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Court Strikes Down EPA Renewable Fuel Rule
ScienceInsider ^ | 28 January 2013 | Robert F. Service

Posted on 01/29/2013 12:09:58 AM PST by neverdem

Enlarge Image
si-biofuels.jpg
Legal fuel. A federal court has struck down portions of a U.S. law mandating the use of cellulosic ethanol, made from woody plants such as this switchgrass grown in Texas.
Credit: Warren Gretz/NREL

A federal appeals court on Friday struck down a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) mandate requiring millions of gallons of cellulosic ethanol be blended into gasoline by petroleum refineries. The ruling is seen as a partial victory for the American Petroleum Institute (API), which challenged the mandate arguing that EPA was requiring refiners to use a fuel that was not commercially available or face fines. However, the ruling largely left intact the rest of the renewable fuel standard (RFS), which calls for slowly ratcheting up the volume of ethanol and "advanced biofuels" blended into U.S. transportation fuels.

RFS, originally launched in 2005 and expanded in 2007, has a goal of blending 36 billion gallons of renewable fuels into U.S. transportation fuels by 2022. The rule was seen as a way to reduce U.S. reliance on petroleum imports, as well as to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. On the way toward reaching the RFS goal, EPA has been steadily upping its requirements for different fuels, including cellulosic ethanol, which is made from agricultural waste and other types of woody debris known as "lignocellulosic biomass." But because the cellulosic ethanol remains more expensive than ethanol made from corn or sugar, companies have been slow to build commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plants needed to sell the advanced biofuel.

Between 2010 and 2012, EPA projected that cellulosic ethanol producers would generate a total of 20 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol. So they required refiners to blend those 20 million gallons into gasoline and diesel. But the projections proved inaccurate and ethanol producers made only negligible amounts of the cellulosic fuel. EPA gave refiners a way out, allowing them to buy credits to offset the cellulosic requirements. API cried foul and argued that this amounted to a tax on refiners.

The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit agreed. It ruled that EPA can't require refiners to buy credits for fuel that is unavailable commercially. However, they largely left the other RFS rules intact, says Wally Tyner, an agricultural economist at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, who has reviewed the court's decision. Tyner notes that if large volumes of cellulosic ethanol do come on to the market, EPA will still be able to issue blending mandates. In addition, he says, the court left in place mandates for biodiesel and other "advanced biofuels."

In statements last week, both petroleum producers and biofuel makers welcomed parts of the court's decision. "We are glad the court has put a stop to EPA's pattern of setting impossible mandates for a biofuel that does not even exist," said Bob Greco, API's group downstream director. Meanwhile, a collection of five biofuels organizations hailed the court's decision to leave the RFS intact. "[T]oday's decision once again rejects broad-brushed attempts to effectively roll back the federal Renewable Fuel Standard," said the group, which includes the Biotechnology Industry Organization and the Renewable Fuels Association.

Tyner says the court's decision puts a renewed focus on a volatile landscape for the commercialization of cellulosic ethanol. Several companies have said they plan to open commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plants in 2013 and 2014. If those plants do get built, they could lead to a drop in cellulosic ethanol prices and help manufacturers learn vital lessons for scaling up the industry. But if those plants falter, it could send an already troubled industry reeling.


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Front Page News; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: cellulosicethanol; energy; epa; rfs

1 posted on 01/29/2013 12:10:14 AM PST by neverdem
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To: neverdem

The existence of these extralegal alphabet agencies is one of the gravest threats to our nation. What’s to stop them from “mandating” that all citrus be grown with loudspeakers playing classical music if they want? Answer: nothing. Anything that puts their dictatorial balls in a vice is a good thing in my book. BTW, Elana Kagen loves ‘em, since they allow the executive to do an end-run around any sort of oversight.


2 posted on 01/29/2013 12:53:20 AM PST by SpaceBar
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To: neverdem

Good.
The occasional blow for sanity in this country is welcome indeed.


3 posted on 01/29/2013 12:59:39 AM PST by Lancey Howard
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To: wardaddy; Joe Brower; Cannoneer No. 4; Criminal Number 18F; Dan from Michigan; Eaker; Jeff Head; ...
Carbon Use and GDP (Robert Zubrin)

Gun Laws and the Fools of Chelm by David Mamet

Gun Control: A Failed American Experiment (The United States has had gun control from its founding)

Proof the Left Wants All Guns Outlawed

Some noteworthy articles about politics, foreign or military affairs, IMHO, FReepmail me if you want on or off my list.

4 posted on 01/29/2013 1:02:01 AM PST by neverdem ( Xin loi min oi)
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To: wardaddy; Joe Brower; Cannoneer No. 4; Criminal Number 18F; Dan from Michigan; Eaker; Jeff Head; ...
Carbon Use and GDP (Robert Zubrin)

Gun Laws and the Fools of Chelm by David Mamet

Gun Control: A Failed American Experiment (The United States has had gun control from its founding)

Proof the Left Wants All Guns Outlawed

Some noteworthy articles about politics, foreign or military affairs, IMHO, FReepmail me if you want on or off my list.

5 posted on 01/29/2013 1:02:55 AM PST by neverdem ( Xin loi min oi)
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To: SpaceBar

The existence of these extralegal alphabet agencies is one of the gravest threats to our nation. WOW

I’m considering stealing and adapting as a new tag line . With your approval, of course.


6 posted on 01/29/2013 3:22:15 AM PST by HotKat (Politicians are like diapers; they need to be changed often and for the same reason. Mark Twain)
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To: neverdem
Harrumph!!! (Harrumph!!! Harrumph!!!)
Just who does this court think it is!

If the EPA demands fuel be made from Gossamer Wings, Unicorn Horn, Dragon Teeth, or the Eye of Newt -- so be it. COMPLY your GREEDY Corporatists. It's 'for the children'!!!
[so let it be written, so let it be done]

7 posted on 01/29/2013 3:47:46 AM PST by Condor51 (Si vis pacem, para bellum.)
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To: neverdem

“But if those plants falter, it could send an already troubled industry reeling.”

The dirty little secret is that there is no “industry”. This whole farce from pseudo companies to all the “science” backing it up is due to billions of dollars of taxpayer subsidies.

No where in the world does this “industry” exist. It is unicorn glitter encased in a sno-globe up on a bookshelf for all to admire, but worthless in its entirety.

Bush made a mistake in this initiative. Obama insists on doubling down on stupid. Its what government does best.


8 posted on 01/29/2013 4:27:02 AM PST by rusty millet
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To: rusty millet
>>No where in the world does this “industry” exist.

That's what they said about this...



...before Tommy Daschle and his fellow kleptocrats "existed" it.

Just sayin'.
9 posted on 01/29/2013 5:03:59 AM PST by TArcher
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To: rusty millet
Bush made a mistake in this initiative.

Actually he didn't make a "mistake." Since anyone with an IQ higher than room temperature knows ethanol as a fuel is a fraud, and Bush is smarter than that, he knew it was all smoke and mirrors from the get go - but it put taxpayer dollars in the pockets of some big Republican backers and THAT was the goal.

10 posted on 01/29/2013 5:07:38 AM PST by from occupied ga (Your government is your most dangerous enemy)
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To: neverdem
Court Strikes Down EPA Renewable Fuel Rule

The thug crime organization running the FED GOV will just simply ignore this court ruling like it did with the Gulf oil spill drilling moratorium, the work for welfare law, the immigration Dreamer laws, and the defense of DOMA.

Wake up America - we have a LAWLESS WHITE HOUSE. The GOP in Congress could care less, even though they hold the power of the purse - the most potent weapon in reigning this clown in.
11 posted on 01/29/2013 6:38:31 AM PST by Cheerio (Barry Hussein Soetoro-0bama=The Complete Destruction of American Capitalism)
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To: rusty millet

“..No where in the world does this “industry” exist...”

Actually, it does. BP has a R&D/demonstration cellulosic ethanol plant that uses baggasse waste from the local sugar cane farming in SW Louisiana. It’s located just east of Jennings, LA on Hwy. 90 on the west bank of the Mermentau River. Google Map: 30.200333,-92.598451 and that is it. As far as I know, they’ve never made any ethanol for commercial usage. It’s all been a huge R&D effort for the past several years. BP was planning on using the technology developed from this R&D plant to construct commercial plants in several areas. One in Florida and another in east Texas. The one in Florida was supposedly pretty much under construction. However, I’ve heard recent rumors that are going to quench all the biofuels effort. BTW, if you think it’s tough to get a gallon of gas out of crude oil, try getting a gallon of ethanol out of baggasse. It’s way more costly and time-consuming. Don’t ask me how I know....lol


12 posted on 01/29/2013 7:23:12 AM PST by lgjhn23 (It's easy to be liberal when you're dumber than a box of rocks.)
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To: neverdem

Thanks for the ping!


13 posted on 01/29/2013 8:20:02 AM PST by Alamo-Girl
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To: lgjhn23

This actually supports my claim - the demo plants are built either with subsidies or for tax breaks. Because not a drop of cellulosic ethanol has been produced confirms that there is no “industry”. There is “effort” driven by tax dollars, but no industry.

I’m familiar with the cellulosic ethanol yields from the Texas A&M pilot plant. The results are consistent throughout.


14 posted on 01/29/2013 4:47:04 PM PST by rusty millet
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To: TArcher

I’ll assume you might mean corn ethanol? There is a huge difference between fermenting grain sugars and trying to ferment the breakdown products of cellulose.


15 posted on 01/29/2013 4:49:23 PM PST by rusty millet
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To: HotKat

The extralegal alphabet agencies are Obama’s tools for aggravating Whitey. Obama is laughing at us all, as he destroys our industries.


16 posted on 01/30/2013 3:21:49 AM PST by abclily
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To: rusty millet

[There is a huge difference between fermenting grain sugars and trying to ferment the breakdown products of cellulose.]

Will that make a difference to the grifters who will profit from constructing the fiasco?

I expect it will be as profitable a boondoggle as Ethanol is... to some.


17 posted on 01/30/2013 3:38:35 AM PST by TArcher
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To: TArcher

There is a difference. Let’s at least agree that ethanol is a liquid fuel that can be used in a diluted state in internal combustion engines. It has a lot of problems, but it is a fuel.

Ethanol is a profitable product of grain fermentation when the DDGS are part of the economic equation. The main problem is that it is still being heavily subsidized.

“Cellulosic ethanol” is a scam. The yield of ethanol is miniscule to barely existent, and there are no useful co-products. The more ethanol on the market, the cheaper it becomes and the more important co-products become.

Between cost of feedstock production, transportation, storage, processing, fermentation, and storage, there is no equation that will bring the process into the black. It is a scam of monumental proportions.


18 posted on 01/30/2013 7:29:30 AM PST by rusty millet
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To: rusty millet

>>“Cellulosic ethanol” is a scam.

I get the impression from the neighbors of some folks who’ve been conned into literally betting the Farm on Tommy Daschle’s Ethanol bidness that Corn ethanol is a scam too.

It certainly would not be profitable without subsidization AND government mandate for its consumption.


19 posted on 01/30/2013 10:40:05 PM PST by TArcher
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To: TArcher

Yeah, it is hard to come up with a firm market value for the EtOH if there was not a mandate. The market value for DDGS is based on its nutritional content, but prices are low due to the flood on the market.


20 posted on 01/31/2013 5:35:13 AM PST by rusty millet
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To: rusty millet

Uhuh. Nothing like a little government salt in the “gold mine” to lure the sheep to the wolve’s BBQ.


21 posted on 01/31/2013 5:44:06 AM PST by TArcher
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