Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Obama Administration Cuts Cellulosic Ethanol Target

The Obama administration Monday conceded that cellulosic ethanol producers won't come close to hitting a congressional target to deliver 250 million gallons of fuel next year made from grasses and other vegetation not used for food.

The Environmental Protection Agency set at 6.6 million gallons the amount of cellulosic ethanol that must be blended into vehicle fuels in 2011. The EPA set the target as part of an annual process for implementing a 2007 law that orders oil companies to blend in an ever-increasing amount of renewable fuel into the gasoline and diesel supply. Overall, some 13.95 billion gallons of biofuels are supposed to be blended into motor vehicle fuels next year, accounting for about 8% of total fuel consumption. 

Congress had mandated that 250 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol be added next year, but without any large-scale commercial plants, the supply isn't available. The U.S. Energy Department has yet to approve a loan guarantee for one of the biggest planned projects, which is backed by oil company BP PLC. 

"By reducing the standard for cellulosic biofuels, EPA is accurately reflecting the difficulties cellulosic biofuel technologies have encountered in obtaining the capital needed to fully commercialize," Bob Dinneen, president of the Renewable Fuels Association, said in a statement. "However, being aware of this fact, EPA should have been and must be careful to keep cellulosic biofuel targets ambitious so as to stimulate the kind of investment these technologies need to finish commercialization." 

Refiners can't use ethanol produced from corn to make up for the shortfall in cellulosic ethanol. Only other fuels that count as advanced biofuels qualify. A total of 1.35 billion gallons of advanced biofuels must be added to the fuel supply next year. 

Congress has yet to act on extending a 45 cents a gallon tax credit for ethanol that expires at the end of the year. 

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Ask Larry: Whp does the world golf rankings?

Q: You keep talking about the world golf rankings. Who exactly puts the world golf rankings out? Is it the PGA Tour?

A:Well, the PGA Tour is involved, but only in a small way.

The Official World Golf Rankings have been around 24 years as a way to quantify what golf fans had only been able to debate subjectively for decades: who is he best player in the game?

To produce the rankings, the powers of the game had to come together to put a legitimate system together. The six golf associations that are part of the International Federation of PGA Tours (the PGA Tour, the European Tour, the Japan Tour, the Asian Tour, the Australasian Tour and the Sunshine Tour), agreed to participate. So did the four major championships of the of the game, the Masters, the U.S. Open, the British Open and the PGA Championship.

Other tours, like the Canadian Tour, are also involved.

The approval of all those organizations was needed in order to use their tournaments as events where players could gain points in the rankings. At one time, the PGA Tour alone could be used to measure the greatest of a player, and no one argued the Jack Nicklaus was the game’s best played.

By the late 1980s, with European players like Nick Faldo and Seve Ballesteros winning majors and the European tam winning the Ryder Cup, a broader, more international formula was used. Still, the PGA Tour had the biggest tournaments and the strongest, deepest field.

The system takes into consideration 104 weeks, with more recent tournaments counting more. Points are awards for finishes in tournaments, with each tournament given a certain number of points based on the strength of the field.

Of the 14 players to hold the No. 1 rankings at least one week, only four have been Americans: Woods, Fred Couples, Tom Lehman and David Duval. Woods has held the title the longest at 623 weeks over three different spans. That’s one week short of 12 full years in the 24-year history of the rankings.