US court upholds RFS blending targets for 2020-22

  • : Biofuels, Emissions, Oil products
  • 24/05/14

A federal appeals court has affirmed biofuel blending requirements for 2020-22 under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), rejecting lawsuits from refineries and renewable fuel producers challenging the standards.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) acted within its authority in the rule when it revised the biofuel blending targets to account for small refinery exemptions it expected it would award in the future, the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit said today in a 2-1 ruling. The court rejected a complaint by refineries that argued EPA could only revise the annual biofuel blending targets based on exemptions it had already approved in the past.

"The statute does not confine EPA to the Refiner Petitioners' preferred method of accounting for small refinery exemptions," DC Circuit judge Cornelia Pillard wrote on behalf of the majority. "EPA's choice to account for them both retrospectively and prospectively is not arbitrary or capricious."

The ruling leaves intact a 2022 rule that required renewable fuel blending to increase to 20.63bn USG by 2022, up from 17.13bn USG in 2020. For the first time under the RFS, the rule used a new formula that tried to avoid a recurrent issue under which EPA failed to account for upcoming requests from small refineries for exemptions from the RFS.

EPA has subsequently decided to start denying all small refinery exemptions, under a new argument that small refiners do not face a disproportionate hardship from complying with the RFS. But if the courts throw out that finding in a pending lawsuit, the formula at issue in today's court ruling could take on a greater relevance for how EPA accounts for small refinery exemptions when setting biofuel blending targets.

The DC Circuit rejected a separate lawsuit by cellulosic ethanol producers that said EPA should have required increased blending of cellulosic ethanol, based in part on the availability of carryover compliance credits. The court found EPA had adequate authority to waive volumetric targets set by the US Congress in 2007 based on its finding there were inadequate domestic supplies of the fuel, which is produced from plant fibers.

Judge Gregory Katsas, who dissented from the ruling, said he believed the biofuel blending requirements for 2022 were set "arbitrarily high." Katsas cited EPA's finding that those standards would impose an estimated $5.7bn in additional costs for fuel but only deliver $160mn in energy security benefits. Katsas also faulted EPA for increasing the biofuel blending targets by 250mn USG in 2022 to "cancel out a legal error" from biofuel blending targets in 2016. Katsas said there was no authority to transfer volume requirements from one year to another.


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24/06/14

Venezuela to require appointments at some gas stations

Venezuela to require appointments at some gas stations

Caracas, 14 June (Argus) — Venezuelan drivers will need to schedule appointments in order to purchase gasoline from retail outlets selling government subsidized fuel, oil minister Pedro Tellechea told Argus on Friday. The subsidized gasoline is still inexpensive, at 2¢/liter, and plentiful, Tellechea said, despite drivers often waiting in line for hours for the fuel. But under a plan to modernize the stations selling the subsidized gas with new pumps and flat screen monitors, an appointment system will soon be required for purchases. Venezuela raised gasoline prices to 50¢/liter in 2020, to what the government has called a "international price," but then set aside stations meant just for members of the ruling party and other groups, where they could buy gasoline for much less. Today about 60pc of the country's 1,800 retail gas stations sell at unsubsidized prices. Half of Venezuela's gas stations will be refurbished this year, with pumps that can fill up an SUV in 20 seconds, supply 700 vehicles a day, and accept all forms of payment, Tellechea told reporters at a model station in Altamira, east Caracas, on Friday. "There aren't in South America gas stations right now just like the ones you are seeing today," he said. "Drivers won't have to wait in line at subsidized stations, they will have their appointments programmed to the second." Tellechea said Venezuelans are now using 95,000 b/d of gasoline but he declined to say how much is being produced domestically. Tallecha said oil production was growing, reaching "above 950,000 b/d" on Friday, but that included about 40,000 b/d of condensates and natural gas liquids. By Carlos Camacho Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

Brazil's B4 carbon market sells first offsets


24/06/14
24/06/14

Brazil's B4 carbon market sells first offsets

Sao Paulo, 14 June (Argus) — Brazil's fledgling B4 carbon market approved forest conservation organization SOS Vida Silvestre to issue the first offsets for trading on its platform. SOS Vida Silvestre focuses on preserving forest in the Atlantic Rainforest in Rio de Janeiro state and on reducing wildlife fatalities on highways. The organization issued 5mn t of CO2 equivalent (CO2e) of biodiversity offsets and will use the revenues from the sale to expand its conservation efforts. The offsets were trading at R53.97 ($10.02) each today. B4 is analyzing an additional 15.8mn t CO2e in offsets from other entities and has 73 companies that are in the process of listing offsets on the exchange. The exchange uses blockchain technology, which it argues can offer more accurate carbon offset traceability, increasing reliability of the market. Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

Q&A: Phillips 66 to balance fossil and renewable fuels


24/06/14
24/06/14

Q&A: Phillips 66 to balance fossil and renewable fuels

Houston, 14 June (Argus) — With Phillips 66's Rodeo, California, refinery expected to ramp up to over 50,000 b/d of renewable fuels production by the end of this quarter, all eyes are on the refiner for what is next. Zhanna Golodryga , executive vice president of emerging energy and sustainability for Phillips 66, talked to Argus at the refiner's Houston headquarters about how the company looks at investments, its focus on sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) production and why Texas might be the Silicon Valley of the energy transition. The conversation has been edited for clarity and length. When Rodeo reaches full capacity, it will represent about 3pc of your overall output. What will your fleet look like longer-term and what will be the renewables/petroleum split? Not all the refineries in our portfolio are created equal, and when we look at them what I call them is "lower-carbon energy hubs". Not low, lower, because it's going to be a combination of everything. We're looking at the assets we have in the portfolio and what we can do to help bring in lower carbon solutions and what can we build out. Our focus is going to continue to be SAF. We understand the limitations of feedstocks and we have a very strong commercial organization that is now working on providing feedstocks just for Rodeo. But we're also thinking about what we can do to bring in different feedstocks. Energy transition opportunities aren't going to replace our traditional fossil fuel refining. It's an "and", not an "or". You've highlighted a future focus on SAF. Does that mean a move away from renewable diesel (RD)? I think we have flexibility to do both and it will be market driven going forward. We have to look at demand but there is demand for SAF globally, not just in the US. Demand for gasoline is not as strong as demand for diesel and sustainable aviation fuel. That is what our focus is and then we want to diversify the feedstock. What is your outlook for RD? I think RD is here for quite some time. It's hard to predict what's going to happen by 2050 but I think we will have the demand. It's going to take a long time to electrify all future transportation. I think we have a much better opportunity for now to focus on what we're really good at. That's fuels, renewable fuels. You have faced activist investor pressure calling for Phillips 66 to focus on its core refining business. How do investors feel about the Rodeo conversion and your future plans? We have taken a pragmatic approach to the energy transition. We have criteria that we follow prior to taking any projects over the line, specifically the energy transition type projects. They must meet five key prerequisites: the right returns, the right technology that has been proven at scale, the right regulatory environment, preferably involve a partnership and be done at the right time. We have to prove with Rodeo that this is, as I call it, our license to continue to grow the business. This is our license to operate additional energy transition business. This one is going to be done extremely well. What are the policy tailwinds and headwinds to your renewables investments? When we look at our opportunities in our energy transition portfolio, we are building our economic model for them to produce the right returns without any incentives. That is our starting point. On the other hand, the IRA [US Inflation Reduction Act] has been a bipartisan initiative and we think it's going to stand for the greater good of the planet. We have to think globally, as we have the Humber refinery in the UK. It's interesting for us to see what's possible in the US with the IRA incentives, versus more of a stick in Europe. But the challenge for us is permitting and timing. We probably could have brought Rodeo online sooner if we didn't have to wait for some permits. Our headquarters are in Texas and Texas is the "energy transition Silicon Valley". I'm repeating someone's words and those are the words of Bill Gates. But I believe that. We're perfectly positioned on the Gulf coast to go to the next phase and build something here. You've mentioned Phillips 66's 265,000 b/d Sweeny refinery in Old Ocean, Texas, as a low carbon energy hub. Does that mean it is a candidate for renewable fuel conversion or co-processing? It could be an option, maybe not at Sweeny, but in the Gulf coast, maybe Lake Charles. It's driven by our hardware, just like what we've done at Rodeo. By Nathan Risser Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

S Africa's ANC, DA agree to form government


24/06/14
24/06/14

S Africa's ANC, DA agree to form government

Cape Town, 14 June (Argus) — South Africa's African National Congress (ANC) and Democratic Alliance (DA) political parties today agreed to form a government while the first sitting of the new parliament was underway. The agreement, which includes the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), paves the way for ANC leader Cyril Ramaphosa to be re-elected president. The parties will assume various positions in government broadly in proportion to their share of seats. The government of national unity (GNU) agreement is the result of two weeks of intense negotiations after the ANC lost its long-held majority in the national election on 29 May. It secured 40.2pc of the vote, and the centre-right, pro-market DA retained its position as the official opposition with 21.8pc. The deal scuppers the possibility of an alliance between the ANC and the two largest left-wing parties, MK (uMkhonto weSizwe) and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), which credit ratings agency Fitch warned could pose risks to macroeconomic stability . MK party unseated the EFF in the election to come third, winning 14.6pc of the vote. The EFF secured 9.5pc, and the IFP came a distant fifth with 3.85pc. The MK and EFF are populist parties that campaigned on agendas including wide-scale land expropriation without compensation, nationalisation of economic assets — including mines, the central bank and large banks and insurers — halting fiscal consolidation and aggressively increasing social grants. The GNU parties agreed the new administration should focus on rapid economic growth, job creation, infrastructure development and fiscal sustainability. Other priorities include building a professional, merit-based and non-partisan public service, as well as strengthening law enforcement agencies to address crime and corruption. Through a national dialogue that will include civil society, labour and business, parties will seek to develop a national social compact to enable South Africa to meet its developmental goals, they said. The GNU will take decisions in accordance with the established practice of consensus, but where no consensus is possible a principle of sufficient consensus will apply. By Elaine Mills Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

Little progress on UN carbon markets at Bonn talks


24/06/14
24/06/14

Little progress on UN carbon markets at Bonn talks

Bonn, 14 June (Argus) — Negotiations in Bonn, Germany, on the future UN carbon markets closed yesterday evening with little progress, five months before the UN Cop 29 climate conference in Baku, Azerbaijan, in November. Negotiation texts on carbon market rules under both Article 6.2 and 6.4 of the Paris climate agreement, passed at the end of the Bonn UN climate talks, still included a range of options and a significant amount of bracketed text, which marks as yet undecided wording. Disagreement persists on issues touching on the registries for credits under both mechanisms, information disclosure requirements along the credit-generating process, and the timing and scope of credit authorisation, including the extent to which this authorisation might be revoked. One proposed option would allow host countries to transfer Article 6.4 emissions reductions credits that have been authorised, and therefore become so-called internationally transferred mitigation outcomes (Itmos), to the international or national registries for activities in the more informal market segment under Article 6.2. Some parties, including the US, were heard to oppose this option on grounds of "integrity", given that Article 6.2 is based on bilateral agreements between states and not strictly speaking a carbon crediting mechanism. Another option in the Article 6.2 negotiation text, upheld by several potential host countries, allows either participating party "to change and/or revoke the authorisation of Itmos at any time". One option also calls for bilateral agreements themselves to be subject to authorisation, not just the Itmos generated subsequently. Switzerland, a frontrunner on Article 6.2, has adopted the approach of authorising the actual co-operative agreements. Environmental non-governmental organisation Carbon Market Watch (CMW) today commended the stronger focus on the crucial role of transparency during the Bonn talks, with negotiating parties tasking UN climate arm the UNFCCC with developing a code of conduct on "treating and reviewing" information they classify as confidential about their trade agreements, although it remains to be seen how ambitious the code of conduct will be, CMW said. On the UNFCCC-regulated market mechanism under Article 6.4, which will broadly replace the clean development mechanism under the Kyoto Protocol, there is hope that the supervisory body will solve outstanding issues in the meetings it has lined up before Cop 29. These include the methodologies underpinning permitted credits and how to deal with credits generated by carbon removal activities. The Bonn talks also saw a push for a verdict on the eligibility of carbon credits generated by emissions avoidance activities. But countries ended up sticking to the position agreed at Cop 28 to postpone a decision on the issue until 2028. "Completing the remaining elements on Article 6 in Baku will unlock further funding for national climate plans and adaptation," the UNFCCC said today. By Chloe Jardine Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

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