The Shell station at 12th and Vine Streets in Philadelphia offers gasoline mixed with corn-based ethanol and features a mural paying homage to corn.
The EPA is cutting back on the amount of corn-based ethanol American refineries will be required to blend into their gasoline supplies, a victory for the oil industry and lawmakers who have been fighting the mandate.
That means what you’re pumping at the gas station will have less ethanol in it, an alcohol made from distilling corn that emits less carbon dioxide than when gasoline burns.
The announcement comes just days after an Associated Press investigation showed the hidden environmental costs of the ethanol mandate, known as the “renewable fuel standard.”
The EPA’s proposal, which will be open to 60 days of public comment before being made final in the spring of next year, trims volume requirements for all kinds of biofuels. The EPA proposed that between two billion and 2.5 billion gallons of advanced biofuels be blended into the nation’s fuel supply. That’s significantly less than the 3.75 billion gallons mandated by the 2007 law for advanced biofuels, a category that includes fuels made from things other than corn.
Those volumes would leave between 12.7 billion and 13.2 billion gallons of corn ethanol in the nation’s fuel mix. The EPA’s proposal would cut ethanol volumes not just lower than what was expected for 2014, but lower than what was mandated in the last two years.
StateImpact Pennsylvania Reporters Katie Colaneri and Marie Cusick, left, lead a panel discussion on the health of the Delaware River watershed at WHYY in Philadelphia.
Thanks to all who participated in person and online in our Delaware River watershed event last night at WHYY in Philadelphia. In case you missed it, here are some of the highlights, including a Delaware watershed fact sheet and glossary of terms we handed out to our live audience. (You can check out that document below.)
So how healthy IS the Delaware River watershed?
Our panelists were asked to share some of the indicators they use to assess the watershed’s health and vitality. We also asked them to tell us how the watershed is doing by giving it a letter grade from A to F. Here’s what they said:
An antique Shell gasoline pump at an Ohio oil and gas museum
While Pennsylvanians wait to see if a proposed ethane cracker plant will be built in Beaver County, West Virginia’s governor announced today that the neighboring state might host a cracker of its own.
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said the Brazilian conglomerate Odebrecht is exploring whether to develop a petrochemical complex in Parkersburg, about 150 miles southwest of the site where Royal Dutch Shell’s Beaver County plant is proposed. The West Virginia project would include an ethane cracker, three polyethylene plants and associated infrastructure for water treatment and energy co-generation.
A cracker converts ethane, a natural gas liquid produced in the Marcellus and Utica shales, into ethylene used to make plastics. Officials in both states see such plants as crucial to creating larger petrochemical hubs, which would support long-term jobs.
As in the case of the coveted Pennsylvania project, the feasibility of the West Virginia project will depend on many factors, including securing a long-term ethane supply.
Wildlife along the Delaware River at Washington Avenue Green Park in Philadelphia.
Tonight, StateImpact Pennsylvania presents The Delaware River Watershed: Healthy or At Risk? It’s our interactive panel discussion about the economic, agricultural and environmental challenges facing this major river basin in the studios of WHYY in Philadelphia.
Our panelists include Delaware Riverkeeper Maya van Rossum, Patty Elkis of the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, Peter Wulfhorst from Penn State University’s Pike County Cooperative Extension and former Philadelphia Director of Commerce Stephen Mullin.
You can watch the event live right here on Ustream starting at 7 p.m. (EST):
Courtesy of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission
The red-bellied cooter is one of dozens of threatened or endangered species in Pennsylvania.
A contentious proposal to change the way threatened and endangered species are designated in Pennsylvania cleared a House committee today.
The bill would give a five-person regulatory review panel and legislators control over whether to list species the state’s game and fish commissions determine are threatened or endangered. The proposal was reported out of the House Game and Fisheries Committee by a 16-8 vote.
As StateImpact Pennsylvania has reported, the proposal has the backing of the natural gas industry and developers who say the bill would add transparency and consistency to the designation process. It is opposed by the fish and wildlife agencies and conservationists who say it would open scientific decisions to political influence.
Traveling from here to Texas in your natural gas-powered truck? You’ll want to know where to refuel it.
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory has developed a resource you can take on the road. A free iPhone app shows the location of more than 15,000 alternative fueling stations throughout the country with services for electric, natural gas, biodiesel, E85, propane or hydrogen vehicles.
The app gets its information from the Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuels Data Center, which the agency says is the most comprehensive, up-to-date database of alternative fueling stations in the country.
“The number of alternative fuel vehicles on the road has been increasing steadily over the last two decades,” laboratory project manager Trish Cozart said to announce the app. “Drivers and fleets have an unprecedented array of options to cut or eliminate petroleum use, and this new app serves as one more tool to facilitate these transitions.”
Utility officials on two sides of the state spent Tuesday discussing ways to modernize and secure the nation’s electric grid.
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review covered FirstEnergy Corp.’s plans to spend $2.8 billion to upgrade four of its Ohio and Pennsylvania utilities with “smart grid” technology – sensors and controls on power lines and transmission stations that can communicate information about the system remotely and help stem problems before they cascade.
The expanded investment announced Tuesday will replace decades-old equipment and help the company connect [its] large-scale transmission system with its local distribution system, officials said. The equipment it’s replacing is on average more than 40 years old.
Using smart technology will help limit outages and waste, [company spokesman Mark] Durbin said. The sensors it plans to use will help it pinpoint obstructions in the system, steer power around it to limit the impact of outages and quickly mobilize repair crews. It’ll use sensors at transmission stations to get maintenance alerts instead of relying on having workers do potentially unnecessary precautionary checks, Durbin said.
A Shell station at 12th and Vine Streets in Philadelphia offers gasoline mixed with corn-based ethanol and features a mural paying homage to corn.
Federal law has required American refiners to mix increasing amounts of corn-based ethanol into gasoline since 2007.
Ethanol is an alcohol that burns less carbon dioxide than refined petroleum products. The Obama administration has touted the Renewable Fuel Standard as an essential tool for bringing down greenhouse gas emissions.
Five million acres of land set aside for conservation — more than Yellowstone, Everglades and Yosemite National Parks combined — have vanished on Obama’s watch.
Landowners filled in wetlands. They plowed into pristine prairies, releasing carbon dioxide that had been locked in the soil.
Sprayers pumped out billions of pounds of fertilizer, some of which seeped into drinking water, contaminated rivers and worsened the huge dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico where marine life can’t survive.
You asked for it… and you got it! StateImpact Pennsylvania will be live streaming our event on the health of the Delaware River Watershed coming up on Thursday evening.
With OVEE, you’ll be able to join us even if you can’t make it to Philadelphia. Watch our panel discussion live online starting at 7 p.m. Then, Interact with StateImpact reporters, share stories and ask questions via web chat at 7:30 p.m.