Supporters of the military’s plans to transition its fleets to biofuels are touting a new report outlining the economic benefits of the effort as a key Senate vote on the program nears. A study released today by the trade group Environmental Entrepreneurs predicts that the Defense Department’s goals, which include a Navy plan to get half of the service’s energy from alternative sources by the end of the decade, could generate between $9.6 billion and $19.8 billion in that period. It also predicts a total of 14,000 to 17,000 new jobs could be created by 2020.
Ethanol’s discount to gasoline expanded on speculation that imports will exacerbate a glut of the biofuel. The additive’s discount to the motor fuel widened to 36.12 cents a gallon from 33.6 cents yesterday, based on December futures prices, after an Energy Department report showed imports in the week ended Nov. 9 were almost triple levels a year earlier. Gasoline’s premium was 99.8 cents on Sept. 28.
President Obama revealed yesterday that he’s searching for ways to address climate change in his second term by planning meetings with scientists and experts weeks after a re-election campaign in which he said very little about the topic. But when asked directly about taxing carbon, he declined to endorse the idea, which has gained traction among a handful of conservative think tanks and free-market groups as a source of revenue that might help close the deficit.
A top House Energy and Commerce Committee Republican said he does not expect Congress to change a renewable fuel mandate, despite the oil-and-gas industry’s goal of weakening it. “I don’t think that there’s going to be any effort to roll back the renewable fuel standard,” Energy and Power subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) said Thursday at an event hosted by CQ.
Algae-based fuel went on sale yesterday at four San Francisco Bay-area gas stations, making private citizens there the first in the world to use a domestically grown product that some say could revolutionize the fuel industry. Propel Fuels Chief Executive Matt Horton said he hopes the company can build hundreds of stations like it across the state.
The biofuels industry responded to the latest report from the International Energy Agency by pointing to the role renewable fuels can play in the world energy outlook. Overall global energy demand will grow by more than one-third by 2035, the IEA report states, with China, India and the Middle East accounting for 60 percent of the increase. And, the U.S. will become the largest oil producer in the world. By 2030, the report estimates, the U.S. could be a net oil exporter.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said on Tuesday that it will soon have a decision on whether to waive the mandate that requires blending billions of gallons of corn-based ethanol into the national gas supply each year. “EPA is completing its review and analysis of the RFS waiver requests and the agency plans to reach a decision shortly,” an agency spokeswoman said, referring to the ethanol mandate or Renewable Fuel Standards.
The American Coalition for Ethanol, a grassroots advocacy association for the U.S. ethanol industry, has confirmed the dates for its fifth annual “Biofuels Beltway March” in Washington, D.C. ACE’s fly-in will be held March 13-14, headquartered at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill.
Biofuels groups are hoping to see work done during the lame-duck session on extending several tax credits set to expire this year, including a production tax credit for cellulosic biofuel producers. They’re also hoping to use the lame duck to work with other renewable energy sectors, including solar, wind and geothermal, to position energy in the larger tax reform debate that will happen next Congress, said Brooke Coleman, executive director of the Advanced Ethanol Council.
“It’s fun to see this taking shape,” said Adam Wirt, regional biomass coordinator for POET Biomass LLC. He was talking about the structures that are rising from the ground that will eventually become Project LIBERTY, a commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plant. The $200 million plant is scheduled to begin production in late 2013. At peak capacity, the plant is expected to produce 25 million gallons of ethanol, all from corn stover – stalks, leaves and cobs.