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?
Faced with a crop of lemons — too much ethanol, a population of cars not tuned to burn it effectively and a driving public leery of the fuel’s properties — the Environmental Protection Agency is proposing to make lemonade. The effort to untangle itself from this sticky situation is part of a larger proposal by the federal government to make the most sweeping changes in gasoline since lead additives were banned. Tucked inside the E.P.A.’s March announcement of a plan to cut the amount of sulfur allowed in gasoline was an audacious suggestion that sought to solve all three ethanol challenges at once. The proposal, for a fuel that is 30 percent ethanol, could reduce tailpipe emissions and improve fuel economy — and even encourage drivers to use more ethanol.
Cellulose is an appealing raw material for fuels. Several chemical processes can turn this long sugar chain into fuel precursors for cars, trucks and aircraft. It’s abundant in crop waste, like leaves and stalks from corn, so it’s cheap and won’t raise food prices. But making it efficiently is tricky. Most of the common ways to break cellulose down involve finicky enzymes or microbes, which will only work with high-quality cellulose sources and require a strictly controlled environment. These exacting standards increase the cost of building a biofuel plant and the unit cost of the products.
The nation’s largest biodiesel company posted its strongest first quarter ever on the heels of the retroactive reinstatement of a key tax credit and the incentives provided by the renewable fuel standard. Renewable Energy Group Inc. announced late yesterday that it sold 39 million gallons of biodiesel in the first part of the year ending March 31, up 14 percent from the first quarter of last year. The Ames, Iowa-based company produced a total of 40 million gallons of the fuel.
The contentious battle between ethanol and Big Oil took its latest twist Thursday when an event hosted by the renewable fuels industry drew an unexpected guest. The surprise visit happened during an ethanol industry briefing for congressional staffers in Washington. Ethanol supporters at the event aggressively spoke out against a push by the oil industry that aims to roll back or end the federal Renewable Fuel Standard — an 8-year-old law that requires refiners to use alternative fuels from corn, soybeans and other products in the country’s gasoline supply.
U.S. energy independence is “naive,” Saudi Arabia’s petroleum and naturals resources minister said yesterday. Minister Ali Al-Naimi rejected the theory that Earth’s crude production may be near its limit. And he warned that America’s natural gas boom will never make it free of Middle East oil.