The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

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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imports  crude-oil  ethanol  energy-security  renewable-fuel-standard  american-energy  economy 

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted February 18, 2015

Falling crude oil imports is a good-news story for the United States – indicative of greater U.S. energy self-sufficiency, resulting in less dependency on others and increased American energy security in the world. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), net imports of crude fell by more than 2.7 million barrels per day (bbl/d) from 2008 to 2014:

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epa34  keystone-xl-pipeline  politics  science  oil-markets  renewable-fuel-standard 

Bob Greco

Bob Greco
Posted February 5, 2015

Two of the Environmental Protection Agency’s seven statements of purpose reference “best available scientific information” and “accurate information.”  These also happen to be two things that many in Washington, D.C., feel that EPA is setting aside in the pursuit of political goals.  Yesterday the agency released comments on the Keystone XL pipeline that gave plenty of credence to its critics.

It is somewhat of a shame, because EPA’s comments did make many good points.  It acknowledged the comprehensiveness of the State Departments review of the project, the usefulness of mitigation measures the project will take to reduce environmental impact and the reduction of risks associated with spills and leaks from the pipeline.  And then we begin to drift from accurate information into political calculation. 

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ethanol  renewable-fuel-standard  federal-government  consumers  fuels  renewable 

Bob Greco

Bob Greco
Posted January 16, 2015

Pacific Standard magazine (PS) has an interesting longread on honeybees in its January issue. While this is not our area of expertise and we can’t judge the veracity of the entire article, there was one part that we had, unfortunately, seen before:

Over a million acres of grassland were converted to crops in five Midwestern states from 2006 to 2011, according to a study by South Dakota State University. … Across the region more than 99 percent of what was originally prairie has been converted, mostly to corn and soy for animal feed, ethanol, and sweetener … Now the entire Midwest, several beekeepers told me, has become a “corn desert.” This has wrought devastation on most anything that used to live in the fields. Monarch butterflies no longer have milkweed for laying eggs. Birds no longer have insects to eat or prairie to shelter in. Native bees are disappearing.

The years 2006 to 2011 are not a coincidence, as the Environmental Working Group (EWG) explains:

After the federal Renewable Fuel Standard was signed into law in 2007, many corn growers decided to plant corn year after year to profit from higher prices, rather than switching between corn and soybeans, for example. This transition has greatly harmed air and water quality.

And apparently bees. But not to worry, the federal government is on the case.

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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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renewable-fuel-standard  rfs34  ethanol  environmental-impact  e8534 

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted December 22, 2014

A new peer-reviewed study of transportation fueling options generated a pretty good buzz last week, basically for the finding that electric vehicles might not be as good for the environment as previously thought. Another of the study’s conclusions also is worth underscoring: the negative environmental impacts of corn ethanol in fuels.

A team of University of Minnesota researchers assessed life-cycle air quality impacts of 10 alternatives to conventional gasoline vehicles. On corn ethanol:

We find that powering vehicles with corn ethanol or with coal-based or “grid average” electricity increases monetized environmental health impacts by 80% or more relative to using conventional gasoline.

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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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renewable-fuel-standard  rfs34  epa34  ethanol-in-gasoline  blend-wall  e8534  flexible-fuel-vehicles 

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted December 12, 2014

Things got pretty bumpy for Janet McCabe, EPA's acting air chief, during her House subcommittee appearance this week, where she talked about the agency's failure to issue 2014 ethanol use requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

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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  rfs34  epa-regulation  ethanol-in-gasoline  refineries  cellulosic-biofuels 

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted November 24, 2014

For months we’ve been pointing out the brokenness of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), the federal law requiring ever-increasing use of ethanol in the nation’s fuel supply.

We’ve written about the impending “blend wall,” the point where the RFS would require blending more ethanol into gasoline than could be safely used as E10, potentially putting motorists at risk for damage to vehicles while also potentially risking small-engine equipment and marine engines. We’ve written about RFS-mandated use of “phantom” liquid cellulosic biofuels – a fuel that hasn’t been commercially available despite the recent inclusion by EPA of landfill bio gas in that category (more about that in a future post). And we’ve written about how the 2014 requirements for ethanol use were months and months late from EPA, caught up in election-year politics.

The RFS is indeed broken. Late last week EPA basically agreed, announcing it’s waving the white flag on trying to issue ethanol-use requirements for 2014, which has just a little over one month to go. Instead, the agency said it will complete the 2014 targets in 2015 “prior to or in conjunction with action on the 2015 standards rule.”

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