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Energy Tomorrow Blog

The Facts and the RFS

renewable fuel standard  rfs34  ethanol  e15  engine safety  consumer confidence  epa  blend wall 

Mark Green

Mark Green
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.

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Crude Imports Falling, Thanks to Domestic Output

imports  crude oil  ethanol  Energy Security  renewable fuel standard  american energy  Economy 

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted February 18, 2015

Falling crude oil imports is a good-news story for the United States – indicative of greater U.S. energy self-sufficiency, resulting in less dependency on others and increased American energy security in the world. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), net imports of crude fell by more than 2.7 million barrels per day (bbl/d) from 2008 to 2014:

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Getting Our Energy Policy Right

american energy  policy  biofuels  ethanol  rfs34  fracking  keystone xl pipeline 

Mary Leshper

Mary Schaper
Posted February 5, 2015

Denver Post Editorial: Yet another major environmental organization has concluded that biofuels, including ethanol, are a net detriment to the world — both in environmental and economic terms. The World Resources Institute (WRI) "recommends against dedicating land to produce bioenergy. The lesson: do not grow food or grass crops for ethanol or diesel or cut down trees for electricity." Why? The group, based in Washington, D.C., says converting plants into fuel is a terribly inefficient use of land, can never produce a major portion of the world's supplies, and puts pressure on cropland that is needed to feed the world's growing population, among other things.

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U.S. Energy – For Jobs, Government Revenue, More Trade

american energy  Economy  jobs  trade  manufacturing  exports  policy  ethanol  rfs34  keystone xl pipeline  fracking 

Mary Leshper

Mary Schaper
Posted February 3, 2015

NPR: As the economy continues to recover, economists are seeing stark differences between people with high school and college degrees. Four-year college graduates are nearly twice as likely to have a job compared to Americans who just graduated high school and stopped there. But economists say that doesn't mean everybody needs a four-year degree. In fact, millions of good-paying jobs are opening up in the trades. And some pay better than what the average college graduate makes.

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Energy Progress, Opportunity

american energy  energy policy  lng exports  ozone  epa  emssions  fracking  ethanol 

Mary Leshper

Mary Schaper
Posted January 30, 2015

Support for LNG exports has gained momentum on Capitol Hill, with both the House and Senate advancing legislation this week that would help expedite federal approvals for exporting our plentiful natural gas. In a Senate Energy Committee hearing yesterday, an Energy Department official told lawmakers the legislation “is a solution [the agency] will be able to comply with.” Good news as both sides of the aisle tackle vital energy issues in the 114th Congress.

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Good Energy Policies and American Prosperity

american energy  Economy  Energy Security  growth  ethanol  fracking  lng exports 

Mary Leshper

Mary Schaper
Posted January 28, 2015

The Guardian (Debbie Carlson): Ethanol was supposed to do a lot for the US. It was supposed to help reduce our dependence on foreign oil. It was supposed to combat climate change. It was supposed to be a gateway for more renewable fuels technology. It was supposed to reduce gasoline prices because it was cheaper. So when Congress mandated in 2005 that 10% of the nation’s fuel supply had to be blended with ethanol, which is derived from corn, there were some idealistic hopes that renewable fuels would wean us off fossil fuels. It hasn’t worked that way.

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Ethanol and Consequence – Honeybee Edition

ethanol  renewable fuel standard  federal government  consumers  fuels  renewable 

Bob Greco

Bob Greco
Posted January 16, 2015

Pacific Standard magazine (PS) has an interesting longread on honeybees in its January issue. While this is not our area of expertise and we can’t judge the veracity of the entire article, there was one part that we had, unfortunately, seen before:

Over a million acres of grassland were converted to crops in five Midwestern states from 2006 to 2011, according to a study by South Dakota State University. … Across the region more than 99 percent of what was originally prairie has been converted, mostly to corn and soy for animal feed, ethanol, and sweetener … Now the entire Midwest, several beekeepers told me, has become a “corn desert.” This has wrought devastation on most anything that used to live in the fields. Monarch butterflies no longer have milkweed for laying eggs. Birds no longer have insects to eat or prairie to shelter in. Native bees are disappearing.

The years 2006 to 2011 are not a coincidence, as the Environmental Working Group (EWG) explains:

After the federal Renewable Fuel Standard was signed into law in 2007, many corn growers decided to plant corn year after year to profit from higher prices, rather than switching between corn and soybeans, for example. This transition has greatly harmed air and water quality.

And apparently bees. But not to worry, the federal government is on the case.

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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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Putting the Brakes on Chicago’s E15 Mandate

e15  ethanol in gasoline  renewable fuel standard  rfs34  consumers  engine safety  economic impacts 

Mark Green

Mark Green
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.

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RFS Dysfunction on Display

renewable fuel standard  rfs34  epa  ethanol in gasoline  blend wall  e85  flexible fuel vehicles 

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted December 12, 2014

Things got pretty bumpy for Janet McCabe, EPA's acting air chief, during her House subcommittee appearance this week, where she talked about the agency's failure to issue 2014 ethanol use requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

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