The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Business

February 1, 2013

Despite court ruling, EPA raises biofuel estimate

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Days after a federal appeals court said the Obama administration is setting overly optimistic production quotas for the struggling biofuels industry, the government issued new standards Thursday that raise production estimates for 2013.

New standards announced by the Environmental Protection Agency require production of 14 million gallons of so-called cellulosic biofuels made from grasses and woody material. That’s up from an 8.7 million-gallon requirement in 2012 — when actual production was near zero.

An oil industry representative said the Obama administration was thumbing its nose at a ruling last week by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. The court threw out the 2012 mandate for cellulosic biofuels, saying it was based on wishful thinking rather than accurate estimates for an industry the Obama administration wants to encourage. Administration officials have said that increased use of biofuels could lower greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming, as well as lower U.S. dependence on foreign fuel.

“The court recognized the absurdity of fining companies for failing to use a nonexistent biofuel,” said Bob Greco, director of downstream operations for the American Petroleum Institute, the principal lobbying group for the oil and gas industry.

Greco said he was astonished that EPA would nearly double the mandate for biofuel in 2013. “EPA needs a serious reality check,” he said, calling the mandate a “stealth tax on gasoline” and an “egregious example of bad public policy.”

EPA spokeswoman Julia Valentine said the agency believes the proposed standards “are a reasonable representation of expected production” of biofuels this year.

“This projection reflects EPA’s current estimate of what will actually happen in 2013,” she said, adding that EPA will consider public comments before setting the final cellulosic standard.

The biofuels mandate is part of a 2007 renewable fuels law that requires a certain amount of ethanol and other renewable fuels to be mixed in with gasoline each year. Despite annual EPA projections for millions of gallon of biofuels made from switchgrass, corn husks or wood pulp, little production has materialized.

According to final EPA estimates, no cellulosic fuel was produced in 2010 or 2011. Only about 25,000 gallons was produced last year.

Despite that track record, a spokesman for the renewable fuel industry called the 2013 mandate realistic, citing recent breakthroughs in which several long-delayed biofuel projects have come online.

Two companies, in Mississippi and Florida, have recently begun production of cellulosic biofuel, and dozens more are moving forward, including plants under construction in Iowa, Kansas and Michigan, said Bob Dineen, president of the Renewable Fuels Association.

Dineen said he understands skepticism from those who have seen promised production of biofuels fail to materialize, but said that after years of setbacks caused by the financial downturn and other issues, the industry is poised for a major breakthrough in 2013.

“The skeptics should go take a look at the plants” in Mississippi and Florida, he said. “They are in operation.”

Dineen called the EPA’s 14 million gallon estimate “conservative.” If anything, production should exceed that level, he said, especially if a major project by Abengoa Bioengergy to convert crop residues into ethanol in southwest Kansas goes into operation this year as expected. The $550 million plant is expected to generate 75 megawatts of electricity and 15 million gallons of ethanol per year.

Dineen said the API and others in the oil industry were “desperately afraid” that biofuels will succeed and threaten the oil industry’s dominance.

“They are trying to sow the seeds of doubt so people don’t make investment in these future technologies and they can maintain their grip on the fuel pump,” he said.

 

1
Text Only
Business
  • Business US stocks edge lower after a six-day rise

    Stocks edged mostly lower Wednesday, breaking a six-day winning streak, as investors were disappointed by the latest round of earnings from U.S. companies.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Sales of new US homes plunge 14.5 percent in March

    The number of Americans buying new homes plummeted in March to the slowest pace in eight months, a sign that real estate’s spring buying season is off to a weak start.

    April 23, 2014

  • 3M plant expansion to create 22 jobs

    An $18.7 million expansion at the 3M Co. manufacturing plant in Nevada will create 22 new jobs, a company official said Wednesday. “We started 43 years ago as a small manufacturer,” said Todd Cantrell, plant manager, in a meeting with employees. “We are now the largest 3M plant in the state of Missouri and one of the largest of all 3M plants.”

    April 23, 2014

  • First lady announces one-stop job site for vets

    First lady Michelle Obama has announced a new online effort to link soldiers leaving the military with jobs that match their skill sets.

    April 23, 2014

  • Advocates vow to revive Navajo junk-food tax

    Facing a high prevalence of diabetes, many American Indian tribes are returning to their roots with community and home gardens, cooking classes that incorporate traditional foods, and running programs to encourage healthy lifestyles.

    April 23, 2014

  • Feds seek $211K in fines from Minn. company

    Federal safety regulators are proposing $211,000 in fines for a Minnesota agriculture company that authorities say repeatedly failed to make sure workers weren’t exposed grain dust hazards in Montana.

    April 23, 2014

  • Business US stocks edge lower after a six-day rally

    The stock market slipped Wednesday after rallying for six straight days as investors worked through another round of quarterly earnings reports from U.S. companies.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • GM, lawyers fight over bankruptcy protections

    General Motors Co. and a battalion of trial lawyers are preparing for an epic court fight over whether GM is liable for the sins of its corporate past.

    April 22, 2014

  • Comcast 1Q earns surge on upbeat NBC results

    Comcast Corp. said Tuesday that its first-quarter net income rose by 30 percent as ad revenue surged at broadcast network NBC, helped by the Winter Olympics in Sochi and Jimmy Fallon’s elevation as host of “The Tonight Show.”

    April 22, 2014

  • Valeant, Ackman make $45.6B Allergan bid

    Valeant Pharmaceuticals and activist investor Bill Ackman have unveiled details of their offer to buy Botox maker Allergan, proposing a cash-and-stock deal that could be worth about $45.6 billion.

    April 22, 2014

Poll

A Missouri Senate committee has adopted a state budget provision that would prevent public colleges and universities from offering in-state tuition rates to students living in the country illegally. Do you agree with this?

Yes.
No.
     View Results
Facebook
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
NDN Video
SKorea Ferry Toll Hits 156, Search Gets Tougher Video Shows Possible Syrian Gas Attack Cubs Superfans Celebrate Wrigley's 100th Raw: Cattle Truck Overturns in Texas Admirers Flock to Dole During Kansas Homecoming Raw: Erupting Volcanoes in Guatemala and Peru Alibaba IPO Could Be Largest Ever for Tech Firm FBI Joining Probe of Suburban NY 'Swatting' Call U.S. Paratroopers in Poland, Amid Ukraine Crisis US Reviews Clemency for Certain Inmates Raw: Violence Erupts in Rio Near Olympic Venue Raw: Deadly Bombing in Egypt Raw: What's Inside a Commercial Jet Wheel Well Raw: Obama Arrives in Japan for State Visit Raw: Anti-Obama Activists Fight Manila Police Motels Near Disney Fighting Homeless Problem Michigan Man Sees Thanks to 'bionic Eye' S.C. Man Apologizes for Naked Walk in Wal-Mart Chief Mate: Crew Told to Escape After Passengers