When former Secretary of State James Baker and his allies came to the White House last month to pitch a carbon tax, they received a warm reception from Gary Cohn, one of the president’s top economic advisers. Six weeks later, the friendly meeting with advocates of the highly controversial policy proposal is still reverberating in the White House, underscoring the increasingly tense relationship between Cohn and Steve Bannon, Trump’s powerful chief strategist, who have staked out vastly different ideological approaches to West Wing matters.
Two ethanol groups have signed contracts with high-powered lobbying firm Heather Podesta + Partners amid a growing fight over the future of the federal ethanol mandate. Growth Partners, an industry group, and Poet, a leading American ethanol producer, filed lobbying paperwork this week detailing contracts with the firm. A Growth Partners spokesman said the advocacy will focus on “protecting” the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), pushing to waive usage limits on certain ethanol blends and shaping tax reform measures in Congress this year.
An impact study by University of Nebraska-Lincoln economists in 2015 revealed Nebraska’s ethanol production capacity growth between 1995 and 2014 was tenfold with a $5 billion annual economic impact. Just a few years later, that growth continues. With an operating capacity of approximately 2.2 billion gallons of ethanol, Nebraska ethanol producers used 31 percent of the state’s corn crop in 2016. This operating capacity is an increase of five percent compared to 2015. Production is expected to rise in 2017 with a projected record year for ethanol.
When Sonny Perdue III appears before a Senate panel Thursday for his confirmation hearing to become U.S. secretary of agriculture, lawmakers and farm groups will likely have few concerns about whether the former Georgia governor can do the job. They’re more worried about the policies of his boss, who won the White House with the support of rural voters and is planning steep cuts to the agency that most directly serves small-town interests.
In November 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) set the final 2017 Renewable Volume Obligations (RVOs) for conventional biofuel at a level of 15 billion gallons under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The 2017 RVO rule aligned with bipartisan Congressional intent to increase the amount of transportation fuel that comes from renewable sources. President Trump issued a regulatory freeze memorandum in January to give his administration the opportunity to review a host of regulations before they were implemented, including the 2017 RVO rule.
Millions of acres of wildlife habitat are being lost to ethanol production near refineries, the National Wildlife Federation said in a study published today. The NWF said aerial surveys and land classification data indicate as much as 4.2 million acres of wildlife habitat and other land within 100 miles of ethanol plants were converted to bioenergy crops between 2008 and 2012, in the years following the federal ethanol mandate.
Interestingly, my best performance with my non-flex fuel Ford Taurus was with blend levels between E30 and E50. And as I wrote back in December, I traded in my Taurus for a much newer flex fuel Dodge caravan. Since that time I have been testing different blend levels and have so far found that the best MPG is attained when I’m using E40 (approximate). For those of you wondering, I am able to test the various ethanol-gasoline levels by doing “splash blending” (this means I pump in a desired amount of E85 and then fill it the rest of the way with E10). I then use my hard-earned math skills to figure out an approximate average.
House Republicans have reintroduced bills in recent days taking aim at the government’s clean car standards and research programs. The bills, although not new, follow moves by the White House to ease the rules and slash funding for the development of vehicle technology. Rep. Roger Williams (R-Texas) is pushing H.R. 1593 to eliminate the corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards. He first floated the bill in 2013 and is reintroducing it to reflect “renewed interest” from the administration, an aide said.
“With the auto industry’s push to roll back regulations, the U.S. is entering crisis-mode for people’s lungs and pocketbooks,” Conor Bambrick, air and energy director at Environmental Advocates of New York, said in a statement. “This rebate program is the first of many steps the State must take, and it demonstrates that New York has the ability and willingness to break from the status quo despite President Trump’s fossil-fuel agenda.”
German carmaker BMW plans to increase output of profitable sport-utility vehicles (SUVs) to boost earnings this year and help fund the rollout of a mass production system for electric cars, it said on Tuesday. BMW Group and rival Mercedes have both forecast that demand for electric and hybrid cars will rise to 15-25 percent of sales by 2025, forcing them to overhaul their production lines and vehicle platforms to accommodate mass production techniques.