BP goes on the offensive and plays defense in two news stories yesterday. First, we learn that BP Products North America Inc. has agreed to pay $161 million for "pollution controls, enhanced maintenance and monitoring, and improved internal management practices" because of Clean Air Act violations committed at a Texas refinery. The EPA's Catherine McCabe said that, "BP failed to fulfill its obligations under the law, putting air quality and public health at risk."

Maybe the $45 million that BP (along with another $45 million from partner Verenium Corp.) is putting into a new cellulosic ethanol commercializaion project will result in better headlines. The new joint venture company will seek to create the biofuel from non-food feedstocks at a commercial-scale plant coming to HIighlands County, Florida. Construction there should start in 2010 and cost somewhere between $250 million and $300 million. If all goes well, the ethanol should start flowing in 2012. These dates are slightly later than previously indicated.

[Source: EPA, Boston Globe]

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