Renewable fuel regs delay hampers LSU initiative

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s confusing guidelines for what kinds of energy cane qualify as cellulosic fuel are hampering efforts to promote the use of energy cane, according to an LSU AgCenter researcher.

Donal Day, a professor at the AgCenter’s Audubon Sugar Institute in St. Gabriel, told Bloomberg News he has no idea what the EPA’s thinking is or where the agency is getting its numbers. Day has a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant to help develop and promote the use of energy cane, a high-fiber, low-sugar sugar cane that makes a better fuel source.

The EPA has said its guidelines were the result of requests from the producers of energy cane and competitive crops, and refiners.

The EPA was supposed to issue the rules for the amount of ethanol, biodiesel and other petroleum alternatives refiners must blend into motor fuels in November. The delay is complicating refiners’ task, as well as the companies involved in making renewable fuels and investors for proposed plants. And lobbyists told Bloomberg a tight Senate race in Iowa is part of the delay, with the White House looking to increase the amount of ethanol required to help Democratic Bruce Braley.