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UNH Research Finds Wood Pellets Outperform Fossil Fuels, Natural Gas in Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions

University of New New Hampshire | Posted on November 22, 2017

Using wood pellets for home heating fuel reduces greenhouse gas emissions by more than half over fossil fuels and natural gas, according to new research from the NH Agricultural Experiment Station at the University of New Hampshire. “Wood pellet heat is a new and growing heating alternative in the U.S. and has been proposed as a climate-beneficial energy source to replace fossil fuels. However, little work has been done to assess this claim,” the researchers said. “The opportunity for switching to wood pellet heat is particularly great for the Northern Forest region of northern Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York, which is home to more than two million people who live in rural communities, larger towns, and small cities surrounded by the largest intact forest in the eastern United States.”

UW Study Points to RFS Carbon Emissions from Land use Change

DTN | Posted on November 22, 2017

A new University of Wisconsin-Madison study says cropland expansion in the United States as a result of the Renewable Fuel Standard, led to expanded carbon emissions from 2008 to 2012, resulting in about 115 million tons of releases. The study points the finger at the expansion of biofuels production leading to an expansion of cropland between 2008 and 2012, as the driver behind those emissions."Consequently, emissions from clearing land to accommodate biofuel production could significantly undermine the carbon savings that biofuels seek to attain

China’s New Nationwide E10 Ethanol Mandate and Its Global Implications

Iowa State University | Posted on November 22, 2017

In September 2017, the Chinese government announced a new nationwide ethanol mandate (NEA 2017) that expands the mandatory use of E10 fuel (gasoline containing 10 percent ethanol) from 11 trial provinces to the entire country by 2020. This measure would require ethanol consumption in China, the largest motor vehicle market in the world, to at least quadruple within the next three years. For US producers, this recent development fuels interest in whether China is going to import ethanol and/or corn (the main feedstock for ethanol production in China) to meet the mandate.

Efficient Environmental Regulation in the Unconventional Oil Industry

Iowa State University | Posted on November 22, 2017

US oil production has skyrocketed since 2007. Technological advances in oil and gas drilling (commonly referred to as ‘fracking’) have allowed producers to access vast petroleum reserves that were previously too costly to recover. The growth in oil and gas production from unconventional sources has been tremendous, so that unconventional sources now make up more than 50 percent of total US petroleum production (EIA 2015). While this represents a boost to job growth and the broader economy, growth in the oil industry comes with its fair share of problems. Academics and news agencies have documented a host of costs associated with new oil and gas production— groundwater pollution, oil spills, large “man camps” and increased crime, and even increases in traffic accidents and exploding train cars. Some of these costs were seen in Iowa with the contentious nature of right-of-way issues associated with building out the Dakota Access pipeline across the state. Farmers and environmentalists alike are bound together in their concern for right-of-way, human rights concerns, and environmental issues.

World’s cheapest solar power to be generated in Mexico

inhabitat | Posted on November 21, 2017

The clean energy projects recently approved by Mexico will be online and selling power by 2020. These projects and others are important steps towards meeting Mexico’s goals under the Paris agreement as well as regional goals established by Mexico, the United States, and Canada. In 2016, all three countries pledged to source 50 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2025. Canada is on track to meet this goal while Mexico continues to build up its renewable portfolio. As it was when the regional pledge was made, the United States still lags behind in its transition to clean energy.

Nebraska clears path for Keystone XL pipeline, challenges remain

Reuters | Posted on November 21, 2017

Nebraska regulators approved a route for TransCanada Corp’s Keystone XL pipeline through the state on Monday, removing a big regulatory obstacle for the long-delayed project backed by President Donald Trump, but leaving its future shrouded in legal and market uncertainty.

Missouri Dept of Energy to award approximately $5.1 million in energy loans

St Louis News | Posted on November 16, 2017

The Missouri Division of Energy announced today approximately $5.1 million has been awarded for low-interest loans to assist four public schools, three city/county governments, and one fire protection district with energy-efficiency and renewable energy projects. The funded projects, which are expected to support 65 jobs and benefit more than 439,062 Missourians, are expected to result in annual energy savings of approximately $720,484. The loans will be repaid with money saved on energy costs as a result of implementing these upgrades and improvements. In addition, the projects will reduce electricity use by more than 10,101,195 kilowatt hour (kWh) and natural gas use by 4,915 Million Btu (MMBtu), avoiding 7,362 metric tons of carbon dioxide pollution, which equates to removing 1,556 passenger cars from the road for a year.

Wisconsin Businessman Creates Fund To Help Nonprofits Go Solar

WUWM | Posted on November 16, 2017

Cal Couillard has been intrigued with solar energy since the 1970s. But, it wasn't until this year that he took the plunge, and had solar panels installed at his Edgerton-based business.  He also created a fund to help others "go solar." Solar energy used to be expensive, Coulliard explains, and therefore, only people who wanted to be green jumped aboard. Now, he says, prices have dropped dramatically and it makes sense financially.

Oil Industry Group Tells Barrasso E15 Storage not Compatible, RFA Says not so Fast

DTN | Posted on November 16, 2017

Though the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is considering the legalities of allowing year-round E15 sales, the Renewable Fuels Association said in a news release on Wednesday a petroleum group is spreading misinformation about E15 underground storage tanks and the Renewable Fuel Standard. In a letter to Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyoming, chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee last week, the Petroleum Marketers Association of America made the claim petroleum marketers will not be able to legally sell E15 because underground storage tanks are "non-compatible." In addition, the group asks Barrasso to work toward reducing RFS volumes because of "severe" economic harm.Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, reportedly continues to hold up the nomination of Bill Northey to a post at the USDA until President Donald Trump's administration holds a meeting with oil companies and lawmakers from oil-producing states.In the letter to Barrasso the PMAA said, "As you meet with the Trump administration to discuss the RFS, PMAA respectfully requests that you take small business petroleum marketers' concerns into consideration." In response, the RFA contacted Barrasso to counter the PMAA claims about E15, "Since 1990, all steel tanks and double-walled fiberglass tanks have been approved to store up to 100% ethanol," RFA said in a letter to Barrasso.

Iowa company will convert cow manure into natural gas. But is it an environmental asset or hazard?

Des Moines Register | Posted on November 16, 2017

Walz Energy plans to custom-feed 1,680 cattle in each of six partially enclosed open feedlots. "We'll be the hotel, the inn-keeper, the caregiver," Haman said. All the manure will be captured under the cattle in 2-foot deep manure pits "that will be flushed at least twice a day," Haman said.The manure will be mixed with feed and food waste, which will get pumped directly into storage tanks before getting mixed into six,1.5-million-gallon anaerobic digesters."Anything that stinks makes gas," Haman said.Micro-organisms will break down the waste, and the methane will be pulled off, converted into natural gas, and pushed through existing underground pipes to end-users.What's left over — called digestate — will be stored in the operation's 39-million-gallon open lagoon. Each fall the liquid fertilizer will be applied to farmland.The project is getting no state or federal tax credits, grants or loans.