U.S. Inches Toward Goal of Energy Independence

Source: CLIFFORD KRAUSS and ERIC LIPTON, New York Times • Posted: Friday, March 23rd, 2012

The desolate stretch of West Texas desert known as the Permian Basin is still the lonely domain of scurrying roadrunners by day and howling coyotes by night. But the roar of scores of new oil rigs and the distinctive acrid fumes of drilling equipment are unmistakable signs that crude is gushing again. And not just here. Across the country, the oil and gas industry is vastly increasing production, reversing two decades of decline. Using new technology and spurred by rising oil prices since the mid-2000s, the industry is extracting millions of barrels more a week, from the deepest waters of the Gulf of Mexico to the prairies of North Dakota.

Obama admin provides $35M for bio-based R&D

Source: Amanda Peterka, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, March 23rd, 2012

The Obama administration announced plans today for spending as much as $35 million over the next three years on the research and development of advanced biofuels and other bio-based products.

Imagining Carbon Emissions in Underground Exile

Source: RACHEL NUWER, NewYork Times • Posted: Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

In a perfect world, greenhouse gas emissions would be on the decline in the near future, with fossil fuels replaced by clean sources of energy like wind and solar. But current emissions are so daunting that the chances of the planet cleaning up its act in a timely manner are slim. “It’s such a big number that it’s sort of hard to grasp what it means,” said Ruben Juanes, a geoscientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “With emissions as enormous as they are right now, even if we try to deploy alternate energy technologies as quickly as possible, there’s still going to be a huge source of emissions from fossil fuels that we’d better address.”

7 states join opposition to Calif. low-carbon fuel rule

Source: Debra Kahn, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

Seven Midwestern states are joining ethanol and petroleum producers in opposing enforcement of California’s low-carbon fuel standard. Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning (R) filed a brief March 12 in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals against California’s request to continue enforcing its regulation. It was co-signed by the attorneys general of Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, North Dakota and South Dakota.

Biodiesel production down; ethanol still at record surplus

Source: Dan Piller, Des Moines Register • Posted: Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

Biodiesel production has dropped from its record levels of late-2011 after the renewable fuel’s $1 per gallon tax credit expired on Jan. 1. But ethanol production continues at record levels. The U.S. biodiesel industry produced 135 million gallons of fuel in the first two months of 2012, according to new numbers released by the EPA Wednesday.

Ethanol debate asks: Is corn food or fuel?

Source: Belizabeth Polsdofer, Iowa State Daily • Posted: Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

Advent of a new fuel seems wonderful, especially with the rising gas prices in the U.S., but what most Iowans do not realize is that in some parts of the U.S., the use of ethanol as a fuel source is controversial. Specifically, the state of California outright refuses to use corn-based ethanol, with outspoken critics blaming ethanol for the deforestation of the rain forest and world hunger. In his book “Why Are We Producing Biofuels?,” Robert Brown, director of Iowa State’s Bioeconomy Institute and professor of chemical and biological engineering, shows that the level of exports to less-developed countries is actually slightly increasing while the amount of corn going to livestock remains about the same.

Iowa landowners tops in receiving USDA energy grants

Source: Amanda Peterka, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

Iowa landowners have reaped the most from a federal rural energy program, collecting $38 million in grants and $46 million in loans over the past three years, according to a report released today by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The funding has been distributed among 1,128 projects for installing solar panels, flex-fuel pumps and wind turbines and improving energy efficiency.

Drivers may have to wait for E15

Source: Ross Dolan, The Daily Republic • Posted: Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

The recent Environmental Protection Agency approval of E15 for use in some vehicles means the blend of 15 percent ethanol could become available at gas stations. Maybe. “It could be a day, or it could be 10 years,” said Dawna Leitzke, executive director of the South Dakota Petroleum and Propane Marketers Association. Until all steps in the formal approval process are complete, any blend of ethanol and unleaded gasoline higher than E10 can only be used in flex-fuel vehicles, she said.

Slimmer Majority of Americans Champions Renewables, Poll Finds

Source: DIANE CARDWELL • New York Times • Posted: Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

The partisan battle over the cause of the increase in gasoline prices has escalated as the average price of a gallon has crept closer to $4, with Republicans accusing President Obama for investing too much in alternative sources of energy at the expense of conventional fuels and Democrats blaming geopolitics and instability around the Persian Gulf. Now comes a survey from the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press suggesting that more Americans may be moving toward the Republican way of thinking on conventional energy.

Whitfield wants Obama admin to study regs’ impact on price hikes

Source: Nick Juliano, E&E reporter • Posted: Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

A House Republican bill to be introduced later this week would require the president to establish an interagency panel to determine what is behind rising gas prices, focusing especially on the effect of an array of upcoming environmental rules, its key sponsor said yesterday.