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Energy Tomorrow Blog

renewable-fuel-standard  rfs34  ethanol  e1534  engine-safety  consumer-confidence  epa34  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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access  crude  crude-markets  domestic-energy  e1534  economic-benefits  emissions  energy-regulation  epa34  fracking  gasoline-prices  global-markets  horizontal-drilling  hydraulic-fracturing  methane-emissions  offshore-access  oil-and-natural-gas-development  ozone  regulation  renewable-fuel-standard 

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted December 31, 2014

So long, 2014. From an energy standpoint, you’ll be missed. Let’s count the ways:

Surging domestic oil and natural gas production – largely thanks to safe hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling – is driving an American energy revolution that’s creating jobs here at home and greater security for the United States in the world.

It’s a revolution with macro-economic and geopolitical impacts, for sure. But it’s also a revolution that’s benefit virtually every American.

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e1534  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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economy  jobs  ethanol  e1534  renewable-fuel-standard  fracking  crude-oil  exports 

Mary Leshper

Mary Schaper
Posted December 8, 2014

Chicago Tribune Editorial: Last summer the Chicago City Council briefly considered an ordinance that would require gas stations in the city to sell a blend of fuel called E15, which has the potential to damage your car engine.

An E15 mandate is a patently bad idea. Changing pumps to sell a fuel blend of 15 percent ethanol — what you buy now has 10 percent — would be a big expense for gas stations. And E15 isn't safe for use in many older engines, from cars to trucks to boats to lawn mowers.

The idea seemed to die last summer. You might think the aldermen decided to put their constituents before the ethanol industry lobbyists who are pushing this fuel mandate. If you did, chalk that up to a triumph of hope over experience. This is, after all, the Chicago City Council.

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renewable-fuel-standard  e1534  ethanol-in-gasoline  engine-safety  epa34 

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted November 17, 2014

Saw a tweet last week from Jalopnik, a website “obsessed with the cult of cars and everything that moves you,” and it reminded me of an important point in the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) debate.

First, Jalopnik doesn’t actually do a car-of-the-year award because it considers them to be so much media hype. The tweet was a little jab at car awards. Still, Matt Hardigree, the site’s editor-in-chief, says the ’94 Miata really is a great, classic car.

Which leads to our point about the RFS: If you’re a lucky owner of a vintage Miata, don’t let E15 anywhere near its fuel tank.

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renewable-fuel-standard  rfs34  ethanol  refineries  e1534  engine-safety 

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted November 5, 2014

A couple of quick observations on issues related to the flawed Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

First, the ethanol use requirements for 2014 now are 11 months late. The requirements from EPA were supposed to be issued by Nov. 30 of last year, so that refiners could plan this year’s operations to comply with the RFS’ ethanol mandates. Instead, they’ve been forced to try to divine what EPA might require. Now, with roughly 330 of the year’s 365 days passed, the guessing game turned absurd long ago.

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ethanol-blends  e1534  e1034  renewable-fuel-standard  regulation  consumers  environmental-impact 

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted November 3, 2014

Sometimes the public policy debate occurs at an academic level, and it’s easy to overlook the impact on real Americans.  A good example is the campaign to push higher ethanol-blend fuels into the marketplace, which could negatively affect millions of consumers and hinder the broader economy. True enough, but we should also look at the real-world impacts of forcing increasing levels of ethanol into the fuel supply, impacts on individual Americans like Russell Garcia in Chicago.

Garcia owns five independent service stations in Chicago. He recently wrote a letter to the editor of the Chicago Tribune to point out the consequences of a city council proposal to require Chicago gas stations to carry E15 gasoline – fuel containing up to 15 percent ethanol, 50 percent more ethanol than the E10 gasoline that’s prevalent across the country.

Garcia wrote that E15 won’t deliver benefits promised by proponents, such as cost savings and environmental improvements. Instead, he wrote, it would impact consumers and small business owners like himself and ultimately be worse for the environment.

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environmental-protection-agency  renewable-fuel-standard  ethanol  e8534  e1534  blend-wall  refinieries  gasoline-supply  biofuels 

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted October 20, 2014

Update: EPA waves white flag on 2014 RFS requirements

Interesting Reuters piece last week on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and very tardy 2014 ethanol-use requirements, now more than 10 months overdue from EPA. Reuters reports:

The Obama administration is trying to balance its support for renewable fuels with awareness of infrastructure constraints at gas stations as it finalizes targets for 2014 biofuel use, agency officials said on Tuesday. But with only 11 weeks left in the year, the administration also needs to weigh oil refiners' ability to comply with the long-delayed requirements, one official told the Reuters Global Climate Change Summit.

The article goes on to quote Janet McCabe, who leads EPA’s division overseeing the biofuels program:

(McCabe) acknowledged that delays in setting the targets, formally called the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), should be taken into account. "We need to be mindful of where we are in the year," McCabe said …

Reuters reports that EPA had proposed lowering ethanol mandates for 2014 because the U.S. was on a collision course with the 10 percent blend wall – the point where RFS mandates will require ethanol to be blended into gasoline at levels higher than the 10 percent fuel (E10) for which most of today’s vehicles were designed.

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air-quality  e1534  renewable-fuel-standard  epa34  greenhouse-gas-emissions 

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted September 12, 2014

One of the oft-repeated claims of ethanol producers is that higher-ethanol blend fuels like E15 are better for air quality than the E10 gasoline that’s the staple of the U.S. fuel supply. Short response: No. And while we’ve addressed the ethanol/air quality claim recently here and here, spurious assertions often have more lives than Lulu, my daughter’s cat. So let’s look at the facts and credible research again.

We’ll underscore “facts and credible research,” because an advocacy group is promoting a study on ethanol, air quality and potential cancer risks that isn’t an original study at all. Rather, it’s an overly simplistic exercise in data aggregation that ignores the confounding effects of different test procedures, laboratories and fuel properties. In other words, it’s a crummy analysis that would send real scientists running in the other way.

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renewable-fuel-standard  ethanol-blends  epa-politics  consumers  e10-blend-wall  e1534  e8534 

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted September 11, 2014

Mixing politics and energy makes for bad energy policy. Exhibit A: the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

We’ve posted a couple of times (here and here) on EPA’s failure to be on time with its annual requirements for ethanol use, which is critical for refiners to comply with the law. If you missed it, the 2014 requirements were due Nov. 30, 2013, nine months ago. That’s a broken program. Now politics may enter in where it shouldn’t.

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