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"We're not messing with the RFS", - Perdue | Posted on May 11, 2017

Iowa farmers got their chance to hear firsthand from USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue about his intent to preserve the U.S. ethanol industry and promote trade. Secretary Perdue told a crowd of farmers, lawmakers, and members of the agricultural industry that the Trump administration will not mess with the Renewable Fuels Standard. Perdue added, “As farmers, we need to be better communicators, but farmers are definitely part of our national security.”The new USDA leader stressed that no longer can farmers just be good producers; they have to tell the nation that the food is safe and their animals are treated well.“We’re going to make sound science, fact-based, data-driven decisions. Because that is what works in agriculture,” says Perdue. “At the same time, we should be unapologetic in agriculture.”

Democratic senators ask US regulators to look into whether Carl Icahn violated 'insider trading' laws in biofuels market

CNBC | Posted on May 11, 2017

Eight Democratic Senators on Tuesday asked U.S. regulators to launch an investigation into billionaire Carl Icahn's activities in the U.S. biofuels blending credit market, saying the activist investor may have violated securities trading laws. "We are writing to request that your agencies investigate whether Carl Icahn violated insider trading laws, anti-market manipulation laws, or any other relevant laws based on his recent actions in the market for renewable fuel credits," the senators said in a letter to the heads of the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Coal-fired power plant closures in 2017 will reduce coal demand

Digital Journal | Posted on April 28, 2017

In a report issued by the Institute for Energy Economics & Financial Analysis, 46 coal-burning units at 25 power plants across 16 states will close or greatly reduce production by 2018, resulting in a 30 million-ton decrease in demand for coal.

Environmental Rules Played Minor Role in Coal’s Decline

Climate Central | Posted on April 27, 2017

Environmental and climate regulations that cut pollution from coal-fired power plants have played only a minor role in the decline of the coal industry, which has been hurt mainly by expanding use of natural gas and less demand for electricity, according to a Columbia University report published this week. U.S. coal use fell by about 30 percent between 2011 and 2016. The paper attributes about half of that decline to low natural gas prices, 26 percent to falling demand for electricity and 18 percent to growth in renewable energy such as wind and solar. Only 3.5 percent of the coal industry’s decline is due to environmental and climate regulations that took effect prior to 2016.

Oil and Gas Heavyweights Back a Roadmap for Steep Declines in Fossil Fuel Use

Green Tech Media | Posted on April 27, 2017

We've entered a topsy-turvy moment in energy where coal supporters want solar power and oil execs have endorsed cutting fossil fuel use.The latter appeared in a new decarbonization roadmap from the Energy Transitions Commission, an all-star working group charting the energy future that includes the chairman of Royal Dutch Shell, the head of sustainability at massive mining company BHP Billiton, the CEO of General Electric Oil and Gas, as well as leaders from prominent global banks, development organizations and climate-oriented NGOs.The terminology in "Better Energy, Greater Prosperity" will be familiar to anyone following the Paris climate agreement and subsequent mobilization, but the cast of characters here differs in a crucial way. Each commission member might not agree with every detail, the report notes, but they collectively "endorse the general thrust of the arguments." That means some of the world's most powerful fossil fuel providers and financial lenders have publicly affirmed the need to sharply cut oil, gas and coal usage and switch to clean sources. And they believe this can be done without macroeconomic disruption, but rather with a net welfare gain for society.



Chamber of Commerce: Northeast pipeline constraints are a $7.6B drag on GDP

Utility Dive | Posted on April 27, 2017

High gas and power prices in the Northeast are only going to get worse unless the region adds pipeline capacity, according to a new report from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Institute for 21st Century Energy. The business federation estimated insufficient pipeline capacity will cost the region more than 78,000 jobs and $7.6 billion in GDP by 2020, in a new report that models the question "What if pipelines aren’t built into the Northeast?" While some groups have challenged the need for new pipeline capacity, arguing the region can meet its energy needs with a cleaner mix of resources, regional grid operators have indicated opposition to pipelines could create reliability risks, though they are confident in their ability to serve demand. 

California Senate committee clears bill for new energy storage rebate program

Utility Dive | Posted on April 27, 2017

A bill authorizing rebates for the installation of energy storage systems passed out of the California Senate's energy and utilities committee this week by a vote of 7-2 with two abstentions. It now goes to the full Senate for consideration. The bill, SB 700, would require utilities to collect funds from ratepayers to establish an Energy Storage Initiative (ESI) that would work in tandem with the state’s existing Self Generation Incentive Program and the California Solar Initiative. The ESI would be funded through 2027. The bill also calls for 25% of the funds collected for the Energy Storage Initiative to be allotted for low income neighborhoods and job training programs

Thousands of businesses, groups lobby for defense of EPA Energy Star program

Utility Dive | Posted on April 27, 2017

More than 1,000 businesses and organizations have signed a letter urging Congress to defend and strengthen the Energy Star labeling initiative for efficient appliances that is maintained through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.The group, organized by the Alliance to Save Energy, says the program saves consumers more than $34 billion per year in reduced energy costs. President Trump's proposed budget eliminates funding for Energy Star, a voluntary program with an annual budget of about $50 million.The EPA  budget overall would be cut 31% under the proposal.  Energy Star is a curious victim of the Trump administration's slash-and-burn approach to the EPA: It's a voluntary program with bipartisan support and a small budget, and pretty much everyone agrees it works.Why kill it? CNN has a possible answer: Trump properties score poorly in Energy Star ratings. The news organization said scores from 2015 show 11 of 15 Trump properties in major cities are less efficient than comparable buildings.The Trump condominiums at 610 Park Avenue in Manhattan rate a 1, the lowest possible Energy Star rating, CNN said.Now, more than 1,000 businesses and organizations, including national and regional chains, universities, and Habitat for Humanity, are urging lawmakers to fight for the program, calling it "a model for successful collaboration between the public and private sectors."

Commerce Department Investigating Argentina and Indonesia Biodiesel Imports

Hoosier Ag Today | Posted on April 25, 2017

The U.S. Commerce Department has launched an antidumping and countervailing duty investigation aimed at biodiesel imports from Argentina and Indonesia. The investigation is in response to a complaint filed by the biodiesel industry in the United States.

Energy Dept. chief Perry says coal retirements threaten to destabilize the grid

Arstechnica | Posted on April 25, 2017

Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Rick Perry ordered a review of electricity markets and reliability late last week, saying that "certain policies" have hindered the development and use of baseload energy sources like coal. Although Perry never mentions renewable energy explicitly in his letter, he references "significant changes within the electrical system." That seems to be a direct allusion to the record amount of renewable capacity that has been added to the grid in recent years.  The Trump administration has been openly critical of climate change science, with the president even falsely claiming that climate change is a hoax made up by China. In March, the president killed the Clean Power Plan and ordered agencies to ignore climate change. Perry, too, spent most of his early career rejecting climate change science, but during his January Senate confirmation hearing the former Texas governor said he now accepts science showing that the Earth is warming. Still, Perry has remained coy about whether he believes that climate change is caused by humans. The erosion that Perry suggests doesn't seem quite so dire yet. Regional transmission organizations like the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas have been able to accept up to 50 percent wind energy penetration during low-demand times. A 2015 study from SPP said it could "'reliably handle’ wind representing up to 60 percent of internal SPP load.” PJM, a regional transmission organization that serves the East Coast, said in March that recent coal retirements don't threaten grid reliability, according to Utility Dive. PJM was also the subject of extensive research from Princeton and the University of Delaware on how much offshore wind the wholesaler could accept. A conservative estimate suggested that 11 to 20 percent of PJM's power demand could be met by offshore wind additions. In California, where a natural gas leak shut down one of the biggest storage facilities on the West Coast in 2015, the state ordered battery storage installations to help smooth out potential baseload disruptions.