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Energy

Ethanol Under Fire on Both Sides of the Atlantic

The ethanol industry is under fire in the U.S. and Europe.(Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images)

December 12, 2013

The biofuels industry is facing political battles in Europe as well as the United States.

And policy is unsettled on both sides of the Atlantic.

Reuters reports that European Union energy ministers failed Thursday to reach an agreement that would limit use of fuels made from food crops.

 

"Last year in response to warnings about food price inflation and unintended consequences on the environment, the European Commission, the EU's executive, proposed to cap the bloc's use of crop-based biofuels at 5 percent," the news service reports.

In the U.S., meanwhile, the ethanol industry is battling a November Environmental Protection Agency proposal that would scale back the amount of ethanol that refiners must blend into gasoline next year.

The topic was front and center at a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing on Wednesday.

National Journal reports here on planned legislation touted at the hearing that would ease the federal ethanol blending mandate.

Bloomberg has a dispatch from the Senate hearing that focuses on EPA's defense of its proposal. From their story:

"The Environmental Protection Agency determined that it's not feasible for gasoline refiners to use as much ethanol next year as had been mandated, which is why the agency proposed easing the requirement, an EPA official said."

But the biofuels industry also got some good news this week.

The Agriculture Department and the Navy announced plans aimed at expanding the Navy's use of renewable fuels in jet engines and ships.

The Navy has for years been testing out the increased use of biofuels. The agencies said Wednesday that they're taking the next step toward making "advanced" biofuels--that is, not traditional corn ethanol--a regular part of military procurement in the coming years.

"The announcement incorporates the acquisition of biofuel blends into regular Department of Defense (DOD) domestic solicitations for jet engine and marine diesel fuels," the Navy and Agriculture Department said in a joint release.

"Today's announcement marks the first time alternative fuels such as advanced drop-in biofuels will be available for purchase through regular procurement practices. It lowers barriers for alternative domestic fuel suppliers to do business with DOD," they said.

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