Posted January 27, 2016
If the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) were a candidate in this election year, its track record would invite landslide defeat.
Editorial boards of major newspapers are now echoing what a diverse coalition of restaurant associations, grocers, producers of poultry, pork and beef, environmental non-profits and anti-hunger groups have been saying for years.
Posted January 20, 2016
Last week we made the point that America’s ongoing energy revolution is the main reason the United States is the world’s leading producer of oil and natural gas – a renaissance that is reducing oil imports and benefiting consumers in the form of lower prices at the pump. The same energy surge also is a leading reason the U.S. is leading the world inreducing carbon pollution.
These points argue for sustaining and growing domestic production – instead of trying to “transition away” from it, as the president said during last week’s State of the Union address. Turning our backs on vast public oil and gas resources – instead of safely developing them – would throw away a generational opportunity to strengthen America’s energy security, lift the economy, help U.S. consumers and aid friends overseas. It’s a shortsighted approach – especially when the U.S. model of increased domestic production, economic growth and emissions reduction is already working.
Safe, responsible hydraulic fracturing is the engine of America’s energy revolution.
Posted January 13, 2016
Absent from EPA’s plans was any acknowledgement that methane and carbon emissions are already down. Recognizing progress we’ve already made – and the market factors contributing to that success – is critical to avoiding costly, duplicative regulations that could undermine that progress, as well as economic growth.
Posted December 4, 2015
Part of the U.S. success in reducing greenhouse gas emissions is the significant drop in emissions of methane, the primary component in natural gas, from development operations. Since 2005, methane emissions from hydraulically fractured natural gas wells have plummeted 79 percent – with technology and innovation allowing industry to capture more of a product that can be delivered to consumers. This has occurred even as U.S. natural gas production has steadily climbed, thanks to shale, safe fracking and horizontal drilling.
It’s a shining chapter in a success story that shows how free market forces have taken the lead in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in this country. In turn, the U.S. is leading the world in reducing GHG emissions.
No matter. Despite these advances, EPA is proposing additional methane regulations on oil and gas wells and transmission. Unfortunately, more regulation could mean less – less fracking, less energy and, quite possibly, less progress in reducing emissions.
Posted November 30, 2015
In finalizing ethanol volume requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), the EPA is basically testing the limits of the ethanol “blend wall” and the potential impacts of breaching it. Unfortunately, the guinea pigs in the experiment are U.S. consumers – their wallets, their vehicles.
That’s what we draw from EPA’s requirements for levels of corn ethanol and other renewable fuels that must be blended into the U.S. fuel supply. EPA officially set requirements for 2014 (two years late), 2015 (a year late) and 2016. Requirements for 2016 are the most significant – 18.11 billion gallons, which is lower than what Congress originally required when it created the RFS, but higher than what EPA proposed in May (17.4 billion gallons).
Posted October 28, 2015
Next month EPA is scheduled to finalize 2014, 2015 and 2016 ethanol-use requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) – and where EPA sets the volume standards could have big impacts on consumers and our economy.
We’ve been talking about flaws in the RFS for some time, and the chorus of voices has grown because requiring increasing volumes of ethanol in the nation’s fuel supply could affect vehicle owners, consumers paying for fuel and food, the environment and the global food supply.
Posted October 16, 2015
It’s been a tough week for corn ethanol producers and supporters of the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).
First, a new University of Tennessee report finds that the RFS and its ethanol mandates fall short on a number of environmental fronts, and that without mandated ethanol use the corn ethanol industry couldn’t survive commercially. The report:
Looking back over the last 10 years, the RFS and its resulting promotion of corn ethanol as a leading oxygenate supplement to conventional transportation fuels did not meet intended environmental goals. Corn ethanol’s environmental record has failed to meet expectations across a number of metrics that include air pollutants, water contamination, and soil erosion. Corn ethanol has resulted in a number of less favorable environmental outcomes when compared to a scenario in which the traditional transportation fuel market had been left unchanged.
Posted October 12, 2015
Methane emissions from oil and natural gas systems continue falling. EPA, in an update to its Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program, says that methane emissions decreased from 77 million metric tons CO2 equivalent 2013 to 73 million metric tons CO2e last year. This continues a significant downward trend over the past few years.
The significance is this: Further reductions in methane emissions argue strongly against EPA’s position that additional regulation is needed. And, indeed, the agency is working on new layers of methane regulation.
Let’s think this one through. Methane emissions are falling under current the current regulatory regime, yet EPA and its supporters say that further reductions won’t happen without more regulation. (If you feel like you’ve heard this argument before it’s because you have – see here and here on EPA’s ozone proposals.) But here’s what we know: Methane emissions associated with oil and natural gas systems are falling – at a time when natural gas production is dramatically increasing.
Posted October 2, 2015
A number of Americans may look at some of the mixed reaction to the Obama administration’s release of new, more restrictive ozone standards and conclude that if industry and business groups and environmental activists all are unhappy with the final standards, then the administration must be congratulated for splitting the difference.
As measured as that sounds, it’s simply the wrong approach for setting air quality policy – and lots of Americans are likely to be caught up in the impacts.
As noted in this post, changing national ozone standards from the current 75 parts per billion (ppb) to 70 ppb could impact job growth in nearly one-third of the country’s counties or county equivalents, according to an API analysis of EPA data. Instead of 217 counties out of compliance with ozone standards, 958 could be in violation and potentially subject to constraints that could affect business expansion, infrastructure development, transportation projects and other activities in those localities. Shorter: These impacts could be coming to a neighborhood near you – affecting economic growth and job creation.
Posted October 1, 2015
Here’s probably the most important thing to know about new, more restrictive ozone standards announced by the Obama administration: They could impact job growth in nearly one-third of all counties or county equivalents in the United States, according to a recent API analysis of EPA data. That’s 958 counties – up from just 217 under the current standards – projected to be in non-attainment with ozone standards set at 70 parts per billion (ppb).
So, unless Congress acts (as it should), get ready. These new standards will pretty much hit a lot of Americans right where they live – potentially hurting jobs, chilling investment and curbing business activity, for little or no public health benefit.