Wednesday, December 28, 2011

EPA: Mandating the use of something which does not exist?

In a post titled Non-corn biofuels standards fall short of targets, the Des Moines Register raised some issues with the EPA's targets for renewable fuels which were released on Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2011.

The Register brought up issues related to changed circumstances:

The petroleum industry and a growing number of congressmen have questioned the biofuels mandates, particularly in light of complaints by livestock producers about high feed costs and the sudden surge of domestic crude oil production from new fields in North Dakota and the seemingly ready supply of crude from nearby (and friendly) Canada.

Crude oil production from domestic sources has increased at about 20 percent annually, since 2008. The share of imported crude oil in the U.S. petroleum mix has dropped from 60 percent in 2007 to 48 percent last year. In 2011, for the first time in more than 30 years, the U.S. became a net exporter of oil.

Also, the rising supply of natural gas from new fields not only in the traditional energy belt in the U.S. Southwest but also in Ohio, Pennsulvania, West Virginia and New York, has given rise to calls for conversion of much of the U.S. transportation fleet, particularly trucks, to natural gas.

The sudden and unanticipated rise in the U.S. domestic production of crude oil and natural gas has added another dimension to the political argument over biofuels. Opponents of corn-fed ethanol have argued against its expansion on both moral grounds (the food versus fuel debate) and environmental (the use of water and natural gas in ethanol production).

Of course, crude oil production will not continue to grow, and a replacement will be needed. The question is "when." Biofuels are part of our future.

The Register noted that biodiesel people had been criticizing EPA director Lisa Jackson for a lack of action:

The EPA was supposed to reveal the 2012 targets by Nov. 30 and the delay had caused the Renewable Fuels Association, an ethanol and biodiesel trade group, to publicly call out the EPA and administrator Lisa Jackson earlier this month.

[As IPBiz noted, Jackson had earlier screwed up on Propoxur.]

And, the Register had a quote pertaining to the general silliness of making refiners pay for not using a substance that is not available for purchase:

“Once again, refiners are being ordered to use a substance that is not being produced in commercial quantities — cellulosic ethanol — and are being required to pay millions of dollars for failing to use this non-existent substance,” National Petroleum Refiners Association President Charles Drevna said in a statement. “This makes no sense.”

See previous IPBiz post

Biofuels trends of 2011?

**UPDATE. See BiofuelsDigest


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