The U.S. trade deficit increased to a nine-month high in October due to rising oil prices and the widening of America’s long-standing deficits with China and Mexico.The worsening trade deficit came even as exports to China and Mexico were the strongest in more than three years, which some economists said challenged the Trump administration’s argument that the United States was being disadvantaged in its dealings with trade partners.“This leaves the Trump economics team empty handed when it comes to its mission to improve the unfair terms of trade which sent factories offshore starting a couple of decades ago,” said Chris Rupkey, chief economist at MUFG in New York.The Commerce Department said on Tuesday the trade gap widened 8.6 percent to $48.7 billion, the highest level since January. The politically sensitive U.S.-China trade deficit increased 1.7 percent to $35.2 billion and the deficit with Mexico surged 15.9 percent to $6.6 billion.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced that it is mandating the statutory maximum 15 billion gallons of ethanol be added to the domestic fuel supply in 2018, the second consecutive year EPA has mandated the maximum amount of ethanol allowed under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The currently mandated volume for 2017 is also 15 billion gallons; with only weeks left in 2017, the Energy Information Agency (EIA) of the U.S. Department of Energy is forecasting the total domestic use of ethanol for the year to be just 14.4 billion gallons.“Corn ethanol, of all blends, has saturated the domestic market, and the industry, protected by the RFS, just continues to produce ethanol at a pace faster than consumption can grow,” noted the National Chicken Council in comments submitted in August to the EPA.
While proposed long-distance, high-voltage transmission projects continue to be stymied by hostile landowners and disapproving state regulators, a new transmission strategy is taking root in the Midwest. The Direct Connect Development Company has been working on a plan for an underground transmission line along existing railroad tracks from north-central Iowa to the Chicago area. The goal is to provide a way to move additional wind energy from Iowa, the Dakotas and Minnesota to a transfer point in the Chicago area. From there, the power could move farther east into regions with more electricity demand.And because the line with a capacity of 2,100 megawatts (MW) would be mostly invisible, it might elude some of the problems that have dogged transmission lines that would tower overhead while crossing Midwestern farm fields. Direct Connect CEO Trey Ward said the Canadian Pacific Railway has agreed to allow the comany to bury the line within its right of way, which extends for about 85 percent of the 349-mile route.
Fifty American cities have now pledged to move towards getting their energy from 100% renewable sources.Truckee has the honour of being the location that achieves the new landmark, joining cities like San Diego and San Francisco in committing to 100% clean energy.“Truckee’s commitment to 100% clean energy including electricity, heating, and transportation is good for our community and our planet. Our town is on the front lines of climate change and we understand how serious this is. Reducing our emissions will create jobs and long-term economic sustainability as we uphold our responsibility as stewards of the environment,” Truckee Mayor Morgan Goodwin said in a statement.Truckee says it will be using 100% clean electricity across the town by 2030, and that all energy sources will be 100% clean by 2050.
A commission that oversees water quality for the watershed that supplies Philadelphia and half of New York City with drinking water took another step Thursday toward permanently banning natural gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing, despite industry opposition. The Delaware River Basin Commission's newly published draft regulations would enact a formal ban on fracking, as well as put additional restrictions to make it harder, if not impossible, for the industry to dispose wastewater within the watershed or use water from the river and its tributaries for fracking outside the basin.
Chernobyl is being developed into a solar power site.Two companies have a contract to start building a one-megawatt solar farm next month, and they're planning on adding 99 more megawatts in the future.
A new study out of the Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research suggests the treated waste from turkeys, chickens, and other poultry could replace up to ten per cent of the coal used in electricity production. Scientists say poultry waste generates heat at high temperatures and combusts in a similar manner to coal, making it a good renewable energy replacement. Disposing of poultry waste in an environmentally-friendly manner is an ongoing problem for farmers. Converting it into energy could help solve that issue.
Despite a major push from the Midwest to bolster Renewable Fuel Standard volumes for biomass-based diesel and cellulosic ethanol, in the end, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency left its final numbers released on Thursday virtually untouched from the original proposal. Though the biodiesel industry pressed President Donald Trump's administration for higher biomass-based diesel volumes above the proposed 2.1 billion gallons for 2019, the EPA left that number unchanged. The agency originally proposed a cut, while the industry wanted the number set at 2.5 billion gallons.The EPA's final biomass-based diesel numbers came as a huge disappointment to an industry that maintains it has the capacity to produce 2.6 billion gallons. Corn ethanol blending requirements were set at 15 billion gallons for 2018, with overall biofuel blending obligations slightly higher overall, based on the final RFS volumes announced. Fifteen billion gallons of corn ethanol amounts to about 5.4 billion bushels of corn demand supported by the RFS.The overall total Renewable Volume Obligation, or RVO, for 2018 was set at 19.29 billion gallons. That represents a slight bump from the original proposal of 19.28 billion gallons. The agency had considered cutting the number to 19.24 billion gallons. The bump comes from a slight increase in the advanced biofuels volumes.
CRISPR technology will ultimately impact what we eat, wear, and how we maintain our health — and it just crashed successfully into the big party known as the Advanced Transportation revolution. Specifically, a new path to producing fuel molecules that replace diesel. For some time we have seen tremendous activity around the development of CRISPR gene-editing technology — allowing scientists to directly clip and insert genetic material.Now, Fuzhong Zhang, associate professor at the School of Engineering & Applied Science updated the Digest this week and noted that “We designed and then constructed a synthetic metabolic pathway inside the fast-growing E.coli by introducing genes from other species, including Staphylococus aureus, cyanobacteria and soil bacteria. By using CRISPR, we incorporated genes from different species with favorable traits into E.coli’s fatty acid pathway.”Zhang’s research focuses on engineering metabolic pathways that, when optimized, allow the bacteria to act as a biofuel generator. In its latest findings, recently published in Biotechnology for Biofuels, Zhang’s lab used the best bits of several other species — including a well-known pathogen — to enable E.coli to produce branched, long-chain fatty alcohols (BLFLs).
The largest coal plant in the Western United States will keep operating through 2019 after its owners received approval from the federal Bureau of Reclamation and Bureau of Indian Affairs to extend its lease on Wednesday. The plant's owners, including Reclamation and a group of utilities, had planned to close the 2,250 MW Navajo Generating Station (NGS) in 2018. The Navajo Nation, which owns the land on which the plant sits, voted to extend its lease until 2019, but needed final approval from the federal agency. Arizona utility Salt River Project (SRP) and other owners still plan to shutter the facility after its lease expires, citing competitive pressures from cheap natural gas. The Navajo Nation and coal supplier Peabody Energy are working to find a new owner for the plant.