Car Talk

#1409: The Curly Package

Saturday, March 01, 2014

This week on Car Talk, did Howard get the special Three Stooges option on his Lincoln, or is there another reason why it sounds like Curly whenever he gets out of the car. Elsewhere, Tom got conflicting advice on his Taurus' flashing oil light, and he's wondering who's the genius, and who's the quack. So, who better to ask than two genius quacks? Also, John's Land Cruiser may need a new steering box, or his mechanic may just be looking for another John-funded trip to Vegas; and on Stump the Chumps, we find out if Betsy's truck was really spewing gas because of mud chiggers. All this, plus how one listener's attempt to solve the Puzzler resulted in a police house call, this week on Car Talk.


Transportation Nation

Biodiesel Producers Push to Raise Federal Production Limits

Monday, February 13, 2012

"Chopper gas tank"

photo courtesy National Biodiesel Board / ZimmComm

Fresh from their annual conference in Orlando, biodiesel producers say they'll need help from lawmakers to open the throttle on fuel production.

The chief executive of the National Biodiesel Board, Joe Jobe, told conference goers that boosting the federally mandated minimum volume of biodiesel slated for use next year is the single biggest challenge facing their industry.

Biodiesel is produced in the US from recycled cooking oil, rendered fats and soybean oil.

Under the Renewable Fuel Standard, or RFS, the Environmental Protection Agency sets a minimum volume of renewable fuel that refiners must blend into the national fuel supply.

For 2012 the RFS for biodiesel is one billion gallons, a volume US producers surpassed last year.

Jobe said the EPA proposed to lift that to 1.28 billion gallons in 2013, but it’s yet to approve the increase. He said a delay will harm the industry.

“Lack of growth would eliminate opportunities for innovation and competition and investment, and all the promise the RFS brings that we know our industry’s capable of,” said Jobe.

“If we lose this fight it will set a precedent that will make it even more difficult to grow volumes beyond 2013.”

Jobe said the delay in approving an increase for 2013 may be partly due to uncertainty created by Renewable Identification Number, or RIN fraud.

RINs are unique codes attached to units of renewable fuel: the EPA is currently investigating two biodiesel companies over allegations of producing invalid numbers.

Jobe said a task force is being formed to work on eliminating RIN fraud and, in spite of the controversy, the Renewable Fuel Standard has been a success, helping the US reduce its reliance on foreign oil for transportation.

The RFS does have its detractors.

Charles Drevna, of the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association, told the conference that for refiners, the RFS was not working.

“If anyone out there in the real world would have, over time, 20 per cent of your market mandated away, I don’t think you’re going to stay in business too long,” said Drevna.

In  Orlando, one of the biggest consumers of biodiesel is the Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority, Lynx.

More than 4 million gallons of biodiesel a year are pumped into the fuel tanks of Lynx's 270 buses. They run on a B20 blend: 20 per cent biomass based diesel and 80 per cent petroleum diesel, and it's blended at the main bus depot.

The blending unit was installed in 2009 at a cost of 2.5 million dollars.

Project Specialist Ricky Sonny said the investment has paid off so far, lowering fuel costs and emissions.

“In the Central Florida area it was very difficult to get the B20 biodiesel blended product,” he said.

“The thought was the biodiesel blending station would not only be able to provide biodiesel for us, for the quantity we use, but also provide for our sister agencies.”

Sonny said Lynx was the first mass transit authority in the U.S. to start blending its own biodiesel.

He said among other agencies that could start using blended biodiesel from Lynx in the future is Orange County Public Schools, which runs a fleet of more than 1000 buses.







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Transportation Nation

Senate May Drop Key Tax Credit For Biodiesel Industry

Thursday, June 24, 2010

(Washington, DC - Todd Zwillich, Transportation Nation)  The nation's truckers aren’t likely to start pumping biodiesel any time soon, by the looks of the United States Senate.  That’s because the resurrection of a big biodiesel tax credit is poised to fall victim to a larger tax and jobs bill, which failed tonight on the Senate floor.

The credit is worth $868 million over ten years to refiners who blend biofuel from soybeans, animal fats, restaurant waste oil and other sources into traditional, petroleum-based diesel.  Refiners get a one-dollar tax credit for every gallon they blend, and the savings generally go to making biodiesel more competitive with standard diesel at the pump.

Congress has extended the credit for the last few years, and it still enjoys strong support from both parties. But partisan disagreement over a broader package of tax provisions and unemployment benefits ended the credit.  At least for the time being.

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