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US Ethanol Industry Upset With 2019 Renewable Fuel Standard Proposal

The 2019 proposed US Renewable Fuel Standard proposed volumes attracted a major raspberry from the ethanol industry. As the American Coalition for Ethanol noted: “Unfortunately, EPA continues to take actions which undermine the letter and spirit of the statute and harm the rural economy. While refiners are reporting double-digit profits, the heart of America is being left behind. Farmers are losing money while refiners have the best of both worlds: fat profit margins and minimal RFS compliance costs. EPA needs to discard its refiner-win-at-all-costs mentality and get the RFS back on track.” “While the proposed rule purports to maintain the 15-billion-gallon conventional...
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Did Trump’s EPA Cost Corn Growers $3.65 Billion In 2017?

by Jim LaneIn Washington, new evidence has appeared that a Trump Administration shift on US low carbon fuel policy may have cost US corn growers an estimated $3.65 billion. The mechanism? A secretive effort by Administration officials installed at the US Environmental Protection Agency that destroyed an estimated 1.37 billion gallons of annual demand for low-carbon renewable fuels, in favor of fossil fuels. Officials at the agency exploited a loophole in US low carbon fuel legislation that allows small oil refineries to gain hardship waivers in cases of severe distress from complying in full with US low carbon fuel laws.  Now, evidence...

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt Resigns

by Jim Lane In Washington, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has resigned. US President Donald Trump announced the exit on Twitter, commenting, “President Donald Trump announced Pruitt’s exit, saying on Twitter “I have accepted the resignation of Scott Pruitt as the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. Within the Agency Scott has done an outstanding job, and I will always be thankful to him for this.” Deputy Administrator Andrew Wheeler becomes acting administrator. The Digest’s Take Elsewhere in the media, it is widely reported that Pruitt was undone by a growing number of controversies and investigations relating to his conduct as EPA Administrator, particularly relating...
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Low Carbon Fuel Rules: From CAFE to LCFS and Everything In Between

The Whole Darn Low Carbon Landscape. How they Work, How they Work Together, and How they Might Work Better by Joanne Ivancic, executive director, Advanced Biofuels USA The Trump Administration is taking a new look at Obama Administration era Co2 regulations.  On the transportation side, these include reviewing Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards; threatening to take away California’s authority to set their own mileage and pollution controls, including CO2 (carbon dioxide) emission reduction standards; and quarreling with the petroleum and biofuels industries over implementation and enforcement of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Thus, the Clean Air Act (CAA), California’s unique authority...
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Fortunately, Unfortunately: The Spring Saga of American Ethanol

by Jim Lane The ethanol signals from Washington DC are more inexplicably mixed than cocktails with names like Sex on the Beach. Let’s parse through the wigwagging over the future of American biofuels supply and demand — ethanol and otherwise. Fortunately: Trump backs year-round E15 ethanol blends In Washington, President Trump endorsed year-round E15 ethanol availability as an emerging compromise between oil refiners and US farm sector. The Renewable Fuel Standard is a federal program that requires transportation fuel sold in the United States to contain a minimum volume of renewable fuels. The RFS originated in a bi-partisan Congress with the Energy Policy Act...

EPA’s 2018 Renewable Fuel Targets Disappoint Producers

In Washington, the Environmental Protection Agency released its final Renewable Fuel Standard renewable volume obligations for 2018. The agency finalized a total renewable fuel volume of 19.29 billion gallons , of which 4.29 BG is advanced biofuel, including 288 million gallons of cellulosic biofuel. As the Renewable Fuels Association explained: “That leaves a 15 BG requirement for conventional renewable fuels like corn ethanol, consistent with the levels envisioned by Congress in the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act. The 2018 total RFS volume finalized today represents a minor increase (10  million gallons) over the 2017 standards, and a modest increase...

Renewable Fuel Producers Score A Win

Despite Trump’s vow to roll back all measures endorsed by Obama, his Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt is backing off plans to scuttle the U.S. biofuel policy.  The Trump administration had planned to change regulatory standards to reduce the amount of renewable fuel that must be blended with conventional fossil fuel for gasoline and diesel supplies.  In the third week in October 2017, Pruitt sent a letter to Congressional leadership indicating the renewable fuel volume mandates for 2018 would remain unchanged. Most analysts saw the about face as a win for ethanol and renewable diesel producers such as Green Plains (GPRE:  Nasdaq), FutureFuel...

Solar Trade Case Analysis and Implications

by Paula Mints In terms of the current trade petition and the USITC decision, government interference will not correct an imbalance that is embedded in the industry (globally) particularly when it is put in place by a body that does not understand the nuances of the problem. Despite evidence to the contrary, attorneys and consultants for Suniva/SolarWorld seem to have convinced the USITC that cell manufacturing in the US can be resuscitated and that tariffs and quotas the mechanism that will stimulate manufacturing. In reality, this situation is stimulating uncertainty and doing harm. Table 1: Tariff Recommendations   ...

Renewable Fuels’ Dunkirk

by Jim Lane It’s been a very busy week in Washington DC, the high point being a letter to seven senators sent late Thursday by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, who took significant (and as of a few days ago, unexpected) steps toward strengthening the foundation for ethanol and renewable fuels. The truth? It’s a Trump Administration back-down. EPA overreached on de-clawing the Renewable Fuel Standard on behalf on some grumpy oilpatch donors (known as GODs), and the Trump Administration managed to revive a Grand Alliance around renewable fuels — one that now includes almost 40 members of the United States Senate,...

From Paris to Drawdown

by John Fullerton Yes, it was a shameful poke in the world’s eye by the dangerously narcissistic, temporary occupant of the White House. Like other unconscionable and unfathomable acts of the early 21st centurya period of historic great change alreadyTrump’s pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement has sent me searching for the deeper meaning of it all, while the pundits flail away.   The attack on the World Trade Center, an iconic symbol of globalization if there ever was one, triggered for me a period of introspection and a personal existential crisis as it opened up...

White House Reveals Its Own Fake News

Almost Everyone Believed It by Tom Konrad, Ph.D., CFA Press Secretary Sean Spicer reveals the joke. This morning, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer began an epic five-hour press conference with a one-word statement from President Donald Trump:  "Bazinga!" Spicer then launched into a detailed explanation of how the President (with help from many Republicans and conservative think-and-humor-tanks) had convinced the nation and the world how he did not believe in climate change.  In fact, efforts to roll back EPA regulations like the Clean Power...

Trump to Health, Education, Small Business, and the Environment: You’re Fired!

Jim Lane  Good-bye ARPA-E, DOE, Loan Guarantee program, Energy Star, OPIC, USTDA, NEA, and the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Program. Even Big Bird gets the guillotine. In Washington, the White House released its budget requests for 2018, a high-level, 62-page overview of President Trump’s strategy for “Making America Great Again”. Departmental impact In order of percentage impact, the departments are as follows. Defense: Up $52B or 8 percent Veterans Affairs: Up $4.4B or 6 percent  Homeland Security: Up $2.8B or 7 percent Small Business Administration: Down $43M or 5 percent Health & Human Services: Down $15.1B...

The Republican-Proposed Carbon Tax

by Noah Kaufman A group of prominent conservative Republicansincluding former Secretary of State James Baker III, former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, former Secretary of State George Shultz and former Walmart Chairman Rob Waltonmet with key members of the Trump administration on Wednesday about their proposal to tax carbon dioxide emissions and return the proceeds to the American people. Such an economy-wide tax on carbon dioxide could enable the United States to achieve its international emissions targets with better economic outcomes than under a purely regulatory approach. Attributes of the Republican Carbon Tax Proposal While the details on the...

President-Elect Trump: A Gift?

by John Fullerton Imagine if you can, Donald Trump has arrived as a gift, to illuminate for us the American “shadow” at this pivotal moment in history. The Swiss Psychiatrist C.G. Jung refers to “the shadow” as the dark side of one’s self. The shadow, Jung wrote in 1963, “is that hidden, repressed, for the most part inferior and guilt-laden” aspect of our personality hiding out in the unconscious. Failure to recognize our shadow leaves us exposed to the destructive possession by our disowned shadow. Are we prepared to see the message of the shadow, illuminating our ongoing...

What Trump’s Victory Means For The Bioeconomy

Jim Lane In Washington, Donald Trump captured the US Presidency in an upset victory that confounded pollsters and political pundits even as it delighted supporters of his maverick candidacy based on themes of immigration and trade reform coupled with a message that government policies of the past generation had failed for too many Americans. An unexpected series of wins across US Midwestern states – capturing Iowa, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Ohio which had gone for Obama in 2012 – provided a comfortable margin of victory in the Electoral College and the popular vote. 5 Themes Some immediate themes emerge...

What The US Election Will Mean For The Global Solar Industry

by Paula Mints   The endless and endlessly not amusing US presidential election is thankfully wrapping up in November and there is a lot at stake for solar – globally. This is because the market for solar components and systems is global. Even the smallest installer buys imports. Even the smallest component manufacturer has the potential to ship product into any global market. A hiccup in one market (China, for example) reverberates throughout the entire global market for solar components and systems. A hiccup in the US market for solar deployment would affect business plans and forecasts...