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 7, 2016
At this year’s State of American Energy event, we highlighted the impact of energy policy on the lives and livelihoods of families and businesses in every state. The connection between policy and pocketbooks is evident after a year in which Americans saved an average $550 per driver on gasoline, due largely to strong U.S. oil and natural gas production. But to maintain the economic and security benefits of America’s 21st century energy renaissance, we’ll need to make smart policy choices that increase access to energy resources, encourage infrastructure development, rein in misguided ethanol policy and curb costly, duplicative regulations.
Posted December 28, 2015
The White House has honey bees – an estimated 70,000 of them that call a hive near the South Lawn home. Yet, nationwide bees are struggling. Researchers have warned of declining numbers of bees and other “pollinators” – to the point that last year the White House set up a task force to develop a bee strategy to help reverse the trend. From the White House blog:
Increasing the quantity and quality of habitat for pollinators is a major part of this effort—with actions ranging from the construction of pollinator gardens at Federal buildings to the restoration of millions of acres of Federally managed lands and similar actions on private lands. To support these habitat-focused efforts, USDA and the Department of Interior are today issuing a set of Pollinator-Friendly Best Management Practices for Federal Lands, providing practical guidance for planners and managers with land stewardship responsibilities.
We acknowledged the bee situation in a post nearly a year ago, noting that the large-scale conversion of grasslands to grow crops for a number of uses was crowding out bees, butterflies and others – including increasing acreage being devoted to ethanol production. Now a new, comprehensive study by University of Vermont researchers underscores the point – that U.S. wild bees are disappearing in many of the country’s most important farmlands and that increased demand for corn to use in biofuel production is a significant part of the problem.
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 September 30, 2015
America’s energy revolution means … a United States that’s more energy self-sufficient – less dependent on others, more secure in the world and better positioned to help friends abroad; economic growth and job creation – and with the right policy choices, a golden opportunity to secure American prosperity well into the future; and a stronger U.S. trading posture that, with energy exports, could benefit consumers
Let’s look at some charts that illustrate this American energy renaissance – which is based on the surge in domestic production that has accompanied the growth of safe, advanced hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling since the mid-2000s.
Posted September 21, 2015
The third in a series of posts on the intersection of energy development and policy and the pursuit of climate goals. Last week: The Clean Power Plan’s flawed approach in the energy sector and the role of increased natural gas use in improving air quality. Today: The impacts of the Renewable Fuel Standard and federal ethanol policy.
A decade ago Congress passed legislation creating the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) – requiring escalating volumes of ethanol in the U.S. fuel supply – that was intended in part to help reduce crude oil imports while capitalizing the supposed environmental advantages of ethanol.
Crude oil imports indeed have been falling since 2008. But, as we’ve detailed before, virtually all of the decrease is due to rising domestic crude oil production, not the RFS. Thanks to vast domestic shale reserves and safe hydraulic fracturing, the U.S. is the world’s leading producer of oil and natural gas – which by far has had the most to do with reducing U.S. net crude imports.
Posted September 9, 2015
NERA Economic Consulting has a new study warning of potentially dire economic impacts from continued implementation of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), as written into law by Congress.
NERA set up its study that way for good reasons: Despite abundant evidence that RFS mandates for ever-increasing ethanol use in the nation’s fuel supply are detached from reality, and although it’s pretty clear EPA has mismanaged the RFS to the detriment of those obligated to meet its mandates – the ethanol industry insists that the program continue as statutorily set out in 2007.
That, according to NERA, is a roadmap to potential economic calamity and consumer pain.
Posted August 20, 2015
Our series highlighting the economic and jobs impact of energy in each of the 50 states continues today with Oklahoma. We started the series with Virginia on June 29 and reviewed Hawaii, Idaho and Vermont this week. All information covered in this series can be found online here, arranged on an interactive map of the United States. State-specific information across the country will be populated on this map as the series continues.
As we can see with Oklahoma, the energy impacts of the states individually combine to form energy’s national economic and jobs picture: 9.8 million jobs supported and $1.2 trillion in value added.
Posted August 19, 2015
There’s more scholarly research challenging the oft-heard claim that the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and its requirements for increasing use of biofuels is good for the environment and climate.
Now a paper published this month by University of Michigan Energy Institute researchers argues that the government-sponsored model used to calculate biofuels’ carbon footprint is flawed. The paper says a more accurate accounting method shows that corn ethanol doesn’t have an edge over petroleum gasoline when it comes to reducing CO2 emissions.
Research by the institute’s John DeCicco and Rashmi Krishnan (sponsored by API) found that assumed biofuel carbon neutrality that’s built into the government-sponsored model “does not hold up for real-world biofuel production.”