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Wisconsin Loses Another 54 Dairy Farms in June

Dairy Herd Management | Posted on July 14, 2018

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection reports that 54 Wisconsin dairy farms sold out in June. That’s on top of the 78 that left the business in May. Year-to-date, 338 dairy farms stopped milking cows. Still, USDA estimates that cow numbers are down just 1,000 head from January to May (the latest report available). The year-to-day farm exits are running about 30% higher than the same January through June farm exits in 2017. Note: The June 2018 exit number of 54 farms is six fewer in June 2017.


The Billionaire Quietly Protecting Western Lands From Oil and Gas Drilling

Inside Philosphy | Posted on July 13, 2018

Hansjörg Wyss is one of the most influential billionaire philanthropists that nobody much talks about. We’ve seen his Wyss Foundation’s giving expand from Western conservation into work in Africaocean conservation, even journalism.  And that’s just the environmental giving. Wyss is also a major progressive donor, on the board of the Center for American Progress alongside Tom Steyer. Oh, and he also gave a combined $250 million to Harvard for the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering (remember when everyone got so mad at John Paulson for giving $400 million to Harvard?).   The publicity-shy philanthropist has mostly managed to cultivate a low-key reputation as a Swiss entrepreneur who fell in love with the American West as a college student. Part of that image comes from his track record of buying up beloved land to protect it from industry. Securing land in Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, and more has always been at the core of his philanthropic interests, and he’s still very much engaged in the cause, as he recently made a gift of an undisclosed amount to the Trust for Public Land, to buy and retire oil and gas leases on more than 24,000 acres in Wyoming. 


EPA 2019 RFS Proposed Rulemaking: What You See Is Not What You Get

Farm Doc Daily | Posted on July 13, 2018

On June 26, 2018, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published its proposed rule for establishing the volume obligations under the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) (EPA Proposed Rule).  If finalized, the proposed rule would set the requirements for obligated parties to comply with the RFS for calendar year 2019, as well as the requirements for biomass-based diesel for calendar year 2020.  On its face, the proposed rule and its obligations appear to be non-controversial and straightforward.  Buried within the proposed rule, however, is a mechanism for potentially reducing the mandate below the statutory requirements and EPA’s stated obligations. Overall, the proposed rule continues the significant reduction of cellulosic ethanol based on limited production capacity, as well as continuing the increases for biomass-based diesel.   As EPA explains, it is making full use of the waiver authority granted by Congress in the statute to reduce cellulosic ethanol requirements.  This is not controversial and is largely based on EPA projections of the ability of the industry to produce cellulosic ethanol; an estimate of capacity to produce 381 million gallons, which is over 8 billion gallons below the statutory requirements.  Similarly, EPA is making full use of its statutory authority to reduce the total renewable fuel volumes by the full amount of the cellulosic reduction.  It leaves 4.88 billion gallons of advanced biofuel obligations which are likely to be filled by biomass-based diesel above 2.1 billion gallons. On its face, the proposed obligations do not appear controversial.  EPA has discretionary authority for waiving down the cellulosic mandate, as well as the advanced and total mandates up to the amount of the cellulosic waiver amount.  The 2019 proposed obligations appear to align with the statutory mandates.  What is not apparent in the numbers, however, is buried in the small print and it involves continued use of hardship exemptions for small refiners.

 


EPA Docs Show Oil's Influence on RFS

DTN | Posted on July 13, 2018

The EPA was set to reallocate gallons lost in the Renewable Fuel Standard to small-refinery waivers, but that proposal was pulled within days after a series of meetings and phone calls that then EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt had with lawmakers from oil states and RFS stakeholders. As part of the rulemaking process on the latest proposed RFS volumes, which are slated for a public hearing on July 18, the agency on Wednesday posted a number of documents to regulations.gov showing the interagency process that took place prior to the proposal's release. That interagency review includes USDA, EPA and the Office of Management and Budget.


The power of poop: How Cornell turns manure into energy

WBNG | Posted on July 12, 2018

Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine Teaching Dairy Barn has installed a state-of-the-art system that separates manure from sand bedding material.  Officials with the barn, which is home to 200 cows, say the technology provides clean bedding for the animals and creates "muck" that is perfect for making electricity and heat. Here's how it works, according to Cornell:Manure is conveyed into the new separator, adjacent to the barn, Minutes later, clean sand emerges ready for another day’s use, Liquid manure is collected in a tank for removal. A pump draws sand-laden manure out of the reception pit. It is diluted with recycled water and filtered through a screen that removes bits of hay and other debris. A high-speed pump then pushes the diluted sand and manure through a cyclone that separates most of the manure from the sand.The sand with some residual manure flows into a sand washer where an auger brings up the sand, which is then sprayed with tap water as a final cleaning step.Captured liquid manure is then trucked to the Ithaca Area Wastewater Treatment Facility, where microbial activity breaks down the manure, along with other organic matter, generating methane gas.


Electric co-ops say tax law threatens rural broadband aid

Agri-Pulse | Posted on July 9, 2018

A little-noticed provision in the 2017 tax reform law could threaten the non-profit status of rural electric cooperatives if they use federal disaster aid or take advantage of a new initiative to expand broadband service.  The provision in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Acts means that government grants to co-ops, including disaster aid and assistance through a rural broadband program Congress enacted earlier this year, are now taxable, according to a letter the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association has (NRECA) sent to the congressional tax-writing committees.  Under Section 118 of the old tax law, a corporation’s gross income excluded any contribution to its capital. Under the new law, contribution to capital now excludes “any contribution by any government entity or civic group," the letter says. 


RFA: Drivers Would Save 6 Cents per Gallon on E15

DTN | Posted on July 5, 2018

Though gasoline prices are higher than last year heading into the Fourth of July holiday, a new Renewable Fuels Association analysis found that E10, or 10% ethanol-blended gasoline, is saving consumers at the pump.According to AAA, a record 39.7 million Americans are expected to travel 50 miles or more by automobile for the holiday. That is a 5% increase from more than one year ago. The RFA said those drivers will be paying at least 12% less for gasoline -- or 26 cents per gallon -- because of ethanol. Ethanol is expected to reduce household spending on gasoline by $37 billion this year, or $292 per household.The analysis also shows if E15 was available nationwide in place of E10, consumers would be saving even more money. The wholesale savings currently attributable to E15 is 32 cents per gallon, or 15% lower than E0 gasoline.


Perry warns Northeast states opposing pipelines will face 'reckoning'

Washington Examiner | Posted on July 5, 2018

nergy Secretary Rick Perry on Thursday warned the leaders of Northeast states who are trying to block natural gas pipelines that they will face a “real reckoning” of higher energy costs and vulnerabilities in their power grid.“The citizens of New York are paying more for energy,” Perry said during a panel session at the World Gas Conference in Washington. “Their health and well-being is being put in jeopardy. If a polar vortex comes into the northeast part of the country, or a cyberattack, and people literally have to start making decisions on how to keep their family warm or keep the lights on, at that time, the leadership of that state will have a real reckoning. I wouldn’t want to be the governor of that state facing that situation.


EPA Waivers Total 2.25 Billion Gallons

DTN | Posted on July 5, 2018

The amount of biofuels gallons lost to small refinery waivers was worse than many had estimated. The EPA granted waivers to the Renewable Fuel Standard in 2016 and 2017, totaling 2.25 billion gallons of biofuels, according to the agency's latest renewable volume obligations proposal.In a recent analysis, the Renewable Fuels Association estimated the total to be around 1.6 billion gallons. EPA outlined details of the bank for renewable identification numbers, or RINs, in the proposed volumes. "They include the approximately 1,460 million RINs that were not required to be retired by small refineries that were granted hardship exemptions for 2017 and approximately 790 million RINs that were not required to be retired by small refineries that were granted hardship exemptions for 2016, along with the RINs that Philadelphia Energy Solutions Refining and Marketing, LLC was not required to retire as part of its bankruptcy settlement agreement," the agency said in the proposal.


EPA boost renewable fuel requirements, but leaders say higher levels meaningless with waivers

Des Moines Register | Posted on June 28, 2018

The Environmental Protection Agency increased the total amount of ethanol and biodiesel that must used next year to 19.88 billion gallons under the proposed Renewable Fuel Standard for 2019, a 3 percent increase over this year's levels.  But state and national ethanol and biodiesel advocates also wanted a commitment from EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt that the agency would stop providing dozens of hardship waivers to oil refineries. The waivers are designed to help provide relief to small refiners but they've been doled out large oil corporations, too. The industry estimates the waivers have slashed the demand for up to 1.6 billion gallons of ethanol and 275 million gallons of biodiesel. The waivers are "devastating for farmers who have faced more than four years of declining farm income and poor crop prices," Gilley said. "Administrator Pruitt and the Trump Administration must stand up for farmers, immediately reallocate those lost gallons and cease bailouts to the oil industry." The ethanol industry has been roiled in controversy this year after leaders discovered that EPA had been providing hardship waivers to refiners. Reuters reported that EPA has consistently ignored recommendations from the Department of Energy to reject or limit waivers to oil refiners seeking exemptions.


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