The outlook for ethanol production growth in the U.S. is dimmed because of the growing debate on whether the country should abandon or revise the biofuels policy, the International Energy Agency said today. Last year’s drought, which damaged corn crops and raised costs for livestock farmers, provided fodder for those who oppose the Renewable Fuels Standard, or RFS2, which calls for the U.S. to use escalating amounts of biofuels in petroleum. The mandate is also under attack from petroleum industry advocates who say stagnant gasoline demand makes the law unworkable, the IEA said in its Medium-Term Oil Market Report.
An International Energy Agency report says investments in oil technology will lead to a worldwide supply boom. High oil prices were supposed to make biofuels and other oil alternatives more competitive. If only oil would stay above $80 a barrel (or $70 or $60), biofuels companies often say, then they’d have a market. Their technology for turning weeds into alcohol or pond scum into crude oil could really take off.
The sequester should not excuse the US military from making the important investments into the future, Holland writes. It is strategically important for the military to develop new sources of energy like biofuels.
A salty, enzyme-free bath may be the key to cost-competitive advanced biofuels. Researchers at the Energy Department’s Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) have developed an ionic liquid pre-treatment for cellulosic biomass that does not require the usual expensive enzymes and uses less water, the agency announced today.
White House delays in reviewing renewable fuel feedstocks are hurting investments in advanced biofuels, a coalition of advanced ethanol producers yesterday told the Office of Management and Budget. Stalled reviews of giant reed and other feedstocks are holding up several attempts to commercialize advanced biofuels across the country, the Advanced Ethanol Council said. The group urged OMB Director Sylvia Matthews Burwell to prioritize the rules and complete them as soon as possible.
Leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee are continuing a review of the 5-year-old renewable fuel standard with a look at greenhouse gas emissions. In a white paper, Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and ranking member Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) are asking stakeholders to respond to a series of questions on whether the standard has reduced emissions and whether U.S. EPA’s methodology for calculating emissions needs to be revised.
The Maine House on Wednesday took a decisive stance against blending ethanol into gasoline, giving initial approval to a bill that would ban the corn-based additive from motor fuel if two other New England states pass similar laws. In addition, the House unanimously endorsed a resolution urging the federal government not to require gasoline containing 15 percent ethanol, a blend known as E15. The Senate unanimously endorsed that resolution Tuesday. Most gasoline available today is a blend with 10 percent ethanol.
As the back and forth over ethanol continues on Capitol Hill, Wisconsin yesterday became the sixth state to offer gasoline containing 15 percent ethanol. The fuel, known as E15, is being sold at eight gas pumps at a gas station in Platteville, Wis. The station in the southwest part of the state is owned by Badger State Ethanol, a renewable fuels company based in Wisconsin that produces nearly 60 million gallons of ethanol a year.
As Congress continues to debate the merits of the renewable fuel standard, what impact would a repeal of the law have on the future of cellulosic ethanol? During today’s OnPoint, Bob Greco, group director of downstream and industry operations at the American Petroleum Institute, discusses his industry’s investments in second-generation biofuels and why the current RFS targets cannot be met. He calls on U.S. EPA and Congress to change the short-term targets of the RFS and eventually follow with a full repeal of the law.
Detroit says it will ruin your engine. The EPA says it’s safe. Farmers say it’s better than foreign oil. Oil companies say it’s more expensive than gasoline. But as Washington looks to compel refiners to blend more and more ethanol into gasoline, consumers are still left with the basic and critical question — how much ethanol is safe to put in their cars?