picking up on how late EPA is in setting this year’s ethanol use requirements – as well as how political calculations appear to be affecting the administration’s management of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Politico (subscription required) has this:

The Obama administration is nearly a year late in setting its 2014 biofuels mandate, but both ethanol supporters and critics say with politics at play, the White House may delay its decision until after the midterm elections.

Politico adds:

Several sources following the issue closely say that the White House hoped that boosting the overall volumes would be enough to act as a boon to (Democrat Bruce Braley in Iowa’s U.S. Senate race). But renewable fuels advocates in the state aren’t happy with that compromise, so anything short of a clear victory for ethanol makers could hurt Braley’s campaign. … “If they increase the number, but it’s still tied to the (ethanol) blend wall, in our view, they will have killed the program, and that will be seen as a huge loss for Braley, and they’ll wait until after the election,” said one person in the biofuels industry. “If it’s good for Braley, it’ll be before the election. If it’s bad for Braley, it’ll be a punt. And people will see the punt.”

Indeed they will. They can’t help but see energy policy being contorted to serve political ends. It’s no way to conduct energy policy, and it’s no way to treat Americans who ultimately could be impacted by decisions (or the lack thereof) under the RFS.

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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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No Time for Playing Politics with RFS

renewable fuel standard  ethanol blends  epa politics  consumers  e10 blend wall  e15  e85 

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted September 11, 2014

Mixing politics and energy makes for bad energy policy. Exhibit A: the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

We’ve posted a couple of times (here and here) on EPA’s failure to be on time with its annual requirements for ethanol use, which is critical for refiners to comply with the law. If you missed it, the 2014 requirements were due Nov. 30, 2013, nine months ago. That’s a broken program. Now politics may enter in where it shouldn’t.

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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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Energy and Strong, Growing Communities

Economy  jobs  american energy  fracking  ethanol  colorado 

Mary Leshper

Mary Schaper
Posted September 5, 2014

Greeley Tribune: A study by an energy initiative at Duke University shows that Colorado’s booming oil and gas industry has had a positive impact on public finances to date.

“Our research indicates that the net impact of recent oil and gas development has generally been positive for local public finances,” states the report, conducted by Daniel Raimi and Richard Newell of the Duke University Energy Initiative. “While costs arising from new service demands have been large in many regions, increased revenues from a variety of sources have generally outweighed them or at least kept pace, allowing local governments to maintain and in some cases expand or improve the services they provide.”

In Colorado, besides some harsher impacts on the Western Slope, the industry’s impact was a net positive, the study found, meaning that the benefits of the industry outweighed the costs of supplying services to support the industry.

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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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The Future Promise of American Energy

american energy  Economy  royalty payments  royalties  ethanol  fracking  jobs 

Mary Leshper

Mary Schaper
Posted August 25, 2014

Lompoc (Calif.) Record: Karen Sherrill is a widow who lives alone in a nice modular home park in Orcutt. She recently retired from a job with a local travel company. And like a number of people, she supplements her income with money she receives from a local oil company which leases her mineral rights.

Because she relies so much on her lease checks from Greka Energy, she's concerned about Measure P and how it could affect her income. The voter-driven initiative to ban oil extraction methods of hydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking, cyclic steaming and well acidization in Santa Barbara County is on the November ballot.

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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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Big Ethanol’s E10 Giveaway

ethanol  renewable fuel standard  e10  e15  Economy 

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted August 15, 2014

Helmets off – as in motorcycle helmets – to the Renewable Fuel Association (RFA) for conducting an E10 fuel giveaway at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally earlier this month in South Dakota.

We know Big Ethanol prefers ethanol in stronger doses than E10 (up to 10 percent content), but RFA must realize its efforts to get more of the higher ethanol-blend E15 into the nation’s fuel supply has risks with certain audiences.

Take motorcycle enthusiasts. The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) has been direct in its concerns about E15 in the fuel marketplace:

Inadvertent misfueling with E15 (15 percent ethanol by volume) fuel is a significant concern to AMA members. E15 use can void manufacturers’ warranties, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has acknowledged that E15 can damage engines. Although the EPA has approved its use in 2001-and-newer light-duty vehicles – which include cars, light-duty trucks and medium-duty passenger vehicles – the EPA has not approved its use in the estimated 22 million motorcycles and ATVs currently in operation. … Preventing these inadvertent misfuelings has been one of the AMA’s main concerns, because a vast majority of motorcycles and ATVs on the road and trail in the United States today are not designed to run on ethanol blends higher than 10 percent. And many older machines favored by vintage motorcycle enthusiasts have problems with any ethanol in the fuel.

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