Biden administration leans on Tesla for guidance in renewable fuel policy reform

Biden administration leans on Tesla for guidance in renewable fuel policy reform
The Biden administration contacted Tesla on its first day in office (Shutterstock)
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Updated 23 June 2022

Biden administration leans on Tesla for guidance in renewable fuel policy reform

Biden administration leans on Tesla for guidance in renewable fuel policy reform

US President Joe Biden rarely mentions electric car maker Tesla Inc. in public. But privately his administration has leaned on the company to help craft a new policy to allow electric vehicles to benefit from the nation’s lucrative renewable fuel subsidies, according to emails reviewed by Reuters.

The Biden administration contacted Tesla on its first day in office, marking the start of a series of meetings on the topic between federal officials and companies linked to the EV industry over the months that followed, according to the emails.

The administration’s early and extensive outreach reflects that expanding the scope of the US Renewable Fuel Standard to make it a tool for electrifying the nation’s automobile fleet is one of Biden’s priorities in the fight against climate change.

The RFS, which dates back to 2005, is a federal program that requires transportation fuel sold in the United States to contain a minimum volume of renewable fuels. Until now, it has been primarily a subsidy for corn-based ethanol.

The White House’s outreach to Tesla also shows that, despite a public grudge match between Biden and Tesla founder Elon Musk, the Biden team tried early on to involve the carmaker in one of its key policy pushes. Biden has set a target to make half of all new vehicles sold in 2030 zero-emissions vehicles.

The US Environmental Protection Agency, which administers the RFS, is expected to unveil proposed changes to the policy sometime this year, defining new winners and losers in a multibillion-dollar market for credits, known as RINs, that has supported corn growers and biofuels producers for more than a decade.

Early signs are that the administration is leaning toward a rule that benefits carmakers like Tesla, giving them the greatest access to so-called e-RINS, or electric RINs. But the reform could also spread the subsidy to related industries too, like car charging companies and landfills that supply renewable biogas to power plants, according to industry players.

“We have heard through the grapevine that car companies are really, really going to like this rule,” said Maureen Walsh, director of federal policy with the American Biogas Council, speaking at a conference in May. But she added: “We have all been scrapping at that pile.”

The idea of including electric vehicles in the RFS has been under consideration for years, but gained steam as Biden’s transition team zeroed in on EVs as a job-friendly solution to the climate crisis.

Transport accounts for more than a quarter of US greenhouse gas emissions.

The White House did not respond to requests for comment.

The EPA said it was consulting “all interested stakeholders” in its RFS policy review.

The current RFS requires oil refiners to blend ethanol and other biofuels into the fuel pool or buy RINs from those who do. That policy has spurred an economic boom in Farm Belt states. But it has also angered environmental groups who say the extra corn production damages land and water while prolonging the era of the internal-combustion engine.

Friends of the Earth, an environmental group, has voiced disapproval over an e-RIN program. The group sees the RFS as a policy that has failed to increase production of new generation lower-carbon fuels, while also harming the environment. It also sees expanding the program as a slippery slope toward increasing the use of feedstocks for wood and wood waste, which can generate electricity.

“The RFS should be reformed to tackle giveaways for dirty corn ethanol. It shouldn’t be expanded to include new giveaways for factory farming and woody biomass,” said Friends of the Earth spokesman Lukas Ross.

Turn To Tesla 




(Shutterstock)


On the morning of Biden’s presidential inauguration in January 2021, EPA staffer Dallas Burkholder emailed a top Tesla lobbyist, Rohan Patel, to set up a meeting on how to incorporate electric cars into the RFS, according to the documents reviewed by Reuters. They scheduled a meeting for a week later, records show.

Since then, the Biden EPA has had additional meetings on the topic with Tesla, groups representing biogas producers like Waste Management Inc. and Republic Services Inc. and charging station companies like ChargePoint Holdings Inc., according to the documents.

The EPA has also set up at least one meeting with White House staff members, including climate adviser Ali Zaidi, to discuss the reforms, according to the emails.

The Biden White House has been an unapologetic supporter of the EV industry, pinning much of its climate hopes on getting more electric cars on the road. The bipartisan infrastructure bill that passed last year included $7.5 billion for new EV charging stations and Biden has sought to reinstate expired tax credits to help consumers pay for new vehicles.

Even so, Tesla’s CEO, Musk, has often been at odds with the White House, sending out harsh tweets directed at Biden. In February, Biden publicly acknowledged the role of Tesla in EV manufacturing, after Musk repeatedly complained about being ignored.

What Everyone Wants 

Tesla is seeking changes to the RFS that will allow it to earn renewable fuel credits based on kilowatt hours driven or similar metrics, according to two sources familiar with the plan. The company has also explored partnerships with biogas-producers to give them leverage in whatever market emerges from the new rule, the sources say.

Tesla did not respond to requests for comment for this story.

Members of the car-charging industry, meanwhile, are also pushing for a share.

Matthew Nelson, a lobbyist with Electrify America, a charging company trade group, wrote to the EPA in October and told them that e-RINs would do more to enable Biden’s 2030 goals of 500,000 charging stations and 50 percent EV sales than any other policy, according to the emails. He added that charging companies need the credit to compete with gasoline.

The United States currently has about 48,000 charging stations, concentrated around coastal regions, according to Department of Energy data.

Biogas producers, like landfills, also want credits, arguing they provide renewable fuel to the grid that generates the power for electric vehicles.

Biogas-derived electricity is already eligible for generating RINs. But the EPA has never approved an application from the industry because it has yet to determine the best way to trace the power entering EVs back to its origin.

In 2020, landfill gas generated about 10 billion kilowatt hours of electricity, or 0.3 percent of US utility-scale power.

“We feel that implementing the electricity program in the RFS aligns well with the Biden administration’s climate goals,” Carrie Annand, executive director of the Biomass Power Association, wrote to the EPA, according to the documents. 


Aramco sets for $44bn profit amid mixed Q2 earnings of Saudi firms: Al-Rajhi Capital 

Aramco sets for $44bn profit amid mixed Q2 earnings of Saudi firms: Al-Rajhi Capital 
Updated 14 sec ago

Aramco sets for $44bn profit amid mixed Q2 earnings of Saudi firms: Al-Rajhi Capital 

Aramco sets for $44bn profit amid mixed Q2 earnings of Saudi firms: Al-Rajhi Capital 

RIYADH: Saudi-listed companies are expected to see mixed earnings in the second quarter of 2022, amid rising oil prices, looming economic slowdown risks, and interest rate hikes, according to Al-Rajhi Capital.

The Riyadh-based financial service firm which has analyzed the performance of all industrial sectors expects the Kingdom’s oil giant Aramco to post SR164.8 billion ($44 billion) in profits in the second quarter of 2022, up 81 percent from a year earlier. It estimates the chemical giant Saudi Basic Industries Corp.’s profit to slightly slip by 1 percent to SR7.6 billion.

Apart from SABIC, petrochemical companies will see pressure on earnings, weighed down by higher feedstock costs amid stable polymer prices, the report added.

In the healthcare sector, Al Rajhi Capital forecasts leaps in performance for two major players on improved capacity utilization, as Dallah Health and Sulaiman Al Habib are expected to see a profit surge of 50 percent and 10 percent respectively.

For the cement sector, however, the outlook is negative. All companies including, but not limited to, Saudi Cement, Southern Cement, and Yamama Cement are expected to see a drop in profit due to lower cement volumes.

The investment bank’s forecast for Saudi Telecom Co., known as stc, revealed an 8-percent increase in net profit, reaching SR3.07 billion.


Saudi non-oil sector sees robust improvement in business condition in June: S&P Global 

Saudi non-oil sector sees robust improvement in business condition in June: S&P Global 
Updated 16 min 4 sec ago

Saudi non-oil sector sees robust improvement in business condition in June: S&P Global 

Saudi non-oil sector sees robust improvement in business condition in June: S&P Global 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has seen a robust improvement in business conditions across the non-oil sector in June, as the Kingdom steadily advances in its path of economic transition, according to the latest PMI data from S&P Global.

It said new business rose at the sharpest rate for eight months, despite evidence that intensifying cost pressures had led companies to mark up their prices. 

David Owen, Economist at S&P Global Market Intelligence, said: "Saudi Arabia's non-oil economy continued to go from strength to strength in June, with the PMI picking up to an eight-month high of 57.0 and posting well above the 50.0 no-change mark. 

He said the upturn was underlined by a robust increase in new business levels, which encouraged firms to expand their output sharply and make greater input purchases.


China plans $75bn infrastructure fund to revive economy — sources

China plans $75bn infrastructure fund to revive economy — sources
(Shutterstock)
Updated 39 min 15 sec ago

China plans $75bn infrastructure fund to revive economy — sources

China plans $75bn infrastructure fund to revive economy — sources

BEIJING: China will set up a state infrastructure investment fund worth 500 billion yuan ($74.69 billion) to spur infrastructure spending and revive a flagging economy, two people with knowledge of the matter told Reuters on Tuesday.

China’s economy has started a slow recovery from the supply shocks caused by extensive lockdowns since the second quarter, although headwinds to growth persist, including from a still subdued property market, soft consumer spending and fear of any recurring waves of infections.

The fund is expected to be set up in the third quarter, the sources said.

China has unveiled a raft of economic support measures in recent weeks, although analysts say the official gross domestic product target of around 5.5 percent for this year will be hard to achieve without doing away with its strict zero-COVID strategy.

Much of the economic support has come from fiscal stimulus to counter the impact from COVID-19 this year, with the central bank steadily easing liquidity conditions to lower financing costs.

Authorities are doubling down on an infrastructure push, dusting off an old playbook to revive the economy, pledging 800 billion yuan in new credit quota and 300 billion yuan in financial bonds for policy banks to support big projects.

Sources told Reuters that China will issue 2023 advance quota for local government special bonds in the fourth quarter, with the new quota likely bigger than 1.46 trillion yuan for 2022.

The Ministry of Finance and the National Development and Reform Commission did not immediately respond to Reuters’ requests for comment.

The cabinet has told local governments to ensure 3.45 trillion yuan in special bond issuance for infrastructure — part of the 2022 special bond quota of 3.65 trillion yuan — is completed by the end of June.

 


Oil rises as tight supply trumps recession fears

Oil rises as tight supply trumps recession fears
Updated 04 July 2022

Oil rises as tight supply trumps recession fears

Oil rises as tight supply trumps recession fears
  • OPEC misses target to boost output in June: Survey

LONDON: Oil rose on Monday as supply concerns driven by lower OPEC output, unrest in Libya and sanctions against Russia outweighed fears of a demand-sapping global recession.
Eurozone inflation hit yet another record high in June, strengthening the case for rapid European Central Bank rate increases, while US consumer sentiment hit a record low.
Brent crude rose $2.26, or 2 percent, to $113.89 a barrel by 12:47 p.m. ET (1648 GMT) after falling more than $1 in early trade. US West Texas Intermediate crude rose $2.20, or 2 percent, to $110.63, in thin volume during the US Independence Day holiday.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries missed a target to boost output in June, a Reuters survey found.
In OPEC member Libya, authorities declared force majeure at Es Sidr and Ras Lanuf ports as well as the El Feel oilfield on Thursday, saying oil output was down by 865,000 barrels per day.
Meanwhile, Ecuador’s production has been hit by more than two weeks of unrest that has caused the country to lose nearly 2 million barrels of output, said state-run oil company Petroecuador.
Adding to potential supply woes, a strike this week in Norway could cut supply from Western Europe’s largest oil producer and reduce overall petroleum output by about 8 percent.
“This backdrop of mounting supply outages is colliding with a possible shortage in spare production capacity among Middle Eastern oil producers,” said Stephen Brennock of oil broker PVM, referring to the limited ability of producers to pump more oil.
“And without new oil production hitting markets soon, prices will be forced higher.”

British PM
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday called on the OPEC+ producer group to produce more oil to tackle a cost-of-living crisis.
Brent crude has come close this year to topping the 2008 record high of $147 a barrel after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine added to supply concerns.
Soaring energy prices on the back of bans on Russian oil and reduced gas supply have driven inflation to multi-decade highs in some countries and stoked recession fears.


Egypt In-Focus — Suez Canal’s revenues rise 20.7%; efforts on to develop sustainable transport sector

Egypt In-Focus — Suez Canal’s revenues rise 20.7%; efforts on to develop sustainable transport sector
Updated 04 July 2022

Egypt In-Focus — Suez Canal’s revenues rise 20.7%; efforts on to develop sustainable transport sector

Egypt In-Focus — Suez Canal’s revenues rise 20.7%; efforts on to develop sustainable transport sector

CAIRO: Egypt’s Suez Canal’s revenues increased 20.7 percent during the fiscal year 2021/22. The Ministry of International Cooperation has received $2.4 billion from bilateral and multilateral partners over the past two years for the development of sustainable transport sector.

Suez Canal

Suez Canal’s revenues increased by 20.7 percent during the fiscal year 2021/22, compared to the year earlier, to reach $7 billion, Asharq Al-Awsat reported citing Suez Canal Authority Chairman Osama Rabea.

Egypt’s fiscal year runs from July 1 to June 30.

Sustainable transport sector 

Egypt is working to provide development funds and technical support from multilateral and bilateral development partners in a bid to develop the transport sector, Asharq Al-Awsat reported citing the minister of international cooperation.

Rania Al-Mashat was quoted as saying that over the past two years, the ministry has received around $2.4 billion for the sustainable transport sector from the European Investment Bank, the French Development Agency, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, China, and the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development.

BNPL service

Amazon Egypt has launched its buy now, pay later fintech platform valU, as part of its commitment to enhance shopping experience in the north African country and offer customers affordable and flexible payment options.