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Battle Between Ethanol And Refiners Reaches Stalemate

The current zero-sum battle between corn states and the biofuels industry on the one hand, and oil refiners on the other, is not new, but it exploded into a fierce fight over the past year as the Environmental Protection Agency  cracked open the door to a weakening of the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS). The RFS dictates how much ethanol refiners need to procure. The exit of Scott Pruitt from the EPA could signal an end to open war between the ethanol and refining industries, returning it to a more familiar low-grade tug-of-war over annual blending requirements.

How solar energy helps Mennonites with their mission of global relief

The Gift & Thrift in Harrisonburg is one of more than one hundred thrift shops run by the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) in Canada and the United States. Since 1972 they have raised more than $200 million to support domestic and international aid programs by the MCC. In addition to the thrift shop, the Harrisonburg complex of buildings hosts an artisan gift shop, a bookstore, a café, and a community center.To bring solar to the Gift & Thrift, the store and the MCC teamed up with local solar installer Secure Futures to create the “Thrifty Solar Barn Raising” team.

Solar Plan Collides With Farm Tradition in Pacific Northwest

When a company from Seattle came calling, wanting to lease some land on Jeff and Jackie Brunson’s 1,000-acre hay and oat farm for a solar energy project, they jumped at the idea, and the prospect of receiving regular rent checks. They did not anticipate the blowback — snarky texts, phone calls from neighbors, and county meetings where support for solar was scant.Critics said the project would remove too much land from agricultural production in central Washington.

Virginia regulators accuse Mountain Valley Pipeline of erosion violations

Virginia regulators have accused the builder of the Mountain Valley Pipeline of environmental violations punishable by fines and repair mandates, saying the company’s failure to install and maintain erosion-control devices has fouled 8,800 feet of streams in six locations.The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality gave Robert Cooper, project manager for EQT Corp. in Pittsburgh, a nine-page notice of violations on Monday.

North Dakota sues Dakota Access over farmland ownership

North Dakota's attorney general is suing the developer of the Dakota Access oil pipeline over agricultural land the company owns in violation of a state law banning large corporations from owning farmland. Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem filed a civil complaint in state district court against Dakota Access LLC, a company formed by Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners to build the $3.8 billion pipeline to move North Dakota oil through South Dakota and Iowa to a shipping point in Illinois. The pipeline began operating a year ago.

Wisconsin Loses Another 54 Dairy Farms in June

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.

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

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 be

EPA Docs Show Oil's Influence on RFS

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.

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