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Biofuel mandate opponents build overhaul momentum

Bloomberg | Posted on November 18, 2016

A Trump administration and new leadership of the Senate’s environment committee may breathe new life into efforts to roll back the Environmental Protection Agency’s renewable fuel standard, lawmakers and advocates say.  House members are continuing to build momentum around bipartisan legislation (H.R. 5180) to limit EPA ethanol requirements in total transportation fuel at 9.7 percent.Opponents of the mandate also are happy about the likely selection of Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), a staunch repeal supporter, as chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, arguing he may help to convince the Trump administration to approve the changes they want.

Oil companies press House to cap ethanol blend below 10 percent | Posted on November 17, 2016

The fight over the federal ethanol mandate that has pitted corn farmers and oil refineries against one another is not taking a break now Donald Trump is heading to the White House.  Executives from BP Fuels and Marathon Petroleum were in Washington this week meeting with political leaders about legislation that would cap the amount of ethanol that could be blended below the so-called blend wall of 10 percent.

Dakota Access Pipeline Driven by ‘High-Risk Financing’ in Overbuilt Region; Little-Known Economic Weaknesses in Controversial Project

Institute for Energy Economics | Posted on November 17, 2016

The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis today published a report noting weaknesses in the financing behind the Dakota Access Pipeline and questions  around the long-term usefulness of the project.    The report—“The High-Risk Financing Behind the Dakota Access Pipeline: A Potential Stranded Asset in the Bakken Region of North Dakota”— describes how the company behind the pipeline is under extreme financial to complete the project and how the pipeline is at risk of becoming a stranded asset in the region’s overbuilt oil-transport infrastructure.  “While the Dakota Access Pipeline has gained notoriety for questions it raises about tribal sovereignty and its impact on drinking water, we’ve found serious, less-publicized problems around the finances and economics of the project,” said Cathy Kunkel, an IEEFA energy analyst and lead author of the report.  The report notes that the project faces a Jan. 1 completion deadline that it cannot meet, a failure that would trigger a potential reset with producers and shippers who can renegotiate contracts signed two years ago with the developer, Energy Transfer Partners.

Interior finalizes methane rule, gets hit with industry lawsuit

EEnews | Posted on November 17, 2016

The Interior Department finalized a rule today designed to slash the volume of natural gas that's vented and flared each year into the atmosphere from roughly 100,000 wells on federal and tribal lands. The Methane and Waste Prevention Rule's goal is twofold: Reduce releases of methane, a greenhouse gas that's more than 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide, and ensure that taxpayers get a fair return on the use of federal lands by capturing flared gas that is not subjected to royalty payments. Interior says the new rule — which replaces 30-year-old regulations — is projected to cut methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by as much as 35 percent.

Massive Illinois energy bill divides clean energy groups

Midwest Energy News | Posted on November 17, 2016

Members of the Clean Jobs Coalition who have negotiated together for many months over a massive Illinois energy bill have broken ranks after the bill’s introduction Tuesday, with some still supporting the bill, some opposing it, some hoping for pieces to be spun off and others remaining silent.  The schism within the coalition comes largely over the bill’s inclusion of demand charge rates — which are ardently opposed by solar developers and consumer groups — as well as over supports for coal plants that were introduced late in the game. Looming over the whole debate is also the subsidy for two nuclear plants pegged at up to $265 million a year. Renewable energy companies and environmental and community groups potentially have much to gain from the bill, as it “fixes” the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard, significantly increases energy efficiency investments in northern Illinois and provides almost a billion dollars worth of programs for low-income consumers.

Transmission line from Canada to Minnesota approved

Duluth News Tribune | Posted on November 17, 2016

The U.S. Department of Energy has issued a so-called presidential permit giving federal approval for Minnesota Power's plan to bring electricity into Minnesota from northern Manitoba hydroelectric dams. The permit approves the cross-border aspects of the Great Northern Transmission Line, in the works since 2012, and Minnesota Power officials declared it the last major regulatory hurdle before construction can begin on the power line early next year.State regulators in February approved the route for the 500-kilovolt line. Electricity generated by a new dam in northern Manitoba will start moving to Minnesota Power customers in 2020.

Oil production continues downward trend

Bismarck Tribune | Posted on November 17, 2016

Oil production in North Dakota continued its slide in September, dropping about 1 percent from the previous month at a rate state officials projected in their most recent forecast for the next biennium. September oil production was averaging 971,658 barrels per day, according to preliminary numbers from the North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources. This was a drop of 10,353 barrels from the August figure of 982,011 barrels per day.

Biofuel from Wood Used by Commercial Airline

DTN | Posted on November 16, 2016

flight by Alaska Airlines on Monday marked the first commercial flight fueled at least in part with a new fuel from wood waste. The flight carried passengers from Seattle, Wash., to Reagan National Airport just outside of Washington, D.C. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack was on hand to greet the passengers as a way to highlight the new biofuel, which came from wood waste off private lands in Montana, Oregon and Washington. The biofuel could potentially provide a sustainable bio-products industry in the Pacific Northwest utilizing wood harvest left-overs that would otherwise go to waste

Long-term energy boom not expected in the US, energy expert says

Business Report | Posted on November 16, 2016

A Rice University energy expert sees long-term growth for oil, gas and even coal—just not in the developed world.  Speaking to the American Petroleum Institute’s Acadiana Chapter, Rice Center for Energy Studies Senior Director Kenneth B. Medlock III said energy growth may be most brisk over the next 20 years in the portions of the world that hunger for the quality of life enjoyed in developed countries like the United States, Canada and Japan.

EPA Rejects Oil Industry Request, Supports Ethanol

Hoosier Ag Today | Posted on November 13, 2016

The EPA has rejected a request by the oil industry and ruled in favor of renewable fuels. Oil refiners had petitioned the EPA to allow them to change the point of obligation, which  means refiners would shift the responsibility for blending ethanol into gasoline to wholesalers and retailers. Tom Buis, with Growth Energy, said the agency rejected the request on Thursday, which is good news for ethanol, “Our goal has been to give consumers more choice at the pump with E-15. If the oil industry request had been approved, it would have made it harder to get E-15 at the pump.” The agency is set to release new blending requirements at the end of this month, and Buis is optimistic the agency will allow the highest blending levels allowed by law.