10 Updates

Biofuel Mandates - A Farce EPA Can No Longer Ignore

Apr 30 2014, 9:18pm CDT | by

Biofuels – including ethanol produced from corn in the United States – have taken a real beating over the last few weeks, and for good reason.  They are not competitive in the marketplace, requiring...

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12 weeks ago

Biofuel Mandates - A Farce EPA Can No Longer Ignore

Apr 30 2014, 9:18pm CDT | by

Biofuels – including ethanol produced from corn in the United States – have taken a real beating over the last few weeks, and for good reason.  They are not competitive in the marketplace, requiring massive subsidies and mandates from a broke federal government to even exist, they drive up the price of all kinds of food at the grocery story, drive up the cost of gasoline at the pump, provide no environmental benefit over traditional petroleum-based fuels, and  cause harm to all manner of combustion engines.

Other than that, they’re just great.

The production of cellulosic biofuels- those made from non-edible parts of plants and wood waste – has almost completely collapsed over the last few years.  This has forced the EPA to finally acknowledge reality and dramatically cut the volumetric mandates it makes on the refining industry to blend this stuff with real gasoline.  The mandate for 2013 started out at 1.75 billion gallons, and the refining industry would have been fined if it did not use that much in its collective operations. The pesky little problem with that was the fact that the U.S. biofuels industry only produced 810,000 gallons during the year.

Rather than just sit back and take it as they had done in prior years when fined for not using enough of a largely non-existent fuel, the refiners collectively made enough noise in protest to convince the EPA to retroactively cut the 2013 mandate to 6 million gallons.  Still absurd in the context of the actual supply, but the bureaucrats at the EPA can never bring themselves to admit they are completely wrong about anything.

This year’s target mandate is 17 million gallons.  Todd Woody, writing in The Atlantic , reports that In the first quarter of this year, the biofuels industry managed to spit out a paltry 75,000 gallons of production.  This farce that benefits literally no one must come to an end.

As Forbes contributor James Conca reported in April , Corn ethanol has had an equally bad few weeks, largely thanks to the recent release of several international reports that indicate the fuel, which EPA has forced refiners to blend for ostensible environmental benefits, simply has no such benefits at all.  The UN’s International Panel on Climate Change issued two working group reports in March that contained the following passges:

“Biofuels have direct, fuel‐cycle GHG emissions that are typically 30–90% lower than those for gasoline or diesel fuels. However, since for some biofuels indirect emissions—including from land use change—can lead to greater total emissions than when using petroleum products, policy support needs to be considered on a case by case basis”

“Increasing bioenergy crop cultivation poses risks to ecosystems and biodiversity

The International Institute for Sustainable Development also admitted earlier this year that replacing petroleum fuels with ethanol produces essentially no benefit.  Their report estimated it is almost 100 times more efficient and far less costly to raise CAFE standards and increase vehicle emissions requirements than it is to continue blending ethanol into gasoline.

The problem the government faces is the problem that arises whenever any mandate or subsidy program is demonstrated to be wrong-headed and ineffective, as almost all of them ultimately are: how to cure the addiction without destroying the patient?   The ethanol and biofuels mandates have created an addiction in the farming and business community, created an artificial marketplace that is unsustainable, and encouraged farmers to convert millions of acres of land that is more suitable to farming rice, cotton, wheat and other crops to corn in order to take advantage of the programs.  The process of winding these addictive programs down almost requires a 12 step program.

How big has the distortion in the real marketplace been?  According to the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center, between 2000 and 2013, the percentage of the U.S. corn crop used to feed people and livestock fell from 90% to 60%.  In the same period of time, the percentage used to produce ethanol rose from 5% to 40%.

Conca sums up the human implications of that transition in very compelling terms:

In 2014, the U.S. will use almost 5 billion bushels of corn to produce over 13 billion gallons of ethanol fuel. The grain required to fill a 25-gallon gas tank with ethanol can feed one person for a year, so the amount of corn used to make that 13 billion gallons of ethanol will not feed the almost 500 million people it was feeding in 2000. This is the entire population of the Western Hemisphere outside of the United States.

It is clear these mandates that serve no benefit and cause so much distortion in the marketplace must end.  The problem for the government are:

  • First, the EPA must be willing to finally admit it is wrong, that the soviet-style command and control policies they have forced on the refining industry, the farming community, and the public all these years in fact produce no benefit to the country or the environment.  In other words, the first step to recovering from an addiction is to admit you have a problem.
  • Then, the government has an obligation to try to find a way to end these programs in a manner that does not completely devastate the tens of thousands of American farmers, biofuels manufacturers and others in the supply chain they have encouraged to become hooked on the programs in the first place.

Don’t hold your breath waiting for a good outcome there.  The EPA has never been very good at things like self-examination and making amends to those they have harmed.

 
Update
10

7 weeks ago

RM47mil KWSG contributions still unclaimed

Jun 9 2014 7:54am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: About RM47 million of contributions in the Teachers Provident Fund (KWSG) still remain unclaimed, the Dewan ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
9

7 weeks ago

Gold shop lost almost RM1mil

Jun 9 2014 3:50am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KANGAR: A gold shop owner lost almost RM1 million after after the safe on in his shop was bro ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
8

7 weeks ago

Motion to debate MAS losses in Dewan Rakyat rejected

Jun 9 2014 3:39am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: AN emergency motion to debate the losses incurred by Malaysia Airlines last year, amounting to RM1.2 billion was rejected by the Dewan Rakyat ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
7

7 weeks ago

MH370 Tragedy: Hisham: RM27.6 mil spent on 1st phase of SAR

Jun 9 2014 2:11am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia spent some RM27.6 million in its first phase of the search operations for missing Malaysia Airline flight MH370, said Acting Transport Minister ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
6

7 weeks ago

9.1m litres of diesel seized in a month

Jun 8 2014 1:11am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

PUTRAJAYA: The Domestic Trade, Cooperatives, and Consumerism ministry has seized some 9.1 million litres of diesel and property worth RM58 million since mounting ‘Operasi Diesel Selatan’ in the so ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
5

7 weeks ago

Girl, 9, awarded RM2.78m compensation for medical negligence

Jun 6 2014 4:56am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: A nine-year-old girl who suffered brain damage during her birth at a government hospital was awarded over RM2.78 million i ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
4

7 weeks ago

Malaysia's total trade in April up 12pc

Jun 5 2014 11:52pm CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's total trade in April 2014 rose by 12 per cent from a year ago to RM123.86 billion due to growing trading activities, International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa M ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
3

7 weeks ago

Works Ministry to spend RM20m for upgrading works at 50 accident black spots

Jun 4 2014 11:35pm CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

JOHOR BARU: The Works Ministry will implement upgrading works at 50 accident prone locations in the country that have been identified this year involving a ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
2

7 weeks ago

Najib launches loan scheme for Ramadan traders

Jun 4 2014 10:24pm CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

PUTRAJAYA: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak today launches RM45 million Ramadan ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
1

7 weeks ago

Residents bring up objection against Kidex to Suhakam

Jun 4 2014 4:49am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

PETALING JAYA: A group of 20 Petaling Jaya residents held a meeting with the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) over their objection against the proposed RM2.2 billion Kinrara Dama ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 

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