It has been ten years since Congress passed the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), which mandates the use of biofuels such as ethanol. Rep. Billy Long of Missouri has an excellent op-ed examining the ways this legislation failed to live up to expectations:
Despite their pure intentions, 2007 policymakers’ economic predictions have proven inaccurate and the overall program has fallen short. Concerns over gasoline usage decline have taken priority over those of inflated fuel demands, and innovations of new cellulosic biofuels has come more sluggishly than hoped. The Environmental Protection Agency has continuously adjusted the mandated fuel additive volumes downward in light of lower demands.
So while dependence on foreign oil sources declined as hoped, RFS cannot claim credit. Also, experts like those from the National Academy of Sciences, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the Congressional Budget Office cannot conclude that renewable fuels have delivered on lessened greenhouse gases.
As Rep. Long points out, the RFS has not worked as predicted. In fact, its ethanol mandate could cause significant problems for consumers.
It is good to see growing bipartisan support in Congress to address these issues. One bill, HR 5180, would cap the amount of ethanol that must be blended into our fuel. This legislation is a good start to begin fixing this flawed mandate. Have you asked your member of Congress to support it?
Happy New Year! We’re excited about the opportunities in 2017 for Energy Citizens to support job creation, strengthen our nation’s security, and keep energy affordable.
All eyes are now on Washington, but the fact is that we must prepare for challenges across the states. As part of a larger effort to shut down American oil and natural gas, anti-energy activist plan to battle critical pipeline projects and pro-energy policies at the local level.
“The opposition is going to be much more local, much more focused.” — Anti-Energy Leader Jane Kleeb
But communicating to government alone will not win the day. We also need to reach out to members of our communities… to friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, and our social networks. It’s important that we talk about why energy is important to us and why we need policies and leadership that support American energy development.
The impact of the shale revolution is profound because the economic growth it continues to produce is not confined to any single region of the U.S. Cheap natural gas is strengthening energy security across the country and is fueling a resurgence in manufacturing – particularly the most energy-intensive industrial products, such as iron and steel, bulk chemicals, petrochemicals, plastics, cement, petroleum refining, glass, paper and food products.
Why is shale gas production so important to manufacturing? It’s because manufacturing is very energy-intensive. With more shale gas being produced here, it has lowered the cost of energy for American manufacturers:
Adjusted for inflation, the cost of electricity to industrial users in the U.S. is lower this year than almost any year in history. Compared to 2008 in the early days of the shale revolution, industrial electricity prices are 17 percent lower today. That’s because virtually every new power plant constructed in recent years has been fueled with natural gas. Gas plants are relatively inexpensive to build, and gas prices are projected to remain low for many decades.
During the election year we heard a lot about creating more American jobs. Let’s make sure to ask the candidates where they stand on natural gas production and the use of natural gas in power generation. If they don’t advocate for pro-energy policies or for allowing markets, not government mandates or incentives to dictate our power generation mix, it’s hard to see how they can be serious about job growth in the U.S. For our economy to continue to grow, we need to make sure that candidates running this year support oil and gas production and the market-driven use of more natural gas to generate electricity.
It will cap the amount of ethanol that can be mixed into our fuel.
High ethanol fuel poses a threat to older cars, lawnmowers, chainsaws, and other equipment.
If the ethanol mandate isn’t fixed, it could cost consumers a lot in higher food and fuel prices.
While it may seem like no one works across party lines these days, H.R. 5180 has strong bipartisan support. There are many organizations that want to see an end to the problems caused by the Renewable Fuel Standard, and this legislation is the way to accomplish that.
Congress does not have a lot of time to finish work before it adjourns for the year. We need to make sure that they know that you want to focus on fixing the ethanol mandate.
This was welcome news for New England Energy Citizens, who know that our region needs access to cost-efficient, clean-burning natural gas.
This issue was the topic of a guest editorial published in the Worcester telegram.com last month. Writer Timothy P. Murray, former mayor of Worcester and former Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor under Deval Patrick, who currently serves as the president of the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce, talked about the need for natural gas in the Northeast U.S.:
However, despite an abundance of domestic natural gas here in the United States, Massachusetts’ access to this cleaner more affordable fuel is limited because of constrained natural gas pipeline capacity to the region. As a result, especially to meet seasonal winter demand, expanding access to this cleaner fuel is critical in allowing residents, particularly those on fixed incomes, to affordably heat their homes during the winter months. It is also critical for our employer community that provides needed jobs across the state.
In particular, high-energy users, such as manufacturers that are so important to regional economies such as Central Massachusetts, are vulnerable to the ever-increasing energy costs that kill jobs and cause business closings, or result in plant expansions being done elsewhere where energy costs are lower instead of locally. Preserving and growing these jobs must be a priority — they are one of the few remaining sectors of the economy that provide good paying access to the middle class that do not necessarily require a college degree. Manufacturing jobs are a key pillar to the fragile economies of many of our regional Gateway Cities.
Natural gas is a necessity for economic growth and affordable heating bills in New England. Energy Citizens applauds the Massachusetts legislature for taking this stand.
The Keystone XL Pipeline is the first priority of the new Congress.
We’ve been waiting for this Pipeline for six years now. It’s time our elected officials do the right thing and vote yes! It’s extremely important that all Energy Citizens send their Members of Congress a letter today to tell them:
There is no reason to stand in the way of American energy security.
There is no reason to play politics with Keystone XL.
Though the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has no fossil fuel reserves of its own, it produces energy from a diversity of sources and has substantial potential to develop renewable energy as well.
Massachusetts, like many of its Northeast neighbors, is vulnerable to fuel oil shortages and price spikes during winter months due to high demand for home heating. Nearly 2/5 of Massachusetts households use fuel oil as their primary energy source for home heating.
More than half of the Commonwealth’s energy comes from natural gas, and Massachusetts has three liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals. There has been some controversy around expanding LNG importing in Massachusetts. Currently, LNG terminals in Massachusetts help bring natural gas to several neighboring New England states.
This summer, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley negotiated a better deal for wind energy from the Cape Wind offshore wind power project. But will ratepayers really see lower costs, as promised?
The answer to this question is nearly a decade in the making. In 2001, Cape Wind began to seek permits to build a 130-turbine offshore wind farm on Horseshoe Shoal in Nantucket Sound. Ground has not been broken, but the current plan is to produce 240 megawatts of renewable wind energy.
Even better, Cape Wind projected that its wind farm could save ratepayers $25 million a year.
But the math quickly grew fuzzy. The cost of the project could run as high as $2 billion, and Cape Wind will sell the power to National Grid and possibly other major utilities at a significantly higher rate than power produced by traditional sources, including coal- and natural gas-fired plants. In turn, Massachusetts will buy this power from National Grid.
Massachusetts economists David G. Tuerck and Jonathan Haughton, writing in the Boston Globe, estimate that ratepayers could pay an extra $86 million annually. Even with the new deal cut by Attorney General Coakley, ratepayers will pay more.
Consumers and businesses may be willing to pay more for wind power, but we need hard facts and realistic forecasts to make decisions. That’s part of the goal of Energy Citizens: helping all of us, including policymakers, to be realistic when we talk the dollars and cents of energy.