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Energy News

Is This the Tipping Point For Electric Cars?

Bloomberg | Posted on September 9, 2016

Making an electric car is easy. We’ve been doing it for more than a century. Charging them, however, is tough. It requires infrastructure—a grid on the grid—and presents a chicken-egg conundrum: Who wants a plug-in car when there’s nowhere to plug it in? Who wants to build car chargers, when there aren’t enough cars to charge?  Rest easy, Tesla-heads and Nissan Leaf geeks; we’re finally getting there. The number of charging stations in the U.S. has reached a critical mass. The U.S. Department of Energy says there are now 14,349 electric vehicle charging stations nationwide, comprising almost 36,000 outlets. Meanwhile, electric vehicle owners still do most of their charging at home outlets that aren't included in that tally, according to the agency. Silicon Valley-based ChargePoint, which operates one of the nation's largest charging networks, just announced that it now has 30,100 outlets to plug in a vehicle in the U.S.—roughly double the number of McDonald’s restaurants in the country. Tesla Motors, meanwhile, has 294 supercharger stations where travelers can top off their batteries quickly and another 2,906 destination chargers at such places as wineries and luxury hotels.

Could big changes be in store for ethanol mandate and Renewable Fuel Standard?

The Log | Posted on September 9, 2016

One presidential candidate reportedly sought advice from a California agency of how to alter the national Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), which sets mandates on the supply of ethanol in our gasoline. Meanwhile the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was called out in a federal report for failing to meet its statutory reporting requirements under the RFS. Both events in August add fuel to the flames of an already divisive topic pitting certain biofuel producers against consumers – such as boaters – who say ethanol is bad for their engines.

Grid study finds new transmission could further cut costs, emissions

Midwestern Energy News | Posted on September 9, 2016

A recent study highlighting the renewable energy capacity of the eastern power grid found adding new transmission capacity can help further cut costs and emissions.  the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) found the grid serving the eastern half of the U.S. is technically capable of integrating enough wind and solar power into the system to meet 30 percent of the region's yearly energy needs. But one major obstacle to the large-scale use of renewables remains: getting the best wind resource from the Midwest to the East, where the power is needed.

Judge Puts Hold on Plan to Open California Lands to Fracking

ABC News | Posted on September 8, 2016

A federal judge on Tuesday tentatively rejected a plan by the federal Bureau of Land Management to open more than 1,500 square miles of lands in central California to oil drilling and fracking.  The BLM failed to take a "hard look" at the environmental effects of the estimated 25 percent of new wells that would be devoted to fracking, U.S. District Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald wrote in the ruling. The process, formally known as hydraulic fracturing, uses high-pressure mixtures of water, sand and chemicals to extract oil and gas from rock.  Fitzgerald ruled that the BLM must provide more study on the effects fracking will have in the area. He gave the agency's attorneys until Sept. 21 to argue why he should not issue an injunction stopping the plan.

Ohio University receives $2 million grant for coal-impacted communities

Morgan County Herald | Posted on September 8, 2016

Ohio University has received a $2 million grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission’s Partnerships for Opportun­ities and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) program to create a 28-county regional innovation network in Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky.  The goal of the program is to create 125 new businesses and 1,110 jobs and raise $25 million in company investments from public and private sources over the next six years. Ohio University’s Innovation Center, an incubator for small high-tech businesses, and partners from across the tristate region will work collaboratively on the Leveraging Innovation Gateways and Hubs Toward Sustainability (LIGHTS) program to provide expertise, training and resources to the regional workforce, entrepreneurs, companies and local communities.

Ohio Supreme Court strikes down challenge to wind-farm approval

The Columbus Dispatch | Posted on September 8, 2016

The Ohio Supreme Court has rejected a challenge of the way state officials approved a wind farm in Champaign County.  In a unanimous ruling released on Wednesday, the court found that the Ohio Power Siting Board was proper in the way it approved revisions to a proposal for the Buckeye I wind farm. But there remains a separate pending appeal that is delaying construction of the project.

New York proposes updated fuel regulations allowing for E15

Ethanol Producer Magazine | Posted on September 8, 2016

On Aug. 24, the New York Department of Agriculture and Markets published a proposed rule in the New York State Register proposing to update the statement’s fuel regulations to allow for the sale of E15 in model year 2001 and newer vehicles.  In addition for allowing for the sale of E15 blends, the proposed rule also includes a provision that will require ethanol blends to comply with certain labeling requirements required by federal regulation. The proposal states retailers “must post the octane rating of [all] automotive gasoline, except gasoline-ethanol blends containing more than 10 percent and not more than 15 percent ethanol by volume.” This must be accomplished by “putting at least one label on each face of each gasoline dispenser through which” gasoline is sold. If two or more kinds of gasoline with different octane ratings are sold from a single dispenser, the retailer must but separate labels for each kind of gasoline on each face of the dispenser. In addition, the proposed rule will require automotive gasoline to meet updated ASTM International standards.

EPA to shut some Oklahoma wastewater wells after quake | Posted on September 7, 2016

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will order wastewater disposal wells shut near the epicenter of a 5.6 magnitude earthquake that struck on Saturday around Pawnee, Oklahoma.  The quake was one of the strongest ever to hit the state and prompted its oil and gas regulator, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, to order 37 disposal wells shut in a 725-square-mile (1,878-sq-km) area around Pawnee.  It also asked the EPA to help shut disposal wells in a 211 square-mile (546.49-sq-km) area of Osage County because the OCC lacked jurisdiction there.

RI sues 34 oil companies for contaminating groundwater with MTBE

Providence Journal | Posted on September 7, 2016

 The state has filed suit in federal court against nearly three dozen oil companies for contaminating groundwater with the gasoline additive MTBE that was used to boost engine performance until it was banned in Rhode Island in 2007.  The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court by Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin and the Department of Environmental Management seeks to recover the cleanup costs associated with MTBE, methyl tertiary butyl ether, which has leaked from underground storage tanks and contaminated groundwater supplies and soils in Rhode Island.  The most notable case was the contamination of drinking water in Burrillville, which resulted in the closure of wells in 2001. Despite the state ban in 2007, new instances of contamination continue to be found in Rhode Island because MTBE persists in the environment, according to the lawsuit.

Oil downturn ripples through city finances in New Mexico

CNBC | Posted on September 7, 2016

Hard times are turning more worrisome for cities and small towns in the heart of New Mexico oil and natural gas territory as state officials contemplate reclaiming dollars pledged to local construction projects to help fill a budget gap.  New Mexico is confronting a $458 million budget shortfall this fiscal year because of weak prices in the oil and natural gas sectors and slow growth in other areas of the economy.  State finance and legislative officials have begun compiling a list of incomplete public works projects that might be deauthorized. City governments in oil country, meanwhile, are contending with deficits of their own linked to plunging gross receipts taxes on sales and business services.