Energy Tomorrow Blog
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?
Posted March 21, 2014
With winter grudgingly giving way to spring, the guess here is discussion of the flawed Renewable Fuel Standard’s ethanol mandates, higher 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.
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.
Posted December 30, 2013
As 2013 nears its end, noting some of the year's most popular Energy Tomorrow Blog posts:
Jobs = Job 1
PwC’s latest detailing of the economic impacts of oil and natural gas activity ranked the highest in readership. And why not: It’s a great story. PwC found that in 2011, the last year for which complete data is available, the industry recorded these key numbers:
- 9.8 million full- and part-time jobs supported, directly and indirectly.
- $1.2 trillion added to the economy, accounting for 8 percent of the national total.
- Nearly $600 billion contributed in associated labor income – including wages, salaries, benefits and proprietors’ income.
Posted December 10, 2013
EPA held the first of a series of public hearings last week on its 2014 ethanol use proposals under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), during which the National Chicken Council’s Mike Brown observed that the Washington, D.C., hearing basically attracted three groups of people: ethanol producers, corn producers and “the rest of us.”
Quite a bit of truth there. The debate over the RFS finds ethanol backers fairly isolated in arguing that the RFS is fine the way it is and that higher-ethanol blend fuels – like E15 and E85 – should be pushed more aggressively into the marketplace to satisfy the program’s mandates.
The stance has them at odds a number of interests, including consumer and food groups, auto manufacturers, the makers of small-engine vehicles and equipment, turkey and chicken producers, restaurant owners and more. Strikingly, AAA, the venerable travel/motoring organization, has been criticized by Big Ethanol for opposing wider use of E15, which studies have shown could damage engines in vehicles not designed to use it.
Posted December 2, 2013
As EPA opens a 60-day comment period on its proposals for next year’s required ethanol use levels under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), below is a light-hearted reminder that higher-ethanol blend fuels like E15 – which ethanol supporters advocate as a way to meet RFS mandates – pose significant risks for small engines.
Posted November 1, 2013
It’s understandable that supporters of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) might be anxious these days. Consider that EPA reportedly is thinking about lowering its 2014 ethanol mandates under the RFS, and that more than 160 members of the U.S. House of Representatives are urging the same in a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy.
Posted October 31, 2013
The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI), an international trade association representing more than 84 small engine, utility vehicle and outdoor power equipment manufacturers and suppliers worldwide, is closely watching public discussion of the Renewable Fuel Standard’s ethanol mandates and the push for wider use of E15 fuel. That’s because the small engines its members build and supply aren’t designed for higher ethanol blends. A look at E15 from OPEI and others in the small-engine sector.
Posted October 25, 2013
Posted October 24, 2013