Energy Tomorrow Blog
Posted November 26, 2014
The New York Times has an editorial urging Washington to regulate emissions of methane – no surprise as “The Gray Lady” has to uphold her “green” bonafides. But methane as an “overlooked” greenhouse gas, as the editorial’s headline states? Hardly.
While the Times may have just discovered methane, industry has been working to reduce emissions – and is succeeding, at a rate that casts doubt on the need for a new federal regulatory layer.
Posted November 25, 2014
Experts believe EPA soon will issue its proposal for the five-year review of Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards, perhaps as early as this week. Some important points to consider as the agency prepares what could be the costliest regulation ever imposed on Americans:
First, our air is getting cleaner under the current 75 parts per billion (ppb) standards set in 2008. EPA reports that national average ozone levels have fallen 33 percent since 1980 – including 18 percent since 2000.
Posted November 24, 2014
For months we’ve been pointing out the brokenness of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), the federal law requiring ever-increasing use of ethanol in the nation’s fuel supply.
We’ve written about the impending “blend wall,” the point where the RFS would require blending more ethanol into gasoline than could be safely used as E10, potentially putting motorists at risk for damage to vehicles while also potentially risking small-engine equipment and marine engines. We’ve written about RFS-mandated use of “phantom” liquid cellulosic biofuels – a fuel that hasn’t been commercially available despite the recent inclusion by EPA of landfill bio gas in that category (more about that in a future post). And we’ve written about how the 2014 requirements for ethanol use were months and months late from EPA, caught up in election-year politics.
The RFS is indeed broken. Late last week EPA basically agreed, announcing it’s waving the white flag on trying to issue ethanol-use requirements for 2014, which has just a little over one month to go. Instead, the agency said it will complete the 2014 targets in 2015 “prior to or in conjunction with action on the 2015 standards rule.”
Posted October 27, 2014
Ever heard of the broken window fallacy? In economic circles, it’s a common parable used to dismiss arguments that damage – like the breaking of a window – has a silver lining: spending to fix the window boosts the window repairman, which boosts the folks who make panes of glass and so forth.
Yet, that argument (and the one depicted in the broken window parable) misses a big unseen – there’s no free lunch in spending to repair or rebuild property. The money comes from somewhere. The person who must buy a new window spends money he or she might have invested or spent elsewhere in the economy, with greater economic impact. Likewise with government spending. Those dollars came from taxpayers who might have invested or spent elsewhere in the economy, with greater economic impact.
We say all of this because another common argument being heard is that tossing bricks of energy regulation will invigorate the energy sector.
Posted August 15, 2014
Every county in Ohio would be in nonattainment or non-compliance with an ozone standard of 60 parts per billion (ppb), which EPA is considering to replace the current 75 ppb standard. Counties in red are those with ozone monitors located in them; those in orange are unmonitored areas that could be expected to violate the 60 ppb standard, based on spatial interpolation.
The potential economic costs to Ohio would be significant. The state could see $204.3 billion in gross state product loss from 2017 to 2040 and 218,415 lost jobs or job equivalents per year. On a practical level, manufacturers wouldn’t be able to expand to counties in red or orange unless other businesses shut down, and federal highway funds could be frozen.
Posted August 14, 2014
Earlier this month the National Association of Manufacturers issued a report measuring the potential impacts of a new, stricter ground-level ozone air quality standard that’s being proposed by EPA. The estimated national results are economically devastating: reduction of U.S. GDP by $270 billion per year, 2.9 million fewer job equivalents per year on average through 2040 and potentially increased natural gas and electricity costs for manufacturers and households.
The picture is the same on a state-by-state basis. Over the next few days we’ll highlight some of the individual state impacts from the report, starting with North Carolina.
Posted May 15, 2014
Another benefit of America’s energy renaissance is seen in the competitive edge North American refiners are gaining because of lower feedstock costs, resulting from surging domestic crude oil and natural gas production.
The latest “This Week in Petroleum” report by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) says that U.S. and Canadian refiners are in a stronger position relative to European counterparts because of lower costs for domestic crude oil and natural gas, from which they make a variety of value-added finished products.
Posted March 4, 2014
EPA's new, stricter rule requiring refiners to remove the last bit of sulfur from gasoline very likely will impact consumers and put additional drag on the economy while providing, at best, negligible benefit. The agency’s Tier 3 rule is a prime example of an unreasonable regulatory reach – one that studies have shown will increase costs without appreciably helping the environment.
Posted October 29, 2013
The National Turkey Federation (NTF) doesn’t just believe recent polling that finds two-thirds of Americans believe that, under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), using more corn for ethanol production could force up food prices, they have data to prove it.
Posted October 25, 2013
Despite indications EPA may lower its 2014 requirement for ethanol use under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) – acknowledging the existence of the refining “blend wall” – volumetric levels the agency reportedly is discussing don’t go far enough, and larger concern over the dysfunctional, irreparably damaged RFS would remain.
API Downstream Group Director Bob Greco talked about what EPA might do with next year’s requirements, which could be unveiled soon, during a conference call with reporters.