Jim Lane Biofuels Digest — October 12, 2009

In Washington, the EPA said that “nearly all” US ethanol plants will qualify as “major emitters” of greenhouse gases and be required to obtain Title V permits, under new proposed EPA regulations.

The new rule, proposed by EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson after a landmark 2007 Supreme Court ruling permitting EPA to classify and regulate CO2 as a pollutant, requires emitters of more than 25,000 tons of CO2 to obtain new EPA permits at time of construction or modification.

The EPA said that 86 facilities would qualify as major emitters, and only 38 plants with capacities under 40 Mgy would be exempted, but said that new data suggests that the overall final number of plants could be higher.

The agency said that it would have a final number after emitters commenced reporting data to the EPA on January 1, 2010.

The bad news for ethanol innovation in the US contrasted with good news on energy efficiency, where a University of Nebraska study concluded that E85  that higher ethanol blends increase engine efficiency by improved energy conversion by up to 14 percent, compared to E10.

Researchers said that the variables in comparing E85, E10 and straight gasoline were not only the BTUs in the fuel, but the energy efficiency and cost of the fuel. The researchers found that “Specific vehicles may test out differently based on engine design and settings, but increased efficiency from ethanol blends make sense, and for the fuel prices we looked at in the study, e85 was the best choice every time.”