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

Friday, May 29, 2009

By LISA LERER 5/26/09 4:24 AM EDT

Rural Democrats are threatening to vote against climate change legislation unless the Environmental Protection Agency halts new proposals that could hamper the development of corn ethanol.

Ethanol has long been an energy third rail in Congress, with lawmakers — particularly those from the Midwest and other states with large agricultural industries — clamoring to support the biofuel both to transition away from foreign energy and to support rural economies. But in recent years, environmentalists, livestock producers and grocery manufacturers have raised concerns about the fuel, claiming that it threatens to exacerbate global warming and that it raises food prices.

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Corn Cob Ethanol Looks OK for Soil

Dakota Farmer
By: Lon Tonneson
Published: May 28, 2009

Study funded by POET indicates that fertilizer rates won't have to rise.
POET says that research it funded at Iowa State University shows it is economically and environmental okay to make ethanol out of corn cobs.

POET is making ethanol from corn cobs at a pilot plant in Scotland, S.D., and is planning to go commercial with the process at its Emmetsburg, Iowa, plant in 2011. The company also operates several other plants in South Dakota and corn cob ethanol could be added to those facilities.

Removing corn cobs from fields appears to have no substantial impact on soil nutrient content, according to the ISU study.

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Renewable Fuels Changes To EIA's Petroleum Surveys

5/28/2009 1:47:00 PM

EIA has recently implemented expanded data collection efforts to better capture ethanol, biodiesel, and other renewable liquid fuel volumes, marking an important milestone in a multi-year effort to address the growing role of renewable fuels. Congress enacted a mandate for the increased use of renewable motor fuels in the Energy Policy Act of 2005. That same law also authorized EIA to collect better data on renewable fuels. The need for better renewable fuels data became even more important when the mandate for renewable fuel use was significantly expanded by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which sets a target of 36 billion gallons of renewable fuel use by 2022.

In response to these developments, EIA requested, and was provided with, funding to improve its renewable fuels data collections. Following a redesign of our existing survey forms, and the creation of some new ones, the first phase of this project was completed in early 2009 with changes to the Petroleum Supply Monthly (PSM). The March PSM featuring January 2009 data, adds renewable fuels, displays fuel ethanol supply and demand, and incorporates ethanol production into supply and disposition tables.

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Excluding forest carbon from climate policy will spur massive deforestation
May 28, 2009

Failure to develop policies that account for emissions from land use change will lead to widespread deforestation and higher costs for addressing climate change, warn researchers writing in the journal Science.

Using a computer model that incorporates economics, energy, agriculture, land-use changes, emissions and concentrations of greenhouse gases, a team of researchers from the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) and the University of Maryland found that efforts to limit atmospheric carbon dioxide levels while ignoring emissions from terrestrial sources would lead to nearly a complete loss of unmanaged forests by 2100, resulting largely from increased expansion of bioenergy crops. Meanwhile placing a value ("tax") on terrestrial carbon emissions equivalent to that on industrial and fossil fuel emissions would lead to an increase in forest cover.

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North Dakota university researchers to turn used ties into 'green' energy

The University of North Dakota’s Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC) recently began a demonstration of a clean energy system designed to convert used railroad ties into heat and power.

The EERC is working with Aboriginal Cogeneration Corp. (ACC) of Winnipeg, Manitoba, to convert biomass to energy in environmentally friendly ways. The company plans to install two 1-megawatt commercial clean power systems at a demonstration site northeast of Vancouver in Kamloops, British Columbia.

The EERC and ACC have reached a major milestone in generating power from discarded rail ties, according to the research center. Ties are chipped before being fed into a power system, which operates at a much lower pressure and flow rate compared with other similar systems.

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

POET to outline cellulosic ethanol's present, future
May 26, 2009
Sioux Falls, S.D.

Rapid advancements in producing cellulosic ethanol and the fuel's promise for the future will be highlighted by POET next week at Ethanol Summit 2009 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

POET Director of Corporate Affairs Doug Berven will be one of four panelists in a plenary session titled “Second Generation Ethanol: Realities and Possibilities” from 2-4 p.m. Monday, June 1 at the Sheraton World Trade Center in Sao Paulo. Joining Berven will be Novozymes CEO Steen Riisgaard, CanaVialis-Monsanto President Ricardo Madureira and BP Biofuels General Manager for Technology Ian Dobson.

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Renewable energy brings modern-day gold rush
The Kansas City Star

GOLDEN, Colo. Dreams of renewable energy riches have set off a scramble not seen since miners rushed into these surrounding hills in search of shiny nuggets.

“This is like a land rush with a whole bunch of people running side by side,” said David Christensen, one of the gurus of new electricity technology at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in the Colorado foothills.

The winners, he said, will find “huge pots of gold at the end.”

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Bobcat: an engine template for the future?
By: John Mortimer, 19/05/2009,

With gasoline and diesel prices in North America around US$2.12 to $2.35 a gallon – half the levels of a year ago – urgency to develop high-performance diesel engines has softened, especially as OEMs face an almost unprecedented financial plight. Ford’s product plans, for example, see its 4.4-litre V8 diesel for the F-150 delayed until 2013.

As many OEMs lack diesel engines for light-duty trucks and sports utility vehicles, pressure will grow for high performance gasoline engines with the power and torque, fuel economy and clean emissions of a diesel, especially with demands to raise CAFE standards. This raises the question of whether compacted graphite iron (CGI) will find use for cylinder blocks of North American V8 gasoline engines.

Under a shroud of secrecy, Ford, AVL and Ethanol Boosting Systems (EBS) of Cambridge, Massachusetts, working with the US Department of Energy, are testing an engine called Bobcat. Five new ‘ethanol boost’, twin-fuel turbocharged engines have been built and each variably blends gasoline and ethanol to produce diesel-like performance.

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Colombian ethanol output to surge in 2009

Wed May 27, 2009 8:58am EDT
By David Brough

LONDON (Reuters) - Colombian ethanol output is expected to more than double to 2.42 million liters a day by the end of 2009 as new projects come onstream, Agriculture Minister Andres Fernandez Acosta said on Wednesday.

He told Reuters in an interview that Colombia, the number two ethanol producer in Latin America after Brazil, was seeking new investors to join projects to boost ethanol production capacity and create jobs in the South American country.

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UNL Gathers Input on Ethanol Byproduct Studies

Nebraska Farmer
By: Compiled by staff
Published: May 25, 2009

Goal is speeding up research benefits to cattlemen.
A beef cattle advisory committee, formed last year by the Nebraska Corn Board, is reviewing ethanol byproduct research projects at UNL as a way to speed up the benefits to Nebraska cattlemen.

The aim is to make sure studies, some of which are supported by the board, more quickly benefit Nebraska's cattle industry, says Dennis Gengenbach of Smithfield. He is vice chairman of the Corn Board and chairman of its research committee.

The committee reviews the most recent research results and helps determine which direction the next set of studies should take. "This reduced the time in between research projects and more quickly spreads the knowledge base of feeding corn byproducts such as distillers grains to cattle, he adds.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Backers pleased by Iowa's energy efforts

Chicago Tribune
By MIKE GLOVER Associated Press Writer
10:00 AM CDT, May 23, 2009

DES MOINES, Iowa - Two years into an effort to boost Iowa's alternative energy industry, the state has given $35 million to established businesses, startups and academics to spur growth in the state.

In return, officials said Iowa has seen 2,300 new jobs and the state has taken its place as a leader in the field.

"We are leaders. There is no doubt about that," said Roya Stanley, who heads the Office of Energy Independence, an agency created to sharpen the state's focus on alternative energy. "Our leadership really benefits us as we enter a new era of renewable energy."

The agency coordinates the Iowa Power Fund, a four-year program that offers $100 million for alternative energy projects.

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ASA testifies federal policy undermining investor confidence in biodiesel

Biodiesel Magazine June 2009
Posted May 21, 2009

The American Soybean Association (ASA) testified today before the U.S. House of Representatives Small Business Subcommittee on Regulations, Healthcare and Trade on the impacts of outstanding regulatory policy on small biofuels producers and family farmers. Uncertainty over federal policy, such as the extension of the biodiesel tax credit, implementation of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2), and implementation of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Bioenergy Program is undermining investor confidence in the biodiesel industry.

At the top of ASA’s list of regulatory policy concerns is the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for implementation of the expanded RFS2. This Proposed Rule, released on May 5, includes several very obvious and immediate flaws and concerns.

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Research: Microbes are an option for ethanol, other biofuels

Biomass Magazine June 2009
By Lisa Gibson
Posted May 22, 2009, at 11:55 a.m. CST

Microbes may be a big player in the development of renewable fuels from cellulosic materials, researchers say, and experiments are being conducted into how they can be used to convert sugars to ethanol and mixed-generation fuels. The topic was discussed at the recent general meeting of the American Society for Microbiology.

Manufacturing ethanol from corn competes with food crops and has been accused of being responsible for rising food prices, according to the ASM. “The value of using nonfood crops is it will mitigate the significant food-versus-fuel debate,” said Tim Donohue, professor of bacteriology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and director of the U.S. DOE’s Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center.

Researchers are looking at alternative biomass as feedstocks for microorganisms to ferment into ethanol, and the research has demonstrated the concept does work, Donohue said. The most attractive is lignocellulosic biomass—wood residues, municipal paper waste, energy crops, or nonedible parts of corn such as cobs, stalks and stover.

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Dupont Danisco: cellulosic ethanol ready to be commercialized

Ethanol Producer Magazine June 2009
By Anna Austin
Report posted May 22, 2009, at 2:37 p.m. CST

The Biotechnology Industry Organization recently hosted a briefing on the progress companies are making in bringing advanced biofuels to the marketplace, and indicated it is confident that the advanced biofuel requirements of the Renewable Fuel Standard can be met.

The current cellulosic biofuel mandate is set at 1 billion gallons by 2013, with additional annual increases to 16 billion gallons in 2022. The advanced biofuel requirement also includes 1 billion gallons of biomass-based diesel by 2012.

Speakers at the briefing included DuPont Danisco Cellulosic Ethanol LLC Vice President of Commercial and Public Affairs Jack Huttner; Gevo Inc. CEO Patrick Gruber; and Novozymes North America President Lars Hansen.

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Editorial: Getting Ethanol Right

The New York Times
Published: May 23, 2009

Representative Collin Peterson is furious that the Environmental Protection Agency is doing its job. The Minnesota Democrat says the agency is trying to kill off the biofuels industry — to the dismay of the corn farmers and ethanol producers he represents. He has vowed to vote against any bill, including climate change legislation, that might require the involvement of the E.P.A.

What inspired this tirade was an E.P.A. draft proposal showing how it intended to measure the greenhouse gas emissions from corn ethanol and other renewable fuels. The agency said it will not make any final rules until it completes further research, but its preliminary findings were not flattering to corn ethanol.

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In Search of the Perfect Biofuel -- and Financing to Bring It to Market

Fri May 22, 2009 1:00pm EDT
By Marc Gunther - Marc Gunther

Funny thing about the biofuels business. Roughly 200 companies are pursuing the perfect biofuel -- as cheap as fossil fuels, adaptable to today’s infrastructure, low-carbon, sustainable and no threat to the food supply or to tropical forests. But even cutting-edge startups that say they have the puzzle just about solved can’t raise the money they need to get into commercial production.

“Everyone wants to be the first to finance the second plant,” says Arnold Klann, the CEO of biofuels firm Blue Fire Ethanol. “No one one wants to be first to finance the first one.”

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Green Plains To Buy Two VeraSun Plants News
05/25/2009 09:20 AM

AgStar Financial Services' lending group announced the sale of two ethanol plants recently acquired through VeraSun Energy's bankruptcy.

Green Plains Renewable Energy (Nasdaq: GPRE) has agreed to purchase the production facilities located near Central City and Ord, Nebraska. Purchase agreements have been signed and the sales of these facilities are expected to close in June.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Role of Biomass in Coal-to-Liquids

Biomass Magazine June 2009
By Tony Snyder

The World Coal-to-Liquids (CTL) 2009 Conference held in Washington, D.C., in March truly lived up to its name, as representatives from six continents were in attendance. Several industry heavyweights presented updates on the latest in research and commercial development. To name a few, Shenhua Group, one of China’s largest coal producers, presented information on the recent start-up of the world’s first commercial-scale direct coal-to-liquid fuel plant in China. The plant will eventually be capable of producing 2,800 tons of synthetic fuels a day. ExxonMobil discussed its methanol-to-gasoline (MTG) technology that will be used in an indirect coal-to-liquids plant, which is slated to begin operation in China later this year.

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US can benefit from combined coal and biomass fuels

Biomass Magazine June 2009
By Lisa Gibson
Posted May 20, 2009, at 1:25 p.m. CST

Liquid fuels from biomass and coal could reduce petroleum use and carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S. over the next 25 years, according to a recently released report, but producing the alternative fuels in an environmentally conscious way requires significant research, development and commercial demonstration.

‘Liquid Transportation Fuels from Coal and Biomass: Technological Status, Costs and Environmental Impacts’ looks at reducing the nation’s dependence on foreign oil by transitioning to coal and biomass liquid fuels. The report, the first in a series for the National Academies’ America’s Energy Future project, discusses existing and future technologies, environmental impacts, associated costs and barriers to deployment. The report also estimates potential deployment on three timelines: less than 10 years, from 10 to 25 years and beyond 25 years.

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Don’t Overlook Biomass Stimulus in Farm Bill

Biomass Magazine June 2009
By John Eustermann

All of the attention focused on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act may have caused many folks to overlook other energy/fuel-centric federal “stimulus” programs. As of this writing, Title IX of the Farm Bill offers a number of good programs currently waiting in the shadows of the ARRA.

The 2008 Farm Bill provides more programs and money than were available last year. Thus, a review of all of the programs under the bill is warranted, although space considerations allow for only a sampling of the programs to be presented here.

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Friday, May 22, 2009

Advanced Trailer Awards Research Grant for Biomass

University of Idaho selected as the recipient of a grant to study how trailers can be used to convert wood chips into biomass

PRLog (Press Release) – Apr 09, 2009 – Randy Hill, President of Advanced Trailer, today announced that the University of Idaho has been selected as the recipient of a grant his company will fund to study the application of Advanced Trailer’s agricultural crop drying trailer for biomass. Nearly two years ago Advanced Trailer began exploring the possibilities of using its drying trailer to remove moisture from woody mass by providing a trailer to the Herty Advanced Materials Development Center in Savannah, Georgia. This revolutionary application will remove moisture from wood chips which are used as fuel for the University of Idaho’s steam boiler plant located at their campus in Moscow, Idaho. The results of this new research at the University of Idaho will benefit biomass plants in other cities.

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First Jatropha Genome Completed by Synthetic Genomics Inc. and Asiatic Centre for Genome Technology

By: PR Newswire May. 20, 2009 05:00 AM

- Partners Analyze Jatropha Genome and Associated Microbial Genomes to Understand and Improve Plant Yield and Health to Develop Renewable Fuels, Biofertlizers, and Disease Control Solutions

LA JOLLA, California and KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, May 20 /PRNewswire/ -- Synthetic Genomics Inc. (SGI), a privately held company applying genomic-driven commercial solutions to address global issues, and Asiatic Centre for Genome Technology (ACGT), a company focused on the commercial application of genome technology to improve oil palm and other crops, today announced completion of a first draft, 10X assembly of the jatropha genome. The completed jatropha genome represents another significant milestone in the ongoing joint venture between ACGT and SGI announced in 2007. The partners previously announced completion of the oil palm genome in 2008. ACGT is a wholly owned subsidiary of Asiatic Development Berhad, an oil palm plantation company and a member of the Genting Group.

ACGT and SGI have focused on Jatropha for several reasons: it is a tropical tree that is one of the highest yielding oilseed plants in the world; it can be grown on marginal, non-food producing lands; has a very short generation time; can be productive for 30 to 40 years; and its seed oil and biomass are ideal for biofuel production. Jatropha is a non-domesticated plant which makes it an ideal subject for genetically engineered improvements.

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Biomass Project Financing Solutions in Today’s Difficult Capital Markets

Biomass Magazine June 2009
By Sue Wyka

Government grants and loan guarantees could be used to help fund biomass projects until the economy improves.

The biomass industry presents exciting new opportunities in renewable energy. As an emerging industry, there remains a lot of uncertainty around feedstock costs, supply and aggregation, technology and off-take contracts. Project finance is difficult in the best of times, but it is especially challenging in today’s capital markets. The bright side is the amount of money flowing from the federal government into renewable energy in the form of grants and loan guarantees. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, or the stimulus package, has allocated billions to renewable energy, and biomass is one of the key focus areas. By leveraging these grant, loan guarantee and tax incentive programs, as described in the table on page 55, it is possible to get a well-planned and organized biomass project funded today. These government programs will bridge the gap in funding biomass projects until the industry matures and traditional capital becomes available.

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Bio-fuels study endorses wood pellet plant; still lots of work to do

Chisago County Press (Minnesota)

Officials involved in a renewable fuels study initiated by Chisago County, said at the outset of the study that they would not focus on any one product or lone approach to renewables. The study covering Chisago, Isanti and Pine (CIP) counties was designed to learn in detail how biomass available in the three-county region might support renewable energy as a local industry. The bio-mass raw materials potentially could be processed into ethanol fuel, but those doing the study pledged to stay open minded.

True to form-- the study released recently is recommending against intensive processing of biomass into ethanol fuel. Rather, the study declares "Phase I" of a CIP bio-mass industry should start with development of a wood pellet plant somewhere in the three county region. "This is a low-tech way of getting started with converting to bio-fuel" at some time in the future, the study's executive summary states.

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Biofuel Production Will Continue to Grow
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
By James Rickman

Henry Ford was an early 20th-century visionary of alternative fuels, and planned on having his early cars powered by ethanol. In fact, his first Model T could run on gasoline combined with a biofuel alcohol mix. The car's 10 gallon (38 litre) fuel tank was mounted to the frame beneath the front seat; one variant had the carburetor (a Holley Model G) modified to run on ethyl alcohol, to be made at home by the self-reliant farmer.

Today, the global demand for alternative energy biofuels is expanding at almost 20 percent per year through 2012 to over 92 million metric tons, despite recent concerns about the impact of biofuels on the environment versus world food supplies. Market expansion is led by a more than doubling of the global market for bioethanol, with the biodiesel market achieving even more rapid growth. Other biofuels will also achieve double digit gains, though from a smaller base.

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Plastic that grows on trees, part two

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Release date: May 19, 2009

One-step process derives raw material for fuels and plastic from plants rather than crude oil

RICHLAND, Wash. – Some researchers hope to turn plants into a renewable, nonpolluting replacement for crude oil. To achieve this, scientists have to learn how to convert plant biomass into a building block for plastics and fuels cheaply and efficiently. In new research, chemists have successfully converted cellulose -- the most common plant carbohydrate -- directly into the building block called HMF in one step.

The result builds upon earlier work by researchers at the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. In that work, scientists produced HMF from simple sugars derived from cellulose. In this new work, researchers developed a way to bypass the sugar-forming step and go straight from cellulose to HMF. This simple process generates a high yield of HMF and allows the use of raw cellulose feed material, the researchers report in an upcoming issue of Applied Catalysis A.

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

President Obama Announces National Fuel Efficiency Policy

Release date: 05/19/2009
Contact Information: THE WHITE HOUSE Office of the Press Secretary 202-456-2580

WASHINGTON, DC – President Obama today – for the first time in history – set in motion a new national policy aimed at both increasing fuel economy and reducing greenhouse gas pollution for all new cars and trucks sold in the United States. The new standards, covering model years 2012-2016, and ultimately requiring an average fuel economy standard of 35.5 mpg in 2016, are projected to save 1.8 billion barrels of oil over the life of the program with a fuel economy gain averaging more than 5 percent per year and a reduction of approximately 900 million metric tons in greenhouse gas emissions. This would surpass the CAFE law passed by Congress in 2007 required an average fuel economy of 35 mpg in 2020.

“In the past, an agreement such as this would have been considered impossible,” said President Obama. “That is why this announcement is so important, for it represents not only a change in policy in Washington, but the harbinger of a change in the way business is done in Washington. As a result of this agreement, we will save 1.8 billion barrels of oil over the lifetime of the vehicles sold in the next five years. And at a time of historic crisis in our auto industry, this rule provides the clear certainty that will allow these companies to plan for a future in which they are building the cars of the 21st century.”

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New Process Touted as Breakthrough for Cellulosic Ethanol
Written by Dave Tyler
Published on May 20th, 2009

Mascoma Corp. says it has found a way to remove several steps from the process of making cellulosic ethanol, cutting the cost and time it takes to make the fuel, while increasing yields.

The Lebanon, N.H.-based company says it has made advances in consolidated bioprocessing, a process that uses engineered microorganism to make ethanol from cellulosic biomass, such as grasses, stalks and wood waste. Mascoma’s CBP process eliminates the need to produce costly cellulase enzymes, by producing the cellulase and ethanol in a single step.

There are two parts to the advance, the company, which grew out of research conducted at Dartmouth College, said.

The first is the use of thermophilic bacteria, or bacteria that grow at high tempertures. Mascoma says it genetically modified a bacteria called Clostridium thermocellum, and was able to produce achieve a weight to volume ratio of 6 percent ethanol, a 60 percent increase over results from a year ago. Strains of the bacteria also helped reduce unwanted acid byproducts and can convert cellulose at a higher rate, without the help of cellulase.

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As Other States Pull Back, Kansas Accelerates Innovation Investments at Bio International Convention

Cloud Computing Journal
By: PR Newswire
May. 19, 2009 12:26 PM

$11 Million in New Projects Approved in Atlanta

ATLANTA, May 19 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Meeting at the world's largest bioscience and biotechnology convention, the Kansas Bioscience Authority has approved more than $11 million in new investments as part of a $581 million initiative to help researchers and businesses thrive in the state.

The funding decisions made at the Bio International Convention will create bioscience centers of innovation in biomaterials and plant biology, expand cancer drug development efforts, and create a strong bioenergy research partnership between the University of Kansas and the Archer Daniels Midland Company.

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Oklahoma draws biofuel interest at BIO 2009
Published: May 20, 2009

Switchgrass is popular topic in Atlanta for Noble Foundation officials

ATLANTA — The exhibition hall at the BIO 2009 trade show had been opened for only a few minutes Tuesday morning when a visitor to the Oklahoma booth inquired about switchgrass as a biofuel alternative.

Steve Rhines, vice president and general counsel with the Noble Foundation patiently answered the questions from the visitor from Taiwan.

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Lux Research Inc. Issues Report on Biofuels Industry Need to Shift Focus From Feedstock Technology to Downstream Value Chains and Vehicles

BioFuels Journal
Date Posted: May 13, 2009

Boston, MA—After 30 years of progress, the biofuels industry has plunged over a cliff amidst rancorous debate over its near-negligible carbon mitigation, competition for arable land, and poor economics.

Opportunities remain for the industry, but in order to rise again, biofuel developers and investors will need to change their technology-push approach, warns a new report from Lux Research.

Rather than just investing in technology to boost feedstock productivity, for example, the sector needs to expand niche markets and make end-use easier.

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Integrated microbial genomes expert review goes primetime

May 19, 2009

WALNUT CREEK, CA - After a genome is sequenced and automatically annotated, researchers often manually review the predicted genes and their functions in order to improve accuracy and coverage across the vast genetic code of the particular target organism or community of organisms. These annotations drive the publication of high-profile science relevant to advancing bioenergy research and our understanding of biogeochemistry --the biological, chemical, physical, and geological processes that regulate our environment.

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Joint Genome Institute (JGI) and the Biological Data Management and Technology Center (BDMTC) at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have launched the Expert Review (ER) version of the Integrated Microbial Genomes (IMG) system. IMG ER supports and enhances the review and revision of annotations for both publicly available genome datasets and those newly released from private institutions.

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Legislation seeks to exclude indirect land use change from RFS2 rulemaking

Ethanol Producer Magazine June 2009
By Erin Voegele
Web exclusive posted May 19, 2009, at 5:00 p.m. CST

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., and Ranking Member Frank Lucas, R-Okla., along with a bipartisan group of 42 members of Congress recently introduced legislation that seeks alter certain provisions of the Renewable Fuel Standard.

The legislation, titled the Renewable Fuel Standard Improvement Act (H.R. 2409), would eliminate the requirement that the U.S. EPA consider indirect land use when calculating the greenhouse gas emissions associated with advanced biofuels. It also strikes the restrictive definition of renewable biomass that was included in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, and replaces it with the definition included in the 2008 Farm Bill. According to the House Agriculture Committee, the Farm Bill definition of renewable biomass was developed in consultation with appropriate federal agencies and other congressional committees and was discussed and debated in a transparent manner, unlike the EISA definition, which was never openly discussed or debated in Congress.

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Biomass conversion in Madison could begin next year (Journal-Sentinel Milwaukee, Wisconsin)
By Thomas Content of the Journal Sentinel
May. 19, 2009

Construction could start next year on a plan to convert the Charter Street heating plant from burning coal to burning biomass and natural gas, a state official said Tuesday.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison’s main heating plant would be converted at a cost of $251 million, in a project that’s already been approved by the state Building Commission but still needs legislative approval.

Pending approvals from the city of Madison and Department of Natural Resources, construction could start next spring and the plant could be operational by 2013, said Alan Fish, associate vice chancellor for facilities at UW-Madison.

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Biofuels at risk

Des Moines Register
Green Fields: Agriculture and Alternative Energy
By Philip Brasher • • May 11, 2009

The ethanol industry is in a slump, and the biodiesel business is all but a standstill. Are there some lessons that could be learned from this that can be applied to next-generation fuels? Ross McCracken, editor of Platts Energy Economist, thinks so and he’s laid them out in an analysis.

Biofuels producers didn’t take into account sufficiently the potential risks of a downturn in energy prices, or the possibility that agricultural commodity prices could increase sharply, according to McCracken.

“Three elements appear to have been missing in the assessment of market risk; a lack of understanding of the dynamics of the agricultural markets that governed feedstock prices; a complimentary lack of focus on the differential between oil and feedstock prices; and an underestimation of the increased impact that even seemingly marginal activities would have on an already stressed supply chain.”

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Ethanol-Gasoline Fuel Blends May Cause Human Health Risks and Engine Issues

Environmental Working Group
Executive Summary
May 15, 2009
By Olga V. Naidenko, PhD, Senior Scientist, May 2009

In March 2009 corn ethanol producers asked for help from the federal government to expand their industry. Growth Energy, a consortium of ethanol producers, petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to allow 50% more ethanol in gasoline than is currently permitted, requesting approval for E15 fuel (a mixture of gasoline with 15% ethanol) (Growth Energy 2009).

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EIA: Expectations Dim for a Near-Term Growth in Oil Demand

The global oil market for 2009 looks weaker today than it did a month ago, according to DOE's Energy Information Administration (EIA). The EIA's "Short-Term Energy Outlook," released yesterday, projects a fall in global oil consumption of 1.8 million barrels per day in 2009, a decline that is 0.4 million barrels per day larger than the EIA projected in April.

The EIA notes the initial data for the first quarter of 2009 shows high oil inventories, weak oil consumption, and higher-than-expected oil production, all of which are maintaining downward pressure on oil prices. Crude oil prices are now projected to average $52 per barrel in 2009 and only $58 per barrel in 2010, with the latter projection falling $5 below the EIA's projection released in April.

That's good news at the pump for consumers, who are projected to pay an average of $2.12 per gallon of regular-grade gasoline this year and only $2.30 per gallon next year, while diesel fuel users are projected to pay $2.26 per gallon, on average, in 2009 and $2.48 per gallon in 2010. However, that news is less welcome for fuel efficiency advocates and producers of competing energy sources, such as biofuels, who are facing narrow profit margins. See the EIA's "Short-Term Energy Outlook" and the accompanying chart of World Liquid Fuels Consumption.

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Biofuel Production Will Continue to Grow

Seeking Alpha
by: James Rickman May 18, 2009

Henry Ford was an early 20th-century visionary of alternative fuels, and planned on having his early cars powered by ethanol. In fact, his first Model T could run on gasoline combined with a biofuel alcohol mix. The car's 10 gallon (38 litre) fuel tank was mounted to the frame beneath the front seat; one variant had the carburetor (a Holley Model G) modified to run on ethyl alcohol, to be made at home by the self-reliant farmer.

Read the full story

EPA lists air pollution, engine warranties as concerns (South Dakota)
Thom Gabrukiewicz • • May 19, 2009

As ethanol groups fight for the chance to blend more of the fuel into the nation's gasoline supply, opponents say such a move would threaten engine warranties and raise health concerns, and on Monday they urged the Environmental Protection Agency Monday not to increase the blend ratio.

In March, the ethanol trade group Growth Energy and 54 ethanol manufacturers submitted a waiver request to the EPA to allow the nation's gasoline supply to be blended with 15 percent ethanol, saying the increase from 10 percent would create jobs by the thousands and jump-start the rural economy.

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Reportlinker Adds World Biomass, Biomass and Waste-to-Energy Market Report
Posted : Mon, 18 May 2009 06:36:30 GMT
Author : ReportLinker

NEW YORK - (Business Wire) announces that a new market research report is available in its catalogue.

World Biomass, Biomass and Waste-to-Energy Market

This report analyzes the worldwide markets for Biomass, Biomass and Waste-to-Energy in terms of installed capacity (MW) and electricity generation (Million kWh).

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DOE invests in energy research centers

Ethanol Producer Magazine June 2009
By Hope Deutscher
Web exclusive posted May 15, 2009, at 1:41 p.m. CST

The U.S. DOE recently announced that the agency’s Office of Science will invest $777 million in Energy Frontier Research Centers over the next five years. Forty-six multi-million dollar EFRCs will be established at universities, national laboratories, nonprofit organizations and privation firms in an effort to accelerate the scientific breakthroughs required to build a new 21st century energy economy.

The centers will be funded through President Obama’s Recovery and Reinvestment Act. According to the federal government, the EFRCs will bring together leading scientists to address a variety of issues ranging from biofuels, advanced nuclear systems, solar energy, electricity storage and carbon capture and sequestration. The 45 centers will receive between $2 million and $5 million per year for a planned initial five-year period. The DOE issued a solicitation in 2008 and received approximately 260 applications. Over 110 institutions from 36 states and the District of Columbia will participate in the EFRC projects. Approximately a third of the researchers will be supported by Recovery Act funding, the DOE and White House said.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Record Corn Used for Ethanol Expected in 2009/10

USDA Feed Outlook
May 14, 2009

This report summarizes the initial U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) supply and
demand projections and U.S. price prospects for the 2009/10 marketing year. Because
planting of spring crops is still under way in the Northern Hemisphere and remains
several months away in the Southern Hemisphere, these projections are highly tentative.
Projections are based on USDA surveys, economic analysis, judgment, and the
assumption of normal weather.

Read the report

DOE Secretary Chu Announces $2.4 Billion in Funding for Carbon Capture and Storage Projects

Biofuels Journal
Date Posted: May 15, 2009

Washington, D.C.—U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu announced May 15 at the National Coal Council that $2.4 billion from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will be used to expand and accelerate the commercial deployment of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology.

The funding is part of the Obama Administration's ongoing effort to develop technologies to reduce the emission of carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse gas and contributor to global climate change, into the atmosphere while creating new jobs.

"To prevent the worst effects of climate change, we must accelerate our efforts to capture and store carbon in a safe and cost-effective way.

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Renewable Fuel Standard Improvement Act Introduced

Farm Futures
(5/15/2009) Farm Futures Staff

Bipartisan legislation to protect domestic biofuel industry corrects unfair government restrictions.

Thursday House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., and Ranking Member Frank Lucas, R-Okla., along with a bipartisan group of 42 members of Congress introduced a bill to correct flawed provisions in the Renewable Fuel Standard, which limit the potential for clean, homegrown renewable biofuels to meet the nation's energy needs.

"The unreasonable restrictions placed on the biofuels industry in the 2007 Energy Bill were never debated by Congress, and I've spent the past two years trying to undo the damage that we're seeing now that EPA has published the proposed regulations that will make it impossible to meet the RFS," Peterson said. "In order to ensure that a clean, homegrown biofuels industry will succeed in the United States, we need to have Federal energy policies are flexible, practical, and innovative."

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Land use change theory stirs controversy

Illinois AgriNews
Monday, May 18, 2009 By Nat Williams (618) 932-3041

WASHINGTON — The latest buzz phrase catching the attention — and the ire — of ethanol advocates is indirect land use change, or ILUC.

Traces of that theory, first promulgated by scientists in 2004 and brought to the forefront of government policy by the state of California, is included in the latest budget proposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Ethanol proponents are expressing concerns about a new rule that targets not only gasoline, but also corn-based ethanol.

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The Great Ethanol Scam

Business Week

Not only is ethanol proving to be a dud as a fuel substitute but there is increasing evidence that it is destroying engines in large numbers
By Ed Wallace

"Does the average citizen understand what this means? In from 10 to 20 years this country will be dependent entirely upon outside sources for a supply of liquid fuels … paying out vast sums yearly in order to obtain supplies of crude oil from Mexico, Russia, and Persia."—Yale Professor Harold Hibbert, ethanol promoter, 1925

More than one major transportation-based industry in America besides Detroit is on the ropes. For the fourth time in our history the ethanol industry has come undone and is quickly failing nationally. Of course it's one thing when Detroit collapsed with the economy; after all, that is a truly free-market enterprise and the economy hasn't been good. But the fact that the ethanol industry is going bankrupt, when the only reason we use this additive is a massive government mandate, is outrageous at best.

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The black, white, and grey, of ethanol

The Wall Street Journal MarketWatch
May 14, 2009, 10:26 p.m. EST
By Shawn Langlois, MarketWatch

E10, E15, and how much energy it takes to make and burn the biofuels

SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) -- The straight skinny on ethanol as a means to wean the U.S. from foreign oil isn't easy to come by. Corn farmers might point to one study espousing its upside, while plenty of others would be at the ready, armed with a contradictory report.

But there are some aspects of the oft-misunderstood renewable fuel source that are more black and white than others. Here are some ways to clear those up.

The cellulosic kind, which is produced from wood, grasses and other non-edible vegetation, looks to be the future for ethanol as arguments for corn-based ethanol are losing ground.

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Despite headwinds, ethanol fuels hopes of economic stability in the Corn Belt

Medill Reports
by Bridget Macdonald May 14, 2009

In June 2008, corn prices soared to $7.50 a bushel on high demand after spring flooding in the Midwest forced farmers to replant. When prices dropped in July, ethanol producers who had locked in at high prices began to flounder. Since the onset of the recession in September, declining fuel consumption has compounded their problems.Yet while producers across the industry are reeling in the recession, some are cautiously moving forward, banking on federal support and recovering oil prices to return profitability to the ethanol market.

In 2006, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency received 32 applications for permits to construct new ethanol facilities in the state; only four of the projects have broken ground.

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National Resources Defense Council Drafts Recommendations for Clean Energy and Carbon Pollution Cap Program for Midwest Governors Assn.

BioFuels Journal
Date Posted: May 13, 2009

Chicago—The Midwest took a giant step toward building a clean energy future for the region and the nation on Tuesday according to policy and legal experts from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

Environmentalists, energy utilities, petroleum and manufacturing business representatives agreed to a set of recommendations for a clean energy and carbon pollution cap program to move national and regional global warming policy.

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Biofuels Battle: House, Senate Bills Push Back Against New Ethanol Rules

Wall Street Journal Blogs
May 15, 2009, 3:06 PM ET
By Keith Johnson

Biofuel defenders are howling about the Obama administration’s new environmental standards, announced earlier this month and which are meant to take into account the “indirect” environmental effects of growing more crops for fuel.

This week, as Tom Philpott at Grist notes, legislation was introduced in the House to roll back the Environmental Protection Agency’s new remit to hold ethanol (and all biofuels) responsible for all their greenhouse-gas emissions.

The thing is, biofuel proponents didn’t even wait. South Dakota Sen. John Thune pre-emptively struck out at the EPA’s new rules last month, introducing legislation that would offer the U.S. biofuel industry all sorts of escape hatches from complying with new environmental rules.

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Monday, May 18, 2009

In face of crises, states must ‘act together’ now, or risk cycle of poverty, despair...


says Secretary-General at Sustainable Development Commission’s high-level segment

Source: United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)
Date: 13 May 2009

Commission on Sustainable DevelopmentSeventeenth Session9th & 10th Meetings* (AM & PM)
Chair Says Old Solutions No Longer Fit Twenty-First Century Challenges; Round Table on "Responding to the Food Crisis through Sustainable Development"

In the midst of a global recession and ongoing food price crisis, "things can deteriorate frighteningly fast", United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned today, as he urged the Commission on Sustainable Development to look beyond short-term measures and agree on a set of policy decisions that would revitalize agriculture, support small farmers and promote food security for all.

"It is but a short step from hunger to starvation, from disease to death," Secretary-General Ban said in a sobering opening address to the high-level segment of the Commission's seventeenth session, which is expected to culminate Friday with concrete policy options to drive practicable actions on agriculture, rural development, land, drought, desertification and Africa. The day's programme included one ministerial-level plenary round table and two smaller interactive discussions on "Responding to the food crisis through sustainable development".

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Fight over biomass - Law making it difficult for businesses to expand
By ROB CHANEY of the Missoulian

After generations of disrespect, wood refuse is the material of the moment. It took two days to run through all the ways it can be thermochemically converted into gasoline, mixed with coal dust for clean-burning pellet fuel or cooked into charcoal to capture carbon emissions at the Montana Bioenergy Workshop in Missoula.And that's assuming it hasn't been assigned to more traditional uses like paper and particleboard.

"It's one of the biggest fears we have - that everybody else will take our fuel and burn it,” Roseburg Forest Products Co. plant manager Ken Cole told a group of bioenergy pioneers during a tour of his Missoula factory Tuesday. “The market for pellets and biomass is putting massive pressure on us.”

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Mini Ethanol Refineries Hit the Market

Thu May 14, 2009 7:20pm EDT
By ClimateBiz Staff - ClimateBiz Staff

As the debate over ethanol heats up with creation of a federal biofuels working group and a new Renewable Fuel Standard, a Texas company has made it easier for businesses, farms and municipalities to produce their own.

The systems could benefit companies who want to use alternative fuels in their fleets, potentially save money and simplify their supply chains, but face challenges with the limited availability.

Dallas-based Allard Research and Development LLC unveiled the mini refineries capable of producing 100, 200, 500 or 1,000 gallons of ethanol per day, depending on the model. The systems are available in either automated or manual versions.

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Friday, May 15, 2009

EPA responds to vocal ethanol rating critic

Agriculture Online
Dan Looker
Successful Farming magazine Business Editor
5/12/2009, 3:09 PM CDT

The Environmental Protection Agency has responded to an Iowa senator who says it shouldn't be rating the carbon footprint of ethanol based on estimates of how farmers are planting virgin timber and grasslands in other nations.

Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) a long time advocate of ethanol production, repeated his criticism of the EPA's methods Tuesday.

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More Corn for Ethanol and Exports
Posted by Cindy Zimmerman – May 12th, 2009

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is expecting more corn to be made into ethanol and exported overseas this year, but less to be fed to livestock.

According to the May World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates released on Tuesday morning, total U.S. corn use for 2009/10 is projected to be three percent higher than the current year with higher expected food, seed, and industrial (FSI) use and exports more than offsetting a decline in projected feed and residual use.

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Meltdown 101: How are food prices set?

Associated Press
By EMILY FREDRIX May 13, 2009

In a sour economy, you can pad your budget by cutting out cable, trips to restaurants and vacations. But you can't cut out food.

Americans spend about 12.5 percent of their budgets on food each year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That means many families' finances are at the mercy of fluctuations in food prices, which soared last year and now are retreating.

What determines just how much you pay at the supermarket for a loaf of bread or a bag of chips?

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Grassley: Land issue didn’t seem ‘big deal’

Des Moines Register
By Philip Brasher • • May 12, 2009

Sen. Charles Grassley said today that he didn’t think the land-use issue “was a big deal” when Congress approved an energy bill requiring the EPA to measure the greenhouse gas emissions of biofuels.

Grassley is among a number of lawmakers who are complaining that the agency calculated impacts on land use in determining the carbon emissions caused by producing ethanol and biodiesel. The theory is that diverting food crops to biofuels in the United States can lead to destruction of rain forests, peat bogs and grasslands elsewhere in the world, releasing carbon into the atmosphere.

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RFA: Time Magazine Tirade on Biofuels Unfounded
Date Posted: May 12, 2009

Washington—In the Renewable Fuels Association’s ongoing effort to let no unsubstantiated claim about ethanol and America’s renewable fuels industry go unanswered, RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen sent the following letter to the editors of Time Magazine, once again objecting to the unbalanced and factually inaccurate reporting/editorializing on biofuels by Michael Grunwald:

Dear editor:
Michael Grunwald’s “Stress Test” for biofuels doesn’t pass the sniff test of objective and credible journalism.

While we agree the newly released “Stress Test” for biofuels was rigged, it was not in favor of biofuels as Mr. Grunwald mistakenly contends.

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House Ag Subcommittee Blasts New EPA Rulemaking on Greenhouse Gases
Date Posted: May 11, 2009

The House Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation, Credit, Energy, and Research held a hearing May 6 to review the impact of the indirect land use and renewable biomass provisions in the renewable fuel standard.

"We are very upset with the path EPA has taken us down and sent that message back loud and clear in this hearing," said Chairman Tim Holden of Pennsylvania.

"If we continue with these provisions in EISA, we will not only harm the biofuels industry but also shortchange a large part of the country before we even get started.

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Stress-Testing Biofuels: How the Game Was Rigged

Time Magazine
By Michael Grunwald
Tuesday, May. 12, 2009

Last week, while the financial world was obsessing over stress tests for fragile banks, the environmental and agricultural worlds were watching the results of the Obama Administration's stress tests for renewable fuels. An outgrowth of the 2007 energy bill, the tests were supposed to document whether corn ethanol and other biofuels designed to replace fossil fuels would accelerate or alleviate global warming overall. But like the much-criticized bank checkups, these stress tests don't seem particularly stressful.

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Forest2Market Announces New Wood Bioenergy Newsletter: Forest2Fuel

Forest2Market, Inc.® will produce the first issue of its new wood bioenergy newsletter, Forest2Fuel, in June.

Charlotte, NC (PRWEB ) May 12, 2009 -- Forest2Market, Inc.® will produce the first issue of its new wood bioenergy newsletter, Forest2Fuel, in June. Published bi-monthly, Forest2Fuel will cover the state of the wood bioenergy industry in the United States as well as international factors affecting U.S. markets.

The newsletter rounds out the suite of products and services that Forest2Market provides for wood bioenergy companies, which includes proprietary resource studies assessing feedstock requirements and availability and a fuel price benchmark companies can use to index feedstock prices in their supply and power purchase agreements.

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

VVS to be bioenergy demonstration site (heart of New York State)

VERONA — Vernon-Verona-Sherrill High School is growing its curriculum with a demonstration trial of shrub willow bioenergy crops.

Researchers at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF) will be planting a 2.5 acre field of shrub willow adjacent to the high school, on Beacon Light Road, on Wednesday. The trial will show the potential of shrub willow to grow on marginal agricultural land and provide wood chips that can be used as fuel in power plants, for heating, and as a feedstock for cellulosic biofuels. The planting demonstration will begin at 1 p.m. and is open to growers, bioenergy professionals, and the interested public.

"VVS is the perfect site for a long-term demonstration of the growth potential of shrub willow varieties we’ve produced in our breeding program — it is easily accessible and in a region of the State where there is great interest in renewable energy technology and plenty of land suitable to grow willow" says Dr. Larry Smart, sssociate professor in Environmental and Forest Biology at SUNY-ESF and the project leader.

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Biofuel for Jets Could Cut Carbon Emissions Over 80 Percent
Monday, May 11, 2009

The seeds of a lowly weed could cut jet fuel's cradle-to-grave carbon emissions by 84 percent.

David Shonnard, Robbins Chair Professor of Chemical Engineering, conducted an analysis of jet fuel made from camelina oil to measure its carbon dioxide emissions over the course of its life cycle, from planting to tailpipe. "Camelina jet fuel exhibits one of the largest greenhouse gas emission reductions of any agricultural feedstock-derived biofuel I've ever seen," he said. "This is the result of the unique attributes of the crop--its low fertilizer requirements, high oil yield, and the availability of its coproducts, such as meal and biomass, for other uses."

Camelina sativa originated in Europe and is a member of the mustard family, along with broccoli, cabbage and canola. Sometimes called false flax or gold-of-pleasure, it thrives in the semi-arid conditions of the Northern Plains; the camelina used in the study was grown in Montana.

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NCGA Paper Summarizes Ethanol Regulatory Actions

Corn & Soybean Digest
May 12, 2009 10:41 AM, Source: National Corn Growers Association

A new white paper from the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) provides a clear and concise summary of recent regulatory action related to corn ethanol. Two are at the federal level, with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and one was a recent action by the state of California’s Air Resources Board. This is part of an effort to ensure growers and others are aware of recent events, what NCGA’s position is and what action should be taken in support the growers’ interests and the interests of the ethanol industry.

“With so much going on at such a busy time for our growers, information such as this is important for keeping them informed and engaged,” says Steve Ruh, chairman of NCGA’s ethanol committee and a grower from Sugar Grove, IL. “Our growers are in the midst of a hectic planting season, but they need to know that they will have a secure and stable market come harvest time.”

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A Catalyst For the Future: WFU researchers are developing a cheaper way to make biodiesel

Winston-Salem Journal Now
By Richard Craver Journal Reporter
Published: May 2, 2009

Biodiesel is not likely to replace gasoline as the main source of transportation fuel in most of our lifetimes.

But researchers at Wake Forest University are convinced that they have a formula for a catalyst that could lower the cost of producing biodiesel enough so that it could provide 5 percent of the nation's needs.

"If we, as a nation, can do that, that's enough biodiesel to replace the need for oil from a country such as Iraq," said Abdessadek Lachgar, a chemistry professor at the university and one of two officials supervising the project along with Marcus Wright, a lab manager and investigator in the biodiesel work.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Innovation centers request $50 million for research (Lawrence [Kansas] Journal-World & News)
By Christine Metz
May 8, 2009

Two centers of innovation in Kansas — one focused on making biomaterials and the other looking to use technology to enhance plants — are asking the Kansas Bioscience Authority for a combined $50 million in funding.

Both centers presented their requests Thursday to KBA’s investment committee. The committee wanted a few more details before passing along funding recommendations to the entire board.

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EDITORIAL: Is wind the next ethanol?

Energy Current
From the Web via YellowBrix 5/8/2009 11:17:09 PM GMT

WASHINGTON D.C.: Repeating past mistakes has long been a part of Washington's energy policy, but Congress used to wait a while before making the same blunder again. Not anymore. New legislation requiring wind energy closely resembles the ethanol mandate that sparked a backlash just last year.

For many years, wind has benefited from generous tax credits and subsidies, but it still provides less than 2 percent of the nation's electricity. By comparison, coal supplies around 50 percent (and with considerably fewer federal incentives). Natural gas and nuclear, meanwhile, account for about 20 percent each.

Read the full editorial

Brasher: Pace lags for new biofuels

Des Moines Register
By PHILIP BRASHER • pbrasher@DMREG.COM • May 10, 2009

Washington, D.C. — The clock is ticking on the Obama administration’s promises to speed development of the next generation of biofuels.

There isn’t a commercial-scale plant in operation making ethanol from crop residue and other types of plant cellulose, the stuff that’s supposed to replace corn as the feedstock of the future for biofuels.

The biomass fuel isn’t economical yet, and there are obstacles still to be overcome, including how to harvest, transport and store the huge amounts of biomass required.

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BIO’s “Amaizing Microbes: Synthetic Biology Emerges as Key to Biofuels Future” highlights synbio, drop in fuels

Biofuels Digest
May 11, 2009 Jim Lane

In Georgia, the organizers of the upcoming BIO annual convention (Atlanta, May 18-21) have prepared an excellent summary of the advancing role of synthetic biology in the development of advanced biofuels, titled “Amaizing Microbes: Synthetic Biology Emerges as Key to Biofuels Future.”

The article dramatically quotes MIT’s Drew Endy: “There is no technical barrier to synthesizing plants and animals, it will happen as soon as anyone pays for it,” and highlights efforts by companies such as Gevo, Amyris and LS9 to pioneer designer fuels to produce microbes that secrete drop-in fuels such as green diesel, green gasoline and butanol, while consuming plant cellulose for energy.

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See the summary of articles

Salazar Announces $305 Million Economic Stimulus Investment

Department of the Interior

through the Bureau of Land Management to Restore Landscapes, Develop Renewable Energy, and Create Jobs

Red Rock National Conservation Area, NV – Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today announced $305 million will fund more than 650 Bureau of Land Management projects across the country under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The investments will restore landscapes and habitat, spur renewable energy development on public lands, and create jobs.

Overall, the Department of the Interior will manage $3 billion in investments as part of the recovery plan signed by the President to jumpstart our economy, create or save jobs, and put a down payment on addressing long-neglected challenges so our country can thrive in the 21st century.

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DL-Online (Detroit Lakes)
Published May 01 2009

Minnesota pumps up biodiesel blendRenewable fuel in Minnesota is being pumped up today, as the state’s diesel fuel supply increases from a 2 percent (B2) biodiesel blend to 5 percent (B5). The change is part of Governor Tim Pawlenty’s plan to make Minnesota the first state in the nation to require B20 by 2015.

ST. PAUL – Renewable fuel in Minnesota is being pumped up today, as the state’s diesel fuel supply increases from a 2 percent (B2) biodiesel blend to 5 percent (B5). The change is part of Governor Tim Pawlenty’s plan to make Minnesota the first state in the nation to require B20 by 2015.

Biodiesel is a homegrown, cleaner burning fuel made from domestic, renewable oils. While biodiesel has been produced mainly from soybeans to date, some Minnesota producers are now processing or are moving toward processing biodiesel from alternative feedstocks such as animal fats, spent cooking oils or even algae.

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President Obama Issues Presidential Directive to USDA to Expand Access to Biofuels; USDA, EPA and DOE to Form Biofuels Interagency Working Group
Date Posted: May 5, 2009

WASHINGTON, DC—President Obama issued a presidential directive May 5 to Secretary Tom Vilsack to aggressively accelerate the investment in and production of biofuels.

On a conference call with Energy Secretary Stephen Chu and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson, Vilsack also announced that he will help lead an unprecedented interagency effort to increase America's energy independence and spur rural economic development.

"President Obama's announcement today demonstrates his deep commitment to establishing a permanent biofuels industry in America," said Vilsack.

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Monday, May 11, 2009

University of Illinois Energy Resources Center Scientist: Peer-Reviewed Science is Required to Decide About Land Use Change Issue
Date Posted: May 8, 2009

The following is a Statement from Steffen Mueller on the need for peer-revied science to decide indirect land use change for ethanol industry


Based on the limited body of science that exists, our land use studies, and our most recent work on satellite imaging used to assess land use impact, it is clear that additional time is required before indirect land use rules can be applied with any certainty.

We are therefore encouraged by today's EPA announcement that the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS-2), specifically its treatment of indirect land use, will be subject to scientific peer review.

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Dr. Chu's budget request for the DOE

U.S. Department of Energy

FY 2010 DOE Budget Request to Congress
The following documents reflect the Department of Energy's Budget Request to Congress:
Summary Budget Documents.
Detailed Budget Justifications.

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Ethanol Crops? Lab Finds New Method To Turn Biomass Into Gasoline

The Post Chronicle
Published: May 6, 2009
by Jasmin Melvin

U.S. scientists have combined a discovery from a French garbage dump
with breakthroughs in synthetic biology to come up with a novel method for turning plant waste into gasoline, without the need of any food sources.

A synthetic biology lab at the University of California San Francisco identified a compound able to use biomass to produce a gas that can be converted into a gasoline chemically indistinguishable from fossil-fuel based petroleum.

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Purdue fuel research gets $20 million boost
By ERIC WEDDLE • • May 8, 2009

Purdue University could soon break staggering ground in biofuel research.

It was announced Thursday that the U.S. Department of Energy will devote $20 million of federal stimulus money to fund an energy center at Purdue focused on developing technology that creates gasoline-like fuel from renewable biomass.

"This is what the Department of Energy has termed high-risk, high-reward," said Maureen McCann, an associate professor of biological sciences who is leading the center nicknamed C3Bio. "It could fail or we could have success that would be tremendous."

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USGC: Japanese DDGS Pelleting Team Follows U.S. Corn From Seed to Feed
Date Posted: May 6, 2009

This article is reprinted from the April 30 USGC Global Update

The U.S. Grains Council sponsored a Japanese distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS) pelleting team to the Midwest recently to educate end-users on quality pellet production and its use in feed rations.

According to USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service, Japan imported 198,000 metric tons of U.S. DDGS in 2008, an increase of 114,000 tons from 2007.

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Friday, May 8, 2009

Biodiesel Barriers: Why New Diesel Engines Aren't Compatible With B100

Popular Mechanics

Dave Hubbard showed us how to turn grease from restaurants into fuel for his black Jetta TDI, a BMW motorcycle, bulldozers, tractors for five local farms and a tree nursery—all for the low cost of about 50 cents a gallon. Now this engineer and home-grown chemist has a warning for those who may try to follow in his footsteps: Watch what vehicle you buy. Pure biodiesel, once compatible with all diesel engines, now leads to problems in new cars.

By Dave Hubbard
Published on: April 29, 2009

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Study Finds that Styrofoam Increases Biodiesel Power Output
May 4th, 2009 by Lisa Zyga

A study shows that polystyrene - commonly found in packing peanuts, cups, and plates - can be dissolved in biodiesel to improve power output.

( -- By dissolving polystyrene packing peanuts in biodiesel, scientists have found that they can boost the power output of the fuel while getting rid of garbage at the same time.

As researchers Najeeb Kuzhiyil and Song-Charng Kong of Iowa State University explain in a recent study published in Energy and Fuels, polystyrene accounts for about 22% of all high-volume plastics, by weight. Finding a method to convert these waste plastics into energy could potentially alleviate the strain on landfills and generate electricity.
The study, funded in part by the Department of Defense, began with the goal of searching for solutions to trash disposal and power generation under battlefield conditions, where recycling is not usually an option. Although for most materials, recycling is more efficient than converting them into energy, polystyrene is so lightweight and bulky that it's uneconomical to ship to recycling plants, and may be a good candidate for fuel conversion.

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Two New Renewable Energy Maps Hit the Web

Clean Edge News

Two New Renewable Energy Maps Hit the Web

The NRDC recently launched a new mapping tool called “Renewable Energy for America” that features a broad look at both existing and proposed clean energy facilities (wind, ethanol, and biodigester) across the country.

See the map

Center to investigate plant cells for better biomass fuels

Biomass Magazine May 2009
By Lisa Gibson
Web exclusive posted May 5, 2009, at 1:13 p.m. CST

The newly funded Center for Lignocellulose Structure and Formation at Pennsylvania State University will be home to investigations into plant cells to produce better biomass fuels. The U.S. DOE will fund the center with $21 million for over five years as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, according to the university.

Daniel Cosgrove, a professor of biology, will direct the center in its efforts to increase knowledge of the physical structure of biopolymers in plant cell walls—cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin—and improve methods for the conversion of plant biomass to fuel, according to the university. Jeffrey Catchmark, a professor of agricultural and biological engineering, will serve as associate director.

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DOE Announces Up to $13 Million in Funding for Advanced Combustion and Emissions Controls R&D

U.S. Department of Energy Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
May 04, 2009

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced the selection of six cost-shared University Advanced Combustion and Emissions Controls research and development projects totaling up to $13 million in DOE funding, subject to annual appropriations.

The research projects will contribute to the development of high efficiency internal combustion engines with the goals of improving fuel economies by 20-40% in light-duty vehicles and attaining 55% brake thermal efficiency in heavy-duty engine systems. Increasing the efficiency of internal combustion engines is one of the most promising and cost-effective approaches to increasing vehicle fuel economy in the near- to mid-term.

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EPA tough on ethanol, tougher on biodiesel

Agriculture Online
Dan Looker Successful Farming magazine Editor-in-Chief
5/07/2009, 7:54 AM CDT

Proposed rules released by the Environmental Protection Agency this week have the potential to keep new ethanol plants from selling into a government mandated market. But the biodiesel industry could fare even worse.

Members of the biofuels industry on Wednesday testified before the House Agriculture Committee's subcommittee on Conservation, Credit, Energy and Research. Manning Feraci of the National Biodiesel Board said the effect of the EPA's rule, if unchanged, would be to lock soybean-based biodiesel out of the revised renewable fuels standard. And, because of that, there would not be enough biodiesel available to meet a 2012 mandate under the 2007 energy bill that requires the nation to use 1 billion gallons of biodiesel.

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Bioelectricity Promises More 'Miles Per Acre' Than Ethanol

ScienceDaily (May 7, 2009) — Biofuels such as ethanol offer an alternative to petroleum for powering our cars, but growing energy crops to produce them can compete with food crops for farmland, and clearing forests to expand farmland will aggravate the climate change problem. How can we maximize our "miles per acre" from biomass?

Researchers writing in the online edition of the journal Science on May 7 say the best bet is to convert the biomass to electricity, rather than ethanol. They calculate that, compared to ethanol used for internal combustion engines, bioelectricity used for battery-powered vehicles would deliver an average of 80% more miles of transportation per acre of crops, while also providing double the greenhouse gas offsets to mitigate climate change.

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Thursday, May 7, 2009

BIOMASS conference breaks attendance record

Biomass Magazine May 2009
By Craig Johnson
Web news posted May 1, 2009, at 10:04 a.m. CDT

The 2009 International BIOMASS Conference & Expo, the largest conference in North America dedicated to biomass derived power, fuels and chemicals, grew by more than 20 percent with a record attendance of 1,034 conferees in Portland, Oregon. More than 700 companies from around the world were represented, and the sold-out expo hall had 133 booths.

"It's tough to imagine a better turnout," said Mike Bryan, CEO of BBI International which owns and operates the event. "We are all pioneering an industry that will take us to unimaginable heights. We expect this conference to catch on like wildfire in the coming years."

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DOE Secretary Chu Pladges Almost $800 Million in Economic Recovery Funds to Accelerate Biofuels Research and Commercialization, Create Green Jobs, and
Date Posted: May 5, 2009

Washington, DC—As part of the ongoing effort to increase the use of domestic renewable fuels, U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu announced May 5 plans to provide $786.5 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to accelerate advanced biofuels research and development and to provide additional funding for commercial-scale biorefinery demonstration projects.

"Developing the next generation of biofuels is key to our effort to end our dependence on foreign oil and address the climate crisis -- while creating millions of new jobs that can't be outsourced," Secretary Chu said.

"With American investment and ingenuity -- and resources grown right here at home -- we can lead the way toward a new green energy economy."

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EPA Proposes New Regulations for the National Renewable Fuel Standard Program for 2010 and Beyond

Environmental Protection Agency
EPA-420-F-09-023, May 2009
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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is proposing revisions to the National Renewable Fuel Standard program (commonly known as the RFS program). Today’s proposed rule intends to address changes to the Renewable Fuel Standard program as required by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA). The revised statutory requirements establish new specific volume standards for cellulosic biofuel, biomass-based diesel, advanced biofuel, and total renewable fuel that must be used in transportation fuel each year. The revised statutory requirements also include new definitions and criteria for both renewable fuels and the feedstocks used to produce them, including new greenhouse gas emission (GHG) thresholds for renewable fuels. The regulatory requirements for RFS will apply to domestic and foreign producers and importers of renewable fuel.

General Background
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to modify the national RFS program. The current Renewable Fuel Standard program (RFS1) was established under the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct) which amended the Clean Air Act by establishing the first national renewable fuel standard. The U.S. Congress gave EPA the responsibility to coordinate with the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and stakeholders to design and implement this new program. With the passage of EISA, Congress made several important revisions to these renewable fuel standards that require EPA to promulgate new regulations to implement these changes.

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President Obama Issues Presidential Directive to USDA to Expand Access to Biofuels
Date Posted: May 5, 2009

USDA, EPA and DOE to Form Biofuels Interagency Working Group

WASHINGTON, DC—President Obama issued a presidential directive May 5 to Secretary Tom Vilsack to aggressively accelerate the investment in and production of biofuels.

On a conference call with Energy Secretary Stephen Chu and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson, Vilsack also announced that he will help lead an unprecedented interagency effort to increase America's energy independence and spur rural economic development.

"President Obama's announcement today demonstrates his deep commitment to establishing a permanent biofuels industry in America," said Vilsack.

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Tax breaks for corn-based ethanol threatened
By Jim Tankersley Tribune Newspapers
May 6, 2009

Obama administration proposes end to subsidies for corn-based ethanol

WASHINGTON - -- The Obama administration proposed draft rules Tuesday that could undercut $3 billion a year in federal tax breaks for producers of corn-based ethanol, a move that sets the stage for a battle between Midwestern grain producers and environmentalists, who say the gasoline substitute worsens global warming.

Corn ethanol is widely used as an additive in gasoline to reduce hydrocarbon and carbon monoxide emissions. For much of the last decade, federal officials, touting it as a potential large-scale substitute for gas and a tool for reducing global warming and foreign oil dependence, lavished it with subsidies.

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Green jobs cause economic blues
April 30, 2009 - 9:19 AM
The Orange County Register

Rather than stimulating the economy, government efforts to create “green jobs” probably have the opposite effect, judging from experiences where the tactic is employed, and numerous studies.

Massive taxpayer subsidies are required, higher energy prices result, and existing jobs are lost, according to a new study by the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Green Jobs and the New Economy, which drew on reports “overwhelmingly” authored by “green-jobs advocates and supporters.”

Moreover, the committee found, many newly created jobs are low-paying, prompting legislative bodies to consider “climate change” taxes “to generate revenue to pay for green jobs.”

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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

White House to Step Up Ethanol Efforts

Wall Street Journal
MAY 5, 2009

WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration on Tuesday will step up efforts to increase the availability of ethanol at filling stations and to speed up subsidies to struggling biofuel producers. But the trade-off is that the administration is also expected to propose a rule that could make certain biofuels look less climate-friendly.

At a news conference led by the heads of the Agriculture Department, Energy Department and Environmental Protection Agency, the administration is expected to announce the creation of an interagency group that will be charged with forging a plan to encourage the production of more automobiles that can run on high-level ethanol blends, and increase the availability of high-level ethanol blends at gasoline stations.

President Barack Obama is also expected to direct the Agriculture Department to expedite the awarding of loan guarantees to support the development and construction of more biofuel refineries.

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EPA: ethanol crops displaces climate-friendly ones

Associated Press
By H. JOSEF HEBERT – May 5, 2009

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Environmental Protection Agency says that corn ethanol — as made today — wouldn't meet a congressional requirement that ethanol produce 20 percent less greenhouse gas than gasoline. But the agency said it is still more climate friendly than gasoline.

The EPA in its analysis said that even if worldwide land-use changes are taken into account, ethanol would still produce 16 percent less greenhouse gases than the gasoline it is replacing.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said Tuesday that future improvements in production technologies are expected to make ethanol and other biofuels more climate friendly so they can meet the legal requirement. The requirement for a 20 percent improvement in climate impact applies only to ethanol from future production plants and exempts fuel made at existing facilities

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U of I to offer master’s in bioenergy

Ethanol Producer Magazine June 2009

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has developed a Professional Science Master degree program in Bioenergy. Beginning in fall 2009, students in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences will begin instruction in the program, which combines advanced training in science and mathematics with graduate-level courses in business. The requirements include classes in accounting, economics, finance, marketing, management/leadership, strategy, human resources and business courses that interface with science. The professional content will be delivered by the College of Business and the Institute of Labor and Industrial Relations.

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Valero Honors Portion of Corn Contracts for Ethanol
Posted by Cindy Zimmerman – May 3rd, 2009

Corn farmers who had contracts to provide corn for ethanol plants owned by bankrupt VeraSun are being offered a deal by Valero Energy, which purchased some of the company’s assets.

Valero officials say they are offering farmers with forward contracts a bonus of 40 percent of the difference between the cash price for corn and the futures price on the contract. Valero spokesman Bill Day says most suppliers have accepted the deal. We said when we bought those plants we were looking forward to having a good working relationship with local suppliers. This is what we meant by that. It’s good for us, it locks in supply. It’s good for them as well,” said Day. Valero agreed to purchase seven ethanol facilities and have closed the deal on six of them. Four of the plants are in currently operating.

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EXCLUSIVE-White House to form interagency biofuels group

Mon May 4, 2009 5:08pm EDT

NEW YORK, May 4 (Reuters) - The White House will form a working group to be chaired by the heads of three government agencies to speed the sustainable development of biofuels according to a draft memo obtained by Reuters on Monday.

The group, to be headed by the secretaries of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Energy and the Department of Agriculture, will speed funding to biofuels producers to replace their use of fossil fuels at plants, and to "encourage production of next-generation biofuels from biomass and other non-corn feedstocks," according to the draft memo.

(Reporting by Timothy Gardner, editing by Marguerita Choy)

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