4:50 PM, Nov 21, 2014 • By DAVE JUDAY
Under the nation’s biofuels policy known as the Renewable Fuel Standard, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is supposed to set an amount of biofuels—ethanol, biodiesel, and low carbon advanced biofuels—which are to be blended into the nation’s fuel supply. That amount is to be finalized by the EPA on November 30 of the previous year so as to give energy markets a clear signal of what to expect.
Thus, EPA should have established the 2014 volumes by November 30, 2013. Instead, today, nine days short of a year late, EPA has announced that it “will not be finalizing 2014 applicable percentage standards under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program before the end of 2014.”
It’s not surprising that EPA missed its deadline; it has not been on time since 2009. But this year’s lapse is truly mindboggling. Consider: EPA will set the standards that fuels companies must comply with after the compliance year is over. The best guess now is that the 2014 standards will be set in February 2015, which is also the date the EPA has targeted for proposing the 2015 standards, three months after the statutory deadline for those standards to be finalized.
Earlier in the year, informed speculation was the Obama administration was delaying the announcement to be well-timed to help Iowa Democratic Senate candidate Bruce Braley in his campaign in Iowa. That was back in June when EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy indicated that the volume standards would be issued “soon”—although they were already by then seven months late.
Accordingly, the administration didn’t think it could push up the ethanol totals high enough to give Braley—a champion of the RFS—a political bounce, so it deferred making an announcement. Finally, after the election and a year of waiting, speculation and concern in the markets led EPA to finally say something, and today the agency did, announcing that it would do nothing this year. An EPA spokesman added that the agency does hope to “get back on” an annual standard for 2014, 2015, and 2016 next year.
Ironically, by all accounts the ethanol industry has had a very productive and profitable year—effectively without a mandate in place. Biofuels have found a role in the marketplace, even if one forced by the original biofuels mandate. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, through the second week of November, ethanol production was outpacing last year’s trend when an actual volume mandate was in place.
Indeed, the federal government has proven inept at projecting what fuels markets will do in any given year, which should cast doubt on whether EPA should get back on track for projecting and prescribing biofuel levels in the coming years. What is the purpose of a mandate if it is set after the fact, as it will be this year?
There was a downside to the inaction, however. For a year, speculation and anticipation of EPA’s announcement moved crude oil, gasoline, ethanol, and corn markets, up and down. That imposed a hidden cost on consumers and an added regulatory cost of doing business to companies in all sectors involved. And in the end, all for naught. That is one of the problems with industrial policy like the RFS.
Policy makers should take note that despite the distraction of the RFS, the market ultimately prevailed, and EPA will be left to merely certify what happened in 2014 sometime later in 2015. The RFS, as has been shown, is not needed.
Dave Juday is an agricultural commodity market analyst.
2:15 PM, Aug 22, 2014 • By DAVE JUDAY
The dictionary defines a deadline as “the latest time or date by which something should be completed.” The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency obviously defines it another way, at least when it comes to renewable fuels.
Sep 1, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 47 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
The riots in Ferguson, Missouri, have spawned a heated and, one hopes, productive debate about the “militarization” of the police. While one can argue about the tactics and weaponry used by police, however, there’s little debate about the necessity of cops being armed. The real problem is the thousands of agents in federal regulatory bodies who likely have no business being armed at all.
10:59 AM, Jun 16, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
EPA chief Gina McCarthy agreed with Bill Maher on Friday that the Obama administration is engaged in a war on coal:
"The clean power program," Maher said. "Some people called it a war on coal. I hope it is a war on coal. Is it?"
"Actually, EPA is all about fighting against polution and fighting for public health," McCarthy said before answering Maher's question. "That's exactly what this is."
"Oh, great," Maher said to applause.
Has the desperate global warming crusade reached its Waterloo? Jun 16, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 38 • By STEVEN F. HAYWARD
The climate change crusaders, who have been at it for a quarter-century, appear to be going clinically mad. Start with the rhetorical monotony and worship of authority (“97 percent of all scientists agree!”), add the Salem witch trial-style intimidation and persecution of dissenters, and the categorical demand that debate about science or policy is over because the matter is settled, and you have the profile of a cult-like sectarianism that has descended into paranoia and reflexive bullying.
2:38 PM, May 7, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
The administration has made climate change its signature issue until something better comes along. This means that the the EPA will be walking point. After all, no new environmental legislation will be coming out of Congress. President Obama didn’t ever try for that when his party had majorities in both the House and the Senate.
Of course the weather was nicer back then, so Washington may not have felt the urgency.
7:01 AM, Mar 10, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
Less than a month after the exposure of a widespread vulnerability on government "open data" websites, another perhaps even more insidious opening for abuse of government websites has come to light.
7:34 AM, Feb 25, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Steve Hayes, with Elise Viebeck and Jason Riley, last night on Fox News:
8:01 AM, Jan 15, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
The EPA awarded $461,368 in grants this week for various environmental projects along the U.S.-Mexico border. About half of the funds went to projects in Calexico, CA and Phoenix, AZ, but the remaining $230,000 went to two cities on the Mexican side of the border, Nogales and Ensenada.
Dec 30, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 16 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
Truth to tell, The Scrapbook has gotten as good a laugh as anyone out of the saga of John C. Beale, the retired Environmental Protection Agency official—Princeton grad, onetime deputy assistant administrator in the Office of Air and Radiation, congressionally certified expert on global warming—who has been sentenced to 32 months in prison for stealing nearly a million dollars from the federal government.
Oct 7, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 05 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
On September 20, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed strict new limits on emissions from coal-fired power plants. Energy industry critics, along with a number of influential unions, were quick to decry them. The regulations would limit carbon emissions for new coal plants to 1,100 pounds per megawatt hour. The technology to meet this standard, which involves pumping carbon dioxide deep underground, is so expensive that the coal industry says it will effectively prevent new coal plants from being built.
Jun 24, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 39 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
It’s going to be a long summer in Washington. With so many scandals, news organizations that have spent years sweeping startling allegations about the Obama administration under the rug now find themselves overwhelmed. Woe betide the average citizen who just wants to know what the heck his government is up to.
3:52 PM, Jun 4, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
President Obama today nominated three liberals to fill longstanding judicial vacancies on the important Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Will the Senate rubber-stamp the president's nominees—even though the court's fine as it is, with the eight judges currently serving enjoying the lightest caseload in the country? In 2006, when the Senate refused to consider the nomination of Peter Keisler to that court, Senator Ted Kennedy stressed that “we should consider these caseload declines carefully before we fill the current vacancy. American taxpayers deserve no less.” Since then, the court has only added more judges and heard fewer cases.
12:20 PM, Jun 4, 2013 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
High officials in the Obama administration are using "secret e-mail accounts," according to the Associated Press, and stonewalling when asked about them, even by establishment media operations.