Posts Tagged: ethanol

Not everybody loves ethanol

Republican presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty raised some eyebrows earlier this week when he called for a possible end to U.S. Dept. of Agriculture ethanol subsidies. “You can’t do that!” pundits exclaimed. “You need to win the Iowa caucus, and everyone in Iowa loves ethanol!” But Jason Clayworth of the Des Moines Register points out that the politics of ethanol are changing. Industry trade groups have called for a subsidy phaseout and even Iowa U.S. Senator Charles Grassley wants to gradually reduce the federal money for ethanol.

Vilsack and the triumph of corn

Ezra Klein of the Washington Post interviewed secretary of agriculture and former Iowa governor, Tom Vilsack and asked why the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture so generously funds rural America through programs like ethanol and farm commodity subsidies. Vilsack responded that rural Americans are cool. “There is a value system to support,” he said. “These are good, hardworking people who feel underappreciated.” The comments highlight the Obama administration’s irrational preference for rural communities over urban ones, which of course has big implications for states like Iowa and other midwestern agriculture centers.

To Vilsack’s credit, he get into some specifics and even argues that corn and ethanol subsidies “need to be phased out.”  But the money is still flowing right now. (more…)

Oil lobbyists: EPA in bed with corn

An environmental legal battle is brewing, though environmentalists will find it hard to root for either side. Tom Schoenberg of Bloomberg News reports that three oil industry groups, including the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association, want a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C. to overturn an Environmental Protection Agency ruling that allowed the sale of gasoline containing up to 15 percent ethanol. The previous limit was 10 percent, but ethanol producers like Archer Daniels Midland of Decatur, Illinois successfully lobbied EPA for a higher concentration of the corn-based fuel.

Charles Drevna, the president of the petrochemical association, tells Bloomberg that the lawsuit is about consumer satisfaction and he may have a point. (more…)

Bush tax cut deal great for ethanol industry

If the Bush tax cuts are extended, it will also mean the extension of $6 billion a year in ethanol subsidies — great news for the Illinois economy, though maybe not a stellar development in America’s energy and environmental future. (more…)

EPA: Don’t bother saving the cob

Sometimes a federal agency decides that it can’t implement a law passed by Congress, but the case of cellulosic ethanol is extreme. In 2007, Congress passed, and George W. Bush signed, an energy law that said by 2011 the U.S. fuel supply would contain 250 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol, an advanced biofuel that is not made from food crops but instead comes from switch grass, corn cobs, and wood waste. Now, reports the Wall Street Journal’s Siobhan Hughes, the Environmental Protection Agency has decided that the 250-million-gallon target is unrealistic. Instead the goal is 6.6 million gallons, a 94 percent reduction. (more…)

Obama and biofuels

Writing at the Washington Monthly, Heather Rogers has an authoritative takedown of biofuel energy, i.e. ethanol and biodiesel, and the federal government’s continued subsidies to the Iowa-based biofuel industry. Rogers even finds Iowa farmers who share the view that biofuels are environmentally and economically unsustainable. “Growing crops for biofuels damages their soil,” she writes of these farmers, “and keeps them at the mercy of predatory multinational corporations.”

One quibble with the piece, though, is that Rogers glosses over possible changes being made by the Obama administration. (more…)

Corn-powered blog post

EPA permitting a higher level of ethanol in car fuel may or may not be great for the world. But it’s fantastic news for Decatur, Illinois-based ag giant Archer Daniels Midland. Kim Chipman and Mario Parker of Bloomberg News report that EPA will announce today that the maximum allowable level of ethanol in car fuel will jump from 10 percent to 12-15 percent. This comes after a year of caution by EPA Administration Lisa Jackson — and strenuous lobbying from ADM, whose stock price has already jumped in wake of the decision.

Just because an EPA ruling helps a big ag company in Illinois (as well as other ethanol producers in Iowa and South Dakota) doesn’t mean that it’s terrible for the environment. (more…)

Toward a corn-based automobile economy

Stu Ellis, a columnist for the Decatur, Illinois Herald-Review takes on an issue near and dear to the Central Illinois economy: whether the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will allow a higher blend of ethanol in motor fuel this year. “The present 10 percent blend limit imposes a ceiling,” Ellis explains, “Since we are producing nearly 14 billion gallons of ethanol annually and the [rough annual U.S.] consumption is 140 billion gallons of motor fuel.” Advocates for ethanol want the blend ceiling to jump from 10 to 15 percent. But Ellis writes the more realistic change is from 10 to 12 percent.

When Ellis writes “we are producing” he is referring mostly to Illinois and other Midwest-based agricultural interests. (more…)

Regulating corn in car engines

The Environmental Protection Agency will not take action until this fall on new regulations for the amount of ethanol allowed in motor fuel, report the AP’s Mary Clare Jalonick and Matthew Daly. The decision will impact Decatur, Illinois-based Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), which has lobbied EPA to temporarily increase ethanol levels in U.S. fuel blends. (more…)

The future of ethanol (according to ADM)

Decatur, Illinois-based Archer Daniels Midland has requested that the Environmental Protection Agency increase the amount of ethanol allowed in U.S. fuel blends. (more…)