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Energy News

Grassley Analysis Finds RFS Has Minimal Impact on Success of Refineries

Dhuck Grassley Senate pages | Posted on February 7, 2018

Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa released a memorandum produced by his energy policy staff who analyzed recent claims made by opponents of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), including Philadelphia Energy Solutions (PES), which attributed its recent bankruptcy filing in part to the RFS. The analysis finds that the biofuels blending requirement and the cost of Renewable Identification Number credits (RINs), a compliance mechanism designed for flexibility, have little to do with the success of refineries and were not significant factors in the PES bankruptcy. The Grassley analysis reached similar conclusions as those of multiple recent studies, including multiple by the University of Pennsylvania’s Kleinman Center for Energy Policy

Waste-to-biofuel tech a big hit

Innovators Magazine | Posted on February 7, 2018

A Canadian company pioneering waste-to-biofuel technology facilities has attracted C$280 million in new investment. Enerkem’s tech innovations are beginning to make a big impact on the global biofuel market. It achieved a first in 2017 when it received approval to sell into the American market. And we reported last month that the Quebec-headquartered biotech is going to facilitate 100 biofuel plants across China, as part of a deal with bioeconomy leader, the Sinobioway Group.

Massachusetts orders utilities to lower rates after tax cut

Boston Herald | Posted on February 6, 2018

State regulators are ordering Massachusetts utilities to lower their rates to reflect the reduction in the federal corporate tax rate approved by Congress. The Department of Public Utilities on Friday instructed the utilities to account for any revenues associated with the difference between the previous and current federal corporate tax rates.

Groups sue to overturn Alaska petroleum reserve lease sale

Spokane Spokesman | Posted on February 6, 2018

Five environmental groups sued the federal government Friday, claiming the Interior Department conducted a petroleum lease sale in a part of northern Alaska known for its wildlife without proper environmental review. The Bureau of Land Management on Dec. 14 conducted the largest-ever lease offering within the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, putting out for bid 900 tracts covering 16,100 square miles, roughly the size of New Hampshire and Massachusetts combined.Most tracts received no bids. However, BLM retained no authority to prohibit future activities on the leases that were sold and offered them without preparing a site-specific environmental assessment as required by federal law, the groups said.

Lands stripped from Utah monuments open to claims, leases by oil, gas, coal and uranium companies

The Salt Lake Tribune | Posted on February 6, 2018

The window opened Friday for oil, gas, uranium and coal companies to make requests or stake claims to lands that were cut from two sprawling Utah national monuments by President Trump in December — but there doesn’t appear to be a rush to seize the opportunities.For anyone interested in the uranium on the lands stripped from the Bears Ears National Monument, all they need to do is stake a few corner posts in the ground, pay a $212 initial fee and send paperwork to the federal government under a law first created in 1872 that harkens back to the days of the Wild West.They can then keep rights to the hard minerals, including gold and silver, as long as they pay an annual fee of $155.

Interior apologizes after incorrectly saying Obama blocked coal mines

The Hill | Posted on February 6, 2018

The Interior Department has apologized after an official incorrectly blamed the Obama administration for blocking approval of two coal mines. Deputy Interior Secretary David Bernhardt wrote a Jan. 28 opinion piece in the Grand Junction, Colo., Daily Sentinel, his hometown paper, lauding the Trump administration’s pro-coal agenda. One accomplishment Bernhardt boasted about was approving expansion applications for the West Elk and King II mines in Colorado. The Obama administration did indeed put a moratorium on new leases for coal mines on federal land in 2016, as part of an effort to review the environmental and climate impact of coal mining and whether to increase costs.One of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s first actions in office was to roll back the coal moratorium.But the West Elk and King II expansions were far enough along in the process that they were excluded from the moratorium from the beginning. They did not get approved until Trump took office — and Trump expedited the King II process — but their applications did move forward under Obama.

Coal job losses to keep hurting Appalachia, beyond

KNOX News | Posted on February 6, 2018

Coal isn’t back — though it may hold steady near today’s level — but the long-term decline of mining in Appalachia will have a ripple effect on related businesses, health, education and regional population, according to a new study. While coal has boom-and-bust cycles, its long-term trend has been downward, said Matt Murray, University of Tennessee economics professor, associate director of the Boyd Center for Business & Economic Research and director of the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy.“We may see some further declines, but I think the coal industry is close to bottoming out,” he said. “So the worst is behind us. I think the real impacts are in those small number of communities that still have some coal activities going on.”The five-part study, “An Economic Analysis of the Appalachian Coal Industry Ecosystem,” notes that coal production in Appalachia fell nearly 45 percent between 2005 and 2015, more than double the rate of the national decline during the same period.

Ethanol's next breakthrough? Turning greenhouse gas into fuel.

Des Moines Register | Posted on February 5, 2018

Somewhere within the walls of a Tennessee lab, researchers stumbled upon an accidental finding that could potentially revolutionize the ethanol market hundreds of miles away in Iowa. Scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory unintentionally uncovered a process that uses tiny bits of carbon and copper to convert the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide into ethanol fuel.While the research remains in its preliminary phase, it could represent a breakthrough for renewable fuel operations in Iowa. By their nature, ethanol plants produce masses of excess carbon dioxide through the distillation process. If commercialized, the new process could allow ethanol producers to make even more ethanol fuel from the CO2 that's otherwise wasted.

Ethanol CEO says Pruitt trying to "gut" federal mandate

Houston Chronicle | Posted on February 5, 2018

Ethanol companies are enraged by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt's comments Thursday that the program ensuring compliance with the federal biofuels requirement needs reform.  "Administrator Pruitt's recent comments completely contradict his own rule and repeated promises to support the letter and spirit of the RFS," he said. "It is an about-face to now try and gut the most successful energy program in American history."

US Wind Industry Installed 7 Gigawatts In 2017 & Drove $11 Billion In Investment

Cleantechnica | Posted on February 4, 2018

The US wind industry installed an impressive 7 gigawatts of new power capacity in 2017 and drove $11 billion worth of new private investment, according to a new report published by the American Wind Energy Association. Even more impressive was the 29 new wind farms totalling 4,125 MW (megawatts) that came online across 16 states in the fourth quarter alone.The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) published its U.S. Wind Industry Fourth Quarter 2017 Market Report on Tuesday, highlighting the 7,017 MW of new wind brought online during 2017, bringing the country’s cumulative total wind energy capacity up to 89,077 MW spread out across 41 states, and representing enough electricity to power 26 million homes. On top of new installed wind capacity, the report highlighted an additional 2,136 MW w