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Fighting the Ethanol Mandate

Categorized in: RFS, Virginia

H.R. 5180, the Food and Fuel Consumer Protection Act, was introduced by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA-6) at the beginning of 114th Congress. At a time when there seems to be so much division in Washington, it’s good to see Democrats and Republicans working together to fix the federal ethanol mandate.

H.R. 5180 would address some of the problems with the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). When written, the RFS assumed that Americans would use an increasing amount of fuel every year. That’s why the law mandated that an increasing volume of ethanol must be blended into this fuel. However, gasoline consumption has gone down, and the law, as it exists now, mandates that an unworkable volume of ethanol be blended into fuel. If this law is not changed, we could see gasoline with an ethanol content above 10% being forced on consumers. Use of these higher ethanol blended gasolines could void the warranties of many vehicles because it could harm engines.

In a statement upon the introduction of H.R. 5180, Rep. Goodlatte discusses some of the problems this situation could cause for consumers:

The ethanol mandate is operating outside of the confines of reality. Mixing greater amounts of ethanol into the fuel supply decreases fuel efficiency, sending motorists to the pump more frequently. It can also lead to costly trips to the repair shop for families, businesses, and farmers to fix the damage caused by higher ethanol blends to some vehicles and small engines, like lawn mowers. Forcing more ethanol to be blended into the fuel supply than consumers want, or that engines can safely handle, makes little sense.

H.R. 5180 will cap the volume of ethanol that must be blended into fuel. This is a commonsense fix to the flaws of the original RFS legislation.

Missouri editorial exposes “outdated, costly ethanol”

Categorized in: National, RFS

Ryan Rowden, executive director of the Missouri Petroleum Council, recently ran down a laundry list of problems with the Renewable Fuel Standard ethanol mandate (RFS) in his June 21 Kansas City Star guest editorial, EPA pushing outdated, costly ethanol fuel.

Some of the highlights:

  • E15 gasoline contains 15 percent ethanol. It could be costly. About 90 percent of vehicles on the road today were not designed to use E15. Extensive testing shows that E15 can cause damage to engines and fuel systems not covered by warranty.
  • Continuing to increase ethanol volumes could drive up prices at the pump — by 26 cents per gallon, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
  • The flawed policy is already affecting food costs, prompting anti-hunger organizations, grocers, restaurant associations and producers of poultry, pork and beef to speak out. By diverting nearly 40 percent of the U.S. corn crop from food to fuel, the ethanol mandate has contributed to a 25 percent increase in the consumer price index for food since 2005.

Rowden also quoted one restaurant owner whose business has been dramatically impacted by the RFS:

A Wendy’s franchise owner in Virginia stated: “The corn ethanol mandate, or RFS, is costing my small company up to $34,000 more in higher food costs per restaurant, each and every year. For our family business, that’s approximately $374,000 a year in additional costs.”

Truthfully, it’s getting harder and harder to find anyone who supports the RFS ethanol mandate. Congress needs to step up and do away with this outdated plan before it inflicts any more damage. Take a minute to email your U.S. senator and House member to tell them so.


New Pipelines Are Essential for Minnesota’s Future Prosperity

Categorized in: Infrastructure, Minnesota

Natural gas is an economic and environmental game changer for the United States. Though Minnesota is not an energy producer, we stand to benefit as utilities increasingly generate electricity from natural gas.

But we won’t realize the full benefits of America’s energy renaissance if we don’t expand our state’s pipeline system.

Pipelines are essential for transporting natural gas from wells to processing facilities and on to customers, including utilities, businesses, and households. With our growing population and economy, we need greater pipeline capacity. It’s that simple.

Natural Gas Benefits

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy singled out natural gas for enabling our nation “to really move forward with pollution reductions that have been very hard to get our arms around for decades.”

Natural gas has been the primary driver of U.S. carbon emission reductions. In 2014, U.S. carbon emissions were at their lowest levels in 20 years. In fact, natural gas has enabled the energy sector alone to experience its lowest carbon levels in 25 years. Today, we lead all other industrial nations in carbon emission reductions, primarily because of the increased use of natural gas to generate electricity.

Ample supplies of American natural gas mean we are less dependent on foreign nations to meet our energy needs. The availability of natural gas has also helped control energy and heating costs for American households.

Pipeline Safety

Pipelines are a safe, efficient, and environmentally friendly way to transport natural gas and oil. In addition to having a 99.99% transportation safety record, pipelines are tightly regulated by federal and state governments and are also monitored with cutting-edge technology.

Every cubic foot of natural gas or barrel of petroleum moved by pipeline reduces the need to transport fuel by truck or rail. In other words, pipelines help reduce traffic congestion on our roads and rail lines.

Those opposed to pipelines cannot reasonably defend their position by pointing to safety or environmental concerns. Often, these opponents come from national level organizations that support a national keep-it-in –the-ground agenda that places little thought on how this position would actually impact people living here in Minnesota. A failure to expand our state’s pipeline capacity could increase the environmental impact of fuel transportation and drive up costs. This makes no sense.

In Minnesota, we don’t have to pick. We instead need to take a commonsense approach to meeting our energy needs, supporting our economy, and protecting our environment. It’s time to allow energy infrastructure projects, especially pipelines, to move forward.

Pipelines Boosting Pennsylvania Manufacturing

Categorized in: Infrastructure, Pennsylvania

It should be clear that new pipeline projects are vital to the future of Pennsylvania’s energy economy. Expanding the commonwealth’s capacity to move natural gas is essential to ensuring a bright future for shale gas production here. These pipelines also have other benefits, as Scott Paul of the Alliance for American Manufacturing explains in a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review op-ed:

All 350 miles of the proposed Mariner East 2 pipeline project’s new 20-inch-plus pipe will be bought from and rolled by American steel plants — all of which are represented by the United Steelworkers. That’s 75,000 tons of steel — and a lot of man hours.

In fact, I would call the massive American-made investments in both the Mariner East 1 and 2 projects one of the strongest behind-the-scenes accomplishments of the Pennsylvania Steel Alliance. According to Econsult Solutions, these projects will support 30,000 jobs along their routes during construction.

Energy Citizens should make sure that elected officials and regulators know how strongly we support the Mariner East 2 pipeline and other similar projects. These projects are important for Pennsylvania, and will do a lot of good for our commonwealth. We can’t let a vocal band of anti-energy activists stop construction of this vital pipeline.

Virginia Benefits from Expanding Energy Infrastructure

Categorized in: Infrastructure, Virginia

Affordable energy is critically important to every Virginia household’s financial well-being. That’s why it’s vital that we stand up for expanding America’s energy infrastructure.

Without pipelines, tankers, trains, and other types of infrastructure, the energy we need could not reach us in our homes or businesses. The U.S. is now the top producer of petroleum in the world, but this production would come to a halt without an infrastructure to transport and store oil and natural gas.

How does this infrastructure benefit Virginians and every American? Check out our website. You’ll see how properly investing in energy infrastructure over the next 12 years will:

• Support over 1.1 million jobs
• Produce $75 billion in labor income
• Contribute $120 billion to the national economy every year
• Increase government revenue by $27 billion

Let’s make sure that Energy Citizens in Virginia and around America show strong support for new pipelines and other energy infrastructure projects.

Affordable Heat, Power, and Gas Depend on Energy Infrastructure

Categorized in: Infrastructure, Minnesota

Energy infrastructure is the system of fuel processing, storage, and transportation that enables energy to move from where it is produced to where we need to use it. It includes pipelines, processing facilities, storage, rail, and ships. For energy to reach us affordably, we need adequate energy infrastructure.

Today, the average U.S. household saves about $1,300 annually because of American energy production—and because that energy can reach us efficiently. In Minnesota, we benefit from lower-than-average gasoline prices, and we have some of the lowest home heating oil prices in the nation.
But the long-term outlook for affordable energy is hazy at best. Why? Because we’re not moving forward with expanding our energy infrastructure. We cannot continue to rely on an infrastructure that was built to serve a smaller nation. Our population is heading toward 400 million.

For the first time, the Twin Cities metropolitan area recently exceeded 3 million people. The Twin Cities’ population is growing much faster than the population of Chicago, St. Louis, or Cincinnati. While Minnesota and the Twin Cities area are not growing as rapidly as some other parts of the country, we still need to address our growth with expansion of all types of infrastructure, including energy infrastructure.

“The growth is going to put a tremendous amount of burden on things like our energy use,” said Adam Duininck, chair of the Twin Cities’ Metropolitan Council, the area’s main planning agency. He notes that the area needs new and expanded pipelines and powerlines, as well as roads and bridges.

While many Minnesota communities, businesses, and government leaders support energy infrastructure projects, too often proposed projects are delayed by red tape and activist opposition. Furthermore, much of this opposition comes from national level groups who place little to no regard on the impacts that their proposals could have on those of us actually living here in Minnesota. To keep energy affordable, we need to confront these challenges and start breaking ground.

A Winter Wish for Energy Infrastructure

Categorized in: Infrastructure, Wisconsin

Energy infrastructure can help keep utility bills low for Wisconsin families, with cost savings that look especially attractive as the winter season continues.

Wisconsin households use 15 percent more energy than the national average, but fortunately, because we have relatively low utility rates, we end up paying about 5 percent less than average. We need to protect this advantage by investing in pipelines and other cost-effective energy infrastructure that will supply us with high-quality, but low-cost energy.

Wisconsin families don’t need higher utility bills. Allowing energy companies to expand our network of pipelines and other energy infrastructure is one sure way to bring us a joyful holiday season!


Energy Infrastructure Expanding in Florida

Categorized in: Florida, Infrastructure

Another Florida community will soon see the benefits of natural gas:

Clay County officials attended a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday morning to celebrate the upcoming installation of a pipeline that will provide natural gas to businesses and residents in Green Cove Springs as well as surrounding areas.

TECO Peoples Gas invested $10.5 million in the project, and partnered with SeaCoast Gas Transmission to bring natural gas distribution to the communities.

Expanding energy infrastructure in this way is good news for the residents of these areas. As Green Cove Springs Mayor Pam Lewis said, “having natural gas here is going to be an enhancement to all of the people we hope to attract in the manufacturing community.” Wider access to natural gas means wider access to a low-cost and environmentally friendly source of energy that is made in America.

With American oil and gas production thriving, it’s vital to have the infrastructure that transports and stores this energy. Without this infrastructure, consumers cannot benefit from the American energy revolution.

Natural Gas Brings Economic, Social and Environmental Benefits to Colorado

Categorized in: Colorado, Natural Gas

Clean, affordable natural gas is important across our nation, and Colorado is one of our nation’s leading producers. In many states, natural gas is increasingly being used to generate electricity that powers businesses, lights schools, and heats and cools homes.

Natural gas has also helped revive U.S. manufacturing, and it is used extensively in agriculture, so it helps put food on our tables.

The economic benefits of domestic natural gas are matched by environmental benefits. America’s carbon emissions have fallen to levels not seen for decades in large part because of the increased use of natural gas to generate electricity. We are making more progress fighting climate change than any other nation. Gina McCarthy, the head of the EPA, called natural gas “a game-changer with our ability to really move forward with pollution reductions.”

LNG Exports Will Benefit Texas—and the World

Categorized in: LNG, Texas

Texas natural gas clearly delivers many benefits to our state—and our nation. It helps keep heating and electricity costs down, and the increased use of natural gas is lowering U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Natural gas development also supports tens of thousands of jobs in the state.

Now we have a chance to add jobs, grow our economy, and help our allies around the world—all by exporting liquefied natural gas (LNG).

According to recent studies, if the U.S. moves forward with a robust LNG export program, as many as 155,000 Texas jobs could be created by 2035. All told, LNG exports would contribute more than $31 billion to the state’s economy—and bring new public revenues to Austin and our communities.

In addition, exporting LNG will lower our nation’s trade deficit and enable us to help friendly nations. Many countries around the world, without their own natural gas resources, want access to American natural gas. Our European allies especially do not want to be dependent on hostile or unstable nations, such as Russia, for natural gas supplies.

At the end of 2015, Congress lifted a decades-old ban on oil exports, but more must be done to support LNG exports. Congress needs to pass legislation that sets hard deadlines for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to review and process permits. U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz says that the DOE can work faster if mandated to do so.

The next administration will have the opportunity to lead on this issue. We encourage you to reach out to your legislators, ask where they stand on LNG exports, and let them know that energy issues matter to you.