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 Collection: Congressional Research Service Reports
Meeting the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) Mandate for Cellulosic Biofuels: Questions and Answers

Meeting the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) Mandate for Cellulosic Biofuels: Questions and Answers

Date: January 11, 2012
Creator: Bracmort, Kelsi
Description: The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) was expanded under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA; P.L. 110-140) in an effort to reduce dependence on foreign oil, promote biofuel use, and stabilize transportation fuel prices, among other goals. Over a 15-year period, the RFS seeks to establish a market for biofuels in the transportation sector by requiring that increasing amounts of biofuels-36 billion gallons by 2022-be blended into transportation fuel. The mandate is to be accomplished with an assortment of advanced biofuels, including cellulosic biofuels-fuels produced from cellulosic materials including grasses, trees, and agricultural and municipal wastes-which will ramp up over time to comprise some 44% of the RFS in 2022.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
Fukushima Nuclear Disaster

Fukushima Nuclear Disaster

Date: January 18, 2012
Creator: Holt, Mark; Campbell, Richard J. & Nikitin, Mary Beth
Description: The huge earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station on March 11, 2011, knocked out backup power systems that were needed to cool the reactors at the plant, causing three of them to undergo fuel melting, hydrogen explosions, and radioactive releases. Radioactive contamination from the Fukushima plant forced the evacuation of communities up to 25 miles away and affected up to 100,000 residents, although it did not cause any immediate deaths. Studies of the Fukushima disaster have identified design changes, response actions, and other safety improvements that could have reduced or eliminated the amount of radioactivity released from the plant. As a result, Fukushima has prompted a reexamination of nuclear plant safety requirements around the world, including in the United States.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
Alternative Fuels and Advanced Technology Vehicles: Issues in Congress

Alternative Fuels and Advanced Technology Vehicles: Issues in Congress

Date: January 19, 2012
Creator: Yacobucci, Brent D.
Description: Alternative fuels and advanced technology vehicles are seen by proponents as integral to improving urban air quality, decreasing dependence on foreign oil, and reducing emissions of greenhouse gases. However, major barriers—especially economics—currently prevent the widespread use of these fuels and technologies. The 112th Congress has debated alternative fuels and advanced technology vehicles directly and as it has addressed other key topics. On June 16, 2011 the Senate approved S.Amdt. 476 which would have eliminated the excise tax credit for blending ethanol in gasoline before its December 31, 2011 expiration date. Although the underlying legislation failed a cloture vote in the Senate, the amendment was approved 73-27. The prospects for further action increasing or extending biofuels and alternative fuels tax incentives may be limited in light of that vote.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS): Overview and Issues

Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS): Overview and Issues

Date: January 23, 2012
Creator: Schnepf, Randy & Yacobucci, Brent D.
Description: Report that describes the general nature of the biofuels RFS and its implementation, outlines some of the emerging issues related to the sustainability of the continued growth in U.S. biofuels production needed to fulfill the expanding RFS mandate, and the emergence of potential unintended consequences of this rapid expansion.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
Changes in the Arctic: Background and Issues for Congress

Changes in the Arctic: Background and Issues for Congress

Date: February 7, 2012
Creator: O'Rourke, Ronald
Description: This report gives an overview of the situation in the Arctic region. The diminishment of Arctic sea ice has led to increased human activities in the Arctic, and has heightened interest in, and concerns about, the region's future. The United States, by virtue of Alaska, is an Arctic country and has substantial interests in the region. The Arctic has increasingly become a subject of discussion among political leaders of the nations in the region. In varying degrees, the Arctic coastal states have indicated a willingness to establish and maintain a military presence in the high north. U.S. military forces, particularly the Navy and Coast Guard, have begun to pay more attention to the region.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
Keeping America's Pipelines Safe and Secure: Key Issues for Congress

Keeping America's Pipelines Safe and Secure: Key Issues for Congress

Date: February 13, 2012
Creator: Parfomak, Paul W.
Description: Nearly half a million miles of pipeline transporting natural gas, oil, and other hazardous liquids crisscross the United States. While an efficient and fundamentally safe means of transport, many pipelines carry materials with the potential to cause public injury and environmental damage. The nation's pipeline networks are also widespread and vulnerable to accidents and terrorist attack. As it oversees the federal pipeline safety program and the federal role in pipeline security, Congress may wish to assess how the various elements of U.S. pipeline safety and security fit together in the nation's overall strategy to protect transportation infrastructure. Pipeline safety and security necessarily involve many groups: federal agencies, oil and gas pipeline associations, large and small pipeline operators, and local communities. Reviewing how these groups work together to achieve common goals could be an oversight challenge for Congress.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
Financial Performance of the Major Oil Companies, 2007-2011

Financial Performance of the Major Oil Companies, 2007-2011

Date: February 17, 2012
Creator: Pirog, Robert
Description: Periods of rising oil prices can result in reduced economic growth, rising prices, and reduced disposable incomes for consumers, as well as a deteriorating trade balance. For the oil industry, periods of high oil prices generally imply increasing cash flows and higher profits. Although the U.S. oil industry is composed of many firms, to many the face of the oil industry is represented by the five major firms operating extensively in the U.S. market. These firms are ExxonMobil, Chevron, BP plc, Royal Dutch Shell plc, and ConocoPhillips. During the period 2007 to 2011, the five major companies' upstream activities of exploration and production contributed more to the total profitability of the firms than the downstream activities of refining and marketing.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
Changes in the Arctic: Background and Issues for Congress

Changes in the Arctic: Background and Issues for Congress

Date: February 27, 2012
Creator: O'Rourke, Ronald
Description: The diminishment of Arctic sea ice has led to increased human activities in the Arctic, and has heightened interest in, and concerns about, the region's future. The United States, by virtue of Alaska, is an Arctic country and has substantial interests in the region. The Arctic has increasingly become a subject of discussion among political leaders of the nations in the region. In varying degrees, the Arctic coastal states have indicated a willingness to establish and maintain a military presence in the high north. U.S. military forces, particularly the Navy and Coast Guard, have begun to pay more attention to the region.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
Biomass: Comparison of Definitions in Legislation Through the 111th Congress

Biomass: Comparison of Definitions in Legislation Through the 111th Congress

Date: March 7, 2012
Creator: Bracmort, Kelsi & Gorte, Ross W.
Description: The use of biomass as an energy feedstock is emerging as a potentially viable alternative to address U.S. energy security concerns, foreign oil dependence, rural economic development, and diminishing sources of conventional energy. Biomass (organic matter that can be converted into energy) may include food crops, crops for energy, crop residues, wood waste and byproducts, and animal manure. Most legislation involving biomass has focused on encouraging the production of liquid fuels from corn. For over 30 years, the term biomass has been a part of legislation enacted by Congress for various programs, indicating some interest by the general public and policymakers in expanding its use. To aid understanding of why U.S. consumers, utility groups, refinery managers, and others have not fully adopted biomass as an energy resource, this report investigates the characterization of biomass in legislation.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
Renewable Energy R&D Funding History: A Comparison with Funding for Nuclear Energy, Fossil Energy, and Energy Efficiency R&D

Renewable Energy R&D Funding History: A Comparison with Funding for Nuclear Energy, Fossil Energy, and Energy Efficiency R&D

Date: March 7, 2012
Creator: Sissine, Fred
Description: This report looks at the history and current status, including Congress delegated funding, of energy-related research and development of coal-based synthetic petroleum and atomic power.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department