Agency’s first chief urges White House to refocus message on rules

Source: Emily Yehle • E&E • Posted: Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

As Congress begins its second session — and Republicans continue to push their anti-regulatory agenda — the original director of U.S. EPA says the White House should reframe the debate as one of sensible rules rather than no rules at all. “It’s not popular today to say you need rules, but you do, I’m sorry,” former EPA Administrator Bill Ruckelshaus — a moderate Republican — said in a recent interview. “Absent rules limiting human conduct, the tragedy of the commons will apply.”

Biofuels will fly high, U.S. officials predict

Source: Jon Hilkevitch • Chicago Tribune • Posted: Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

The Obama administration is committed to “help buy down the cost” of building refineries and growing feedstocks for use in producing clean, renewable aviation fuels, even though the current price of such biofuels is at least three times higher than regular jet fuel, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Monday in Chicago.

LUFT: Market-based future for ethanol

Source: Gal Luft • The Washington Times • Posted: Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

At current oil prices, ethanol is more costly than gasoline while the alcohol fuel methanol, primarily made from natural gas, is cheaper than gasoline on a per-mile basis. But the comparative per-mile economics of ethanol could easily improve if, as a result of a war in the Persian Gulf, the fall of the House of Saud or collapse of Nigeria, oil prices were to soar into uncharted territory. Ethanol contributes more to the U.S. automotive fuel market than the oil we import from Saudi Arabia since the industry sustains nearly a half-million high-paying American jobs.

Consumer group says new CAFE standards would save car buyers money from day one

Source: Julia Pyper • E&E • Posted: Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

Ahead of three public hearings on the Obama administration’s new fuel economy standards, the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) released a report yesterday that found higher standards will have immediate benefits for drivers’ pocketbooks. The new corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards require a fleetwide average of 54.5 mpg by model year 2025. CFA’s new research shows that a buyer with a five-year loan on a car that complies with the 2025 standard would start saving money in the first month.

Automakers urge frequent evaluations of 2017-2025 program

Source: Jason Plautz • E&E • Posted: Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

Automakers commended the Obama administration for including a midterm review in its 2017-2025 fuel economy program but said they face too many uncertainties in their effort to meet the target, 54.5 mpg.

President’s jobs council recommends ‘all in’ strategy for energy

Source: Phil Taylor • E&E • Posted: Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

The Obama administration should open more federal lands to energy development and speed permitting of new pipelines and transmission projects to create jobs and strengthen energy security, according to a panel of business leaders advising the president. In a report delivered today, President Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness also recommends sustained investments in research and development, the extension of clean energy tax credits and increased energy efficiency.

Valero Energy to invest in cellulosic ethanol plant in US

Source: EBR Staff Writer • EBR • Posted: Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

Crude oil refiner Valero Energy has unveiled plans to invest $50m in a cellulosic ethanol plant which will be located in the US state of Michigan.

Climate Proposal Puts Practicality Ahead of Sacrifice

Source: JOHN TIERNEY • New York Times • Posted: Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

“People will make trade-offs, but the one thing that won’t be traded off is keeping the lights on at reasonable cost,” he says. Given the reluctance of affluent Europeans to make sacrifices, what are the odds of persuading billions of people in poorer countries to pay more for energy today in return for a cooler climate at the end of the century? But suppose they were offered a deal with immediate benefits, like the one proposed in Science by researchers in the United States, Britain, Italy, Austria, Thailand and Kenya. The team looked at ways to slow global warming while also reducing the soot and smog that are damaging agriculture and health.

Half of incentives went to Iowa biofuel firms

Source: Lee Rood • Des Moines Register • Posted: Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

Biofuels companies made up more than half of the top 50 recipients awarded state aid since the state began tallying all public assistance doled out in 2003, according to information provided to The Des Moines Register under Iowa’s open records law. Biofuels plants now owned by Texas oil giant Valero Energy topped the list of 50 companies awarded the most in tax breaks and other assistance — some $59 million since 2003.

Committees prep their agendas — but will anything really get done?

E&E • Posted: Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

Congress is returning to Washington, and the partisan rancor that defined Capitol Hill in 2011 is likely to remain — or get even worse — in 2012. Republicans still run the House. Democrats continue to cling to a slim majority in the Senate. President Obama seems determined to keep his distance from both chambers. And it’s an election year — what are the odds of anything getting done this year?