Center for Advanced BioEnergy Research, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Friday, May 30, 2008

Guest column: Balance all three: Food, biofuels, conservation

Des Moines Register
Guest Column by Matt Liebman is the Henry A. Wallace Endowed Chair for Sustainable Agriculture and a professor of agronomy at Iowa State University. • May 23, 2008

The controversy erupting over food and biofuel production generally overlooks the critical need to conserve and protect soil, water and wildlife. When conservation is considered, the implicit message is often this: In a hungry world, or in a fuel-deficient world, we simply can't afford the luxury of forgoing crop production by idling land for conservation purposes.But can we really afford to abandon conservation? Human history is marked by numerous examples of the consequences of ignoring conservation and pushing crop production deep into fragile lands: Soil erodes, water and air fill with sediment and dust, wildlife disappears, productivity declines and farms fail.

How then can we satisfy the increasing and apparently conflicting demands for food, renewable energy and environmental quality? The answer requires targeted conservation practices and the use of emerging technologies to produce fuels and industrial chemicals from nonfood plants that also provide conservation benefits.

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Ethanol Promotion and Information Council Announces "Fuel the Change" Video Contest Winner
Date Posted: May. 28, 2008

Omaha, NE—Consumers speaking to consumers about the benefits of using ethanol as an energy option in America; that’s the objective of a recent video contest titled “Fuel the Change,” sponsored by the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council (EPIC).

Contestants were challenged with producing a 30 second spot that focused on the advantages of using ethanol, and specifically how ethanol is benefiting the environment.

This year’s winners were Jeff Mahoney and Ryan Darnst of Los Angeles with a video titled “Corn in the USA.”

The winning video highlights the value of using renewable fuels like corn ethanol to power our lives.

This video and the four category winners can be viewed here.

“Consumers are being targeted with a tremendous amount of misinformation regarding the impact ethanol fuel production is having on our economy,” said Toni Nuernberg, executive director for EPIC.

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Biofuels: Fungus Use Improves Corn-to-ethanol Process

ScienceDaily (May 27, 2008) — Growing a fungus in some of the leftovers from ethanol production can save energy, recycle more water and improve the livestock feed that's a co-product of fuel production, according to a team of researchers from Iowa State University and the University of Hawai'i.

"The process could change ethanol production in dry-grind plants so much that energy costs can be reduced by as much as one-third," said Hans van Leeuwen, an Iowa State professor of civil, construction and environmental engineering and the leader of the research project.

Van Leeuwen and the other researchers developing the technology -- Anthony L. Pometto III, a professor of food science and human nutrition; Mary Rasmussen, a graduate student in environmental engineering and biorenewable resources and technology; and Samir Khanal, a former Iowa State research assistant professor who's now an assistant professor of molecular biosciences and bioengineering at the University of Hawai'i at Manoa -- recently won the 2008 Grand Prize for University Research from the American Academy of Environmental Engineers for the project.

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Bronson wants Washington to investigate fuel prices

Friday, May 23, 2008
Tampa Bay Business Journal

State officials are calling on Congress and the Bush Administration to launch a thorough investigation into the large fuel price increases they say are threatening both the state and federal economy as well as national security.

Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Charles H. Bronson is asking Congress to resist efforts to slow down the production of ethanol and bio-diesel because alternative fuel production is the "most effective option in assuring that fuel prices moderate and that future energy costs are affordable," a release from the state said.

Bronson wants the Bush Administration to investigate all aspects of the oil business, including production, trading by investors and speculators, and even the marketing and sale of fuel. He said that his department is being "bombarded" with calls from consumers over the rise in fuel prices, as well as the cost to cool homes, buy airline tickets and even purchase fertilizer.

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Look at positive effects of ethanol production, use

Indianapolis Star
Posted: May 28, 2008

Letters to the editor:

The finger has been pointing at ethanol lately and biofuels have been blamed for everything from increased food prices to the starvation of children in Third World countries.
Here are a few facts that should make you reconsider blaming ethanol:

In 2005, the cost of a barrel of oil was $35. Today oil is $120 per barrel.

In 2000, China's per-capita gross domestic product was $946. In 2007, it had increased by 160 percent to $2,641.

In that same time period, India's per-capita GDP increased by 113 percent, while the U.S. per-capita GDP rose by just 32 percent.

Read the full letter

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Ethanol plants to grow in popularity

Garbage to gas could drive down fuel prices, says ethanol expert
Published Saturday May 24th, 2008
By MARC HUDON Times & transcript Staff

OTTAWA - A commercial-scale ethanol plant would convert enough garbage into fuel to increase ethanol content in New Brunswick's gasoline supply to five per cent, thus reducing the price at the pumps, says an executive for an Ontario-based renewable fuels company.

Bliss Baker of GreenField Ethanol said converting discarded wood and construction materials at municipal landfills into ethanol is what's fueling the plan.

"We see opportunity where others see waste," he said.

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Frontline process turns wood residue into gas

Des Moines Register
By JERRY PERKINS • • May 24, 2008

An Ames company is working to make renewable fuel more renewable.

Using fossil fuels such as natural gas or coal to make ethanol undercuts the industry's claim that it is a renewable, environmentally-friendly fuel, critics of the industry say.

Ames-based Frontline BioEnergy hopes to refute that argument with a system that uses gases produced from wood residue to make ethanol.

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University of Illinois to Hold 'Energizing Agriculture' Agronomy Day ... Thursday, August 21

GrainNet News
Date Posted: May. 28, 2008

Urbana, IL—Thursday, August 21 has been set as the date for Agronomy Day 2008 at the Crop Sciences Research and Education Center on the Urbana campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The theme for this year's Agronomy Day is "Energizing Agriculture."

This 52nd consecutive Agronomy Day is a partnership among several academic units in the U of I's College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES).

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The World's First Verified Sustainable Ethanol Introduced
Monday, May 26, 2008

GOTHENBURG, Sweden, May 26, 2008 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ ----Swedish SEKAB today announced that it is the first company in the world to supply verified sustainable ethanol. This ethanol from Brazilian sugarcane is quality assured from environmental, climate and social perspectives.

"Consumers and other stakeholders need guarantees that the ethanol is verified sustainable," says Anders Fredriksson, EVP of SEKAB BioFuels & Chemicals.

SEKAB has together with progressive Brazilian producers developed criteria that cover the entire lifecycle of ethanol from the sugarcane fields to its use in flexi-fuel (FFV) cars.

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U.S. Ethanol Isn't Up to Brazilian Smackdown: Alexandre Marinis

Commentary by Alexandre Marinis

May 27 (Bloomberg) -- Sometimes two things look pretty much the same, like a Cartier diamond and a Home Shopping Network cubic zirconia.

There's a world of difference between the two.

The same is true of ethanol made in the U.S., mainly from corn, and ethanol from Brazil derived from sugar cane. They look the same, though that's where the similarities end between what I like to call ethacorn and ethacane.

Although ethacane doesn't produce a fraction of the negative economic, environmental and social problems that ethacorn does, as international food prices soar and environmental concerns mount, both are being thrown into the same pinata to get hammered. Ethacorn deserves the beating, not ethacane.

It's hard to know whether those wielding the sticks are just temporarily blindfolded or whether they have an interest in defending the fossil-fuel industry or the agricultural subsidies of rich nations.

There are four main arguments against the wide use of Brazilian ethacane:
-- Food prices are being driven out of sight as farmers grow more-profitable sugar cane instead of other crops.
-- Amazon rainforest is being destroyed to make way for cropland.
-- Ethacane pollutes as much or more than oil-based fuel.
-- Cane production uses the equivalent of slave labor and is morally unjust since it takes food from the mouths of the poor to put in the gas tanks of the rich.

Myth Busting: Each of these points is a myth.

Read the full commentary

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The new ethanol?
Jeanne Bernick, Farm Journal Crops & Issues Editor

Enthusiasm for an alternative fuel called biobutanol is heating up. Recent studies by DuPont and BP show it can safely be blended at a higher level than ethanol.
Biobutanol has a slightly longer hydrocarbon chain, which means it is more similar to gasoline than ethanol. The difference from ethanol production is primarily in the fermentation and distillation process—which has made it more costly to produce than ethanol in the past. Biobutanol is made using the same feedstocks (sugar cane, corn, straw, wheat and other energy crops) as ethanol.

The study indicates biobutanol could be safely blended at 16% concentration without compromising performance and without alteration to conventional vehicle engines. By contrast, ethanol is generally blended at a 10% concentration, the maximum level at which major automakers warranty its use.

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Ethanol group: Ethanol saved motorists $100 million over Memorial Day weekend

By Robert Pore
The Grand Island Independent
Posted May 26, 2008 @ 10:45 PM

As a political battle rages over the virtues of ethanol and whether it's driving up food costs, an ethanol group said American motorists are saving more than $100 million over the Memorial Day weekend.

According to the American Coalition for Ethanol, based on national rack prices published Friday, the net price of ethanol is between $1.15 and $1.30 a gallon less than unleaded gasoline, a lower cost which equals a savings to American motorists of $35 million a day and more than $100 million over the three-day weekend.

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A Glimpse of the Team Ethanol Cockpit

Domestic Fuel - Alternative Fuel News

Posted by Laura McNamara
May 24th, 2008

EPIC members got VIP access to the Team Ethanol garage today. As part of the pre-race festivities the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council sets up early morning tours for member reps. A special pass gives members privileged access and allows them to get an up close look at Team Ethanol’s two cars. Steve Wolf pointed out the defining features of the two IndyCars and described what it’s like to be behind the wheel.

Wolf said this is the first year the IRL is using paddle shifting. Until last year, IndyCar drivers had to take one hand off the wheel in order to shift gears with a stick shift. Now, they can keep both hands on the wheel while they shift with a paddle on either side of the steering wheel.

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Analysis: Indy 500 provides a bully pulpit for ethanol to preach its gospel

The Capital Times (Madison, WI)
Tim Wohlford
Correspondent for The Capital Times — 5/24/2008 9:19 am

INDIANAPOLIS -- Ethanol, once the darling of environmentalists, now finds itself under fire as food prices start to rise.

Auto racing, never the darling of that crowd, could suddenly find itself as the newest R&D lab for alternative fuels. Combine ethanol and auto racing, and you've got the Indy 500, quite possibly the ultimate proving ground, and the bully pulpit to preach the ethanol gospel.

Auto racing has always been a proving ground for new technology that is then transferred to passenger cars. The first Indy 500 is credited for bringing the world the rear-view mirror, for instance. However, in the late 1970s, auto racing became more about "the show" and much less about technology. The modern Indy 500 is run with identical leased motors that cannot be modified, as well as identical chassis and tires where precious few modifications are allowed.

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Ethanol Subsidy Is Only a Temporary Steppingstone

Wall Street Journal - Letter to the Editor
May 24, 2008; Page A10

Regarding "Khosla's Conspiracy," Review & Outlook, May 20): I have never advocated subsidies for food-based ethanol. In fact, I have advocated the simple rule that no technology should get subsidies beyond seven years (unlike oil).

You failed to acknowledge the recent U.S. Department of Agriculture report that corn ethanol is responsible for less than 3% of the food price rise, validating my position that most inflation is caused by other factors, including energy costs. Merrill Lynch has estimated that oil costs would be 15% higher if biofuels were withdrawn from the market. Biofuels production has cut oil consumption by one million barrels daily -- effective savings of $120 million per day at today's prices. The Journal should note this impact before demanding repentance.

Read the full letter

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Ethanol turmoil a serious threat to some companies

FUEL VS. FOOD High price of corn spurs calls for Congress to roll back mandate
Chicago Sun-Times
May 22, 2008

Not long ago, the fledgling ethanol industry was the darling of investors, farmers, the federal government and a lot of Americans who liked the idea of turning corn into fuel.
But suddenly, it doesn't have nearly as many friends.

Rising worldwide food prices and shortages have spurred calls in Congress to roll back the federal requirement that increases the amount of ethanol and other biofuels blended with the nation's gasoline supply. Critics say so much corn is being used for ethanol that there's less available for people and animals to eat, raising prices of everything from tortillas to meat.

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Ethanol group responds to criticism with statewide radio campaign

The Capital Times (Madison, WI)
Anita Weier — 5/22/2008 5:02 pm

Wounded by media reports about corn-based fuel as a cause of soaring food costs and growing international hunger, ethanol producers are going on the defensive.

The Wisconsin Ethanol Coalition is launching a statewide radio ad campaign to educate the public on the positive economic, environmental and practical benefits of ethanol use.

"As gas prices reach record amounts, it is important for people to know that ethanol is a clean, renewable fuel that can help protect the environment and can reduce our dependency on foreign oil," said coalition spokesman Joshua Morby.

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Gassed up on sorghum? Plant shows promise as another source for ethanol (Lexington Herald-Leader)
Posted on Mon, May. 19, 2008
By Jim Jordan

It's a fall tradition in Hawesville, West Liberty and other Kentucky towns to celebrate the sweet sorghum harvest with a festival of food, music and local crafts.

Researchers say the whole state might soon have an economic reason to celebrate the corn lookalike as a source of ethanol, a gasoline additive that can reduce the nation's demand for oil.

"It has a lot of promise in Kentucky," says Mike Montross, an agricultural engineer at the University of Kentucky. "I think it should be good for the state."

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Ethanol turmoil a serious threat to some companies

The Associated Press
May 21, 2008, 11:25AM ET

Not long ago, the fledgling ethanol industry was the darling of investors, farmers, the federal government and a lot of Americans who liked the idea of turning corn into fuel.

But suddenly, it doesn't have nearly as many friends.

Rising worldwide food prices and shortages have spurred calls in Congress to roll back the federal requirement that increases the amount of ethanol and other biofuels blended with the nation's gasoline supply. Critics say so much corn is being used for ethanol that there's less available for people and animals to eat, raising prices of everything from tortillas to meat.

Read the full story

Sen. Lugar Op-Ed: Energy & Food Security Both Necesssary

Pro Farmer Editors

Following is an op-ed from U.S. Sen. Dick Lugar (R-IN).
Food and ethanol: we need both

By Richard G. Lugar

As Hoosiers, we can appreciate the devastating impact of the current global food crisis. The Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that people in nearly 40 countries are facing food shortages and social unrest because of soaring food costs and decreased availability of staples like rice, wheat, corn and soybeans.

Many of the recent advances made in alleviating global poverty could be wiped out by the double blow of high food and high energy costs.

Our farmers know that the current situation was produced by a complex web of factors, including increased demand for food from growing and wealthier populations in emerging economies, soaring energy prices, droughts in key food exporting countries, panic buying, cutoffs in grain exports by major suppliers, market-distorting subsidies, a tumbling U.S. dollar, and aggressive commodities speculation.

Read the full op-ed

American Coalition For Ethanol Reminds Consumers Ethanol is Not Responsible for High Food Costs, But Does Help Gas Prices
Date Posted: May. 22, 2008

Sioux Falls, SD—As the Grocery Manufacturers Association and other anti-ethanol groups launch a multi-million-dollar PR campaign against ethanol today, the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) reminds the public of two key facts: ethanol is keeping oil and gas prices from going even higher and ethanol is not the culprit behind increases in the food prices.

"As oil prices soar to new record highs nearing $135 per barrel, a who's who of groups with various political axes to grind against ethanol are announcing a dishonest PR attack campaign designed to demonize ethanol," said Brian Jennings, executive vice president of ACE.

"Their claims that ethanol is the primary cause of rising food prices are disingenuous and their so-called remedies would lead to even higher food and fuel prices for Americans."

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Friday, May 23, 2008

Biodiesel production soars, and so do prices

By Kyle Stock (Contact)
The Post and Courier (
Monday, May 19, 2008

The license plate reads BIODZL, and for almost a year now, Dean Schmelter's dark Mercedes sedan has run almost exclusively on chicken fat.

Schmelter and his business partner built a $3.5 million plant on the former Navy base in North Charleston, where a dozen workers chemically convert the poultry goo into fuel. Dubbed Southeast BioDiesel LLC, the facility mixed its first batch in July 2007 and now cranks out 18,000 gallons of biodiesel every day, 360,000 gallons a month.

"There's nothing like driving down the road on fuel that you didn't pay your enemy for," Schmelter said. "Let me tell you, it's a great feeling."

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Molson Coors Donates Beer Waste Ethanol for Democratic National Convention Flex-Fuel Vehicles

May 21, 2008: 03:09 PM EST

The Denver 2008 Convention Host Committee today announced that Molson Coors Brewing Company (NYSE: TAP) (TSX: TAP), a Host Committee sponsor and a leading global brewer, along with its U.S. subsidiary, Coors Brewing Company, will be the Official E85 Ethanol Producer for the 2008 Democratic National Convention. Molson Coors is donating all the clean-burning ethanol fuel for the fleet of General Motors flex-fuel vehicles to be used for Convention transportation needs. Coors' ethanol differs from the more common corn-based variety in that it is made from waste beer generated at their Golden, Colo., brewery.

"From fueling a national conversation about sustainability to fueling convention vehicles, we're working toward a green convention on every front," said Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper. "This flex-fuel initiative highlights Colorado's historic status as an energy and beer capital as well as its reputation for environmental and economic innovation. We are grateful for Molson Coors' donation of cleaner-burning fuel to ensure we host the greenest national political convention to date."

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DOE Data Suggests Ethanol Helps Break U.S. Dependence on Foreign Oil
Date Posted: May. 21, 2008

Sioux Falls, SD—The Financial Times reported May 21 that, according to data from the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. is beginning to break its addiction to foreign oil.

Data from the agency's statistical arm, the Energy Information Administration (EIA), shows that ethanol, more efficient vehicles, and high oil prices are combining to cut oil imports for the first time since 1977.

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Economist: Ethanol affects grain prices more than food

aBY JOSH FUNK / The Associated Press
Tuesday, May 20, 2008 - 05:22:20 pm CDT

OMAHA — A Nebraska agricultural economist estimates that ethanol production is responsible for as much as 40 percent of the recent increase in grain prices but very little of the increase in U.S. food prices.

University of Nebraska-Lincoln economist Richard Perrin said Tuesday that ethanol accounts for about 1.2 percent of the increase in U.S. food prices because most of the increases in corn prices are not passed on to consumers.

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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Big Oil Steps Into Brazilian Ethanol

Renewable Energy
May 20, 2008
by Andrew K. Burger, International Correspondent

As the debate and controversy over ethanol production and its effects on global food supply and prices rages on, just last month BP announced its first foray -- and the largest to date by a multinational oil company -- into Brazil's sugar cane-based ethanol industry.

The company announced that it will purchase a 50% stake in Tropical BioEnergia SA, a joint venture established by Brazil's second-largest sugar cane and ethanol producer, Santelisa Vale and Maeda Group, one of the world's largest cotton producers. The joint venture (JV) is building a 435 million liter per year (US 115 million gallon/year) ethanol refinery in Edeia, a town in Brazil's Goias State, and planning a second.

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Corn Growers, Others Outraged Over Massive Disinformation Campaign

National Corn Growers Association

Grower leaders from the National Corn Growers Association joined members of Congress and others Thursday to express extreme disappointment in the revelation that many of the highest profile U.S. food companies may have supported a high-dollar dollar public relations campaign to smear farmers and ethanol fuel rather than acknowledge the truth about the direct link of rising food prices to the cost of foreign oil.

According to reports in the Capitol Hill publication Roll Call, their staff members obtained confidential documentation of the effort.

“Rising food and fuel prices have led the biofuels industry to take a beating on Capitol Hill the past few weeks, the Wednesday Roll Call article stated. “But the pummeling hasn’t been by chance — it’s part of a concerted effort spearheaded by the Grocery Manufacturers Association and the Glover Park Group. GMA has been leading an ‘aggressive’ public relations campaign for the past two months in an effort to roll back ethanol mandates that passed in last year’s energy bill.

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Anti-ethanol Lobby Launches "Food Before Fuel Campaign"

By Patrick O'Connor
May 20, 2008

(The Politico) Anyone looking for evidence about the massive challenge lawmakers face in trying to reduce fuel prices needs to look no further than the escalating fight over ethanol subsidies.

Right about the same time oil executives are set to testify before the House Judiciary Committee on the politically charged issue of skyrocketing gas prices, a broad coalition of agricultural interests, grocers, anti-poverty groups and environmental advocates will launch an aggressive campaign to rollback federal subsidies for corn-based ethanol.

The "Food Before Fuel Campaign" will launch its national outreach effort at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, on Thursday. The rollout has been organized by a broad coalition of agriculture interests and the Grocery Manufacturers Association. These groups are among the chorus of other interests - and legislators - arguing that federal subsidies for corn-based ethanol are contributing to rising food costs.

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University of Illinois Extension Analysis: Rising Corn and Soybean Production Costs Are Directly Related to Rising Oil Prices

Date Posted: May. 20, 2008

Urbana, IL—Between 2003 and 2007, the majority of corn and soybean production cost increases can be attributed to crude oil price increases, according to a new University of Illinois Extension study.

"If crude oil prices continue to rise, production costs for corn and soybeans likely will continue to rise," said Gary Schnitkey, a U of I Extension farm financial management specialist.

"Rising energy costs have brought into existence an era of high production costs for corn and soybeans.

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Release No. 0130.08
Contact: Office of Communications (202)720-4623

May 19, 2008; USDA Headquarters - Washington, D.C.

SEC. ED SCHAFER: Thank you all for joining us. It's a great day in America, and we're glad to have you here in Washington, D.C., and especially at USDA today. As you can see, we have been talking a lot in the United States these days and globally actually about the food versus fuel situation. And we are going to make the case today for food and fuel.

We think the time has come for USDA to join in the public conversation about the relationship between food prices and biofuels. We want to offer our perspective on what is happening in the marketplace, to share our data, and the analysis of what is happening. That's why I am joined today by Deputy Secretary Chuck Conner; Joe Glauber, our chief economist; Tom Dorr under secretary for Rural Development; and Dr. Gale Buchanan, the under secretary for Research, Education and Economics.

One of USDA's missions is to make sure the American people have access to safe, abundant and affordable fuel supplies. We are very concerned about the impact on higher prices for everyday food, particularly at a time when Americans are also facing a rising cost of gasoline. In fact, one of the points we want to make today is that these two trends are very closely linked. Higher oil prices affect much more than just the cost of driving; they are actually one of the major factors behind higher food costs.

Read the full transcript

Beef has no beef with ethanol

The Daily Iowan
Brian Stewart - The Daily Iowan
Issue date: 5/16/08 Section: Metro

Beef: Even with the high price of grain, it's still putting dinner on the table for Iowans. Halfway into National Beef Month, officials say the industry is stable, despite unprecedented high corn prices.

"We're looking at corn that's double the price of what it was a year ago," said Beth Doran, a beef field specialist with Iowa State University Extension. "In any business, if you double the cost, you start to see the pressure."

While a portion of that corn is being used to satisfy the growing demand for ethanol, the situation is more beneficial than detrimental to some Iowa beef farmers, some experts say.

Read the full story

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Patent Policy and Sustainable Cellulosic Biofuels Development

Ethanol Producer Magazine
June 2008
By Steve Suppan

National patents and international rules on patents will be instrumental in the development of biofuels markets—defining how fast that development takes place and who controls and benefits from the next wave of biofuels. Patents granted by governments to applicants confer commercial (often monopoly) privileges in exchange for a product or process that meets three main patent criteria. The patented product or process, in the words of Article 27.1 of the World Trade Organization agreement on intellectual property, must be “new, involve an inventive step and [be] capable of industrial application.” In U.S. law, these criteria are usually characterized as novelty, non-obviousness and utility.

Investment plans for biofuels component products, such as in joint ventures, include patent portfolios as a key element. Yet the patent policy debate from which changes in patent law and regulations emerge goes unmentioned in global biofuels market planning. This article outlines some of that general debate and its application to the synthetic biology (sometimes called nano-genomics) patents that will be instrumental in the development of cellulosic biofuels.

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IL Gov. Blagojevich Pledges $19.8 Million in Support of Blackhawk Biofuels Purchase of 45-MMGY Biodiesel Facility in Danville
Date Posted: May. 15, 2008

Chicago—In furthering Illinois’ national leadership as a renewable biofuels producer, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today announced that Blackhawk Biofuels, LLC has completed its purchase of a new 45 million gallon per year biodiesel plant in Danville.

The $19.8 million in state-backed support will leverage $25 million in private funding by the new owner to complete construction of the facility and upgrade technology.

“The significant investment we’re making in the Danville plant will produce home-grown biodiesel from crops grown on Illinois farms, boost America’s energy independence, keep people working, and spur economic development throughout east central Illinois,” said Gov. Blagojevich.

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Visit for further information.

Leading trade fair IHE® WoodEnergy provides information in AugsburgRising oil and gas prices through increasing mobility requirements, growing energy demands and the scarcity of fossil commodities means that the sustainability of energy supplies are more necessary than ever before. The heating sector accounts for 57% of all energy use making the scarcity of oil and gas especially noticeable within this area. However where the transfer to renewable primary products could be well realisable not only technically but also economically the potential of renewable energy is still a long way from being utilised.

In the process all forth in the use of wood energy in the highly modern energy plants are offered the chance to strengthen medium-sized businesses and render not only thousands of jobs but make a contribution to care and preserve our forests: The federal forest inventory II showed in Autumn 2006 that to date only 60% of the enormity in the German forests which had wood energy potential, were being used. Additionally energy from wood renders a massive support for climate protection.

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Can biomass clean China’s air?

BioMass Magazine
May 2008
By Jerry W. Kram
Web exclusive posted May 19, 2008 at 5:37 p.m. CST

An article in the journal AMBIO: A Journal of the Human Environment outlines the challenges and possibilities as the world’s most populous country plots its energy future. Through the use of biomass energy, China could reduce pollution by 40 percent to 60 percent, according to the paper’s authors, Hai Ren, Zhi’an Li, Qinfeng Guo and Quan Wang.

China has the highest sulfur dioxide emissions in the world and ranks second in carbon dioxide emissions. Imports of crude oil increased from 30 million tons in 1993 to 120 million tons in 2004. By 2010, there is an expected deficit of 100 million tons of petroleum and 4000 million cubic meters of natural gas. For comparison, in 2001 the U.S. spent 7 percent of their gross domestic product on energy, while China spent 13 percent.

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State to head up biomass research

Atlanta Journal Constitution

Published on: 05/19/08

The rush toward a biofueled future based on ethanol made from corn has raised the specter of a food vs. fuel battle. Many — including economists, scientists and ethicists — have concluded that generating biofuels may not be a viable means to reduce our reliance on foreign oil and to curb the effects of global warming.

In Georgia, however, we recognize that we can't stake bioenergy's future on food crops. Corn can't be the only, or even the primary, solution. In addition to driving up food prices, it requires frequent applications of pesticides, large quantities of nitrogen and constant irrigation during our hot and frequently rainless summers — environmentally unfriendly practices that drive up production costs.

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Re “Rethinking Ethanol” (editorial, May 11):

New York Times: Letters to the Editor

Waiving the renewable fuel standard and killing ethanol tax credits would be similar to eating seed corn. With no seed, there is no crop. The renewable fuel standard and tax credits are the seed we need to stimulate the next generation of cellulosic biofuels.
It is unlikely that waiving the requirements of the renewable fuel standard would cause any reduction in corn prices, let alone food costs. Corn prices mainly affect consumer prices through livestock production, and the marginal price effects would take several months, even years, to work their way through to the consumer.

Read the full editorial

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Sen. Grassley: Ethanol Wrongly Blamed
Pro Farmer Editors

To Congressional colleagues yesterday, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Ia.), said ethanol and alternative fuels have helped to lessen our dependency on foreign oil and are being made the scapegoat for a variety of problems. He said a negative campaign by the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), which sought help of a public relations firm, tried to lay blame on corn-based ethanol to try and rollback the ethanol mandates in the energy bill approved late in 2007. The issue was first alerted in the Washington publication Roll Call. Grassley noted the GMA paid $300,000 to a Washington PR firm to run the effort.

"Some of my colleagues here in the Senate have also gotten involved in this misinformation campaign," said Grassley. "It seems there is a “group-think” mentality when it comes to scapegoating ethanol for everything from high gas prices, global food shortages, global warming and deforestation. But, as was recently reported, this anti-ethanol campaign is not a coincidence. It turns out that a $300,000, six-month retainer of a beltway public relations firm is behind the smear campaign, hired by the Grocery Manufacturers Association."

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FACTBOX-Highlights of $289 billion U.S. farm bill

Thu May 15, 2008 2:55pm

May 15 (Reuters) - The five-year, $289 billion U.S. farm bill would expand public nutrition, land stewardship and biofuels programs by a combined $15.6 billion over 10 years.

Here are highlights of the bill.

* Cuts the tax credit for corn-based ethanol by 6 cents to 45 cents a gallon beginning in 2009; creates $1.01 a gallon credit for cellulosic ethanol through 2012; and extends the 54-cent import tariff on ethanol through 2010.

* Provides $320 million in loan guarantees for construction of commercial-size plants producing advanced biofuels, such as ethanol, from cellulose.

* Provides $300 million in mandatory funding for payments to support production of advanced biofuels including cellulosic ethanol and biodiesel.

* Provides $250 million in grants and loan guarantees for renewable energy and energy efficiency systems for agriculture and rural small businesses.

* Creates program to pay farmers who experiment with biomass crops near biorefineries; $70 million in mandatory funding for 2009-12.

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Brazil's Sao Paulo state suspends new ethanol plants pending environmental study
Thomson Financial News
05.16.08, 2:44 PM ET

SAO PAULO (Thomson Financial) - The State of Sao Paulo has suspended granting approval for the construction of ethanol factories, while it carries out studies on the environmental impact of increasing sugar cane cultivation.

According to a notice published on Friday in the Official Journal, the suspension will last 120 days and will enable the government to review the consequences for the ecosystem of the growing expansion of sugar cane in the state.

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China Fuels Ethanol Industry with Yams, Sweet Potatoes and Cassava

May 16, 2008
by Lou Schwartz, China Strategies
Bejing, China []

In 2006, China imported 145 million tons of crude oil, accounting for 44% of its consumption of oil. With the rapid growth in vehicle sales in China, consumption of fuel oil for vehicles accounted for 35% of oil consumption in 2006. And demand for fuel oil in China continues to grow at the rate of 15-16% per year. To satisfy domestic demand for vehicle fuel, control its dependence on foreign sources of oil and attempt to moderate fuel costs, China has embarked on a robust effort to ramp up fuel ethanol development.

Beginning in 2002, China experienced a spurt of grain-based ethanol refinery development. At that time, with the price of oil rising and China experiencing bumper grain yields, Chinese decision-makers encouraged the development of grain-based ethanol as a substitute for oil. By 2006, however, Beijing recognized that the use of grains for ethanol production was putting a strain on food supplies and causing worrisome increases in food prices. (In 2006, China's ethanol production was about 3.5 million tons, of which fuel ethanol output was 1.3 million tons, the third largest in the world.)

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Medford pair creating way to use husks for ethanol

Foresee product on market by 2012

By Davis Bushnell
The Boston Globe Correspondent / May 15, 2008

Renewable energy is a hot topic these days, given soaring gasoline prices and discussions of how production of ethanol, now primarily a home-grown, cornstarch product, can be boosted to reduce the nation's reliance on imported oil.

One way to do that, industry specialists say, is to develop ethanol based on cellulose, or glucose units found on plants' cell walls. And that's exactly the goal of Agrivida Inc., a small five-year-old Medford company that is researching the use of corn husks and leaves for the ethanol process.

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Moving To MarketEthanol: Getting There Is None Of The Fun
William Pentland 05.16.08, 6:00 AM ET

Of all the factors that drive our energy economy, supply is the most important. In the early days of the oil industry, a New England snowstorm or a washed-out Texas rail bed could lead to a spike in prices or even shortages for entire regions of the country. The market was so wild and unpredictable that producers routinely lost everything.

Massive capital investments by oil companies and entrepreneurs solved much of the problem. In time they buried some 380,000 miles of pipelines throughout the United States, which now handle 63 billion cubic feet of natural gas and 20 million barrels of crude a day, removing a crucial variable from the supply chain and stabilizing markets.

Now it's the aspiring ethanol industry's turn. The vast majority of ethanol is produced in five states--Iowa, Nebraska, Illinois, Minnesota and South Dakota--all roughly 1,500 miles away from the approximately 80% of the population who live on the coasts. Ethanol will live or die with its ability to bridge that gap.

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Monday, May 19, 2008

Time to Repeal the Ethanol Mandate

The Heritage Foundation
May 15, 2008
by Ben Lieberman and Nick Loris
WebMemo #1925

Though intended to help consumers and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the ethanol mandate has done just the opposite, contributing to high food and gas prices with little environmental benefit. Representative Jeff Flake (R–AZ) has introduced H.R. 5911, the Remove Incentives for Producing Ethanol Act of 2008, which would eliminate the mandate and other benefits for ethanol, and other measures may soon be introduced.

A return to a free market for ethanol would be a welcome step. Congress should eliminate the ethanol mandate, ethanol-related tax breaks, and protectionist tariffs that keep out potentially cheaper foreign supplies.

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Texas' sweet sorghum farmers tap new ethanol source

Houston Chronicle
May 13, 2008, 4:41PM
By BETSY BLANEYAssociated Press

LUBBOCK — Sweet sorghum is grown in the U.S. for cooking and as livestock feed. But the tall plant also has a juicier benefit.

A sugary sap inside the plant's stalk, which can grow as tall as 12 feet, can be turned into a potent biofuel, and experts and companies are studying its potential with hopes that farmers will want to plant more of it.

Ethanol made from the stalk's juice has four times the energy yield of the corn-based ethanol, which is already in the marketplace, unlike sweet sorghum. It produces about eight units of energy for every unit of energy used in its production. That's about the same as sugarcane but four times more than for corn.

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retailers get help on alternative fuel pumps

Houston Chronicle
May 12, 2008, 5:03PMIowa
By MIKE GLOVER Associated Press Writer © 2008 The Associated Press

DES MOINES, Iowa — Iowa will help retailers pay for alternative fuel pumps under a bill signed into law Monday.

The new law also encourages state and local government to use biodiesel when it's available.

The measure is designed to improve access to E85 and biodiesel pumps, both of which are relatively rare in Iowa despite the state's status as a leading producer of the fuels.

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Danisco Unit In JV With DuPont To Develop Cellulosic Ethanol

May 14, 2008: 06:25 AM EST
Edited Press Release

STOCKHOLM -(Dow Jones)- Danisco said Wednesday that DuPont and Genencor, a division of Danisco, have announced an agreement to form DuPont Danisco Cellulosic Ethanol LLC, a 50/50 global joint venture.

The joint venture will develop and commercialize the technology solution for the production of cellulosic ethanol - a next generation biofuel produced from non-food sources - to address a $75 billion global market opportunity.

The partners plan an initial three-year investment of $140 million, which will initially target corn stover and sugar cane bagasse.

Future targets include multiple ligno-cellulosic feedstocks including wheat straw, a variety of energy crops and other biomass sources.

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In ethanol debate, perception trumps science and sound policy

Wisconsin Technology Network
Tom Still
May 13, 2008

Madison, Wis. - You have to admire Kay Bailey Hutchison's chutzpah, if nothing else. The veteran U.S. senator from Texas, a state that holds one-third of known U.S. petroleum reserves, thinks the federal government should stop subsidizing production of biofuels such as ethanol.

Hutchison is apparently fine with the visible and hidden subsidies Uncle Sam has provided Big Oil for generations - such as reduced corporate income taxes, federal funding for programs specific to the oil industry, increased national security costs to protect oil shipping lanes and the shifting of environmental costs to taxpayers. But when it comes to investing in a possible energy competitor, Hutchison and friends are suddenly laissez-faire capitalists.

The future of biofuels in the United States is being threatened by perceptions and politics versus science and sound energy policy. That's a problem for the United States, which must secure its long-term energy independence, and for Wisconsin, which could become a collateral victim if the drive-by assaults on biofuels continue.

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RFA: Many Important Voices Say Blaming Ethanol for Food Costs is Misguided
Date Posted: May. 09, 2008

“Flat out wrong” or “gross misunderstanding” or “shockingly misinformed”
Which phrase best describes the current debate about food prices and biofuels?

The debate over the role biofuels plays in the world food crisis continues to rage, with many falling victim to Chicken Little syndrome, issuing dire predictions unsupported by fact.

Government, policy and business leaders from around the globe are aggressively challenging those who seek to use biofuels as the scapegoat for rising world food prices.

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B.C. scientists look into microalgae for fuel

Process has potential to supply 100 per cent of diesel needs in province

Bruce Constantineau, Vancouver Sun
Published: Tuesday, May 06, 2008

B.C. scientists are investigating the concept of harvesting microalgae for fuel -- a process with the potential to supply 100 per cent of B.C.'s diesel needs.

BC Innovation Council life sciences director Richard Hallman stressed that it is still early days, but noted field trials in other regions show microalgae can produce 70 times more oil than canola -- at least 7,500 litres a year per hectare.

"People are promoting this because it really helps in the food-versus-fuel land conflict," he said in an interview. "It doesn't have to take place on prime agricultural land."

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Friday, May 16, 2008

Sweet fuel: Ethanol of sorghum gets a try

Arkansas Democrat Gazette
Posted on Monday, May 12, 2008

WASHINGTON — American pioneers used sweet sorghum as a substitute for sugar to make syrup. The syrup is still available today, mostly made in Kentucky and Tennessee, but for decades most American sweet sorghum has been used for livestock feed.

Today, some researchers are looking at using it to make ethanol to blend with gasoline and help
reduce the country’s dependence on oil.

The timing may be right for sweet sorghum. The United States is reaching its limits on using corn for ethanol, and global concerns are rising about using grains to make fuel while food prices soar. At the same time, researchers are looking for ways to make biofuels that would do more to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Sweet sorghum gets good marks on all counts.

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Myke's Biofuels Blog: Real Science -- Actual Water Use by Ethanol Plants is Comparable to Gasoline Industry
Date Posted: May. 12, 2008
By Myke Feinman, BioFuels Journal Editor

The Wall Street Journal editorialized May 7, gleefully gloating about how everyone is jumping on their bandwagon that ethanol is some horrible monster sucking up precious water resources and increasing the price of food.

We have already discussed how the actual price of food is due to factors like weather, energy (read gasoline and diesel prices) and demand overseas (See "Domestic Ethanol Producers Penalized for Foreigners Who Tear Down Rainforests … What's Wrong With This Picture?" Which was posted on March 4.

I guess what really upsets me about the opinion piece is it quotes horribly incorrect "science."

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Don't panic: There's plenty of corn for all

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel Editorial

Farmers frustrated by myths about ethanol
Posted: May 10, 2008

It makes farmers like myself upset when ethanol from corn gets an undeserved bad rap.

Three unreported facts: First, in regard to the food vs. fuel debate, U.S. farmers planted 19% more corn last year than in 2006. Those acres came mostly from soybean acres. Fifty-bushel-an-acre soybeans and 150-bushel-an-acre corn yield the same amount of oil and protein (food) per acre. The difference is that two-thirds of the corn kernel is starch, which can be turned into ethanol or other products.

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Food vs. fuel vs. common sense

HighPlains/Midwest Ag Journal: Editorial
By Seymour Klierly

In the waning days of the farm bill brouhaha between the sub-par leadership of the Senate and the House and the administration, another scuffle has broken out between ag interests. Congressmen and governors, corn growers and grocery store owners stood toe to toe over the price of food this week. Competing letters were sent to the Environmental Protection Agency regarding that agency's implementation of the Renewable Fuels Standard or "ethanol mandate" as it's most commonly referred.

In 2005, Congress passed an energy bill that included the first national ethanol mandate, set at 12.5 billion gallons by 2012. A short two years later, reports surfaced that the 12.5 billion gallon mandate would be surpassed by 2009. Congress took action again, this time raising the mandate to 36 billion gallons by 2022. EPA is just now beginning to implement regulations to meet this new mandate and that's why the fight has begun.

Some claim the heart of the issue is rising food prices, and that the rapid increase in the federal ethanol mandate is largely to blame for that increase. Texas Governor Rick Perry recently sent a letter to EPA requesting they waive the higher mandate level. Not long afterward, Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison and 23 of her colleagues sent a similar letter to EPA citing growing environmental concerns surrounding corn ethanol production and competition between food and fuel.

Read the full editorial

Food crisis forces China to cut down rising biofuel industry

The Times of India
10 May 2008, 2013 hrs IST,Saibal Dasgupta,TNN

BEIJING: Rising food prices has forced China to cut down its ambitious plans to develop the biofuel industry. Plans that were announced last January involved allocating thousands of hectares of land for growing biofuel crops and offering financial subsidies to the industry.

The Chinese agriculture ministry on Saturday said it will "strictly control the development of biofuels" to protect the country's grain supplies, and arable land banks. The announcement comes following steep rise in the prices of food prices in China and a worldwide concern over the role played by the emerging biofuel industry in cause food grain shortages.

China is going through the worst inflation conditions in the past 11 years. Food prices have contributed nearly 40 per cent to the overall growth in inflation as measured by consumer price index.

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ICGA Opposes Waiving the Renewable Fuels Standard

Prairie Farmer (Illinois)
Compiled By Staff

May 8, 2008

Discussions in Washington, DC related to waiving the nation's Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) are ill-advised and would have serious unintended consequences that would result in higher fuel and food prices, according to the Illinois Corn Growers Association (ICGA).

"This is bad policy and tantamount to waiving the white flag in the battle to make our nation less dependent on unstable and unfriendly governments," says Art Bunting, ICGA president. "The primary influence on higher food prices right now is $120 barrel oil. The oil industry made $123 billion in profits last year. That's enough to buy the world corn crop or 70% of the world wheat crop."

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Small bioelectricity plants dirtier than large ones, says study

The University of Manchester (UK)
13 May 2008

Small-scale community based bio-power plants produce higher levels of emissions per unit of electrical output than large facilities, according to new research presented at a major sustainable energy conference today (Tuesday 13 May 2008).

Dr Patricia Thornley from The Tyndall Centre for Climate Research at The University of Manchester, will present her findings at the United Kingdom Energy Research’s Centre’s Sustainable Energy UK conference in Oxford.

Dr Thornley says that while small facilities do have their plus points – for example, transport impacts are lower and local communities tend to like and support them – their environmental performance is usually inferior to that of larger plants.

However, she will also stress that the overall pros and cons of different types of bioelectricity generating facilities cannot be judged on just one parameter.

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Thursday, May 15, 2008

University of Illinois Researchers Develop Software to Demonstrate Food Vs. Fuel Factors
Date Posted: May. 12, 2008

Urbana, IL—Symptoms of the food-versus-fuel crisis are appearing regularly in the news but the underlying causes--and long-term implications--are poorly understood, said a University of Illinois agricultural economics professor.

"An important component of the food-versus-fuel debate that is not well understood is how increases in wealth for Asian consumers are dramatically affecting the markets for commodities worldwide," said Peter Goldsmith, director of the National Soybean Research Laboratory and an associate professor in the U of I's Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics.

To help fill that knowledge gap, Goldsmith, Tad Masuda, a postdoctoral researcher, and Barbara Mirel of the University of Michigan have built a 3-D computer model that visually conveys the interrelationship and impacts of income changes around the world on consumption, production, and markets.]

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Senators told ethanol rollback wouldn't lower food prices

By PHILIP BRASHER • Des Moines Register - Washington Bureau • May 7, 2008

Washington, D.C. – Eliminating government support for ethanol won’t put the industry out of business at today’s oil prices, because it would still be economical to turn grain into fuel, lawmakers were told today.

Nor would the cost of food drop dramatically, said Bruce Babcock, director of Iowa State University’s Center for Agricultural and Rural Development.

“If you got rid of all the incentives it would not have very much impact on the total quantity of ethanol that we’re producing now,” Babcock told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

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Ethanol alternatives stuck in slow lane

Energy options such as algae are years away
Ryan Randazzo
The Arizona Republic
May. 11, 2008 12:00 AM

Despite a public-relations backlash of epic proportions and frenzied research on other technology such as algae biodiesel, it likely will be years before other alternative fuels are as widely used as corn ethanol.

Ethanol is now a staple in gasoline, used as an additive that reduces the amount of crude oil and cuts back on vehicle emissions.

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Rethinking Ethanol

New York Times Editorial
Published: May 11, 2008

The time has come for Congress to rethink ethanol, an alternative fuel that has lately fallen from favor. Specifically, it is time to end an outdated tax break for corn ethanol and to call a timeout in the fivefold increase in ethanol production mandated in the 2007 energy bill.

This does not mean that Congress should give up on biofuels as an important part of the effort to reduce the country’s dependency on imported oil and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. What it does mean is that some biofuels are (or are likely to be) better than others, and that Congress should realign its tax and subsidy programs to encourage the good ones. Unlike corn ethanol, those biofuels will not compete for the world’s food supply and will deliver significant reductions in greenhouse gases.

Read the full editorial

US Farm Bill Worries Brazil Ethanol Group; WTO Case Possible
5/9/2008 9:45:00 AM

SAO PAULO (Dow Jones)--Brazilian sugarcane ethanol lobby Unica is cautiously awaiting final results on a U.S. Farm Bill that could impact its ethanol export market.

Unica said in a press release on Friday morning that a bipartisan congressional decision in Washington D.C. to keep the $0.54 per gallon tax on Brazilian ethanol imports to the U.S. until 2010, coupled with a relaxing of fiscal incentives for blenders, "increases the likelihood of discrimination against Brazilian ethanol."

Brazil's Sub-secretary for Economic Affairs, Roberto Azevedo, said the country is considering going to the World Trade Organization to challenge the Farm Bill's ethanol rules.

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Corn Prices Rise, Pitting Chickens Against Ethanol

The Washington Post
By Cindy Skrzycki
Tuesday, May 13, 2008; Page D02

Taking corn from the mouths of chickens to put into the gas tanks of U.S. cars and trucks is causing feathers to fly in Washington.

The $40 billion chicken industry, along with livestock producers, oil interests, grocers and some environmental and anti-hunger groups are hoping to put up a regulatory blockade to stop the diversion of corn stocks into the brewing of billions of gallons of ethanol for vehicles this year.

"It has never gone up this far, this fast," Richard L. Lobb, a spokesman for the National Chicken Council in Washington, said of the jump in corn prices to $6 a bushel and more, triple what they were two years ago. "We are competing directly with the people who make ethanol, and they are outbidding us for corn."

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Tolman: Ethanol Unfairly Blamed

Nebraska Farmer

Ann Toner
May 12, 2008

How quickly the tide of public opinion can turn.

According to Rick Tolman, chief executive officer of the National Corn Growers Association, oil companies and misinformed media and consumer spokesmen are behind the campaign to vilify biofuels manufacturing.

Biofuels have gone from being one of the country's answers to the rising price of imported oil, to being blamed food price inflation at home and abroad. Big city editorial cartoons depict Third World children starving because fat cat Americans are using "their" food to make ethanol.

Tolman used a Lincoln visit to try to refute those inaccuracies to grassroots media who maybe understand enough about farming and the grain business to understand what he had to say. "It's not food OR fuel, it's food AND fuel," he said.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Enough corn in U.S. for food and ethanol, for now

Fri May 9, 2008 10:55pm BST
By Sam Nelson - Analysis

CHICAGO (Reuters) - U.S. government data on Friday showed there is sufficient corn for the United States to supply itself with food and ethanol through next year, but the outlook hinges on cuts in exports and less of the grain being used as feed.

It is also hugely dependent on good weather in America's corn country, always a risky bet.

"This morning's crop report is an ominous sign that we are entering dangerous and uncharted waters for food prices," said Scott Faber, vice president of federal affairs for the U.S. Grocery Manufacturers Association, a trade group.

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8 Ways to Fix the Global Food Crisis

Ideas range from improving aid programs to taking a break on biofuels
By Marianne Lavelle, Kent Garber
Posted May 9, 2008
U.S. News & World Report

The world food crisis has two faces. Here in the United States, shoppers stare in disbelief at the rising price of milk, meat, and eggs. But elsewhere on the globe, anguish spills into the streets, as in Somalia last week when tens of thousands of rioters converged on the capital to protest for food.

The strain on U.S. consumers, grappling with the sharpest increase in grocery prices in years, is small compared with the starvation that toppled Haiti's government, ignited riots around the world, and is deepening the tragedy of Myanmar's cyclone survivors. And yet the connection between the developed and developing worlds will be crucial to solving what one United Nations official has called a "silent tsunami" of food prices that has plunged 100 million people deeper into poverty. To stem the misery, relief officials are calling both for emergency aid and for changes in policy worldwide.

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Bioenergy production surpasses hydroelectric power in Brazil
2008-05-09 10:15:53

RIO DE JANEIRO, May 8 (Xinhua) -- Energy produced from sugarcane exceeded hydroelectric power production in Brazil in 2007, energy officials said Thursday.

This is the first time in Brazilian history that bioenergy production has surpassed that of hydroelectric power, said Mauricio Tolmasquim, president of the government's Energy Research Enterprise.

The energy made from sugarcane products represented 16 percent of the country's total power generation last year, while hydroelectric power accounted for 14.7 percent, Tolmasquim said.

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Waste next source for ethanol

Process would use cobs instead of corn, straw instead of grain
Margaret Munro, Canwest News Service

Old candy wrappers, wheat straw and dead trees seem an unlikely defence against soaring gas prices, but the race is on to tap into the vast store of energy locked in municipal, agricultural and forest waste.

"With the amount of garbage we generate, the scale-up potential is huge," says Robert Gallant, president of Canada's leading biofuel company, who is now eying the trash. His firm, GreenField Ethanol, recently joined forces with a Quebec group that has come up with a way to turn municipal waste into biofuel.

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Ethanol as cause of food crisis 'flat-out wrong'

By David R. Sands and Stephen Dinan
May 10, 2008
The Washington Times (DC)

Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer yesterday said U.N. and other international aid officials are "flat-out wrong" to call U.S. ethanol production from corn a major factor in world food shortages and riots.

Mr. Schafer, a longtime proponent of biofuels, vehemently disputed efforts by the leaders of the World Bank and the U.N. World Food Program to blame ethanol for rising world food prices. He said his department calculates that competition between food and biofuels accounts only for up to 3 percent of food price increases.

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Food crisis provides opening for array of ethanol opponents

Strange bedfellows: Ethanol creates coalition of disparate foes and confusion for industry
May 08, 2008: 02:13 PM EST

NEW YORK (Associated Press) - The global rise in food prices is giving political ammunition to opponents of the country's ethanol policy and creating some uncertainty for the burgeoning and heavily subsidized biofuels industry.

An informal coalition of oil refiners, environmentalists and food processors is trying to convince lawmakers that increased output of the alternative fuel is inflating food costs by siphoning off corn otherwise fed to livestock and discouraging U.S. farmers from planting wheat, soybeans and other crops.

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Knoxville-Oak Ridge Innovation Valley Lands $26 Million Biofuels Grant (South Mississippi)
By Knoxville Chamber
Posted on Thu, May. 08, 2008

KNOXVILLE, Tenn., May 8 --The Knoxville-Oak Ridge Innovation Valley has taken another leap forward in the race to build a sustainable biofuels industry with the announcement that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded a $26 million grant for a one-tenth scale cellulosic ethanol facility here.

The award, which goes to a partnership between Mascoma Corporation, the University of Tennessee (UT), the Tennessee Research Foundation and Genera Energy, brings to more than $230 million the recent federal and state investment in bioenergy sciences across the Innovation Valley. That figure includes DOE's $135 million grant to nearby Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in 2007 for its new Bioenergy Science Center and $70 million pledged by the State for the Tennessee Biofuels Initiative.

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Ethanol Fallout: Health Risks for Livestock

By Janet Raloff
May 6th, 2008
ScienceNews - Web edition

With Uncle Sam pushing the production of ethanol for fuel, U.S. corn producers are experiencing an economic bonanza. Not only are they planting more of the grain than at any time since World War II, but the price they receive per harvested bushel has also been skyrocketing. These benefits to growers are proving a juggernaut, however, for meat producers.

Indeed, many livestock operations are getting hit with a double whammy. First, they’re paying more for each ton of corn-derived feed. At least as importantly, a new study finds, the corn product that’s they're feeding to their animals can be anticipated to carry triple the normal load of fungal toxins.

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Nelson signs letter backing ethanol requirements

Associated Press - May 7, 2008 1:15 PM ET

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Ben Nelson says blaming ethanol for high food prices isn't fair.
The Nebraska Democratic senator said during a news conference call Wednesday that he's signed a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency to block cuts to requirements for corn ethanol.

Read the full story

Monday, May 12, 2008

Best Intentions

The Ethanol Industrial Complex
Joshua Zumbrun
05.07.08, 6:13 PM ET

Washington, D.C. -
Ethanol, once heralded as the homegrown Nicorette gum of America's oil addiction, is getting a second look from lawmakers suddenly concerned about the unintended consequences of merging the fuel and food markets.

Thanks in part to a wave of well-intentioned Washington policies, corn previously consumed by just people and animals now feeds cars as well. The goal of the government's Renewable Fuels Standard is for 9 billion gallons of renewable fuel to be produced this year--legislation calls for 36 billion gallons by 2022.

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Herseth Sandlin defends ethanol - again

Korrie Wenzel
The Daily Republic (Mitchell, SD)
Published Saturday, May 10, 2008

As calls go out to Congress to reduce the nation’s output of alternative fuels, South Dakota’s lone member of the House of Representatives this week launched another verbal counterattack she hopes will convince people that ethanol is not the culprit behind rising worldwide food costs.

Ethanol production in the United States has gone from nearly zero in the early 1980s to more than 6 billion gallons in recent years. Correspondingly, corn prices have risen and more producers are planting the crop. Meanwhile, critics argue that fewer bushels are going toward feeding the world’s population.

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Corn DogsFuel prices are at record highs, so why are ethanol producers struggling?

By Daniel Gross
Posted Wednesday, May 7, 2008, at 6:23 PM ET

The continuing crisis over high food prices has inspired a round of global finger-pointing. Politicians blame speculators, and speculators blame the Federal Reserve. Free-traders blame countries with agricultural subsidies, and countries with agricultural subsidies blame free-traders. And everyone blames the ethanol industry: The current mania to turn food crops, especially corn, into gasoline is pushing up the global price for maize, crowding out the production of other crops and generally creating an unfair competition between gas tanks in Missouri and poor consumers in Mumbai.

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U.S. urged to consider effect of ethanol on the poor

Thu May 8, 2008 4:04am BST
By Noel Randewich
Reuters - UK

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - The United States should consider spiraling food prices that hurt the world's poor when it sets policies that are funneling much of its corn crop into biofuel production, the World Bank said on Wednesday.

Global food prices for staples like wheat and rice have surged in recent years, causing hunger, riots and hoarding in poor countries. The trend is typically blamed on a combination of factors like higher food consumption in fast growing economies like China, and on bad weather that has hit crops.

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Lawmakers turn up the heat on ethanol in response to rising food prices

They blame subsidies for an overproduction of corn, which they say has hurt other crops.

By James Hohmann, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
May 8, 2008

WASHINGTON -- Under pressure to do something about surging food prices, members of Congress are increasingly questioning the government's incentives for corn-based ethanol production, which have been blamed for contributing to the crisis.

At hearings Tuesday and Wednesday, a bipartisan chorus in the Senate and House called for rethinking ethanol policy. The corn lobby is pushing back, but even ethanol supporters acknowledge that some tinkering may be needed.

Read the full story

Friday, May 9, 2008

Brazil seeing sweet profit from sugar cane-based ethanol

08:15 AM CDT on Tuesday, May 6, 2008
By JIM LANDERS / The Dallas Morning News

COSTA RICA, Brazil – The other side of ethanol, vilified as a cause of soaring food prices and hunger, can be seen in Brazil, where farmers are pushing down energy costs – both at the pump and the electricity meter.

Twenty thousand acres of sugar cane are sprouting through the red soil around this small town, destined for fuel tanks across the world. It's the start of a $2.7 billion ethanol project put together by Brazil Renewable Energy Co., or Brenco, a private venture financed by U.S. and Brazilian investors.

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McCain, GOP senators call for easing of ethanol rules

updated 5:48 p.m. EDT, Mon May 5, 2008

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Sen. John McCain Monday joined other GOP senators urging environmental regulators to ease rules demanding a sharp increase in ethanol use to help head off further increases in food prices.

The energy bill that passed Congress with bipartisan support in 2007 requires U.S. fuel marketers to increase the use of biofuels fivefold by 2022.

But McCain, the presumed Republican presidential nominee, and 23 other Republicans, including many who supported the bill, called on the Environmental Protection Agency to waive or roll back the law's requirements in order to ease pressure on food and livestock feed prices.

Read the full story

With food costs rising, ethanol benefits now questioned

By H. JOSEF HEBERT – 14 hours ago

WASHINGTON (AP) — Just months ago, ethanol was the Holy Grail to energy independence and a "green fuel" that would help nudge the country away from climate changing fossil energy.

Democrats and Republicans cheered its benefits as Congress directed a fivefold increase in ethanol use as a motor fuel. President Bush called it key to his strategy to cut gasoline use by 20 percent by 2010.

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Thursday, May 8, 2008

Microalgae to Fuel B.C.'s Diesel Needs

VANCOUVER, May 5 /CNW (Canada News Wire)/ - A $55,000 grant from the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands will assist in developing innovative technologies in microalgae that
could one day fuel 100 per cent of B.C.'s diesel needs, announced Soren
Harbel, Vice President, Innovation Development, British Columbia Innovation
Council (BCIC).

"Culturing microalgae to produce biofuels and bioenergy is gaining
momentum around the world," said Harbel. "This is a great opportunity for B.C.
to lead the way in advancing alternative and clean energy technologies. It
will be a significant step towards commercializing viable energy solutions."

Read the full story

Lawmakers considering biodiesel mandate

State proposal prompts differing reactions from soybean farmers, oil companies. (Springfield, Missouri)
Chad Livengood • News-Leader • April 30, 2008

Jefferson City -- As debate about whether corn-based ethanol is causing food prices to rise ensues, there's now a push to mandate all diesel sold in Missouri contain a renewable energy additive.

The House Transportation Committee heard testimony Tuesday from the backers and opponents of a bill mandating that biodiesel be used for all trucks, heavy equipment, generators and some cars.

Senate Bill 769 would require the fuel to contain 5 percent biofuels, which typically comes from soybean oil. Animal fat and used vegetable oils from restaurants also can be recycled to produce the additive for biodiesel.

Read the full story

McCain, GOP senators call for easing of ethanol rules

updated 5:48 p.m. EDT, Mon May 5, 2008

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Sen. John McCain Monday joined other GOP senators urging environmental regulators to ease rules demanding a sharp increase in ethanol use to help head off further increases in food prices.

The energy bill that passed Congress with bipartisan support in 2007 requires U.S. fuel marketers to increase the use of biofuels fivefold by 2022.

But McCain, the presumed Republican presidential nominee, and 23 other Republicans, including many who supported the bill, called on the Environmental Protection Agency to waive or roll back the law's requirements in order to ease pressure on food and livestock feed prices.

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Fertilizer researchers get bioenergy grant

Biofuels News
May 5, 2008
By Cookson Beecher

The goal of reducing farmers' reliance on industrially produced nitrogen fertilizer will get a boost, thanks to a bioenergy grant to a Washington State University scientist.

Michael Kahn, a fellow in WSU's Institute of Biological Chemistry and associate director of the Agricultural Research Center, has received a three-year, $510,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy's Energy Biosciences Program to continue his research toward meeting that goal. Pointing out that nitrogen fertilizers are the single biggest expense many farmers incur in raising their crops, Kahn said that as the price of natural gas rises, so do fertilizer prices.

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Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Focus on Energy awards $973K for bioenergy projects

The Capital Times (Madison, WI) — 5/04/2008 9:33 am

Focus on Energy, Wisconsin's energy efficiency and renewable energy initiative, announced that it has awarded grants totaling more than $973,000 to help finance the installation of five Wisconsin bioenergy projects.

Bioenergy is energy derived from any biological material that can be used as fuel; this fuel is burned or converted in systems that produce heat, electricity, or both heat and power. The bioenergy projects being completed include anaerobic digesters and a biomass wood energy system.

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Brasher: Food prices, ethanol policy could be campaign issues


Washington, D.C. - It hardly seems possible the cost of food could be a campaign issue in a nation that still has one of the most affordable food supplies in the world.

But it could happen this year. The question farmers and ethanol producers have to be concerned about is whether the nation's ethanol policy becomes part of the debate.

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High food prices may put farmers on a subsidy diet

Congress finds itself under pressure to halt recent incentives to produce ethanol, and to cut farmers' subsidies.

By Nicole Gaouette and Richard Simon, Los Angeles Times Staff Writers
May 2, 2008

WASHINGTON -- With high food prices prompting grocery-store apologies to customers and raising fears of starvation in impoverished countries, Congress suddenly faces renewed pressure to cut subsidies to the wealthiest farmers and incentives for ethanol production.

The American farmer, long an untouchable political icon, has even become something of a political embarrassment on Capitol Hill, with President Bush earlier this week demanding an end to crop subsidies for "multimillionaire farmers."

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Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Obama: Change in ethanol policy might be needed

Associated Press
1 day ago

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrat Barack Obama said Sunday the federal government might need to rethink its support for corn ethanol because of rising food prices, a stance similar to Republican John McCain's but at odds with farm states considered important to the November election.

"What I've said is my top priority is making sure people are able to get enough to eat. If it turns out we need to make changes in our ethanol policy to help people get something to eat, that has got to be the step we take," said Obama, D-Ill., on NBC's "Meet the Press."

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Challenging ethanol’s dirty reputation

Science News
By Patrick Barry
May 2nd, 2008
Web edition

Wood chips could yield a clean, inexpensive biofuel
CHICAGO — A propriety process for making ethanol from leftover sawmill woodchips significantly reduces the fuel’s lifetime greenhouse gas emissions relative to gasoline, a new analysis concludes.

The 60 to 80 percent relative reduction in emissions "is comparable with other wood-based bioethanol processes," says May Wu of Argonne National Laboratory in Argonne, Ill., who led the independent analysis. If the wood chips contained little moisture, the reduction could be as much as 96 percent.

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Ethanol defended by President Bush

The corn-based biofuel isn't the main reason for high food prices, he says, and 'it makes sense for America to be growing energy.'
By James Gerstenzang, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer May 3, 2008

MARYLAND HEIGHTS, MO. -- President Bush on Friday defended his emphasis on ethanol to help the nation meet its energy needs even though increased production of the corn-based biofuel has been blamed for contributing to sharp increases in food prices."As you know, I'm a ethanol person," he said, explaining his belief that it can help reduce U.S. dependence on oil. "It makes sense for America to be growing energy."The president made his comments during a 20-minute speech and a rare, lengthy question-and-answer session with employees of a high-tech manufacturer.

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Monday, May 5, 2008

Hutchison urges cut in ethanol mandate

The Dallas Morning News
10:45 PM CDT on Friday, May 2, 2008
by Dave Michaels

Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison urged regulators Friday to consider reducing the nation's mandate for ethanol use, echoing concerns that its production is driving up food prices.

Ms. Hutchison rounded up 23 other Republican senators, including presidential candidate John McCain and Texas Sen. John Cornyn, to sign the letter to the Environmental Protection Agency.

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Is Ethanol Getting a Bum Rap?

Corn-based fuel isn't the villain critics contend, but shifting to other crops is critical
Business Week
by John Carey

Ethanol is taking a tumble. Once hyped as a magic brew for reducing both oil addiction and global warming, alcohol made from corn kernels is now being accused both of triggering a global food crisis and doing more ecological harm than good. Ethanol critics, ranging from environmental groups to pig farmers facing high feed prices, blame mandates from Washington and Brussels stating that billions of gallons of fuel must come from ethanol or other plant-based fuels. These critics are now fighting to get those laws repealed. "What started as an energy policy is leading to spreading hunger and political instability around the world," charges Lester Brown, president of the Earth Policy Institute. Companies are piling on, too. The Grocery Manufacturers of America has substantially stepped up its lobbying efforts to reduce the corn in gasoline.

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Georgia State Government Ordered to Reduce Energy Consumption by 2020

Published May 2, 2008

WARNER ROBINS, Ga. – As a component of the Governor’s Conserve Georgia announcements today, Governor Perdue launched the Governor’s Energy Challenge. This is a commitment by Governor Perdue that Georgia’s state government will reduce its energy usage 15 percent by 2020 over the 2007 energy use levels through energy efficiency or in combination with renewable energy. Governor Perdue is challenging Georgia’s citizens, businesses, organizations, local governments and school systems to meet the state’s 15 percent reduction goal.

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Frontline BioEnergy's gasification technology used in Minnesota ethanol plant


Frontline BioEnergy of Ames and Chippewa Valley Ethanol Co., a 45-million-gallon-a-year ethanol plant in Benson, Minn., started their biomass gasifier system on April 9 at the ethanol plant, the companies have announced.

By burning combustible gases produced from wood residues in the ethanol plant’s steam generation equipment, the amount of fossil fuel the plant uses can be reduced, the companies said.

Frontline BioEnergy developed the gasification technology, which is being installed at the plant.

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Friday, May 2, 2008

Biodiesel from Pork Fat Production Begins at Guymon
Thursday, May 01, 2008

OKLAHOMA CITY — Texas County has long been recognized as the leading agricultural county in the state. Now it is also Oklahoma’s top biofuel county.

High Plains Bioenergy, a joint venture between Seaboard Foods and Oklahoma City-based Musket Corporation, held its grand opening ceremony April 24 in Guymon, Oklahoma. Seaboard Foods President Rod Brenneman said the biodiesel plant is currently producing more than 60,000 gallons of fuel each day and will produce 30 million gallons annually at full capacity.

"We’re committed to sustainable business practices and the biodiesel plant represents this commitment well," he said.

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Beyond ethanol: Searching for the next viable green fuel

The Capital Times (Madison, WI)
Anita Weier — 4/30/2008 10:58 am

Eric Apfelbach is happy to talk about the promise of using plant sugars to produce synthetic gasoline. But anyone wanting to take a tour of Virent Energy Systems, his Madison-based company, must first sign a confidentiality agreement pledging not to reveal any trade secrets.

The request is not necessarily unusual in the world of biotechnology, but rather reflects the fierce competition among companies working to find an alternative to carbon-based coal and oil that also avoids the downsides of corn-based ethanol.

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Brazil "throws cold water" on ethanol sector-Unica

Wed Apr 30, 2008 7:32pm EDT
By Inae Riveras

RIBEIRAO PRETO, Brazil, April 30 (Reuters) - Brazil's ethanol industry cried foul on Wednesday after the government lowered a fuel tax on gasoline to limit the impact of a price rise at the refinery on consumers.

The government's move shattered the industry's hopes of improving its margins with the widely expected 10 percent hike in domestic gasoline prices that came from the state-run oil company Petrobras earlier on Wednesday. [ID:nN30543835]

Ethanol prices stay at or below 70 percent of the price of gasoline due to the lower mileage a liter of ethanol gets compared with gasoline, but gasoline prices have been held artificially low by the government which controls Petrobras.

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Farmers defend ethanol in Washington

April 30, 2008 -- Updated 0241 GMT

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Farmers and ethanol producers defended their good fortune Wednesday in the nation's capital, where more lawmakers are blaming a corn-for-fuel policy for soaring food prices.

Farmers and ethanol executives told reporters that the biofuel industry is not the culprit behind skyrocketing corn and wheat prices that have set off riots abroad and grocery sticker shock in America.

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Ethanol vs. food debate growing

Chicago Tribune
Corn for fuel leaves less to fill stomachs
By Joshua Boak Tribune Reporter
May 1, 2008

Before milk prices started spiraling, before gas prices passed $3.50 and before food riots broke out in several countries, ethanol was the darling of energy alternatives. It gave jobs to rural communities and offered an alternative to foreign oil.

Now, ethanol is a source of bitter controversy, as rising consumer prices have led to new questions about whether corn can serve as both food and fuel without dramatically upsetting the foundations of America's economy.

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Thursday, May 1, 2008

Shipping industry not prepared for biofuel future
29 April 2008

The shipping industry must act quickly to prepare for the international drive towards biofuels, as ships will be a critical link in the supply chain and may be encouraged to run on the environmentally friendly energy source, said Lloyd's Register CEO Richard Sadler.

Growing demand for biocargoes will require additional vessels, he said, adding that with increasing environmental pressures, requirements for these ships would further increase.

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Expect biofuel from grass soon!

Rediff - India Abroad
Commodity Online April 30, 2008 15:53 IST

Forget the controversy over fuel from corn, sugarcane and wheat, here comes biofuel from grass to save the world from food crisis. In an effort to produce biofuel from a variety of elephant grass, Monsanto Co of Creve Coeur and Mendel Biotechnology Inc are joining hands.

According to the two companies, Monsanto will lend its crop-testing, breeding and seed-production expertise to the Bioenergy Seeds & Feedstocks unit of Mendel, based in Hayward, California.

Mendel will apply this knowledge to a type of elephant grass from China, which is not grown in the US, in hopes of developing a plentiful and easily grown source of fuel for the world's growing number of trucks and cars.

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Ceres Introduces the First Seed Brand for Bioenergy Crops

Press Release
Source: Ceres, Inc.

Tuesday April 29, 3:00 pm ET

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif., April 29 /PRNewswire/ -- Energy crop company Ceres, Inc. plans to market its agricultural seeds and traits under the trade name Blade Energy Crops in the United States. Company president and CEO Richard Hamilton unveiled the new brand at the BIO World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology in Chicago earlier today.

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University of Missouri offers bioenergy fellowships

Published Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The agricultural economics department at the University of Missouri is recruiting three qualified candidates for doctorates in bioenergy economics thanks to funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The USDA National Needs Fellowships seek to train scientists in areas of expertise where there is a national need, and MU was selected for its focus on bioenergy technology, policy development, and changes in the domestic and global biofuel markets in the next two decades.

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