Posted August 15, 2014
Posted August 7, 2014
Answers: The monthly mortgage payment, the carpool getting you to your first day at work, the flight to your Tahiti vacation, that Mother’s Day card. And … finalizing annual ethanol requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).
Question: What are some things that shouldn’t be late?
OK, so most people understand the importance of timeliness in the first four items above. Yet, for the nation’s refining sector, EPA's annual responsibility to establish how much ethanol must be blended into the nation’s fuel supply under the RFS also is a big deal.
The RFS tasks EPA with setting ethanol requirements for the next calendar year by Nov. 30 of the preceding year. That way, refiners can make plans to comply with the RFS. Setting the requirements, on time, is EPA’s job. So, how’s the agency been doing lately? Not too well, as the following graphic illustrates.
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 25, 2014
Another of Big Ethanol’s favorite lines is the claim that Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) mandates for ever-increasing ethanol use are reducing oil imports. As we noted in this Bob Greco post from April 2013, ethanol proponents keep saying this despite the fact there’s little factual basis for it. Let’s update that post.
First, we know that net crude oil imports are falling, and that’s a very good thing for America. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reports that in 2013 net crude imports were at their lowest level since 1988, and EIA projects that net imports’ share of overall U.S. petroleum and other liquids use could approach zero by 2040 – a good definition of U.S. energy self-sufficiency. Big Ethanol likes wrapping itself in that mantle because it boosts the flawed RFS. But it’s not deserved.
U.S. net imports of crude fell more than 2.1 million barrels per day (bpd) from the beginning of 2008 through the end of 2013. Again, great news. Over the same period domestic crude production increased more than 2.4 million bpd. You don’t need a slide rule to understand that the increase in domestic production accounts for all of the reduction in imports.
Posted July 25, 2014
Posted July 24, 2014
Reading content produced by opponents of the oil and natural gas industry, you see a lot of distortion, misinformation, myth and falsehood. Yet, it would be hard to identify something as packed with baloney as the supporting arguments for an idea that’s being advanced by a pair of Chicago aldermen – mandating that all of the city’s self-service gas stations offer E15 fuel.
Backers of the soon-to-be-voted-on proposal have a website, www.cleartheairchicago.com, that’s basically a clearinghouse for corn ethanol industry sophistry, trumpeting E15 as the elixir of cleaner air, reduced oil imports and lower gasoline prices – taking advantage of the public’s earnestness for all three. Unfortunately, the promises they attach to E15 are like so much snake oil.
Over and over we’ve rebutted Big Ethanol’s E15 arguments – underlying the special interest’s work to prop up the flawed Renewable Fuel Standard’s mandates for ever-increasing ethanol use. A number of them are repeated to support the Chicago proposal: E15 is cleaner and cheaper than the E10 gasoline that’s the staple of the U.S. fuel supply. It’s acceptable for use in U.S. vehicles and is actually better for them than E10. E15, they claim, is about promoting consumer choice.
Posted July 18, 2014
Check out our new cartoon, which pokes fun at what actually is pretty big drawback with E85, the fuel containing up to 85 percent ethanol that some think is key to salvaging the flawed Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).
Sure, it’s a cartoon. But it helps illustrate a real dilemma with E85 – its significant fuel economy disadvantage compared to the E10 fuel that’s the staple of the U.S. fuel supply.
Basically, because ethanol is less energy-dense than gasoline, fuel that’s up to 85 percent ethanol gets fewer miles per gallon than fuel that’s only 10 percent ethanol. Here’s a sample search from the Energy Department’s fuel economy comparison tool, which shows this in specific vehicle types – fewer mpg with E85, higher average annual fuel costs.
Posted June 27, 2014
Count the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) among those cautioning that rising ethanol mandates in the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) could negatively impact consumers. In a new analysis, CBO says RFS ethanol requirements by 2017 could cause an increase of 13 cents to 26 cents per gallon in the price of E10 gasoline, the most common vehicular fuel used in the U.S., a rise of 4 percent to 9 percent, and an increase of 30 cents to 51 cents per gallon in the price of petroleum-based diesel, or 9 percent to 14 percent.
Posted June 18, 2014
Almost half of 2014 is behind us, and yet EPA still hasn’t finalized the ethanol requirements for this year. This is not a recipe for predictability and reliability in the gasoline markets, and the administration’s inability to meet the congressionally-mandated deadline of November 30th is a clear example of how unworkable the RFS is.
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?