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Energy Tomorrow Blog

The Food, Environmental Dilemmas of the RFS

renewable fuel standard  rfs34  environmental impact  ethanol  greenhouse gas emissions 

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted March 7, 2015

The politics of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and its mandates for ever-increasing ethanol use are on display this weekend in Iowa, a key presidential primary state. Nothing against Iowa – or ethanol, for that matter – but the RFS illustrates that when you mix energy policy and politics bad public policy can result.

Certainly, the RFS shows the difficulty of trying to apply central planning to the marketplace, of trying to mandate consumer behavior. The RFS is a relic of the era of energy scarcity in the U.S. whose best intentions have been superseded by surging domestic oil and natural gas production.

Still, the RFS remains and along with it potential risks to the economy, vehicle engines and more. It also risks unintended consequences, including a moral/ethical dilemma over whether food should be turned into fuels, as well as concern for the environmental impact of corn ethanol production.

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RFS and Consequence

renewable fuel standard  rfs34  ethanol  environmental impact  e85 

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted December 22, 2014

A new peer-reviewed study of transportation fueling options generated a pretty good buzz last week, basically for the finding that electric vehicles might not be as good for the environment as previously thought. Another of the study’s conclusions also is worth underscoring: the negative environmental impacts of corn ethanol in fuels.

A team of University of Minnesota researchers assessed life-cycle air quality impacts of 10 alternatives to conventional gasoline vehicles. On corn ethanol:

We find that powering vehicles with corn ethanol or with coal-based or “grid average” electricity increases monetized environmental health impacts by 80% or more relative to using conventional gasoline.

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Ethanol Policy, E15 and Real-World Impacts

ethanol blends  e15  e10  renewable fuel standard  regulation  consumers  environmental impact 

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted November 3, 2014

Sometimes the public policy debate occurs at an academic level, and it’s easy to overlook the impact on real Americans.  A good example is the campaign to push higher ethanol-blend fuels into the marketplace, which could negatively affect millions of consumers and hinder the broader economy. True enough, but we should also look at the real-world impacts of forcing increasing levels of ethanol into the fuel supply, impacts on individual Americans like Russell Garcia in Chicago.

Garcia owns five independent service stations in Chicago. He recently wrote a letter to the editor of the Chicago Tribune to point out the consequences of a city council proposal to require Chicago gas stations to carry E15 gasoline – fuel containing up to 15 percent ethanol, 50 percent more ethanol than the E10 gasoline that’s prevalent across the country.

Garcia wrote that E15 won’t deliver benefits promised by proponents, such as cost savings and environmental improvements. Instead, he wrote, it would impact consumers and small business owners like himself and ultimately be worse for the environment.

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Energy Today – April 30, 2013

keystone xl pipeline  fracking  gasoline taxes  environmental impact 

Mary Leshper

Mary Schaper
Posted April 30, 2013

BloombergApprove Keystone Now

Bloomberg’s editorial board argues that rather than encouraging more study on the Keystone XL pipeline, President Obama should “now prod the State Department to move as fast as possible” to approve the project.

AEI Carpe Diem BlogTexas Oil Output Continues

Mark J. Perry writes, “The exponential increase in Texas oil production over the last several years is nothing short of phenomenal, and is a direct result of … game-changing drilling technologies in America that have now revolutionized the nation’s production of shale oil.”

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MIT: The Facts On Fracking Methane Emissions

natural gas  fracking  environmental impact  energy policy  domestic energy  access 

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted November 28, 2012

A new MIT study shows that the extraction of shale gas through hydraulic fracturing emits only a fraction more methane into the air than conventional gas drilling

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