EPA Fines Oil Firms for Failing to Do the Impossible

Wednesday, 11 Jan 2012 04:55 PM

By Martin Gould

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Oil companies are facing $6.2 million in fines from the Environmental Protection Agency for failing to do the impossible, an industry leader tells The New York Times.

The fines will be imposed because the big oil firms did not add enough of a special type of biofuel to their gasoline and diesel.

But the problem is that the necessary fuel doesn’t exist, the Times reported Wednesday, and companies must now budget for even bigger fines in 2012.

“It belies logic,” Charles Drevna, president of the National Petrochemicals and Refiners Association, told the Times.

The problem lies in the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act which was aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and reliance on overseas oil. It set goals for introducing renewable fuels, and the levels  increase each year until 2022.

But even the makers of the alternative fuels admit the industry just isn’t ready yet. Michael McAdams, executive director of the Advance Biofuels Association, told the Times that technology for turning material such as wood chips or corn cobs intro hydrocarbons – something which nature does over millions of years – is advancing but is not ready for commercial introduction.

EPA spokeswoman Cathy Milbourn told the Times the agency still believes the 2012 quota is “reasonably attainable.”

And Dennis McGinn, a member of the American Council on Renewable Energy, said that even if the standards are not met, “I am absolutely convinced from a national security perspective and an economic perspective that the renewable fuel standard, writ large, is the right thing to do.”



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