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 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 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 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 May 27, 2014
When EPA proposed tightening the national ozone standards a few years ago, President Obama told the agency to stand down. The existing standard of 75 parts per billion (ppb) wasn’t due for review, and there was concern stricter standards might harm the economy.
It’s a concern that hasn’t diminished as the agency starts regular review of ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards. Howard Feldman, API’s director of regulatory and scientific affairs, discussed the review during a conference call with reporters:
“We recognize that EPA has a statutory duty to periodically review the standards. However, the current review of health studies has not identified compelling evidence for more stringent standards. Tightened standards could impose unachievable emission reduction requirements on virtually every part of the nation, including rural and undeveloped areas. These could be the costliest EPA regulations ever.”
Posted May 21, 2014
Eye-catching headline this week in The Hill: “EPA races to finish Obama rules.” First reaction: Haste makes waste – and when talking about regulation that could affect America’s dynamic, game-changing energy revolution, the goal should be sound policy, not speed. The Hill:
Officials at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are racing to churn out new regulations before the clock runs out on President Obama’s term. … Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle say they are concerned by the broad sweep of the EPA’s regulatory agenda, even though the agency says it is merely enacting the laws that Congress has passed. “I recognize that EPA has to do this, but I think EPA is sometimes stretching the limit too far in how aggressive they’ve been moving,” said Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), who has distanced himself from the president’s environmental and energy policies as he runs for reelection in his energy-rich state.
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 25, 2014
Check out our new ads on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) – including a video that highlights in a humorous way the potential negative impacts for consumers from RFS mandates that force higher ethanol blends into the marketplace.
Unfunny would be seeing boaters left high and (not so) dry because their marine engine conked out, damaged by higher ethanol-blend fuel. Or stranded motorists, or home owners with outdoor equipment ruined by using fuel with more ethanol content than the mower or trimmer was designed to use. These are the real-world stakes in the current debate over the RFS and its ethanol mandates.
Posted January 31, 2014
We’ve written quite a bit about bad things that could occur because of the Renewable Fuel Standard’s (RFS) mandates for ever-increasing ethanol use in the fuel supply – from potential damage to vehicle engines and small power equipment engines tobroader impacts in the economy. A study by NERA Economic Consulting warned that RFS mandates could lead to fuel rationing and supply shortages that by 2015 could drive up gasoline costs 30 percent and the cost of diesel by 300 percent.
Now EPA is in the last lap in the process to set ethanol use levels for 2014. The agency’s proposal is reduced from where it was in 2013. EPA even acknowledged the ethanol “blend wall” – the point where, to satisfy the RFS, refiners have to blend fuel with higher ethanol content than millions of vehicles are designed to use.
EPA should follow through and set this year’s mandate so we avoid the blend wall and its onerous impacts this year. For a permanent solution, Congress should repeal the RFS.
Posted December 20, 2013
In a recent letter to the Obama administration, some members of Congress pushed officials to increase EPA’s proposed 2014 mandate for biodiesel, arguing that EPA’s plan to keep the mandate at its 2013 level could reduce production by approximately 25 percent. With all due respect, the mandate exists as a floor, not as a ceiling, and the biodiesel industry is welcome to exceed it.
And guess what: The biodiesel industry has been doing just that for the past three years – as the lawmakers’ letter points out. According to EPA, since 2011 the volumes of biomass-based diesel fuels produced have been well above EPA’s mandated requirements.