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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 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.

Trump's EPA ignored Energy Department calls to limit biofuel waivers

Reuters | Posted on June 27, 2018

The Trump administration’s Environmental Protection Agency has consistently ignored recommendations from the Department of Energy to reject or limit waivers to oil refiners seeking exemptions from nation’s biofuels law, according to five sources familiar with the matter. The U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard requires the firms to cover costs of blending corn-based ethanol into gasoline. But the EPA, after consulting with the energy department, can exempt small refineries in cases where compliance presents a “disproportionate economic hardship.”The waivers can save refiners tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars a year.Under EPA chief Scott Pruitt, an appointee of President Donald Trump, the agency has issued more than two dozen such exemptions in recent months - about triple the usual number granted under past administrations.During that time, EPA has consistently granted full waivers in cases where the energy department recommended only partial exemptions, and, at least once, granted a full approval when the energy department advised an outright rejection, according to two sources familiar with the decisions.

Michigan town approves wind farm moratorium amid backlash

WXYZ | Posted on June 27, 2018

An eastern Michigan town is halting consideration of wind turbine projects amid resident complaints over an energy company's proposal to build a wind farm in the area. Monitor Township officials unanimously approved a moratorium Monday on the construction of wind turbines until the township's planning commission can review its wind ordinance. More than 400 residents attended the township's Board of Trustees meeting this week to voice opposition to DTE Energy's wind farm proposal. Many cited excessive noise, health concerns, wildlife damage and impact to property values in their complaints.

Use waste plastics as chems feedstocks to drive circular economy

ICIS | Posted on June 26, 2018

Utilising waste plastics as feedstocks for the production of chemicals should be part of strategies to better deal with waste management, according to the American Chemistry Council’s vice president of plastics. Finding new uses for plastic waste as feedstocks for bio-based materials would help to create a truly circular economy, where petrochemicals firms produce polymer products and then utilise them once they have been used as a means of creating more, according to ACC vice president Steve Russell. Feedstock pricing is crucial in petrochemicals production and development of the bioplastics sector has been slower than expected, but the issue of waste plastic in the form of pollution, microplastics and ocean waste have become increasingly prominent in the popular consciousness throughout 2018.While pricing is likely to continue to be a factor in the growing market, one key to catalysing take-up of bio feedstocks will be to find cheap, reliable sources of material, according to Russell.