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In mid-November the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed reducing the amount of biofuels in the nation’s fuel supply for the first time, potentially dealing a major setback to the ethanol industry.
The change would require almost 3 billion fewer gallons of biofuels — mainly ethanol — to be blended into gasoline in 2014 than under the current federal mandate. The proposal comes at a time when domestic oil production has exceeded oil imports for the first time in years, and when falling motor fuel demand has made ethanol an unexpectedly large part of the total fuel supply.

Today the EPA announced the first potential reduction in renewable fuel requirements since Congress expanded the mandate in the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act.  The agency is seeking comment on a proposal that would require refiners to use 15.21 billion gallons of biofuels in gasoline and diesel fuel blends in 2014; of that target, 13.01 billion gallons must come from conventional ethanol and the remainder would be composed of advanced renewable fuels that are not corn-based. By contrast, the 2007 bill's biofuels target for 2014 was 18.15 billion gallons of renewable fuel.

A decade ago, Minnesota became the first U.S. state with a biodiesel mandate, a move that has since been followed by six other states (none in the Midwest). The state now hopes to advance production and use even further, with plans in place to adopt a first-in-the-nation B10 mandate: a requirement that all diesel fuel sold in the state contain 10 percent biodiesel and 90 percent petroleum. The higher mandate, set to take effect in July of next year, will only apply in warm-weather months.

October 2013 ~ Stateline Midwest

Three months after an effort to block the sale of E15 stalled in the U.S. Supreme Court, the fuel blend began being offered in another Midwestern state. North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple announced in September the availability of E15 (a mix of 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline) at...

Stateline Midwest ~ September 2012

The long-simmering fuel vs. food debate has reached a boiling point, as the result of drought conditions that have raised corn prices and precipitated requests for the EPA to adjust the federal Renewable Fuels Standard.

Today's Wall Street Journal featured a prominent story detailing the closure and lay-offs at ethanol plants around the Midwest as fuel demand weakens, and federal production mandates have largely been met after 15 straight years of growth.

According to a recent article in the Houston Chronicle, the EPA believes that at least 140 million fraudulent credits have been circulated in biodiesel markets established by federal renewable energy mandates. The level of fraud (almost 9%) is concerning to many industry observers because the entire credit market only generated 1.6 billion credits last year. The agency brought allegations this month against two Texas-based companies, charging them with fabricating 60 million invalid credits that fuel producers like refineries buy when alternative fuels are not available. 

On March 8, the New Hampshire House of Representatives overwhelmingly disapproved of participation in a regional a low-carbon fuel standard (LCFS) by a vote of 243-96. Opponents of creating a LCFS likened the proposal to a "liquid RGGI program," which refers to the cap and trade program created by northeastern and mid-Atlantic states under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.  

The U.S. government manages nearly 30 percent of the country's total territory. Despite the fact that the energy industry leased more than 45 million acres of onshore federal lands in 2009, a new report shows that the industry is not using 21.6 million acres of land under lease for oil production or exploration. The Obama administration is now considering whether millions of acres of federal land in the West should be protected as wild lands. But some state officials believe cuts in royalties from mineral development and delays in the permitting process for public lands that could result from the new protections could have a significant negative economic impact for their states.

Minnesota state agencies are on pace to purchase close to 1 million gallons of E85 in 2010, meaning nearly one-fifth of the retail fuel bought by the agencies is now a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline.

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