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Trump to put biofuel reform push on ice, for now

Reuters | Posted on April 19, 2018

The Trump administration will delay any moves to reform the nation’s biofuel policy for about three months, according to three sources briefed on the matter - a decision one of the sources said was meant to shield farmers worried about a potential trade war with China. The decision comes after President Donald Trump failed to broker a deal between Big Oil and Big Corn during meetings over months about the future of the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard - a law broadly supported in the U.S. heartland that requires oil refiners to add biofuels like ethanol to the nation’s gasoline.

Annual wind energy report shows record energy production

North American Wind Power | Posted on April 19, 2018

fter strong growth in 2017, wind power now supplies more than 30% of electricity in four states and more than 10% in 14 states, according to the American Wind Energy Association’s newly released U.S. Wind Industry Annual Market Report 2017, which shows that the industry now employs a record 105,500 men and women across all 50 states. Notably, New Mexico added wind capacity at a faster rate than any other state in 2017.  According to AWEA, wind power generated a record 6.3% of U.S. electricity in 2017, but the impact is even more pronounced at the state level: Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma and South Dakota generated over 30% of their electricity using wind.

The economic impacts of the regional greenhouse gas intiative on nine Northeast and Mid Atlantic States

Analysis Group | Posted on April 18, 2018

In 2009, ten Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states launched the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (“RGGI”), the country’s first market-based program to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide (“CO2”) from existing and new power plants.1 The scope of RGGI is significant: the current set of RGGI states account for more than one-eighth of the population in the U.S. and more than one-seventh of the nation’s gross domestic product. It is thus important to evaluate and understand the program’s performance and outcomes. Through their development and implementation of the RGGI program, these states have gained first-mover policy experience and have collaborated to form a multi-state emission-control policy that has reduced CO2 emissions from the power sector and operated seamlessly with well-functioning and reliable electricity markets. This Report analyzes the economic impacts of RGGI’s most recent three-year compliance period, which spanned 2015 through 2017. This analysis follows our two prior reports on the economic impacts of RGGI: the 2011 Report (hereafter “AG 2011 Report”) which assessed the economic impacts of RGGI’s first three-year compliance period (2009-2011), and the 2015 Report (hereafter “AG 2015 Report”) which assessed the economic impacts of RGGI’s second three-year compliance period (2012-2014).

Parents Didn’t Want Fracking Near Their School. So the Oil Company Chose a Poorer School, Instead.

Mother Jones | Posted on April 18, 2018

Back in 2013, the company Mineral Resources was granted a permit to drill a few hundred feet from Frontier Academy, a majority white charter school in Greeley, Colorado. But after parents and neighborhood residents strongly resisted, the project was delayed. The following year, the Denver-based energy company Extraction Oil and Gas acquired Mineral Resources and abandoned the plans to frack near Frontier Academy. The site, Extraction explained in an internal analysis, was “not preferable” for oil and gas development because of its proximity to the school and its playground. In May 2016, Extraction Oil and Gas filed a new application. This time, Extraction selected a site even closer to another school: Bella Romero Academy. The student population at Bella Romero is more than 87 percent Latino or Hispanic, African American, or other people of color. More than 90 percent of students at Bella Romero qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. (At Frontier, 77 percent of students are white, and about 20 percent qualify for free or reduced-price lunch.)


Brownfield Ag News | Posted on April 16, 2018

Petroleum refiners made it clear they would like to see the Renewable Fuel Standard go away.  American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers Association CEO Chet Thompson testified Friday before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on a proposal to change America’s octane standards.  “Sunsetting the RFS and transitioning to a 95 RON performance standard would end mandates, reduce overall compliance burdens, and provide achievable regulatory targets.” Growth Energy’s Emily Skor testified in favor of higher octane but insisted the RFS needs to be a part of that.  “Ninety-five RON is a 91 premium fuel that’s currently sold on the marketplace, often with a 10% ethanol blend, so if we move to a national standard of 91, there would be little to no incentive to further use biofuels in our national transportation mix.The RFS is not popular with oil-state Congressmen, including Joe Barton of Texas, who said he would repeal it if he could.  “Nobody can say ethanol is a struggling start-up industry anymore, so you really don’t need all of the protection, the mandates, the quotas that we have today.”

Despite support from Trump, EPA continues to examine 15% blend

The Progressive Farmer | Posted on April 16, 2018

Although President Donald Trump made clear on Thursday his support for granting a waiver to allow year-round sales of E15, the EPA told DTN on Friday the agency hasn't yet made a decision on E15. E15 fuel is a blend of 15% ethanol and 85% of gasoline.  At a White House meeting Thursday focusing on agriculture and trade, Trump said his administration will approve E15. Talking briefly to reporters, the president said regarding ethanol, "We're going to raise it up to 15% and raise it to a 12-month period."Trump's brief comment came after news reports last week surfaced that EPA granted small-refinery hardship waivers at a breakneck pace in 2017.On Friday, an EPA spokesperson said the agency hasn't reached a decision on E15."EPA has been assessing the legal validity of granting an E15 waiver since last summer," the spokesperson said. "The agency has been awaiting a clear outcome from the ongoing RFS (Renewable Fuel Standard) discussions with the White House, USDA and Congress before making any final decisions or developing any associated regulatory actions."

The Keystone Pipeline oil spill was nearly twice as big as TransCanada said

Vice News | Posted on April 13, 2018

In November, the Keystone Pipeline spilled hundreds of thousands of barrels of highly-polluting tar sands oil, leaving a visible stain across a swath of South Dakota farmland. It came at an inopportune time: four days before a Nebraska commission was set to vote to approve an extension of that pipeline, the Keystone XL, which would move 830,000 extra barrels of oil per day through the Midwest to refineries in Texas and Illinois. The pipeline operator, TransCanada, won approval for the Keystone XL over the concerns of local Native American tribes, landowners, and environmental groups, in part because the three-person commission approving the extension was not allowed to consider the spill in its deliberations due to the Major Oil Pipeline Siting Act, passed in 2011, which prevents “safety considerations, including the risk or impact of spills or leaks” to be included when approving or denying route permits for new pipelines.

Rising Costs, Not Natural Gas, Main Driver of Coal Mine Closures

West Virginia Public Broadcasting | Posted on April 12, 2018

A new study finds rising production costs, not cheap natural gas, was the lead factor that drove thousands of coal mines across Appalachia to close. The analysis, published last week by the nonpartisan, environmental think tank, Resources for the Future, scrutinized the impact that natural gas prices, stagnant electricity demand and rising costs had on the ability of coal mines to stay in business.  The researchers created a model that allowed them to study different factors that affected the profitability of coal mines using public data from the Mine Safety and Health Administration, U.S. Energy Information Administration and information reported by public coal companies in their annual reports to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Illinois town leases 20 acres of city owned land for solar

East Peoria Times Courier | Posted on April 11, 2018

A divided Lacon City Council tentatively agreed Monday lease 20 acres of city-owned farmland for 35 years to a solar energy developer that has never addressed or met with the council. The panel voted 3-2, with one abstaining, to move forward toward finalizing an agreement with Minnesota-based Solar Energy Ventures in a contract expected to come up for a final vote next month.The company would pay the city $1,300 an acre per year for the 2 megawatt installation, for a total of about $1.3 million over the life of the contract, said Acting Mayor John Wabel,

Illinois county works on solar ordinance

Rantoul Press | Posted on April 11, 2018

Work continues on a Champaign County zoning ordinance by the Zoning Board of Appeals that would regulate solar farms. A rural Ludlow Township site is one of two that a Washington, D.C-based company hopes to turn into a community solar farm. The zoning board will determine such things as the adequate separation of the solar farm from neighboring dwellings; a road use agreement for construction, (“Although with one of these small farms, that can be waived if the highway commissioner is not necessary,” Hall said); and the noise level, something that Hall said shouldn’t be a problem with this development.