The EPA granted five additional 2017 small-refinery exemptions (SREs) to the Renewable Fuel Standard on Thursday, raising the agency total for that year to 34, according to an update posted to EPA's online dashboard. The dashboard also indicates it has two more waiver requests pending for that year. Ethanol industry interests, farmers and federal lawmakers were hopeful the agency would change the way it considered waivers under new Administrator Andrew Wheeler. The 2017 waiver requests were made during former Administrator Scott Pruitt's tenure.Geoff Cooper, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association, said during a news conference that the agency's latest actions would serve as a "bellwether" for how the EPA would handle waiver requests going forward and Thursday's decision would be an "important indication" of where Wheeler stands.
The Oregon House approved a 10-year ban on fracking to explore for oil and natural gas. Lawmakers voted 42-12 on Monday to prohibit the process, which injects high-pressure liquids into underground rock to extract oil and gas. The measure now goes to the Senate for consideration.There are currently no fracking operations in Oregon. But developers say there’s potential for coalbed methane extraction in the Willamette Valley, which this bill would also block.
Corn and biofuels groups are upset that the Environmental Protection Agency chose March 14, which was National Agriculture Day, to grant five additional Renewable Fuel Standard Small Refinery Exemptions for the 2017 compliance year, waiving 366 million gallons of biofuels from RFS compliance. "EPA's decision today brings the total waivers from 2016 and 2017 RFS obligations to 53, amounting to 2.61 billion ethanol-equivalent gallons. In years prior to 2016, SREs totaled less than 300 million gallons per year," the National Corn Growers Association said."This action continues to chip away at the RFS and corn demand, hurting America's corn farmers.NCGA has called for EPA to account for these lost volumes and disclose which refineries receive these waivers and why the waivers are justified.
The market impact of small refinery exemptions (SREs) granted under the RFS remains a highly contentious issue. From a regulatory standpoint, there is no doubt that SREs opened a backdoor mechanism for the EPA to reduce the statutorily-mandated RFS volumes. However, there is sharp disagreement about the impact of SREs on the physical consumption of biofuels, particularly for ethanol. The ethanol industry has argued vociferously that there has been substantial destruction of demand in the physical ethanol market due to the SREs. However, a series of farmdoc daily articles in recent months showed that the physical use of ethanol declined little if any due to SREs. This is not really all that surprising because ethanol prices generally have been low relative to gasoline, which means that ethanol is a price competitive component in E10 gasoline blends and the RFS conventional ethanol mandate is non-binding (up to the E10 blend wall). The situation is much different for biomass-based diesel (BBD), because BBD prices are substantially higher than diesel prices, and consequently, the BBD mandate is highly binding. In this case, the demand for biomass-based diesel in the physical market should be reduced by SREs. The purpose of this article is to investigate the magnitude of BBD demand destruction in the physical market due to SREs.
By issuing a pair of vetoes Thursday, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam sent a message to the Legislature and beyond that he is intent on sticking with an aggressive carbon-cutting agenda.One bill he struck down, HB 2611, would have prohibited Virginia from entering a regional program to reduce greenhouse gas pollution from power plants unless authorized by two-thirds of the General Assembly.The other, HB 2269, would have prevented the state from joining a separate regional compact designed to slice emissions from vehicles and other transportation sources unless approved by two-thirds of the General Assembly.
Over the years, top-ranking wind and solar markets have overlapped in just a few states. Where wind flourished, solar usually hung back, and vice versa. “Each of our technologies has largely had their own playpen,” said Anthony Logan, a North American wind analyst at energy and consulting company Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables.But now analysts say that’s changing. Dirt-cheap solar costs, record-setting growth and movement into new markets, plus the ability for solar to complement wind production, mean the technology is now encroaching on onshore wind’s territory. Solar is poised to grow by the highest percentage of any U.S. generation source in 2020, according to the federal U.S. Energy Information Administration. Wind will be close behind — EIA says it’ll show the largest percentage growth in 2019 and the second in 2020 — but solar prices are dropping enough that the resource is comparable and even cheaper than wind in some formerly wind-oriented markets.
Michigan Technological University researchers found that increasing renewable and distributed generation energy sources can save Michigan electric consumers money. However, as three Michigan Tech researchers contend in a new study, while utility fuel mixes are slowly shifting away from fossil fuels toward renewable sources, Michigan utilities, and U.S. utilities broadly, continue a relationship with fossil fuels that is detrimental to their customers.The paper, "Policies to Overcome Barriers for Renewable Energy Distributed Generation: A Case Study of Utility Structure and Regulatory Regimes in Michigan," was published in the energy policy special issue of the journal Energies.
Unsafe contamination from coal ash disposal sites at half a dozen power plants in western North Dakota has seeped into groundwater sources, according to a report from an environmental group.The Environmental Integrity Project collected industry monitoring data for its nationwide report, which found that six of seven coal-fired power plants in North Dakota leaked contamination into groundwater sources at levels exceeding those deemed safe — in one case, by a factor of 100.But state health officials and representatives of the utilities that run the coal-fired power plants say none of North Dakota’s ash disposal sites fail to comply with standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency.
As Congressional leaders in Washington, DC remain stalled out on climate-related legislation, states are moving forward, even in conservative parts of the country. New Mexico is the latest. The southwestern state is the latest to embrace carbon-free electricity, passing a bill that will require all electricity from public utilities to come from carbon-free sources. The bill, which passed 43-22 in New Mexico’s increasingly Democratic legislature, requires the state (now one of the country’s top oil, gas, and coal producers) to get 50% of its energy from renewables by 2030 and 80% by 2040. By 2045, it must go entirely carbon-free.