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(The New York Times)   News: US Energy companies are fined $6.8 million for not using a specific biofuel in their gasoline and diesel blends. Fark: The ingredient, cellulosic biofuel, does not exist   (nytimes.com) divider line 104
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8359 clicks; posted to Main » on 11 Jan 2012 at 1:45 PM (2 years ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2012-01-11 02:34:58 PM

pjc51: These guys are one of my favourites - I believe they're building out their first plant in Texas at the moment. They claim to be able to produce an alternative to gasoline which can be used in existing vehicles without modification via a photosynthetic organism.


Sorry, the plant is in New Mexico, but they have an R&D plant in Texas.
 
2012-01-11 02:40:47 PM

Pochas: If subby had RTFA then he would have seen that cellulosic biolfuels do exist, and that these companies simply didn't bother to make any or to contract anybody to make any.


IT it probably that by making such fuels, the companies would lose more than $6.8 million in profits, therefore it is cheaper to just pay the fine.

PS - the fuels can be made, but only in the laboratory so far.
 
2012-01-11 02:44:39 PM
An example of good intentions having unintended consequences.
 
2012-01-11 02:47:19 PM

rwfan: r1niceboy: I did a quick search. An article in the NY Times from 2006 stated that there were 76 commercial biodiesel plants in the US. So we can assume the stuff exists, and the NY Times reporter has the same journalistic credibility as my dog.

Actually the law apparently requires something like Fischer-Tropsch or thermal depolymerization biodiesel. Which is possible but I am not sure how much is actually being produced. Anyone remember the "oil from anything" Discover magazine article?


Sorry Anything Into Oil (new window)
 
2012-01-11 02:51:41 PM

Enthusiast34: An example of good intentions having unintended consequences


But they do pave roads well, if anyone wants to go that way.
 
2012-01-11 02:51:54 PM

threadjackistan: vaderstg: threadjackistan: they wont get their acts together and make a new fuel

YEAH. You know what's worse? Those farkers also havent invented perpetual motion machines or cold fusion, so they're really on the shiat list.

And where's my personal rocket pack, damnit? its 2012!

Insult some guy on online or read the article. Like the refiners, you have chosen the easier route. The fuel exists, they just wont make any.


If I read it right, it's ridiculous to make. Like, along the lines of they lose money for every drop made. I think that's their complaint is the technology doesn't exist yet to mass produce this at a cost effective level.

Let me put it another way. Take whatever you do during the day, and imagine you couldn't break even doing it. Then the EPA comes in and says "fark you. Do it anyway or pay this fine" That's what I got from the article.
 
2012-01-11 02:56:32 PM
US energy companies could come up with $6.8 million by looking under the sofa cushions in the executive washrooms. It's an insignificant cost of doing business.

Road_Kill: PS - the fuels can be made, but only in the laboratory so far.


Iogen's demonstration plant (new window) has produced 504,771 gallons of cellulosic ethanol since 2005.
 
2012-01-11 02:57:07 PM
What the hell is the point, doesn't the gov't turn around and give them over 4 billion dollars every year?
 
2012-01-11 03:00:40 PM
I'll just say it: anyone who opposes using non-existent fuel additives to save the planet is a paid big-oil shill.

There.

/accepting an objective reality means you hate gaia.
 
2012-01-11 03:01:49 PM

jayphat: threadjackistan: vaderstg: threadjackistan: they wont get their acts together and make a new fuel

YEAH. You know what's worse? Those farkers also havent invented perpetual motion machines or cold fusion, so they're really on the shiat list.

And where's my personal rocket pack, damnit? its 2012!

Insult some guy on online or read the article. Like the refiners, you have chosen the easier route. The fuel exists, they just wont make any.



If I read it right, it's ridiculous to make. Like, along the lines of they lose money for every drop made. I think that's their complaint is the technology doesn't exist yet to mass produce this at a cost effective level.

Let me put it another way. Take whatever you do during the day, and imagine you couldn't break even doing it. Then the EPA comes in and says "fark you. Do it anyway or pay this fine" That's what I got from the article.


This is ironic because during the day I work for free as a volunteer in an office with the hopes that it will lead to gainful employment someday. But you couldn't have know that.

Maybe if the oil companies took the hit now and learned how to produced this stuff, they'd come out with a bigger profit in the long run. Much like what society is demanding that I do.
 
2012-01-11 03:03:02 PM

Quiefenburger: threadjackistan: Let me get this straight:

Fuel Refiners are complaining that they cant get a certain type of refined fuel on the open market?

They are the ones refining all the fuels. And they are getting fined because they wont get their acts together and make a new fuel that is supposed to be blended into the old fuels?

Why do I care and how is this news?

/I'd have said "in before, "durrr, da EPA is stoopid, durrrr"
//But they got here first.

That shiat may fly on the taco related crimes thread, but you can check it at the door when you wander over here.


Sorry, it's been a long week.
 
2012-01-11 03:03:03 PM

XMark: Won't somebody please think about the poor energy companies?


So because they make a lot of money and you don't care for them it's ok to hold them to regulations where complying is literally impossible?

/congress demands oil companies produce gas that yield 200% fuel to energy conversion efficiency.
//Physicists and oil companies point out that this is impossible.
///XMark: doesn't matter, suck it big oil!
 
2012-01-11 03:03:41 PM

jayphat: threadjackistan: vaderstg: threadjackistan: they wont get their acts together and make a new fuel

YEAH. You know what's worse? Those farkers also havent invented perpetual motion machines or cold fusion, so they're really on the shiat list.

And where's my personal rocket pack, damnit? its 2012!

Insult some guy on online or read the article. Like the refiners, you have chosen the easier route. The fuel exists, they just wont make any.

If I read it right, it's ridiculous to make. Like, along the lines of they lose money for every drop made. I think that's their complaint is the technology doesn't exist yet to mass produce this at a cost effective level.

Let me put it another way. Take whatever you do during the day, and imagine you couldn't break even doing it. Then the EPA comes in and says "fark you. Do it anyway or pay this fine" That's what I got from the article.

Pretty much hit the nail on the head.
 
2012-01-11 03:05:13 PM

jayphat: If I read it right, it's ridiculous to make. Like, along the lines of they lose money for every drop made. I think that's their complaint is the technology doesn't exist yet to mass produce this at a cost effective level.


that was the point i was trying to make.

More info on the topic:
www.nationalaglawcenter.org/assets/crs/RL34738.pdf
 
2012-01-11 03:06:26 PM
Obama 2012.
 
2012-01-11 03:08:52 PM

XMark: Won't somebody please think about the poor energy companies?


You mean the ones who pass along expenses to consumers? Like California, which has the highest energy costs in the country?

global.nationalreview.com
 
2012-01-11 03:09:08 PM

threadjackistan: Maybe if the oil companies took the hit now and learned how to produced this stuff, they'd come out with a bigger profit in the long run.


Now if only R&D cycles were as instantaneous in real life as they are in your head.
 
2012-01-11 03:10:58 PM

vaderstg: jayphat: If I read it right, it's ridiculous to make. Like, along the lines of they lose money for every drop made. I think that's their complaint is the technology doesn't exist yet to mass produce this at a cost effective level.

that was the point i was trying to make.

More info on the topic:
www.nationalaglawcenter.org/assets/crs/RL34738.pdf


Boo farking Hoo

With all the tax breaks they should be the ones doing the research to bring the production cost down. Making them use it themselves and fining them if they don't gives them the perfect incentive to do things more efficiently.

Dont forget, as fuel refiners, the fuel refiners are uniquely experienced when it comes to refining fuels. Who were they expecting to make this stuff? The same guy who drills up the oil?
 
2012-01-11 03:11:46 PM

Ivo Shandor: US energy companies could come up with $6.8 million by looking under the sofa cushions in the executive washrooms. It's an insignificant cost of doing business.

Road_Kill: PS - the fuels can be made, but only in the laboratory so far.

Iogen's demonstration plant (new window) has produced 504,771 gallons of cellulosic ethanol since 2005.


Or put another way, $6.8 million is probably 1% of what they spent on hookers and blow. If the fine were higher the oil companies might have found it worth it to invest in the technologies that have been mentioned earlier, they are absolutely swimming in money so they definitely could afford in. On the other hand the government shouldn't legislate a certain industry into existence. It's one thing to subsidize CO2 reducing technologies or tax carbon emitting industries but the mistake here is that they locked on to a subset of the possible technologies that could turn biomass into fuel. I just wish Bush wasn't such a god damn socialist.
 
2012-01-11 03:11:54 PM

vaderstg: threadjackistan: Maybe if the oil companies took the hit now and learned how to produced this stuff, they'd come out with a bigger profit in the long run.

Now if only R&D cycles were as instantaneous in real life as they are in your head.


Where did I imply that it would be instant?
 
2012-01-11 03:14:10 PM

threadjackistan: Maybe if the oil companies took the hit now and learned how to produced this stuff, they'd come out with a bigger profit in the long run. Much like what society is unelected liberal bureaucrats are demanding that they do.


There is no manufacturing process as cheap as mother nature already having crushed organic material into petroleum through heat and pressure. It's a simple reality (i.e., an "inconvenient truth" for the "pro-science" side of the aisle), but the work has already been done. See also, nat gas.
 
2012-01-11 03:19:13 PM

Ivo Shandor: US energy companies could come up with $6.8 million by looking under the sofa cushions in the executive washrooms. It's an insignificant cost of doing business.

Road_Kill: PS - the fuels can be made, but only in the laboratory so far.

Iogen's demonstration plant (new window) has produced 504,771 gallons of cellulosic ethanol since 2005.


230 gallons per day! That should easily be enough. We are saved!!!
 
2012-01-11 03:20:06 PM

StanTheMan: threadjackistan: Maybe if the oil companies took the hit now and learned how to produced this stuff, they'd come out with a bigger profit in the long run. Much like what society is unelected liberal bureaucrats are demanding that they do.

There is no manufacturing process as cheap as mother nature already having crushed organic material into petroleum through heat and pressure. It's a simple reality (i.e., an "inconvenient truth" for the "pro-science" side of the aisle), but the work has already been done. See also, nat gas.


Unelected liberal bureaucrats do not pass laws.
 
2012-01-11 03:21:09 PM
I thought liberals were open minded and rational and loved science. Hell, I've become terribly liberal in my formative years, with sizable economic exceptions now and then.

This thread is nothing but authoritarian jackasses delighting in punishing boogeyman companies with bad regulation. You guys are a lawyer's wet dream for a jury.
 
2012-01-11 03:26:55 PM

StanTheMan: threadjackistan: Maybe if the oil companies took the hit now and learned how to produced this stuff, they'd come out with a bigger profit in the long run. Much like what society is unelected liberal bureaucrats are demanding that they do.

There is no manufacturing process as cheap as mother nature already having crushed organic material into petroleum through heat and pressure. It's a simple reality (i.e., an "inconvenient truth" for the "pro-science" side of the aisle), but the work has already been done. See also, nat gas., I am a jackass that changes what people people say to enhance my own agenda


Please bold the entire altered portion of quotes. To only do partly makes you look dishonest.

Unelected Liberal bureaucrats didn't slash the budgets that laid off all the people who's jobs I now do for free. But you sure made it out like that's who I was talking about when I told my personal anecdote. You also deleted the anecdote entirely. The fact of the matter is society expects young people to work for free now so that they might be allowed to make more money later. Why should corporations not feel the same burden?

Also, oil is waaaay to valuable to squander as a transportation fuel. And yet that is exactly what the drill here, drill now crowd wants us to do. I feel like I'm talking to Nwabudike Morgan.
 
2012-01-11 03:28:43 PM

Tiiba: How far is this technology from fruition? Three years, twenty?


I dislike trying to put this stuff in 'years', as it ultimately depends on the amount invested into research.

By my readings, I'd say 5-10 years, with 5 years being intensive investment, 10 or more being 'ignore the tech until gas prices double again'.

Pochas: If subby had RTFA then he would have seen that cellulosic biolfuels do exist, and that these companies simply didn't bother to make any or to contract anybody to make any.


Bingo. If making the biofuel was sufficiently lower and/or the penalties higher, they would have done it. As is, the penalties are cheaper than actually doing it at the moment.

At least they mentioned 'fuel' and not specifically 'ethanol', because it's possible to make 'bio-gasoline' from cellulose sources that has a higher energy density than ethanol, isn't hydroscopic, etc... Basically, an almost straight replacement for traditional gasoline, while it takes engine modifications to burn significant amounts of ethanol.

pjc51: These guys are one of my favourites - I believe they're building out their first plant in Texas at the moment. They claim to be able to produce an alternative to gasoline which can be used in existing vehicles without modification via a photosynthetic organism.


Oh, I love this idea, I'd invest in it if I had more money. Even though the risk of them going bankrupt is high - as it is for any startup.
 
2012-01-11 03:32:14 PM
Remember

Any 'fine' that is imposed simple goes to raising the price of fuel. It will be passed on.
 
2012-01-11 03:32:41 PM

rwfan: StanTheMan: threadjackistan: Maybe if the oil companies took the hit now and learned how to produced this stuff, they'd come out with a bigger profit in the long run. Much like what society is unelected liberal bureaucrats are demanding that they do.

There is no manufacturing process as cheap as mother nature already having crushed organic material into petroleum through heat and pressure. It's a simple reality (i.e., an "inconvenient truth" for the "pro-science" side of the aisle), but the work has already been done. See also, nat gas.

Unelected liberal bureaucrats do not pass laws.


No, but interpreting federal codes with extreme leeway, they write approximately 1000 pages of rules and regs published in the Federal Register per day. Like the EPA regulating C02 as a pollutant.
 
2012-01-11 03:33:44 PM

rwfan: Unelected liberal bureaucrats do not pass laws.


But they can over-regulate to the point of distorting the law from what it was ever intended. See Sacketts v. EPA that just wound up in the Supreme Court the other day. This is just another case of this stupid crap.

/Good intentions and all that
 
2012-01-11 03:48:50 PM

jayphat: threadjackistan: vaderstg: threadjackistan: they wont get their acts together and make a new fuel

If I read it right, it's ridiculous to make. Like, along the lines of they lose money for every drop made. I think that's their complaint is the technology doesn't exist yet to mass produce this at a cost effective level.

Let me put it another way. Take whatever you do during the day, and imagine you couldn't break even doing it. Then the EPA comes in and says "fark you. Do it anyway or pay this fine" That's what I got from the article.


So you're saying the fine isn't big enough.
 
2012-01-11 04:03:26 PM

Jekylman: jayphat: threadjackistan: vaderstg: threadjackistan: they wont get their acts together and make a new fuel

If I read it right, it's ridiculous to make. Like, along the lines of they lose money for every drop made. I think that's their complaint is the technology doesn't exist yet to mass produce this at a cost effective level.

Let me put it another way. Take whatever you do during the day, and imagine you couldn't break even doing it. Then the EPA comes in and says "fark you. Do it anyway or pay this fine" That's what I got from the article.

So you're saying the fine isn't big enough.


Pretty much. Whichever side you're on, this is a regulatory failure. Support the idea? The fine isn't large enough if it's cheaper for a company to pay the fine than comply with the regulation. Don't support the idea? The fine isn't large enough if the company would rather just pay it than fight to get the regulation changed.
 
2012-01-11 04:11:06 PM

Ivo Shandor: US energy companies could come up with $6.8 million by looking under the sofa cushions in the executive washrooms. It's an insignificant cost of doing business.

Road_Kill: PS - the fuels can be made, but only in the laboratory so far.

Iogen's demonstration plant (new window) has produced 504,771 gallons of cellulosic ethanol since 2005.


That is ~84,000 a year and is spit in the ocean to what this stupid regulation is asking them to produce.
 
2012-01-11 04:22:15 PM
Cellulosic ethanol is pretty worthless. You lose a third of the carbon to CO2 in the fermentation process, plus ethanol's a shiat-tastic fuel compared to gasoline. Cellulose-derived diesel is being worked on by Los Alamos National Labs, but since I'm on Fark and not elbow-deep in the glovebox, it's not going that well.

/sorry, oil companies, my bad
 
2012-01-11 04:27:13 PM

Firethorn: Tiiba: How far is this technology from fruition? Three years, twenty?

I dislike trying to put this stuff in 'years', as it ultimately depends on the amount invested into research.

By my readings, I'd say 5-10 years, with 5 years being intensive investment, 10 or more being 'ignore the tech until gas prices double again'.


The POET plant in Iowa is set to open next year. They're building it in the town my Mother-in-Law lives (Silence be Upon Her) lives in. They are co-locating at the site of one of their existing corn-to-ethanol plants, and this one will use corn cobs as the feed stock (which is kind of handy, and stores pretty well). I can't tell you for sure how well it will work (I do software, not chem) but they are putting plenty of money in it, and know a thing or two about making ethanol, so it might be a good idea.

/Or they may be fools
//Or scammers
///Or both
 
2012-01-11 04:31:17 PM
Saw this farking story yesterday.

There is a goal for 2012 to have 500,000,000 gallons of cellulose based ethanol to be produced. Last year the US was only able to make just over 8,000,000. For those without calculators that is barely 1.7% of the goal that can currently be reached.

These fines will be passed on to consumers in the higher costs of fuel.

Way to farking go EPA.
 
2012-01-11 04:50:55 PM

Road_Kill: That is ~84,000 a year and is spit in the ocean to what this stupid regulation is asking them to produce.


Yes, but it's also one plant, and a proof-of-concept one at that. It shows that the process can be scaled up beyond the laboratory bench, and Iogen is just one of the players. It's quite likely that someone else will be able to leapfrog them with a much better process based on biotechnology that wasn't available when they started (such as one based on panda poop (new window), the next-best thing to unicorn farts).
 
2012-01-11 05:19:42 PM
To summarize:

Pochas: If subby had RTFA then he would have seen that cellulosic biolfuels do exist, and that these companies simply didn't bother to make any or to contract anybody to make any.


Tiiba: Think of it as a tax break they would've had if they spent more on R&D. It's all about what you call it.

How far is this technology from fruition? Three years, twenty?


Zeno-25: Maybe the energy corporations should have put more funding into the R&D required to develop the technology the EPA created the fine to encourage them to do in the first place. The industry isn't exactly strapped for cash, after all.


r1niceboy: The tech exists to create it. They didn't. So they complain about being fined for using something they knew they had to create, but didn't. Yet the same people will complain about the unemployed not just going out and getting a job.

 
2012-01-11 05:25:02 PM
It does not exist YET. (it is still being worked on)

Of course if we fine the bejesus out of companies for not using it, it'll exist much much faster.

I"m not saying it's right or wrong, but there can be benefits.
 
2012-01-11 05:32:08 PM
More bullshiat. It does exist, just not in usable quantities.

Hmmm, I wonder is there is more to the story of why there are not sufficient quantities of the additive produced to meet demand. Is it a pure scientific issue or are fuel companies throwing up artificial barriers to prevent its production?
 
2012-01-11 05:38:59 PM
Without regulations like this, the United States would quickly resemble Somalia.

Just think how much better the nation would be if more impossible things were required by regulators.
 
2012-01-11 05:53:35 PM

jayphat: threadjackistan: vaderstg: threadjackistan: they wont get their acts together and make a new fuel

YEAH. You know what's worse? Those farkers also havent invented perpetual motion machines or cold fusion, so they're really on the shiat list.

And where's my personal rocket pack, damnit? its 2012!

Insult some guy on online or read the article. Like the refiners, you have chosen the easier route. The fuel exists, they just wont make any.

If I read it right, it's ridiculous to make. Like, along the lines of they lose money for every drop made. I think that's their complaint is the technology doesn't exist yet to mass produce this at a cost effective level.

Let me put it another way. Take whatever you do during the day, and imagine you couldn't break even doing it. Then the EPA comes in and says "fark you. Do it anyway or pay this fine" That's what I got from the article.


So if what I do is a multibillion dollar industry that I am only able to do under EPA approval, and they say "Jump", I say," Fark you, I'll just pay the chump-change fine and continue to count my money while complaining to Foxistan about the big irrational gubmint".
 
2012-01-11 05:55:42 PM

mc6809e: Without regulations like this, the United States would quickly resemble Somalia.

Just think how much better the nation would be if more impossible things were required by regulators.


And how less funny Fark would be if commenters RTFA.
 
2012-01-11 06:04:13 PM
multinational megacorporations care more about short term record breaking profits than they care about US energy independence and security as described in the energy independence and security act of 2007
 
2012-01-11 06:04:18 PM

dragonchild: raygundan: "Does not exist?" or "Does not exist in sufficient quantity because we've been dragging our feet on producing something we know perfectly well how to make because we figure the fines are cheaper than the implementation?"

Ding ding ding.

Also serves as evidence that companies are "people" that can self-regulate. Whoops, except people sometimes choose the right thing to do over the economical thing to do. Companies crunch the numbers and go with what's cheaper, every time.


You really think people are more ethical than corporations?

Seriously?
 
2012-01-11 06:33:09 PM

raygundan: "Does not exist?" or "Does not exist in sufficient quantity because we've been dragging our feet on producing something we know perfectly well how to make because we figure the fines are cheaper than the implementation?"


Came here to ask this...

/Also, what was being smoked when this law was passed and why said law, if the product does not exist, is not being retracted...
 
2012-01-11 06:37:03 PM

raygundan: "Does not exist?" or "Does not exist in sufficient quantity because we've been dragging our feet on producing something we know perfectly well how to make because we figure the fines are cheaper than the implementation?"


home.roadrunner.com

1.bp.blogspot.com
 
2012-01-11 06:54:05 PM

Ambivalence: It does not exist YET. (it is still being worked on)

Of course if we fine the bejesus out of companies for not using it, it'll exist much much faster.

I"m not saying it's right or wrong, but there can be benefits.


They are just using the small, lithe stick of a fine, rather then the usual 5000 ton carrot of subsides that we usually wave at the energy industry.

/It's like raising your voice at a spoiled little rich kid
 
2012-01-11 07:53:48 PM
So if I ramp up production of this Wonderfuel, do I get the 6.8 million?
 
2012-01-11 08:22:08 PM
So, if the process to make this 7 million gallons of this celuwhatsit fuel requires the refinery burn 100 million gallons of real fuel for the processing, heat, electricity etc. but that allows the refineries to make it and blend it into the gas that is sold to consumers then it is all good and the EPA is doing its job? Yay! Way to protect the environment you stupid hosebags. The oil company will just raise the cost of the new gas mixture by the value of the 100 million gal of burnt fuel and the consumers get to pay for smoggier air and stupid laws.
And the oil company would have met its obligation and not been fined. It's a win win for everyone right?
 
2012-01-11 11:10:18 PM

nobodyUwannaknow: multinational megacorporations care more about short term record breaking profits than they care about US energy independence and security as described in the energy independence and security act of 2007


...True, but it's not like we can do anything about it. Regulators like the EPA can either be 1.) lenient in hopes that profit-driven companies will act counter to their own immediate good to fix a long-term problem, and face criticism that the regulations are weak and ineffectual, or 2.) they can be proactive and require the industry to move in a direction that's in the interest of public good.

Actually, many states have developed tax credits for the cellulosic fuel research and development (Kentucky, for instance, offers a pretty significant kickback to anybody getting into the arena). It seems like it might be worthwhile to develop factories in a state where you would get paid to do the work, instead of paying the federal government because nothing was done. Or, at least, it could become worthwhile in the long-term.

Then again, I have scruples and no billions of dollars, and the oil industry has negative amounts of scruples and many billions of dollars.
 
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