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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"American spies collected information last summer revealing that senior Russian intelligence and political officials were discussing how to exert influence over Donald J. Trump through his advisers." The conversations centered around Paul Manafort, who was campaign chairman at the time, and Michael Flynn, former national security adviser and then a close campaign surrogate. Both men have been tied heavily with Russia and Flynn is currently at the center of the FBI investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
"Former FBI Director Robert Mueller has been cleared by U.S. Department of Justice ethics experts to oversee an investigation into possible collusion between then-candidate Donald Trump's 2016 election campaign and Russia." Some had speculated that the White House would use "an ethics rule limiting government attorneys from investigating people their former law firm represented" to trip up Mueller's appointment. Jared Kushner is a client of Mueller's firm, WilmerHale. "Although Mueller has now been cleared by the Justice Department, the White House may still use his former law firm's connection to Manafort and Kushner to undermine the findings of his investigation, according to two sources close to the White House."
Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) and ranking member Mark Warner (D-VA) will subpoena two businesses owned by former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Burr said, "We would like to hear from General Flynn. We'd like to see his documents. We'd like him to tell his story because he publicly said he had a story to tell."