Ethanol is an up and down industry, and right now it’s down. Ethanol plants in at least 13 states have stopped running over recent months because of higher corn prices and lower demand for the biofuel. The industry is trying to change the equation by putting more of the ethanol in gasoline.
Your local gas station may start to sell E-15, gas made of 15 percent ethanol. But while renewable fuel advocates worked for years to win federal approval for E15, even in in Corn Country the E15 pickings are slim.
Livestock producers watching their feed costs rise with corn prices are putting pressure on the Environmental Protection Agency to curb corn prices by suspending the federal ethanol mandate. The EPA is reviewing the idea and taking public comments, but it is not entirely clear whether suspending the law would actually work the way livestock producers hope.
A Danish company has built an enzyme factory in Blair, Neb., hoping to capitalize on advancements in ethanol. The company doesn't just supply conventional ethanol plants, it has developed some of the most advanced enzymes for deriving ethanol from biomass material.
Ethanol producers have been developing a way to convert biomass, the plant material that is left after harvest, to ethanol for years. Now, Kansas is poised to become the home of one of the first commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol refineries in the country.
Horizontal fracking is spurring a boom in oil and natural gas exploration across the U.S. The drilling technique has brought environmental controversy to many states, and it now appears to be bringing a new angle to the oil and gas business in Kansas, which has its own unique environmental concerns.
The federal government pays oil companies about $6 billion a year to use ethanol. That subsidy was once iron clad, but things have changed, and now Congress could cut it off as soon as the end of this month. Funny thing is, the ethanol industry says it doesn’t really care.