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Energy Tomorrow Blog

The RFS and Regulatory Uncertainty

renewable fuel standard  epa  ethanol  e15  e10 blend wall  e85  cellulosic biofuels 

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted April 30, 2014

In seeking regulatory certainty, compliance with rules and deadlines and policies that acknowledge market realities, industry is hardly being unreasonable. Unfortunately, these are scarce in EPA’s setting of new ethanol use levels under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

Let’s start with deadlines. Under the law EPA was supposed to tell refiners by the end of last November how much ethanol would have to be blended into the U.S. fuel supply this year. Four months into the year, refiners are still waiting. That’s regulatory uncertainty.

Market reality? EPA continues to signal on cellulosic biofuels that the 2014 mandate will have no connection to actual commercial production – setting up an absurd situation where refiners could be penalized because a “phantom fuel” doesn’t exist in commercial volumes necessary to satisfy the mandate.

Hello, EPA, can we talk?

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Shale Development Providing Opportunity Across the Country

fracking  american energy  jobs  Economy  Energy Security  new york  texas  ohio  keystone xl pipeline  ethanol 

Mary Leshper

Mary Schaper
Posted April 30, 2014

Albany Business Review: Some New York farmers, particularly those living in the state's Southern Tier, are in favor of high-volume hydraulic fracturing. Steuben County dairy farmer Terry Waters, 60, said it would "pull us out of the hole."

 

As farmers like Waters continue to face financial hardship due to rising costs, they are seeing their counterparts in Pennsylvania benefiting from the natural gas resources located underneath their properties.

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The Importance of Getting Energy Policy Right

renewable fuel standard  economic impacts  blend wall  ethanol 

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted April 15, 2014

Yesterday we looked started looking at the oil and natural gas industry’s economic impact on individual states with a focus on Kentucky. Today, let’s talk about the importance of having the right energy policies in place to avoid negative impacts on local economies and individual consumes. Again, we’ll consider Kentucky.

Last month White Castle restaurant chain CEO Lisa Ingram wrote an op-ed piece for the Louisville Courier-Journalthat explained how the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) is having local, negative impact. Though the first White Castle opened in Wichita, Kan., nearly a century ago, Ingram writes, the chain has deep ties to Kentucky and serves more customers in Louisville than all but a few other markets. The city is home to one of the company’s frozen food plants, which employs nearly 200.

Yet the RFS – energy policy that has become obsolete and counter-productive in the midst of the U.S. domestic energy revolution – is putting upward pressure on food prices by requiring ever-increasing use of ethanol in the fuel supply.

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Energy Discovery and Innovation is Bringing Benefits

Economy  jobs  fracking  texas  ethanol  renewable fuel standard 

Mary Leshper

Mary Schaper
Posted April 11, 2014

NPR: South Texas is in the midst of a massive oil boom. In just a few years, it has totally transformed once-sleepy communities along a crescent swoosh known as the Eagle Ford Shale formation and has brought unexpected prosperity — along with a host of new concerns. Among the towns drastically changed by the drilling is Cotulla, southwest of San Antonio, about 70 miles up from the border with Mexico. The area is called brush country — flat, dry ranch land, scrubby with mesquite and parched by drought.

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New RFS Ad: ‘Our Boat Engine Just Died’

ethanol blends  renewable fuel standard  regulation  epa  consumers  cellulosic biofuels 

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted March 25, 2014

Check out our new ads on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS)  – including a video that highlights in a humorous way the potential negative impacts for consumers from RFS mandates that force higher ethanol blends into the marketplace.

Unfunny would be seeing boaters left high and (not so) dry because their marine engine conked out, damaged by higher ethanol-blend fuel. Or stranded motorists, or home owners with outdoor equipment ruined by using fuel with more ethanol content than the mower or trimmer was designed to use. These are the real-world stakes in the current debate over the RFS and its ethanol mandates.

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Problems With a Planned Economy – RFS Edition

renewable fuel standard  ethanol  e15  epa standards  consumers  engine safety 

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted March 21, 2014

With winter grudgingly giving way to spring, the guess here is discussion of the flawed Renewable Fuel Standard’s ethanol mandateshigher ethanol-blend fuels like E15 and the “blend wall” will rekindle debate in Congress.

Lawmakers must act, because while EPA has proposed lowering ethanol-mandate levels from 2013, the rule still isn’t final (it was due at the end of November last year) and would only temporarily address potentially harmful impacts of the blend wall – to consumers and the broader economy.

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Straight Talk on the RFS, Ethanol Mandates

renewable fuel standard  ethanol blends  e85  e15  blend wall 

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted February 24, 2014

In recent years we’ve regularly disagreed with the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) because its ethanol mandates could harm consumers and the broader economy. The conversation with Big Ethanol has been, well, spirited. That said, hats off to RFA for including an oil and natural gas industry executive as one of the keynote speakers at the recent National Ethanol Conference (NEC).

Marathon Petroleum’s David Whikehart, director of product supply and optimization, was invited, said RFA’s Bob Dinneen, because “it is critical that we be open to the message of our customer.” A constructive view for sure.

The oil and natural gas industry supports ethanol and other renewable fuels. We are the ethanol industry’s biggest customer. Yet, the ethanol mandates in the RFS potentially could result in damaged vehicle engines as well as powerand marine equipment and already have played a part in higher food costs and other consumer impacts recently. All of the above threaten to erode critical public support for renewable fuels, which is why the RFS should be repealed.

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America’s Energy Edge – U.S. Energy Promises New Opportunities

american energy  fracking  keystone xl pipeline  Economy  jobs  Environment  Energy Security  ethanol  regulation 

Mary Leshper

Mary Schaper
Posted February 19, 2014

The Geopolitical Consequences of the Shale Revolution 

Foreign Affairs (Blackwell and O’Sullivan): Only five years ago, the world’s supply of oil appeared to be peaking, and as conventional gas production declined in the United States, it seemed that the country would become dependent on costly natural gas imports. But in the years since, those predictions have proved spectacularly wrong. Global energy production has begun to shift away from traditional suppliers in Eurasia and the Middle East, as producers tap unconventional gas and oil resources around the world, from the waters of Australia, Brazil, Africa, and the Mediterranean to the oil sands of Alberta. The greatest revolution, however, has taken place in the United States, where producers have taken advantage of two newly viable technologies to unlock resources once deemed commercially infeasible: horizontal drilling, which allows wells to penetrate bands of shale deep underground, and hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which uses the injection of high-pressure fluid to release gas and oil from rock formations. 

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No More Excuses: It’s Time to Build the Keystone XL Pipeline

keystone xl pipeline  Environment  Energy Security  jobs  manufacturing  ethanol  fracking 

Mary Leshper

Mary Schaper
Posted February 3, 2014

With last week’s release of the fifth positive environmental study of the pipeline by the State Department, much is being written about benefits that would follow the project’s approval – including jobs and economic stimulus – without significantly impacting the environment.

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The Evidence Against the RFS

renewable fuel standard  ethanol  blend wall  epa 

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted January 31, 2014

We’ve written quite a bit about bad things that could occur because of the Renewable Fuel Standard’s (RFS) mandates for ever-increasing ethanol use in the fuel supply – from potential damage to vehicle engines and small power equipment engines tobroader impacts in the economy.  A study by NERA Economic Consulting warned that RFS mandates could lead to fuel rationing and supply shortages that by 2015 could drive up gasoline costs 30 percent and the cost of diesel by 300 percent.

Now EPA is in the last lap in the process to set ethanol use levels for 2014. The agency’s proposal is reduced from where it was in 2013. EPA even acknowledged the ethanol “blend wall” – the point where, to satisfy the RFS, refiners have to blend fuel with higher ethanol content than millions of vehicles are designed to use.

EPA should follow through and set this year’s mandate so we avoid the blend wall and its onerous impacts this year. For a permanent solution, Congress should repeal the RFS.


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