Enviros fear Obama admin is dragging its feet on tailpipe emissions

Source: Jeremy P. Jacobs • E&E • Posted: Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

Environmentalists and public health groups are growing increasingly concerned that the Obama administration will punt on new emissions standards for the tailpipes of cars and trucks as industry and congressional Republicans are becoming increasingly vocal with their objections.

California fuels rule sparks controversy

Source: Juliet Eilperin • Washington Post • Posted: Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

Just as it pioneered curbs on greenhouse gas emissions from cars and light trucks a decade ago, California is championing standards that could transform the fuel that goes into their tanks. But its new rule, which requires lowering the amount of carbon in fuel sold in the state, has become embroiled in a fierce public battle and has been barred from being enforced. In light of tight state budgets, litigation over California’s program and a strong lobbying campaign against them, the question is whether the ambitious climate policy will get off the ground.

Battery maker’s bankruptcy is ill-timed for White House

Source: John McArdle • E&E • Posted: Monday, January 30th, 2012

Just days before a White House-appointed auditor is set to deliver a report on the Department of Energy’s troubled loan guarantee program, another of the department’s stimulus-funded endeavors made headlines this week at a particularly bad time for the Obama administration. Ener1 Inc. — which received more than $118 million in the form of a DOE grant to make electric-car batteries — filed for bankruptcy yesterday. The announcement threatened to undermine the administration’s offensive on its investments in renewable energy.

Iowa Biodiesel plant reopens after four idle years

Source: Dan Piller • Des Moines Register • Posted: Monday, January 30th, 2012

Folks in Kossuth County are feeling good now that the biodiesel plant east of Algona has emerged from bankruptcy, has reopened and is employing 30 workers putting out 60 million gallons of biodiesel per year. The old East Fork plant sat idle for four years, a poster boy for the difficulties of biodiesel. Unlike its cousin ethanol, biodiesel has known mostly struggle as it tries to establish itself as the renewable biofuels alternative to diesel in the truck/heavy equipment market.

Minnesota Biomass projects burned by low natural gas prices

Source: DAVID SHAFFER • Minneapolis Star Tribune • Posted: Monday, January 30th, 2012

Rock-bottom natural gas prices are undercutting Minnesota’s taxpayer-supported efforts to expand home-grown energy sources like wood chips and cornstalks. Minnesota has spent more than $11 million in taxpayer and utility funds to advance technologies that burn biomass for heat and electric generation or convert it to a synthetic gas. Now, it’s getting difficult for the technology to compete.

Governors drill deep on energy in annual addresses

Source: Amanda Peterka • E&E • Posted: Monday, January 30th, 2012

When President Obama focused heavily on energy issues in his State of the Union address earlier this week, he echoed themes many governors have been pushing forward in their annual “state of the state” speeches this month. Governors from resource-rich states like Alaska, Virginia, West Virginia and Colorado all have devoted substantial sections of their annual addresses to traditional energy this month. The governors — both Democrats and Republicans — have called for increases in traditional and renewable energy development, and many have taken jabs at the federal government for stifling development.

Eastern Oregon biofuel refinery wins $235 million federal loan backing to make ethanol from poplar trees

Source: Eric Mortenson and Scott Learn • The Oregonian • Posted: Friday, January 27th, 2012

In a few years, you could be filling up with fuel made from Oregon poplar trees, wheat straw and corn stalks. Financed in part with a $235 million loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced today, ZeaChem plans a $390 million biofuel refinery in Boardman capable of producing up to 25 million gallons of ethanol per year.

Ethanol production holds steady

Source: Dan Piller • Des Moines Register • Posted: Friday, January 27th, 2012

Three weeks after the expiration of the 45-cents per gallon blenders tax credit, ethanol production is running slightly ahead of last year’s pace.

Obama admin warns against GOP attempt to fast-track pipeline

Source: Elana Schor • Posted: Thursday, January 26th, 2012

A House GOP plan to greenlight the $7 billion Keystone XL oil pipeline following its rejection by the White House could imperil “existing legal authorities” over the project and force the nation’s independent regulator of gas lines to OK it without public notice or judicial review, two Obama administration officials said today.

CAFE standards could shift automakers’ priorities, experts warn

Source: Debra Kahn • E&E • Posted: Thursday, January 26th, 2012

Auto experts this week warned that new fuel economy standards U.S. EPA is preparing could reduce consumers’ options because of their cost. The last of three public hearings on the corporate average fuel economy program drew smaller companies like California-based Tesla Motors and Coulomb Technologies, as well as major automakers and state and national environmental groups. Most automakers and groups urged adoption of the targets, which EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will finalize by July. The targets are intended to reach 54.5 mpg for each manufacturer’s fleet by 2025.