Tag Archives: EPA

Nebraska Ethanol Board hopeful for vapor-pressure change

LINCOLN, Neb. – Today, President Donald Trump voiced support again for E15 by directing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to begin the rulemaking process to allow the fuel to be sold nationwide year round. E15 is approved for use in 2001 and newer light-duty vehicles.

Due to an antiquated regulation from 1990, the federal government holds E15, a blend of 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline, to tougher standards than other fuels during the summer. Between June 1 and Sept. 15, E15 is limited for use in flex fuel vehicles only due to federal Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) requirements.

“We are grateful to the President for taking this crucial step toward year-round E15 sales,” said Nebraska Ethanol Board Administrator Sarah Caswell. “We are hopeful this long overdue federal waiver will be finalized and effective before the summer driving season.”

According to Growth Energy, a national ethanol trade association, allowing year-round sales of E15 by granting the RVP waiver could boost domestic ethanol demand by 1.3 billion gallons within five years.

“We should see an increase in fuel retailers across the state and nation offering E15 when the red tape and regulatory barriers are removed,” said Randy Gard, Nebraska Ethanol Board petroleum representative and chief operations officer for Bosselman Enterprises. “The waiver takes the perceived risk out of the market for fuel retailers, which will stimulate ethanol markets. E15 gives consumers another renewable, low-cost option at the pump.”

The E15 change will not be immediate, as it requires a formal rule-making process with the EPA. The EPA is expected to publish a proposed rule in the coming weeks, followed by a public comment period.

“Allowing E15 and higher blends of ethanol year round provides a boost for industry stakeholders including farmers, ethanol producers, fuel retailers, consumers and local communities,” said Caswell. “We look forward to working with all our ethanol champions in government to make this a reality.”

Caswell noted that Nebraska state fleet vehicles have been running on E15 for more than two years, saving the state money while using a homegrown product. Nebraska continues that forward thinking by recently seeking and receiving EPA approval to evaluate the use of E30 in conventional vehicles owned by the state.

“The focus remains on bringing high-octane, low-carbon fuels to the market to meet vehicle standards,” said Caswell. “We’ll continue our work with automakers and policymakers on retail infrastructure, removing market barriers, reducing cost and ensuring availability.”

 

 

EPA Finalizes the 2014-2016 RFS Volume Standards

The following statement was sent by Paul Argyropoulos, Senior Policy Advisor with the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality.

EPA is finalizing the volume requirements and associated percentage standards that would apply under the RFS program in calendar years 2014, 2015, and 2016 for cellulosic biofuel, biomass-based diesel, advanced biofuel, and total renewable fuel. EPA is also finalizing the volume requirement for biomass-based diesel for 2017.

The final requirements will boost renewable fuel production and provide for robust, achievable growth, supporting future expansion of the biofuels industry. The final rule considered the many public comments EPA received on the proposal, and incorporates updated information and data. EPA is finalizing 2014 and 2015 standards at levels that reflect the actual amount of domestic biofuel used in those years, and standards for 2016 (and 2017 for biodiesel) that increase steadily over time.

Final Renewable Fuel Volumes
  2014 2015 2016 2017
Cellulosic biofuel (million gallons) 33 123 230 n/a
Biomass-based diesel (billion gallons) 1.63 1.73 1.90 2.00
Advanced biofuel (billion gallons) 2.67 2.88 3.61 n/a
Renewable fuel (billion gallons) 16.28 16.93 18.11 n/a
(Units for all volumes are ethanol-equivalent, except for biomass-based diesel volumes which are expressed as physical gallons.)

 

Final Percentage Standards
  2014 2015 2016
Cellulosic biofuel 0.019% 0.069% 0.128%
Biomass-based diesel 1.41% 1.49% 1.59%
Advanced biofuel 1.51% 1.62% 2.01%
Renewable fuel 9.19% 9.52% 10.10%

The final volumes represent substantial growth over historic levels. The final 2016 standard for advanced biofuel is nearly 1 billion gallons, or 35 percent, higher than the actual 2014 volumes, while the total renewable standard requires growth from 2014 to 2016 of over 1.8 billion gallons of biofuel, or 11% higher than 2014 actual volumes. Biodiesel standards grow steadily over the next several years, increasing every year to reach 2 billion gallons by 2017.

EPA’s final rule uses the tools provided by Congress to adjust the standards below the statutory targets, but the steadily increasing volumes in the proposal indicate that biofuels remain an important part of the nation’s overall strategy to enhance energy security and address climate.

The Final Rule and other Resources are available on the EPA website: http://ow.ly/VhQ5H

How We Can Free America From the Foreign Oil Cartel

This article was originally written by Jim Talent and published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Nov. 22, 2015.

Ten years ago, Congress took an important step toward the goal of energy independence. By establishing the Renewable Fuel Standard as part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, Congress sent a clear message that it wanted to kick the addiction to foreign oil through a tried and true solution: American innovation. I was one of the chief authors of the RFS.

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Jim Talent

Ten years later, the RFS is the government’s most successful energy policy; in fact, it may be the government’s only successful energy policy. It has reduced dependence on foreign oil, created hundreds of thousands of jobs, and also reduced carbon emissions. Despite these achievements, the Environmental Protection Agency wants to move in another direction and actually scale back the RFS.

That’s right. The same federal agency that is promulgating costly regulations to reduce greenhouse gases also wants to weaken a program that is already reducing carbon emissions without costing the economy anything. Given the Obama administration’s emphasis on the climate change issue, the EPA’s hostility to renewable fuels only makes sense as a response to pressure from the oil industry.

The advantages of the RFS are clear. Ten percent of our fuel supply is now derived from biofuels, and our foreign oil imports are at their lowest level in 20 years. At the same time, the price of gasoline at the pump has gone down by over a dollar, in part because most gasoline contains an ethanol blend, and ethanol sells for about $1.60 per gallon. The University of Missouri Extension Service calculates that Missouri’s corn production industry generates approximately $4.3 billion in economic output and sustains 65,960 jobs. Across the river, the collective renewable fuel sector in Illinois generates $17.5 billion of total economic output annually and supports 73,156 jobs, according to the economic research firm of John Dunham & Associates.

Critics of the RFS claim that renewable fuels are subsidized. That’s not true; there are no subsidies or tax breaks for ethanol. At the time the RFS was passed, there were concerns about whether the supply of corn would be adequate to support both food and fuel production. Those of us who authored the RFS believed that it would stimulate efficiencies in corn production that would more than meet the demand. That’s happened; American farmers are growing more corn than ever before on the same amount of acreage.

Critics also claim that the RFS is an intervention in the free market. Actually, it’s the path to a free market for automobile fuel. For 40 years, the price of oil has been controlled by a foreign cartel that does not hesitate to use its market power to crush competitors.

Unsurprisingly, OPEC has already made plans to crush the U.S. oil boom, and regularly strategizes to batter competitors and dominate market share. Last November, OPEC colluded to drop oil prices so that it could squeeze competitors with higher costs. Saudi Arabia was the main architect of this strategy, driving many U.S. fracking companies out of business and into bankruptcy.

It’s alarming when you realize just how much control foreign governments and OPEC oil barons have on our everyday lives and paychecks. But they can’t exercise that power over renewable fuels, because of the RFS. The fact that the largest ethanol plant in the world just opened its doors for business in Iowa — a plant that is powered by discarded corncobs, husks and stalks — is another reminder of what American-style innovation can accomplish if it is allowed to succeed.

If you create a map of the world and size it according to oil reserves, Saudi Arabia is the biggest country by far. But if you size such a map according to agricultural production, the United States is the largest nation. That’s why the RFS was and remains such an important policy.

In the end, the RFS is not about a proposed policy change by a federal agency, it’s about who will be in charge of our nation’s energy. When you consider what is at stake, that’s something worth fighting for.

Jim Talent was U.S. senator representing Missouri from 2002 to 2007. He is the chairman of Americans for Energy Security and Innovation.

Omaha-Council Bluffs Region Meets New Ozone Standard

The following article came from the Omaha-Council Bluffs Metropolitan Planning Agency Oct. 1, 2015.

Omaha, NE-Oct. 1, 2015 – The Omaha-Council Bluffs metropolitan area meets the new ground-level ozone standard released today by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA announced this afternoon that it strengthened the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ground-level ozone to 70 parts per billion (ppb) from 75 ppb to protect public health. The Douglas County Health Department monitors ground-level ozone for the region and reports the area is in compliance with the new standard.

 
In recent years, ozone levels in the Omaha-Council Bluffs metropolitan area have ranged in the upper 60s, though it does rise into the 70s range at times. The Metropolitan Area Planning Agency (MAPA) coordinates “Little Steps. Big Impact,” an ozone education and awareness program aimed at helping mitigate the ozone problem in the metro area.

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“The new national air quality standard for ozone means it is all the more important that the metro area continues to work to retain its clean air status both for the competitive advantage it provides and for the health of residents,” said Greg Youell, MAPA Executive Director.

Some of the “Little steps” citizens are asked to do to help reduce ground-level ozone include:
1. Driving less by biking, walking, taking public transit, and carpooling
2. Refueling at dusk or nighttime to avoid greater loss of fuel through evaporation
3. Choosing cleaner-burning fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel
4. Not idling a vehicle for more than 30 seconds
5. Capping all paints, solvents, and cleaners
6. Using electric or manual lawn equipment when possible, or using it during cooler hours of the day

 
Elevated ozone concentrations could pose a risk to the health of those with chronic respiratory problems, such as asthma, emphysema, and bronchitis, and could carry greater regulatory consequences for the Omaha-Council Bluffs metropolitan area if it does not meet federal air quality standards.

 
Ground-level ozone is formed when several common airborne pollutants, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and nitrogen oxides (NOx), react with sunlight and heat. Vehicle exhaust and petroleum evaporative loss are the largest source of these pollutants. For more information, visit littlestepsbigimpact.com or www.douglascountyhealth.com.

NEB, CFDC Team on Comments to EPA

WASHINGTON  The Nebraska Ethanol Board (NEB) and the Clean Fuels Development Coalition (CFDC) called on the U.S.  Environmental Protection Agency to make refiners and obligated parties accountable for their delay tactics by establishing the most aggressive volume requirements possible for the RFS in their final rule.

The two organizations keyed on several points including the fact that the RFS is not an ethanol mandate and the decision by oil companies to limit ethanol use to 10 percent is just that — a decision they make but one that does not relieve them of their obligation. There are numerous fuels and pathways available to them that they simply ignore.

In addition, the groups keyed on what they termed as  a predominant theme in EPA’s history of setting the RVOs at less than statutory targets, which is the agency’s interpretation  of  inadequate domestic supply.

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Todd Sneller

“The ability to distribute, blend, dispense and consume are factors entirely within the control of the petroleum industry,” said Todd Sneller, NEB administrator. “We can produce ethanol, supply is not the issue. They [obligated parties] continually say consumers do not want these products when by and large they do not offer them. If they in fact distributed, blended and dispensed the fuels then it stands to reason consumption would increase. They say they have no control over price and demand which is preposterous — of course they do. If they offered higher ethanol blends and told consumers it was a good product they would easily create demand. They do just the opposite — they say it is an inferior product and they do not offer it.”

The comments also touched on the devastating impact the failure to enforce the volumes has had on investment in advanced and cellulosic technologies. Nebraska producers all could add a variety of bolt on technologies if there was a certainty that the fuels would be required.  And, if the advanced fuels were in the market then the infrastructure would accelerate with pumps and even vehicles responding to the availability of the fuel.

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Doug Durante

CFDC Executive Director Douglas Durante said the failure of EPA to hold to statutory targets will only add to the continued deterioration of gasoline which is already a major health risk.

“The health benefits of reducing emissions related to the highly toxic compounds in gasoline are within our grasp,” Durante said. “Higher ethanol blends provide clean octane that will be needed in future automobiles. Simply splash blending ethanol on to finished E10 provides a wide range of benefits that represent a win-win for automakers and consumers, and a lose-lose for oil companies adding carcinogenic compounds in today’s gasoline.”

Durante added that these toxic compounds, called aromatics, are the cause of serious engine problems often blamed on ethanol.  Research conducted by groups such as the Urban Air Initiative (www.urbanairinitiative.com) have shown the so called “E Zero” gasoline causes material degradation and increased emissions that can be avoided by substituting ethanol as an octane enhancer.

For more information, visit www.cleanfuelsdc.org or www.ethanol.nebraska.gov.