Philadelphia Energy Solutions (PES) filed for bankruptcy last week, pointing fingers and laying blame squarely on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), a federal program that requires refiners to blend increasing amounts of ethanol and other biofuels. That may make for a provocative headline, but the public and PES’ 1,100 employees deserve to know the truth: PES has no one else to blame but itself. PES operates one of the nation’s oldest refineries, which is handicapped by hopelessly antiquated technology. This is not the first time the refinery has found itself in a precarious financial position. In 2012, the Carlyle Group and Sunoco rescued the refinery from bankruptcy, thanks to a taxpayer-funded rescue package. The following year, PES invested in new infrastructure to allow the importation of cheap oil from North Dakota. While PES was able to capitalize on that investment in 2014 and 2015, the collapse in oil prices and the end of the U.S. crude export ban in late 2015 hit the refiner hard and left it hostage to the higher-priced Brent crude index. Since that time, PES has been dealing with a substantial debt burden.
Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa released a memorandum produced by his energy policy staff who analyzed recent claims made by opponents of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), including Philadelphia Energy Solutions (PES), which attributed its recent bankruptcy filing in part to the RFS. The analysis finds that the biofuels blending requirement and the cost of Renewable Identification Number credits (RINs), a compliance mechanism designed for flexibility, have little to do with the success of refineries and were not significant factors in the PES bankruptcy. The Grassley analysis reached similar conclusions as those of multiple recent studies, including multiple by the University of Pennsylvania’s Kleinman Center for Energy Policy
Surrounded by mountains in a remote part of southwestern China, Xinguangan’s first large-scale, modern pig farm is getting ready to produce its first offspring.By the end of the year, 10,000 sows will live inside two huge barns on this 73-hectare (180-acre) site, producing up to 280,000 piglets annually, or about 20,000 tonnes of pork.The farm, big even by American standards, is one of a record number of large-scale projects that will be built in China this year as it shifts a big chunk of its pork production from backyard pig pens to automated, intensive hog barns of the kind widely used in the United States.Some in the industry estimate it could build several hundred sow farms with about 5,000-8,000 head this year, even more than last year, accelerating the transformation of the world’s biggest pork industry.
Bad things tend to happen when the ground isn’t covered, Johnson said, so it is important to do practices such as no-tilling, growing cover crops, leaving the stover or managing the grazing. By keeping soil covered, it protects the soil from wind, rain and temperature fluctuations.“When those intense rainfall events come and the ground is not covered, we can see mud running down the ditch and we know there are nutrients in that mud,” Johnson said. “We are giving our topsoil away when we let it wash away.”Armoring the soil will reduce evaporation.
Global food prices dipped in August, mainly as the prospect of bumper cereal harvests pushed up expectations for larger grain inventories. The FAO Food Price Index declined 1.3 percent from July, averaging 176.6 points in August.The drop was largely driven by a 5.4 percent decline in the FAO Cereal Price Index, reflecting a sharp fall in wheat prices as the outlook for production in the Black Sea region improved.FAO raised its forecast for global cereal production to 2 611 million tonnes, an all-time record. Worldwide stocks of cereals are also expected to reach an all-time high by the close of seasons in 2018
Oregon’s top federal prosecutor said Friday the state has a “formidable” problem with marijuana overproduction that winds up on the black market and that he wants to work with state and local leaders and the pot industry to do something about it. U.S. Attorney Billy Williams convened the unprecedented summit of influential federal law enforcement representatives, state officials and marijuana industry scions after Attorney General Jeff Sessions withdrew an Obama administration memo that had guided states with legalized weed on how to avoid federal scrutiny.
But the decline of dairy is not just a loss of landscape and heritage; it is a real economic loss too. Few people realize that the economic impact of one dairy farm goes far beyond the farm lane. In many cases, a dairy will have several full-time employees representing multiple families’ incomes, but it goes even beyond employee salaries. A dairy almost always has a plumber or electrician on speed dial, a veterinarian they regularly have out, a nutritionist they consult, a feed or seed salesman, the trucking company that hauls the milk, and on and on. That one farm is like a hub that supports other businesses in the community. While the loss of one farm won’t bankrupt these other businesses, the loss of many will.
Bills introduced last week in the Kansas House and Senate would require countywide public votes on large-scale poultry project proposals like the one Tyson Foods abandoned amid public opposition in Tonganoxie. Rep. Jim Karleskint, R-Tonganoxie, and Sen. Tom Holland, D-Baldwin City, said the bills would expand to poultry operations existing state law allowing public scrutiny of hog and dairy facilities.
Back in October, the Environmental Protection Agency placed dicamba on its list of restricted use pesticides, which means it now has to address some specific requirements. Among those are that dicamba may not be applied except either by the manufacturer of the product or by someone trained to use it correctly. (Monsanto has long claimed that any drifting, and destruction caused thereof, is the fault of those applying it incorrectly. Farmers have replied that the instructions for applying dicamba are incredibly difficult to follow.) As part of those requirements, Monsanto has set up a schedule of free training sessions across the country, which anyone wishing to apply dicamba legally must attend. Those sessions last about 90 minutes, according to Successful Farming. It seven of the states where dicamba is legal—Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, Indiana, Missouri, Mississippi, and Tennessee—trainings have to be done by the state, but in the other 26 states that allow it, Monsanto is running the sessions.
China’s Commerce Ministry said Sunday that it initiated an anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigation after preliminarily finding that heavy volumes and low prices of American exports of sorghum, bolstered by U.S. government subsidies, hurt Chinese growers. In announcing the action, the Commerce Ministry didn’t mention the Trump administration’s recent ruling to place tariffs on imports of Chinese solar panels. Chinese officials have told representatives of U.S. businesses that Beijing is preparing tit-for-tat measures to retaliate if trade is affected by President Donald Trump’s “America First” agenda.The U.S. is also in the midst of studies and processes that would impose penalties involving China on intellectual property and trade in steel and aluminum.