ATHENS, N.Y. (AP) — With the touch of a finger on an iPod-style screen, Eric Besenfelder can monitor and troubleshoot the shiny, wood-pellet furnace that heats Athens Elementary School in the Hudson Valley.
Like the smoky, outdoor wood boilers that have proliferated in rural areas over the past 20 years, the wood furnace at Athens is housed in a shed behind the building. But that’s where the similarity ends.
The Obama administration on Friday moved to cut back the national biofuels mandate, a step that was welcomed by gasoline refiners and food groups but strongly criticized by the biofuels and farm lobby.
The Environmental Protection Agency proposed a 2014 target of about 15.2 billion gallons of biofuels blended into motor fuels under the Renewable Fuel Standard. That level, if adopted, would represent a cut of more than 1.3 billion gallons compared to 2013, or about an 8 percent reduction.
American Petroleum Institute officials say the Obama administration is moving in the right direction with its plan to slow the Renewable Fuel Standard next year but Congress should still repeal the biofuels mandate.
In announcing the 2013 requirement that refiners use a combined 16.55 billion gallons of corn-based ethanol and other biofuels, EPA on Tuesday acknowledged the market likely could not absorb the 2014 target of 18.15 billion gallons.