Energy Tomorrow Blog
Posted February 25, 2015
The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and its mandates for increasing use of ethanol continue to be debated publicly – in Congress, where lawmakers could vote to repeal the dysfunctional program and in places like Chicago, where service stations could be forced to carry higher-ethanol blend E15 fuel.
The Fill Up On Facts website is a great resource on the RFS, ethanol mandates and related issues. Information is available on the RFS itself, as well as problems that have made the program and its ethanol mandates untenable – like the refining “blend wall,” potential risks to vehicle and equipment engines and impacts on food prices.
Posted January 22, 2015
Small business owner Laura Ross in Washington, Pa., has a stake in safe energy development and environmental stewardship.
In the new television ad below, Ross talks about how her café and other businesses in town have seen an economic boost because of nearby energy development. But she’s also mindful of the environment, because her business carries items produced by local farms. The fact that hydraulic fracturing has been done safely for more than 65 years is reassuring to her and her patrons.
Posted December 16, 2014
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his allies on the city council deserve credit for putting a stop – for now at least – to an ill-conceived proposal that would mandate the sale of higher ethanol blend E15 fuel at city service stations.
We say ill-conceived because, as argued here and here earlier this year, the E15 requirement could be full of risk for consumers and small business owners – while mainly benefiting ethanol producers. Recently, AAA urged Chicago lawmakers to vote against the ordinance.
Posted November 17, 2014
Saw a tweet last week from Jalopnik, a website “obsessed with the cult of cars and everything that moves you,” and it reminded me of an important point in the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) debate.
First, Jalopnik doesn’t actually do a car-of-the-year award because it considers them to be so much media hype. The tweet was a little jab at car awards. Still, Matt Hardigree, the site’s editor-in-chief, says the ’94 Miata really is a great, classic car.
Which leads to our point about the RFS: If you’re a lucky owner of a vintage Miata, don’t let E15 anywhere near its fuel tank.
Posted November 5, 2014
A couple of quick observations on issues related to the flawed Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).
First, the ethanol use requirements for 2014 now are 11 months late. The requirements from EPA were supposed to be issued by Nov. 30 of last year, so that refiners could plan this year’s operations to comply with the RFS’ ethanol mandates. Instead, they’ve been forced to try to divine what EPA might require. Now, with roughly 330 of the year’s 365 days passed, the guessing game turned absurd long ago.
Posted November 3, 2014
About a month ago, API President and CEO Jack Gerard stressed the importance of taking a comprehensive approach to develop new federal rules to govern the shipment of crude oil by rail – the soundest way to improve the North American rail network’s already strong 99.998 percent success rate:
“API supports a rule that ultimately improves the safety of rail transportation in North America through a holistic approach while allowing for the continued growth of the energy renaissance that has created and supported millions of jobs across the U.S. and Canada.”
The goal is realizing actual safety improvement. Industry is highly motivated in the quest for safety. Hess Corporation’s Lee Johnson, rail logistics advisor:
“My view has always been that I think the oil industry is maniacally focused on safety because of the consequences of failure in anything. … Everybody is very safety conscious, safety trained and well-equipped.”
With those stakes, developing the best safety rules possible is the objective. Industry believes improving safety is a multi-faceted endeavor – requiring enhanced prevention, mitigation and response measures – and it should be science-based.
Posted September 3, 2014
Following up on last week’s rebuttal of a truth-challenged attack on hydraulic fracturing in a USA Today op-ed, in which we detail how federal and state regulation, combined with industry standards are protecting the environment, water supplies and communities.
The op-ed by the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Amy Mall opens by posing a false choice for Americans: economic and energy security from development using fracking or safety. It continues:
… a controversial new extraction technology known as "fracking" — combined with unprecedented exemptions for the industry from bedrock federal environmental and public health laws — has fueled a recent explosion in domestic oil and gas development. And safeguards have not kept pace.
Fracking isn’t new. Earlier this year the U.S. marked the 65th anniversary of the first commercial use of hydraulic fracturing. Fracking pre-dates McDonald’s, diet soft drinks, credit cards and more – even Barbie. It’s a fact, and saying otherwise is dishonest.
Posted July 29, 2014
We posted a couple of times on a Chicago proposal to require city service stations to carry E15 (here and here). The good news is that this bad-news idea looks like it’s stuck in first gear. Local reports say a City Council committee took no action Monday after a marathon hearing ran out of gas (their pun, not mine).
The discussion included an E15 claim that’s worth another dose of debunking – that NASCAR’s use of E15 proves its suitability for your car or truck. Michael Lynch, NASCAR’s VP for green innovation, spoke at the hearing:
“We’ve been running now for six million miles, Sunoco Green E15 – which is exactly the kind of street fuel that is being proposed here – with great performance, and no issues whatsoever.”
Sigh. The what’s-good-for-NASCAR-is-good-for-the-family-car line, seemingly impermeable to fact, is a special favorite of the ethanol crowd (that’s Sen. Al Franken joy-riding the ethanol wagon, here). Previous posts debunking the NASCAR comparison here, here and here, but with racing’s 6 million-mile milestone approaching, we’ll take another shot.
Posted July 28, 2014
Chicago’s two largest daily newspapers both are editorializing against a proposed ordinance that would require the city’s gasoline stations to offer E15 fuel – a bad idea we debunked last week.
The Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune cite a number of similar reasons for opposing the E15 mandate: research showing vehicle engines could be damaged from using a fuel for which they weren’t designed or warranted; significant cost impacts on small business owners who would have to retrofit filling stations to accommodate mandated E15; and skepticism for E15’s promised benefits.
Posted July 21, 2014
The recent International Oil Spill Conference (IOSC) in Savannah, Ga., underscored the oil and natural gas industry’s continuing commitment to safe energy development – using new technologies and deployed expertise to quickly and appropriately respond in the event of an accidental spill.
Below, check out a new video featuring conference attendees, talking about IOSC’s valuable role in bringing together experts, service providers and government officials in the broad effort to keep improving the safety of offshore oil and natural gas development.