Weeks after Minnesota regulators approved the replacement of an oil pipeline that crosses the state, Native American and environmental groups are starting to oppose the project with a similar playbook to a failed effort to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline.
A $1.1 billion U.S. shale pipeline on Monday was denied an exclusion to the Trump administration’s tariff on imported steel, the first such ruling on a major energy project since the tariff went into effect. Pipeline operator Plains All American Pipeline LP’s request was denied because suitable product is available from domestic producers, the Commerce Department ruling said.The Trump administration this spring slapped a 25 percent tariff on imported steel and 10 percent on imported aluminum to safeguard U.S. jobs. It allowed companies to seek exemptions if metals were not available in sufficient quality, quantity or in a reasonable time.
House lawmakers in both parties are hoping to use a spending bill to block offshore oil and natural gas drilling in the waterways off their states’ coasts. A handful of lawmakers, mainly from coastal states, are sponsoring proposed amendments to the annual appropriations bill for the Interior Department and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that would block Interior funding to allow drilling in particular areas.
The Ray C. Anderson Memorial Highway, or "The Ray" for short, is a section of Interstate 85 in southwestern Georgia that has implemented environmentally minded projects in honor of its namesake. Anderson founded carpet manufacturer Interface Inc. and was called the "greenest CEO in America" for his efforts to make his company environmentally sustainable. The Ray was dedicated in his memory in 2014."We haven't thought about how to make a road smarter, be able to communicate with drivers," says Harriet Langford, Anderson's daughter and founder and president of The Ray, an organization that is dedicated to working on the highway. "We haven't really thought about the extensive land we have. Just on our 18-mile corridor, we have 250 acres of land that's just underutilized."The Ray works to use that land. Kernza wheat, whose deep roots help retain clean water and trap carbon, grows on the shoulder. Bioswales, drainage ditches filled with native Georgia vegetation, capture pollutants during rainstorms. The I-85 visitor center in West Point, Georgia, has a solar-powered charging station, a solar-paved roadway and a tire pressure system to improve road safety, another goal of The Ray. After cars drive over the system, they come across a kiosk where drivers request a paper ticket or enter their phone number to get a text with information about their tire pressure. A 7,000-square-foot pollinator garden provides a butterfly and honeybee habitat.
Six New Hampshire biomass plants might be in jeopardy of closing after a bill was recently vetoed by Gov. Chris Sununu. The governor said the bill could have cost Granite Staters millions, but plant managers and employees said the plants are in jeopardy if lawmakers don't act. The governor issued the veto in June, saying the veto would not take anything away from the biomass industry. He said the bill would have given the industry an additional $30 million in subsidies, and vetoing it saved ratepayers about $25 million. Plant managers said the veto has already had an impact. At Pinetree, the pile of wood chips that fuels the plant is running low and will likely last for about a week."Once we go through that fuel, we will go into economic shutdown," manager Robert Lussier said.Officials at six biomass plants that employ about 900 people said they could close if nothing changes.
EPA Administrator and refining industry ally Scott Pruitt resigned earlier this month after losing the support of the White House. Shortly before his departure, the EPA implemented substantial reductions to biofuel blending volumes under the national blending mandate. Recently-released EPA documents show that the reductions were implemented in a way that will keep ethanol blending at roughly 10 vol% of gasoline consumption. The EPA documents also show that the reduction decision occurred shortly before Mr. Pruitt's departure. If finalized later this year, the reduction to future blending volumes will continue to put downward pressure on ethanol operating margins.
A five-year study in Chippewa County has transformed a reclaimed frac sand mine into a successful wild prairie. Researchers are hopeful that lessons learned can be used at other mining operations around the state beginning to fill in their pits. In a rare collaboration, researchers from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls worked with industrial sand mining firm Superior Silica Sands and Chippewa County’s Department of Land Conservation and Forest Management to learn how sand mining impacts soil that is stripped away, stored and replaced after mining operations wrap up. "Although sand mining is an inherently destructive process, we were able to reclaim within three years a reasonably diverse and fully vegetated native prairie on these pretty low nutrient, difficult soils," said Diboll.
The California Department of Food and Agriculture has awarded $69.9 million in grant funding to 40 dairy digester projects across the state. These projects, part of the Dairy Digester Research and Development Program, will reduce greenhouse gas emissions from manure on California dairy farms. Financial assistance for the installation of dairy digesters comes from California Climate Investments, a statewide initiative that uses Cap-and-Trade program funds to support the state’s climate goals. CDFA and other state agencies are investing these proceeds in projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide additional benefits to California communities. Dairy digester grant recipients will provide an estimated $95.5 million in matching funds for the development of their projects.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ditched a detailed plan that would have forced refiners to blend more biofuels into their gasoline and diesel in 2019 to compensate for volumes likely to be exempted under the agency’s small refinery hardship waiver program, according to newly released EPA documents. The plan would have boosted the renewable fuel blending obligation for the refining industry to 11.76 percent from 10.88 percent to offset volumes lost under the waiver program, which has been expanded sharply under President Donald Trump’s EPA, and keep overall blended volumes on target. The idea was aimed at assuaging the powerful U.S. corn lobby which has accused Trump’s EPA of undermining demand for biofuels like corn-based ethanol through the waiver program, but was scrapped amid intense protest from the refining industry. “What this shows is the EPA acknowledges it has the authority and the ability to reallocate the volumes lost under the small refinery exemption program,” Geoff Cooper, an executive at the Renewable Fuels Association, said on Wednesday.
The current zero-sum battle between corn states and the biofuels industry on the one hand, and oil refiners on the other, is not new, but it exploded into a fierce fight over the past year as the Environmental Protection Agency cracked open the door to a weakening of the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS). The RFS dictates how much ethanol refiners need to procure. The exit of Scott Pruitt from the EPA could signal an end to open war between the ethanol and refining industries, returning it to a more familiar low-grade tug-of-war over annual blending requirements. The Trump administration has spent months trying to hammer out a compromise between refiners and the biofuels industry, but it has struggled to find any common ground. Advancing a proposal to the benefit of one side almost necessarily undermines the other. Ethanol producers argue the waivers are destroying the RIN market. But refiners say the RIN system is fundamentally flawed. “We simply want to correct the flawed and indefensible RINs compliance mechanism that is destroying the independent merchant refining industry and the thousands of families sustained by it,” Philadelphia Energy Solutions said in a February statement. This zero-sum dynamic has bedeviled the Trump administration, as it has prior administrations. But the support for refiners from Scott Pruitt’s EPA pushed the issue to the front burner, and the corn and ethanol industries, and their powerful allies in Congress, forced the issue.