Recharge Wrap-up: Fiat 500X EV spotted? Senators request biodiesel increase

Fiat Chrysler Developing CNG Vehicle With Israel

  • Image Credit: Drew Phillips
A group of 32 senators is asking the EPA to approve increased biodiesel volumes in the Renewable Fuel Standard. Delays in approving the RFS for 2014 forward is causing problems for the fuel produces affected by the law. " EPA's delays are endangering our industry," says Imperium Renewables CEO John Plaza. "Biofuel facilities around the nation are sitting idle, workers are being laid off, and some producers have been forced out of business entirely." Producers feel the EPA is underestimating domestic biodiesel production, and are concerned about importing fuel from Argentina. Read more in the press release below.

Fiat Chrysler will help Israel develop a natural gas vehicle. The automaker, along with Iveco and Magneti Marelli, signed a memorandum of understanding with Israel's Prime Minister's Office as part of the Israel Fuel Choices Initiative. They are also considering extended research and development relationship with Israeli companies for alternative fuels and smart mobility. Israel seeks to become a hub for alternative fuel technology. Read more at Hybrid Cars .

Spy photos suggest Fiat might build an electric 500X as a compliance car for California. The photos, sent by a reader to Green Car Reports, show a camouflaged Fiat 500X that appears to lack a tailpipe, suggesting it could be an EV. It was photographed on its way to Chrysler's SRT Engineering Center, which builds specialized, low-volume vehicles. The gas-powered 500X debuted in North America at the Los Angeles Auto Show last fall, so camouflage seems a bit unusual at this point if it's just a standard powertrain. It's possible the car could be sold mainly in California to comply with the state's zero-emissions requirements for automakers. Read more and see the photos at Green Car Reports.
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32 U.S. Senators urge EPA to approve increased biodiesel volumes Imperium Renewables applauds Senators' action

SEATTLE, Feb. 9, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- A bipartisan group of 32 U.S. senators, including Washington state's Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, is calling on the Environmental Protection Agency to move quickly in approving strong biodiesel volumes under the nation's Renewable Fuel Standards.

The senators expressed concern about the agency's delays in implementing the RFS standards for 2014, 2015 and 2016, noting that the delays have created tremendous uncertainty for the U.S. biodiesel industry, including Seattle-based Imperium Renewables, which operates one of the largest biodiesel refineries in the country in Hoquiam, Wash.

"Imperium is grateful for Senators Murray, Cantwell and their colleagues for holding EPA accountable on this crucial issue for American biofuel companies," said John Plaza, CEO of Imperium Renewables. "EPA's delays are endangering our industry. Biofuel facilities around the nation are sitting idle, workers are being laid off, and some producers have been forced out of business entirely."

The EPA is more than two years late in establishing biodiesel volumes under the RFS after failing to establish a requirement for 2014 and 2015. The continued uncertainty under the policy has destabilized the industry, causing many U.S. production plants to stop production and lay off employees.

The senators also pointed to a recent harmful decision by the EPA that will make importing biodiesel from Argentina, further eroding the industry, and called on the EPA to account for the anticipated increase in imports when it sets biodiesel volumes to prevent the displacement of domestic production.

Biodiesel – made from a variety of resources including canola oil, recycled cooking oil and animal fats – is produced in nearly every state in the country and supports some 60,000 jobs. According to the EPA, biodiesel reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 57 percent to 86 percent compared with petroleum diesel.

Congress established the current renewable fuel standard in 2007 to require refiners to blend increasing amounts of conventional ethanol and advanced biofuels into petroleum fuel. Biodiesel, a renewable fuel made from vegetable oils, used cooking grease and animal fats, is considered an advanced biofuel under the program.

But in November 2013, EPA proposed to set the 2014 and 2015 standards for biodiesel at 1.28 billion gallons -- a level far below previous years of production -- the biodiesel industry said underestimated its expected production. EPA ultimately never finalized the proposal, which also called for cuts to the mandates for conventional ethanol and other advanced biofuels.

In their letter, the senators also said EPA should increase the volumes for following years to take into account for a recent decision to change the requirements for Argentinean biodiesel to qualify for the program. Domestic biodiesel producers have condemned EPA's decision, charging that it would lead to increased amounts of biodiesel entering the United States.

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