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

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Climate change bill passes, with five-year punt on indirect land use change

Biofuels Digest
June 29, 2009  | Jim Lane

In Washington, the US House of Representatives passed the climate bill by a 219-212 margin. The bill now moves to the US Senate where it is sure to attract fierce Republican opposition, and will likely require 60 votes to avoid procedural roadblocks. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he aimed to deliver the signed bill by the fall.

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Company proposes making firelogs from biomass

Product Design & Development
By The Associated PressSunday, June 28, 2009
GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) — According to a local official, a proposed JoCo Biomass Production Center could create rural jobs and energy independence by producing artificial fireplace logs from compressed wood materials.
"This is an idea that would not only show return for us, but for the rest of the nation," Josephine County Commissioner Dave Toler said.

The federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act offers incentives for clean energy production. Josephine County has already found one business interested in building a plant to produce biomass fuels from Southern Oregon forests.

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America's 10 Energy Challenges

Oak Ridge National Laboratory Review
Volume 42, Number 2, 2009 of the ORNL REVIEW is available here in Adobe PDF format. (5.54 Mb)

This issue of the ORNL Review examines ten of the world's most important energy-related challenges. Nine of these challenges are related directly to the twin goals of providing an adequate volume of sustainable energy while dramatically reducing current levels of carbon emissions.

Read the full story here

E85 Ethanol in Every Car?

The New York Times
June 27, 2009, 2:00 am

By Jim Motavalli
Energy Secretary Steven Chu is a cheerleader for cellulosic ethanol made from biomass, and to that end he’d like to see all cars capable of running on biofuels.

In a speech in Des Moines, Ia., this week, Mr. Chu said, “I’ve been told it costs about $100 in gaskets and fuel lines to turn a car so that it can go all the way to E85.”

To the industry, this sounded suspiciously like there might be a government directive in the offing. Despite later denials by Mr. Chu’s spokesman that the Des Moines speech had any such intention, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers quickly let it be known that it opposes technology mandates of any kind, and that automakers should be free to choose where to put their research dollars.

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Monday, June 29, 2009

Biofuel Showdown: Should Domestic Ethanol Producers Pay for Deforestation Abroad?

Scientific American
June 25, 2009

By Brendan Borrell

The biofuel lobby will win big by delaying rules on "indirect land-use change" for six years, but the National Academy of Sciences may now study the issue

After a fierce battle over agricultural incentives in a landmark climate bill, Congress plans to ask the National Academy of Sciences to study how biofuel production in the Midwest can shift food production abroad, stimulating a wave of deforestation.
Tomorrow's expected vote in the House of Representatives on the climate bill would move the nation a step closer to a cap-and-trade system that would limit greenhouse gas emissions. But the bill's sponsors have made significant concessions to Agriculture Committee Chairman Colin Peterson (D–Minn.), who threatened to torpedo the legislation as it was written. President Obama is pressing for its passage, which would still have to work its way through the Senate in July to become law.

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Ill. EPA says RR should clean up ethanol pollution

KWQC - Davenport, Iowa
Associated Press - June 26, 2009 2:24 PM ET

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Illinois environment officials want state Attorney General Lisa Madigan to force a railroad company to clean up contamination from last week's freight-train derailment and explosion near Rockford.

One motorist was killed and several others injured trying to escape the ensuing explosions and fire after a 114-car Canadian National Railroad train derailed last Friday.

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EXCLUSIVE-Major economies consider halving world CO2
Friday June 26, 2009 02:33:17 AM GMT

* Major economies 2050 carbon targets "aspirational"
* 50 pct cut in world emissions, 80 pct cut by rich nations
* Double investments in low-carbon research by 2015 (Updates, adds background)

By Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent

OSLO, June 25 (Reuters) - Major economies including the United States and China are considering setting a goal of halving world greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 when they hold a summit in Italy next month, a draft document showed.

The text also says the 17-member Major Economies Forum (MEF) will seek to double public investments in low-carbon technology by 2015 and boost funding from both public and private sources as well as from carbon markets to fight global warming.

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Big biomass, bigger opposition

Posted 10:12 AM on 24 Jun 2009
by Erik Hoffner
burn, baby...burn?

Electric cars powered by the burning of biomass would “average 81% more transportation kilometers and 108% more emissions offsets per unit area cropland than cellulosic ethanol” according to a recent study, and climate science guru James Hansen has declared implementation of biomass crucial to combating climate change, but those endorsements won’t make a bit of difference if few bio-electricity plants are built due to pollution and sustainability concerns.

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Ethanol Group Pleased with Passage of Climate Bill
Posted by Cindy Zimmerman – June 26th, 2009

The American Clean Energy and Security Act has passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 219 to 212, with 44 Democrats voting against the bill and eight Republicans voting in favor.

Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) spent an hour attempting to force his colleagues to read the 300 page amendment to the bill offered at 3 a.m. Friday morning. Republicans offered a simpler substitute to the massive piece of legislation, but it was defeated.

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FACTBOX: Farmers' demands heard in climate bill

Fri Jun 26, 2009 3:32pm EDT

(Reuters) - U.S. lawmakers hoped to garner more support for climate change legislation awaiting a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives by looking out for agricultural interests.

Lawmakers came to a compromise earlier in the week that would help the Farm Belt cope with new requirements for industry to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

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Friday, June 26, 2009

UT expands switchgrass incentive program

Biomass Magazine July 2009
By Lisa Gibson
Posted June 23, 2009, at 3:52 p.m. CST

Thirty-eight eastern Tennessee farmers, up 26 from last year, will plant a total of 1,901 acres of switchgrass this year, the second season of the University of Tennessee’s switchgrass farmer incentive program.

The switchgrass will be used to produce cellulosic ethanol at the state’s first demonstration-scale biorefinery in Vonore in Monroe County, expected to be operational late this year. UT partnered with DuPont-Danisco Cellulosic Ethanol LLC for the pilot plant.

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Tax credit for biomass- burning stoves

The Chetek Alert (Chetek, Wisconsin)
June 24, 2009

The Internal Revenue Service has issued its guidance for the 30-percent consumer tax credit for the purchase and installation of a 75-percent efficient biomass-burning stove.

Some important points of the tax credit are:

* To be considered, a stove must use the burning of biomass fuel to heat a dwelling unit or to heat water for use in such a dwelling unit, and have a thermal efficiency rating of at least 75 percent as measured using a lower heating value;

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House Dems close to climate agreement

Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The nuclear industry, ethanol producers and rural electric cooperatives are among those who stand to benefit from eleventh-hour deals made by House Democrats in search of enough votes to pass a sweeping climate bill.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has made passage of the legislation, which would for the first time set limits on carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, one of her top priorities.

The California Democrat said progress so far has been "a wonderful collaboration" among lawmakers with different regional interests and said she hoped for a House vote on the bill Friday, before lawmakers depart for their July 4 recess.

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Economist examines agricultural policy

Western Farm Press
Jun 18, 2009 1:52 PM, By Dan Bryant Contributing Writer

Biofuels policy may sustain high feed prices, farm subsidies will remain but with more pressure on efficiency, and environmental regulations will persist and strengthen.

Those are three long-term policy issues discussed by Daniel A. Sumner, director of the University of California’s Agricultural Issues Center at Davis, during the 2009 Spring Ag Outlook Conference of the California chapter of the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers at Sacramento.

Sumner said these and a host of other concerns on pests, water, hired labor, regulation, and global competition are under study at the center.

Although many issues are becoming more difficult to resolve, he predicted California agriculture will be able to “innovate ourselves through.”

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Rethinking the Value of Corn Ethanol Co-Products in Lifecycle Assessments

An Ethanol Across America White Paper
Summer 2009

Producing More Food and Fuel with Less Carbon

In the long and successful history of first-generation ethanol (i.e. ethanol from starch) —and despite the significant energy, economic and environmental benefits it has provided —the
critics remain.

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Biomass burner reduces waste, generates heat

Des Moines Register
By DAN PILLER • • June 23, 2009

One-time horse trainer John Kimberlin says his "Nature's Furnace," which burns animal, agricultural and other biowastes to make heat, is ready for the market.

It's been a long time coming for Kimberlin, who said he began brainstorming the idea when he returned to his 23-acre horse spread near Waukee 16 years ago. After a hiatus in Colorado, he found that the departed tenants had left behind a ton of horse manure.

"Didn't know what to do with the stuff, except that I know that from the beginning of time, animal waste could be burned for fuel," said Kimberlin, 57, who now is retired from the horse business.

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NY biomass plant first to achieve FSC standards certification

Biomass Magazine July 2009
By Lisa Gibson
Posted June 23, 2009, at 3:39 p.m. CST

Curran Renewable Energy LLC in Massena, N.Y., is the first biomass mill in the nation to receive Forest Stewardship Council chain-of-custody certification from the Rainforest Alliance’s SmartWood program.

Chain-of-custody certification guarantees that wood used in Curran Renewable Energy’s pellets comes from certified, responsibly managed forestlands and is tracked throughout the supply chain from the forest to the consumer. Consumers can look for the FSC label on wood products to know they are supporting forest management that protects biodiversity.

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Bioenergy Crops May Be Beneficial for Soil and Water
By George Ogendi and Dr. Jennifer Bouldin, Arkansas State University
6/22/2009 9:10:01 AM

Agricultural and forest lands occupy nearly 1.4 billion acres of the contiguous United States. These lands are the foundation of our agricultural and forestry supplies.

Our forests provide habitat and corridors that support wildlife populations, filter and regulate surface and groundwater flows, and sequester carbon. These services improve the quality of life for the population. While agricultural lands provide food to sustain our increasing population, these changes have brought about environmental effects.

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U.S. Energy Secretary expresses support for higher blend of ethanol

Radio Iowa News
Monday, June 22, 2009, 12:15 PM
By O.Kay Henderson

The U.S. Energy Secretary says he'd like automakers to voluntarily ensure new vehicles can burn E85, the highest-concentration of corn-based ethanol.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu's agency is now considering whether to upgrade the standard blend of ethanol from a 10% blend to E15 -- 15% ethanol.

"I don't want to prejudge what they're going to find, but if the existing automobile fleet can handle 15 percent, I would say let's make that a target and go to 15 percent," Chu says.

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Biofuel crops may damage water resources
Posted on: Thursday, 18 June 2009, 11:52 CDT

Scientists warn the United States must be careful that its biofuel development takes into account potential damage to the nation's water resources.

The ongoing, rapid growth in biofuels production could have far-reaching environmental and economic repercussions, and it will likely highlight the interdependence and growing tension between energy and water security, said Rice University researchers in a report titled The Water Footprint of Biofuels: A Drink or Drive Issue?

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Air Force taps USU to work on bio jet fuel
By Kim Burgess
Published: Sunday, June 21, 2009 3:41 AM CDT

With assistance from Utah State University, the U.S. Air Force is ramping up its efforts to develop jet fuel from an unusual source — algae.The U. S. military spends $6 billion on three billion gallons fuel each year, giving it a heavy interest in finding an alternative. Algae holds promise because it captures carbon dioxide rapidly and is the most productive of all photosynthetic life on earth.

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Continental Airlines Says Biofuels Blend Performed As Good or Better Than Jet Fuel in Test Flight

Biofuels Journal
Date Posted: June 18, 2009

Houston—Continental Airlines (NYSE: CAL) announced June 17 the results of its Jan. 7, 2009, biofuel demonstration flight, which was conducted in partnership with Boeing, GE Aviation/CFM International, and Honeywell's UOP.

The biofuel blend performed as well as or better than traditional jet fuel, displaying an approximately 1.1 percent increase in fuel efficiency over traditional jet fuel in different stages of the demonstration flight.

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Iowa State Economist Issues Biofuels Warning

(6/18/2009) Farm Futures staff

Robert Wisner says contradictory mandates could be big trouble for the industry.

Biofuels policy is in turmoil over directions pushed by the Obama administration, regulators and the industry, and Iowa State University Biofuels Economist Robert Wisner warns the contradictory mandates could slow or halt growth. He says that both the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board are moving too fast in relying on unproven "indirect land use emission impacts."

Wisner writes, in a new report, that instead of downgrading the environmental benefits of U.S. corn-based ethanol based on possible conversion of pasture and forests to cropland in other countries, "much more research is needed on these issues to accurately measure indirect land use impacts."

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Ohio State Students Win First Stage of EcoCAR Challenge

Fri Jun 19, 2009 3:31pm
By GreenBiz Staff - GreenBiz Staff

A team of Ohio State University students look first place in the initial milestone of the EcoCAR competition for its redesign of a 2009 Saturn Vue that utilizes a battery pack and ethanol fuel to get a 300 percent increase in fuel economy.

EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge, is a three-year competition involving 17 university teams from the U.S. and Canada trying to figure out ways to turn the Saturn Vue in to electric vehicles with improved fuel economy and lower emissions while maintaining the vehicle's performance and appeal to car buyers.

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Ethanol Standards Would Hike Corn, Feed Prices, Study Says
Last updated Saturday, June 20, 2009 9:00 PM CDT in Business
By Doug Thompson The Morning News

SPRINGDALE — The U.S. government's plan to increase its ethanol mandate will mean higher food prices and more harm to the environment, according to an impact study conducted for two groups that oppose the increase.

"We continue to believe the government's excessive support of the mature corn-based ethanol industry is simply wrong, since it means burning food for fuel," spokesman Gary Mickelson of Tyson Foods Inc. of Springdale said in a statement after Bill Lapp, an agricultural analyst, released his study.

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SIUE home of major ethanol research
Saturday, June 20, 2009 11:58 PM CDT

EDWARDSVILLE - The National Corn-to-Ethanol Research Center opened in 2003 at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville with a mission of finding efficient and marketable ways to extract ethanol for fuel from corn.

Conceptualized less than a decade ago, when corn-based ethanol was the darling of policymakers seeking to promote a renewable alternative to lessen U.S. dependence on foreign oil, NCERC remains a strong advocate for corn-to-ethanol research and production, even though the biofuel industry has grown more competitive with researchers trying to extra fuel materials from various vegetative resources.

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Oil & gas industry accounts for 40 percent of all greenhouse gas mitigation investment since 2000, API study finds

Biofuels Digest
June 16, 2009 Jim Lane

In Texas, a study by the University of Texas at Austin’s Center for Energy Economics and T2 & Associates for the American Petroleum Institute found that the US government and all US industries invested $132.9 billion in technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions between 2000 and 2008.

The oil & gas industry accounted for $58.4 billion, $55.3 billion by all other industries, and $19.2 billion by the federal government. Investments included combined heat and power (cogeneration), carbon capture and storage, and advanced vehicles.

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Biodiesel could be made from invasive weed

Canadian Driver
June 14, 2009

Peoria County, Illinois - A biofuels company is examining the possibility of making biodiesel from an invasive weed whose seed contains about twice as much oil as soybeans.

Biofuels Manufacturers of Illinois (BMI) is targeting the use of field pennycress, also known as stinkweed. The plant is a member of the mustard family and contains sufficient quantities of glucosinolates to be toxic to cattle in large quantities. Unlike corn and soybeans, pennycress is planted in the fall and grows the following spring, giving farmers the opportunity to grow two crops on the same land each year. BMI grew the crop on 70 acres in 12 test sites in central Illinois this year.

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Will the Biofuels Industry Hang Itself in the Climate Bill?

Nathanael Greene
Posted: June 19, 2009 03:54 PM

Last week I wrote about the danger of industry-backed changes to the Waxman-Markey climate bill that could, perversely, incentivize deforestation and increase global warming emissions. Comparing the current bill language to the drastically weaker alternative advocated by Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, House leaders face a relatively clear choice between bioenergy done right and bioenergy done wrong.

A Washington Post editorial yesterday reinforces the importance of that choice, arguing that "Congress must ensure that it does not give biomass suppliers incentives to produce a fuel that is barely better -- or that is perhaps worse -- than fossil fuels."

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EPA releases guide for states, communities on best clean energy practices

Biofuels Digest
June 22, 2009 Jim Lane

In Washington, the EPA today released a guide to help states, cities and organizations save money and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by adopting clean energy practices in their facilities, operations and vehicle fleets.

According to the EPA, a 2001 executive order in New York state saved $54.4 million in energy costs from energy efficiency improvements between fiscal years 2001-2002 and 2003-2004. EPA’s Clean Energy Lead by Example Guide identifies tested strategies proven to be cost effective.

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Monday, June 22, 2009

Biomass as a Medicine for Recovery

Biomass Magazine July 2009
By Bruce Folkedahl and Chris Zygarlicke

The U.S. economy is in need of recovery, and biomass may be part of the remedy. The government is pouring millions into biomass as a result of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The stimulus dollars are intended to supercharge new ways to convert biomass into electricity, heat, fuels and other consumable products.

The Energy & Environmental Research Center has been advancing the same goals for the past 10 years, investing in biomass research and development and also in the next essential step: getting the technology out of the laboratory and into the commercial marketplace.

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House panel: EPA can gauge ethanol impact abroad

Thu Jun 18, 2009 10:56pm EDT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - By a one-vote margin, a U.S. House committee decided on Thursday not to intervene in federal regulations that could hold U.S. ethanol makers responsible for greenhouse gases from crops overseas.

The Appropriations Committee defeated, 29-30, an amendment to bar the Environmental Protection Agency from using so-called indirect land-use change when measuring greenhouse gases from biofuels. It voted later to ask the Agriculture Department to study the question.

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Energy security, emission mandates on collision course, economist warns

Biofuels Digest

In Iowa, Iowa State University economist Robert Wisner warns that the EISA Act and the EPA’s interpretation of emissions mandates are on “collision course,” and that “If changes are not made, their different paths could slow or halt the growth of some parts of the biofuels industry.”

Wisner has assembled one of the most intelligently-presented analyses of EISA, the EPA’s proposed interpretation of emissions data and land use change, and work at the Air Resources Board of the California Environmental Protection Agency.

Wisner’s thesis is that the flaws lie within EISA itself: it “requires a gradual increase in the volume of various kinds of biofuels to be blended with U.S. motor fuels in the next several years. The gradual increase was designed to provide time for technology development and industry growth.

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Producer plugs ethanol to state panel
Published: June 19, 2009 3:00 a.m.
Marty Schladen
The Journal Gazette (Fort Wayne, IN)

Which alternative fuel for cars should Indiana policymakers back? Ethanol? Electricity? Or both?

The role biofuels might play in the Hoosier economy dominated the quarterly meeting Thursday of the Indiana Economic Development Corp. The commission, chaired by Gov. Mitch Daniels, met at the Poet Biofuels LLC plant in North Manchester.

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Friday, June 19, 2009

Waste material to power cellulosic/grain ethanol plant

June 17, 2009

POET installs anaerobic digester at pilot cellulosic ethanol facility

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. -- A self-sustaining energy cycle for producing cellulosic ethanol is close to reality with the recent startup of an anaerobic digester at POET's pilot plant in Scotland, S.D.

Corn cobs at Project LIBERTY will not only be used to produce ethanol; the liquid waste will go to an anaerobic digester to power the cellulosic plant and offset natural gas usage at the attached grain ethanol plant as well. That’s renewable energy created at the plant, powering the plant and powering the adjacent facility.

POET installed and fired up its anaerobic digester, which was designed and built by Biothane, on May 20. The digester uses liquid waste created in the process of converting corn cobs to ethanol. That waste is used to produce methane gas, which acts as roughly the equivalent of natural gas.

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Government Gives Wood Its Due as Biomass Source

Wed Jun 17, 2009 10:34am EDT
By Zaher Karp - Matter Network

Several projects receiving funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, drive home new approaches to creating energy from wood. The Department of Energy announced that biomass and wood energy received significant stimulus funding -- will waste wood and wood chips become the new bargaining chips?

In total, $57 million in grants were announced, with the lion's share going to wood energy ($49 million) and $8 million to biomass initiatives, which may support new developments like algae. Biomass makes up 3-percent of U.S. power generation, but account for more than 10-percent globally (according to Profit on the Peak)-- as a cleaner source of power taking advantage of waste wood rather than forests.

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Biobutanol: Ethanol’s Energy-Dense Cousin

Biomass Magazine July 2009
By Anna Austin

Salem, Ore.-based Diesel Brewing is working to implement a unique business model for the gasification of waste biomass into biobutanol and other valuable energy products.

Biobutanol has an energy density only 10 percent to 20 percent lower than gasoline, and its energy content is higher than ethanol, according to the U.S. DOE Alternative Fuels and Advanced Vehicles Data Center. It’s compatible with the current gasoline distribution infrastructure and would not require new or modified pipelines, blending facilities, storage tanks or retail station pumps. Biobutanol can be efficiently blended with ethanol to improve the blending of ethanol with gasoline, and can also be produced using existing ethanol production facilities with relatively minor modifications.

Under current U.S. EPA regulations, biobutanol can be blended as an oxygenate with gasoline in concentrations up to 11.5 percent by volume.

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Colorado State University
Wednesday, June 17, 2009

FORT COLLINS - Colorado State University has partnered with the Colorado State Forest Service to install a biomass boiler heating plant on the Foothills Campus to reduce the university's greenhouse gas emissions and cut energy costs.

The heating plant will burn wood chips rather than rely solely on natural gas to provide hot water for the Judson M. Harper Research Complex. The wood chips are a result of forest restoration and management efforts such as forest fire mitigation projects, which typically supply about 10 tons of wood chips per acre.

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DOE requests feedback on National Algal Biofuels Technology Roadmap

Biofuels Digest
June 18, 2009 Jim Lane

In Washington, the U.S. Department of Energy has requested feedback on the draft National Algal Biofuels Technology Roadmap, especially from stakeholders who were not able to participate in the initial workshop sessions that formed a basis for the Roadmap. This draft roadmap was prepared by a working group commissioned by DOE, commencing with a workshop held last December in Maryland. Nine session leaders from the workshop outlined chapters for the draft based upon feedback from participants. A summary on the Workshop can be accessed here.

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Boeing, UOP release biofuels flight data; certification as soon as 2010; UOP to license technology this summer

Biofuels Digest
June 18, 2009 Jim Lane

A CFM 56-7 jet engine, similar to the engine used in the Continental biofuels test flight
At the Paris Air Show Boeing and a series of partners involved in four biofuels-based test flights released the data from the tests, and said that with the release they are on a path towards flight certification of biofuels as soon as late 2010.

Billy Glover, managing director of Environmental Strategy for Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said that the group, which includes UOP Honeywell and the US Air Force Research Lab, is preparing a submission to ASTM that will qualify what the group is now calling Bio-SPK fuel.

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Growth Energy CEO Buis: Pew Study on Clean Energy Economy Shows Importance of Ethanol in Creating Jobs and Improving Environment

Biofuels Journal
Date Posted: June 15, 2009

Washington—Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy, released the following statement in response to the study released by the Pew Charitable Trusts examining the role of the clean energy economy in America’s new economic landscape.

The study can be found here.

“The new study released by the Pew Charitable Trusts shows that ethanol related jobs were part of a category of environmentally friendly production jobs that grew fastest from 1998 to 2007.

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Ethanol maker creates biomass division

Chicago Tribune
Associated Press
12:05 PM CDT, June 17, 2009

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - Sioux Falls-based ethanol maker Poet announced Wednesday the creation of a new division devoted to managing corn cobs, waste wood and other feedstocks for cellulosic ethanol.

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Plastics From Biomass? Inexpensive Method For Removing Oxygen From Biomass Discovered


ScienceDaily (June 16, 2009) — In revisiting a chemical reaction that’s been in the literature for several decades and adding a new wrinkle of their own, researchers with Berkeley Lab and the University of California (UC) Berkeley have discovered a mild and relatively inexpensive procedure for removing oxygen from biomass. This procedure, if it can be effectively industrialized, could allow many of today’s petrochemical products, including plastics, to instead be made from biomass.

“We’ve found and optimized a selective, one-pot deoxygenation technique based on a formic acid treatment,” said Robert Bergman, a co-principal investigator on this project who holds a joint appointment with Berkeley Lab’s Chemical Sciences Division and the UC Berkeley Chemistry Department.

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Berkeley Lab scientists contribute to major new report describing climate change impacts on the US

Science Blog

Berkeley, CA -- Two researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), Evan Mills and Michael Wehner, contributed to the analysis of the effects of climate change on all regions of the United States, described in a major report released today by the multi-agency U.S. Global Change Research Program. For the southwest region of the United States, which includes California, the report forecasts a hotter, drier climate with significant effects on the environment, agriculture and health.

"Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States" covers such effects as changes in rainfall patterns, drought, wildfire, Atlantic hurricanes, and effects on food production, fish stocks and other wildlife, energy, agriculture, water supplies, and coastal communities.

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Download the report at:

Renewable Energy Magazine

Biofuels lose another argument to bioelectricity, this time in terms of water consumptionLast month Renewable Energy Magazine informed readers about a University of California Merced study published in Science magazine showing that using biomass to generate electricity to power electric vehicles could be a more efficient solution, with lower CO2 emissions, than converting biomass into ethanol to fuel internal combustion engines. Another study has just been published by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences confirming that biofuels also have a larger water footprint than bioelectricity. In some cases, up to 19,000 litres of water are required to produce one litre of biodiesel.

Researchers at the University of Twente (Holland) have calculated the ‘water footprint’ (the amount of water required for cultivation) of biomass crops, publishing their results in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of 2 June. The primary objective of the study was to estimate the water footprint per unit of bioenergy (e.g. per unit of electricity, ethanol and heat). Winnie Gerbens-Leenes, Arjen Hoekstra and Theo van der Meerfound found that bioenergy makes heavy demands on scarce water supplies compared to other sources of energy.

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U.S. scientists back biodiesel development

Energy Current
6/15/2009 10:23:27 PM GMT

JEFFERSON CITY, MO.: More than 100 scientists, including two university deans, have gone on record in the past four months in support of biodiesel by signing the "Scientists for Biodiesel" declaration.

Thomas Payne, vice chancellor and dean at the University of Missouri School of Agriculture, sees biodiesel as playing "a key role in our nation's future energy and environmental security." He added, "I am proud to add my voice to the growing chorus of scientists who are singing the praises of biodiesel and advocating for an increased commitment that will ensure that biodiesel reaches its full potential as a vital U.S. energy source."

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Pike Research Report Finds Biofuels Market Will Reach $247 Billion Worldwide By 2020 Despite Near-Term Challenges

Biofuels Journal
Date Posted: June 15, 2009

Boulder, CO—The widespread excitement surrounding the biofuels market opportunity has been tempered somewhat by its many challenges, which include limited availability of inexpensive feedstocks, ethical questions of food versus fuel, petroleum price volatility, global recession, and overcapacity of production.

However, a new report from Pike Research forecasts that, despite these significant challenges, the combined biodiesel and ethanol markets will reach $247 billion in sales by 2020, up from just $76 billion in 2010.

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Five Key Strategies For Algae Biofuels Commercialization: Faster, Fatter, Cheaper, Easier, and Fractionation

Biofuels Digest
June 17, 2009 Jim Lane
by Biofuels Digest columnist Will Thurmond

In a new study on the algae biofuels and biomass market: Algae 2020 (460 pages, June 2009), five key strategies emerged as approaches to help producers to reduce costs and accelerate the commercialization of algae biodiesel, biocrude, and drop in fuels : Fatter, faster, cheaper, easier, and fractionation marketing.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Farmers to get cash for corncobs (South Dakota)

Goal is to spur cellulosic ethanol
STEVE YOUNG • • June 16, 2009

Producers in South Dakota soon will be able to get payments for corncobs and switchgrass they collect, harvest, store and transport for cellulosic ethanol production, though at least one environmental group still questions the idea's wisdom.

Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., said Monday that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has been taking public comments and now will start writing administrative rules for producers to apply for the payments.

He hopes those payments can begin "in the next few months" under the Biomass Crop Assistance Program, which he wrote and was included in the 2008 farm bill.

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Duckweed: A biofuel and waste treatment

UPI - Science News

RALEIGH, N.C., April 9 (UPI) -- U.S. scientists say duckweed -- a tiny aquatic plant -- can help clean up animal waste at industrial hog farms and may held solve the global energy crisis.

North Carolina State University researchers said growing duckweed on hog wastewater can produce five to six times more starch per acre than corn. Professor Jay Cheng and Associate Professor Anne-Marie Stomp said their finding means ethanol production using duckweed could be faster and cheaper than that derived from corn.

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FEW: Ethanol industry must ‘take back the message’ about ethanol

Ethanol Producer Magazine July 2009
By Ryan C. Christiansen
Report posted June 16, 2009, at 1:20 p.m. CST

Noting that major media outlets have dubbed the U.S. ethanol industry a “sham” and a “hoax”, BBI International CEO Mike Bryan called for the industry to “take back the message” about ethanol’s benefits to the nation. Bryan spoke to more than 2,200 attendees during the general session of the 25th annual International Fuel Ethanol Workshop and Expo, a BBI event, at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver today.

The FEW is a globally recognized event that has helped to facilitate the ethanol industry’s evolution by providing programming that includes technical workshops and networking forums alongside the largest, most widely attended expo in the business. FEW presentations include a strong focus on commercial-scale ethanol production, new technology, and near-term research and development.

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Dispute over biofuels has a middle ground Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota
Last update: June 13, 2009 - 10:49 PM

We should consider indirect impacts, but the science for doing so is immature.
House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson has been lambasted by editorial pages and some environmentalists for threatening to block progress on national climate legislation over a dispute concerning biofuels. But the all-or-nothing approach of both Peterson and his critics does not serve biofuels, agriculture or the fight against global warming.

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Tim Landis: EPA looks at possible E15 ethanol-gas blend

Posted Jun 13, 2009 @ 05:07 PM

First E10, followed by E85 and now E15?

The recession has been tough on ethanol. Prices have fallen. Plants have closed, consolidated or been postponed. Throw in the uncertainty now of what the cars of the future will run on — liquids, gas or volts.

“It’s a slow process, and the recession hasn’t helped,” said Auburn-area farmer Garry Niemeyer, who is also a member of the National Corn Growers Association board of directors.

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Gas prices help put ethanol makers back on their feet
By DAN PILLER • • June 13, 2009

If the 40-cents-per-gallon jump in the price of gasoline since last month has you down, at least take heart that the increase has given Iowa's ethanol industry a boost.

After a cold winter of closed plants, bankruptcies and losses, ethanol producers report that the rise in crude oil and wholesale gasoline prices has increased the demand for the corn-based biofuel and returned most plants to at least a modicum of profitability.

"We're not completely healed, but at least the bleeding has stopped," said Rick Brehm, president of Lincolnway Energy in Nevada.

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Agriculture Showdown to Shape Next-Gen Offsets, Biofuels

Fri Jun 12, 2009 6:00pm EDT
By Josie Garthwaite - Earth2Tech

Debates over two looming shifts for the role of agriculture in fighting climate change reached a fever pitch this week. The hot topics included key pieces of the Waxman-Markey climate and energy bill, and the U.S. EPA’s proposed changes to the renewable fuel standard, which will set minimum volume requirements for different types of biofuels used in U.S. transportation fuels each year, starting in 2010. The outcome of these debates will go a long way to determine how big a player the agriculture industry will be in upcoming carbon and alternative fuel markets — and offer a glimpse of how the government evaluates politically-charged climate solutions with big lobbying budgets behind them.

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Chu's message for Caltech grads blogs

Energy Secretaty Steven Chu today delivered the commencement address at Caltech. Here's an excerpt from his prepared text:

"As we begin to lay the foundation for a sustainable energy future, we can frame the challenge, but the real answers will come from you. As our future science and engineering leaders, take the time to learn more about what's at stake, and then act on that knowledge with your considerable intellectual horsepower."

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World Bioenergy Association joins REN Alliance

Renewable Energy Magazine

The World Bioenergy Association (WBA) has joined the International Renewable Energy Alliance (REN Alliance), further unifying and strengthening the Alliance’s voice for the renewable energy sector worldwide.

All the leading international renewable energy organisations are now part of the REN Alliance, with the International Geothermal Association (IGA), the International Hydropower Association (IHA), the International Solar Energy Society (ISES), and the World Wind Association (WWEA) representing the geothermal, hydropower, solar, and wind energy sectors respectively in the International Renewable Energy Alliance.

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Survival hinges on biofuels, say airline execs
Published: 2009/06/10

THE development of biofuels in the airline industry is not only set to be a reality but also crucial to the survival of the airline industry, say airline executives.

"The key thing that has changed now is that in the last six to nine months we have seen a lot of interest from new players, such as Honeywell and other emerging companies, to develop the fuel," International Air Transport Association (IATA) director of aviation environment Paul Steele told reporters at a briefing yesterday in Kuala Lumpur.

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Oil-producing weed harvested at Mapleton
Associated Press
7:10 AM CDT, June 13, 2009

MAPLETON, Ill. - The first commercial harvest of a plant once called "stinkweed" took place Friday in a field near the Peoria County town of Mapleton.

The weed in question is now called pennycress. It's a member of the mustard family with seeds that contain 36 percent oil -- twice as much as soybeans.

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China's first bioenergy research center inaugurated in Nanning

2009-06-14 23:46:55

NANNING, June 14 (Xinhua) -- China's first bioenergy research center was inaugurated Sunday in Nanning, the capital city of southern Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, amid government's plans of new energy development to combat global energy crisis.

The research center is set up based on the national guidance on energy and grain security, and will look to cassava, sugar cane, sweet sorghum as the main sources for new energy development.

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Biodiesel blend performs as well as ultra-low sulfur fuel
June 9th, 2009

A new Purdue University study shows that there is almost no statistical performance difference in semitrailer trucks using B20, a 20-percent blend of biodiesel, and No. 2 ultra-low sulfur diesel, the current standard.

"In terms of performance, reliability and maintenance costs, it was basically a wash," said John Lumkes, the assistant professor of agricultural and biological engineering who led the study. "The only differences are environmental and economic."

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Monday, June 15, 2009

Martin Keller promoted to associate director at ORNL

Martin Keller has been appointed associate lab director for biological and environmental sciences at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, ORNL Director Thom Mason announced today. The appointment is effective July 1.

Keller, who came to ORNL in 2006, has been serving most recently as director of the BioEnergy Science Center.

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U.S. climate bill needs improvements: USDA's Vilsack

By Christopher Doering
Thu Jun 11, 2009 7:38pm EDT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The climate change bill being drafted in the U.S. House is ripe for improvement, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Thursday, but he vowed farms and forests will play a central role in controlling greenhouse gases despite skepticism among lawmakers.

U.S. farm groups, along with Democrats and Republicans on the House Agriculture Committee, have been sharply critical of the bill they say threatens to leave farmers in the lurch.

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Is the Future of Biofuels in Algae?
June 12, 2009
by Jamie Donovan and Ned Stowe, EESI
Washington, DC, United States []

As America tries to wean itself off of fossil fuels, it is turning to renewable sources of energy such as wind, solar, hydroelectric and biomass. The transportation industry relies almost entirely on petroleum, and it accounted for almost 30 percent of all U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2006. Transportation is the fastest growing source of GHG emissions, according to the U.S. EPA.
Alarmed by high fuel prices, a costly dependence on imported oil and rising GHG emissions, Congress passed the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) in 2005 and strengthened it in 2007, under the Energy Security and Independence Act. The law requires biofuel production to climb from 9 billion gallons in 2008 to 36 billion gallons in 2022. Of the 36 billion gallons, no more than 15 billion gallons can be corn-based ethanol, the remainder being advanced biofuels that meet at least a 50 percent GHG reduction requirement.

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Georgia engineer answers top biofuels questions

Southeast Farm Press
Jun 11, 2009 12:41 PM, By Susan Varlamoff
University of Georgia

About 30 percent of our energy needs can be met with bioenergy today. By patching together multiple strategies, we can achieve this amount.

EDITOR’S NOTE —K.C. Das is an associate professor of engineering with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, the director of the Biorefining and Carbon Cycling Program and manager of CAES biofuel research. The following is an abridged version of a Q&A on the status of bioenergy research in Georgia and its future. It originally appeared in the 2009 CAES Environmental Report magazine.

Does Georgia have an advantage in bioenergy production?

Yes, because we can grow great quantities of biomass through our agriculture and forestry industries. Universities like University of Georgia, Georgia Tech and others provide the technology. The UGA Complex Carbohydrate Research Center is strong in the biological sciences. In addition, the Agricultural Innovation Center and the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority assist companies interested in getting into the business through their “One Stop Shop.”

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Pew Charitable Trusts reports 770,000 green jobs in ‘07, growing nearly three times as fast as mainstream job sectors
June 12, 2009 Jim Lane

In Washington, the Pew Charitable Trusts released its Clean Energy Economy report, the first state-by-state survey of green-collar jobs. Pew found that green-collar job hiring increased 9 percent between 1998-2007, more than double the rate of conventional jobs, but slowed during the recession.

Pew said that 68,200 businesses filled 770,000 clean energy jobs in 2007, with California leading the way with 124,000 jobs and 56,000 in Texas.

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Read the report

Tennessee to create community network to track energy needs, distribute biodiesel technology
June 12, 2009

In Tennessee, 75 mayors, businesses and state officials met at Fall Creek Falls for updates from the University of Tennessee/ Dupont Danisco Switchgrass Ethanol Demonstration Plant; the Tennessee Valley Authority Solar Energy Program; Arcadis Wind Energy Development; East Tennessee Clean Fuels Coalition; Biodiesel Logic; and StrataG biomass logistics planning.

Warren Nevad, Executive Director of the Tennessee Renewable Energy and Economic Development Council, said “At the meeting, we agreed to create a regional network of local communities that will assist communities in understanding and tracking their energy needs, costs and usage so that we can reduce their carbon footprint. Participating communities will cooperate and share data on usage and receive both financial and technical assistance for the purchase, setup and operation of biodiesel production equipment in their local community.”

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Friday, June 12, 2009

USDA Deputy Secretary Merrigan Announces Economic Recovery Projects for Wood-to-Energy Grants and Biomass Utilization Projects

Release No. 0206.09
Contact:Justin DeJong 202-251-3309

McCLELLAN, Calif., June 11, 2009 — Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan today announced projects funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) for Wood-To-Energy and biomass utilization. These 30 projects, funded at $57 million – $49 million for wood-to-energy grants and $8 million for biomass utilization – are located in 14 states, including California.

"These projects will promote the development of biofuels from wood and help private sector businesses to establish renewable energy infrastructure and accelerate availability in the marketplace," said Merrigan. "Additionally, hazardous fuels reduction projects utilize biomass from forested lands that, when left untreated, increase wildland fire risks to communities and natural resources."

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UF Modifies Plans for Cellulosic Ethanol Plant

Southeast Ag Net
by Julie – June 11th, 2009

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Plans for a new cellulosic ethanol research and demonstration plant to be built by the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences are being revamped for a location closer to Gainesville.

IFAS officials announced today that they have modified their agreement for the plant, which originally was slated to be built at a Florida Crystals Corp. site in Okeelanta, Fla. The new plans call for a smaller, next-generation facility — the construction of which will more easily fall within the $20 million budget allocated by the Florida Legislature.

The plant will now focus on new parallel processes that produce cellulosic ethanol as well as organic acid co-products in the form of plastics. The plant will also experiment with a wider variety of feedstocks, including forest products, various types of sugarcane, sugar processing byproducts and many others.

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Prairie grass slated for biofuel use

Mankato Free Press (Minnesota)

Published June 10, 2009 09:35 pm - A company is looking into the cost to harvest and transport prairie grass for biofuel.
By Tim Krohn Free Press Staff Writer

Nearly 300 acres of area prairie land could be utilized

For years, there has been talk and plans for converting grass to energy.

Beginning this fall, several groups plan to actually do it.

“We wanted to do something on the ground. We already have the fuel and we have an end user in place,” said Neal Feeken, renewable energy coordinator for The Nature Conservancy in Minnesota.

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Texas forest owners want incentives from Congress

The Dallas Morning News
07:50 AM CDT on Thursday, June 11, 2009
By DAVE MICHAELS / The Dallas Morning News

WASHINGTON – Cleaning up the environment could mean more green for East Texas' oldest industry: trees.

The region's piney woods have always absorbed carbon dioxide from the air – but their owners never got paid for it.

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Agriculture: A necessary complication in the climate negotiations
Posted 12:43 PM on 10 Jun 2009
by Letha Tawney

Despite a sense that the international climate change negotiations, convened in Bonn, Germany this week, are grinding forward at a painfully slow pace, there is a momentum to the process that makes adding new ideas very difficult. It took several years of behind the scenes technical work and at least two years of carefully planned campaigning to get the deforestation issue substantively on the table. While we know that agriculture can make a vital contribution to addressing climate change, it lags behind the forest discussion and effectively including it in the Copenhagen deal at this late date will be no easy thing.

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Delay new biofuels rule one year: U.S. oil industry

Tue Jun 9, 2009 5:36pm EDT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The government should delay new rules that expand U.S. use of biofuels until 2011, the oil industry said on Tuesday, because there is too much work to do on the ground-breaking rules to start sooner.

The Environmental Protection Agency has a January 1 target to apply the rules that also require advanced biofuels to have greenhouse gas emissions that are 40 percent lower than petroleum from creation through consumption.

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Pelosi: Agriculture will have a role in shaping climate change bill
Dan Looker
Successful Farming magazine Business Editor
6/08/2009, 10:30 AM CDT

At a visit to a Des Moines, Iowa middle school Saturday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), said that the climate change bill recently passed by the Energy and Commerce Committee will go through more changes before coming up for a vote in the full House.

"The Energy and Commerce Committee was one step and now it will go to other committees and agriculture is very important," Pelosi told Agriculture Online at a press conference after a short public meeting with education officials to highlight the role that federal stimulus legislation is playing in schools.

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Scientists use sugar beets as fuel source
By Naomi King Staff Writer
Published: Monday, June 8, 2009 at 11:00 a.m. Last Modified: Monday, June 8, 2009 at 11:51 a.m.

HOUMA — You might not like beets, but scientists hope your car will.

Researchers at the USDA Sugar Cane Research Unit in Houma are growing sugar beets, a vegetable that serves as a source of ethanol.

The experiment aims to prove the cold-climate crop can successfully be cultivated in balmy south Louisiana alongside other alternative-fuel sources, such as sugar cane and sweet sorghum.

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Economist report says corn prices, acreage will skyrocket if E12 blends allowed in non flex-fuel vehicles

Biofuels Digest
June 10, 2009

Advanced Economic Solutions released a report on the impact of E12 or E15 blended ethanol, and said that the increase would require the cultivation of more than 100 million acres of corn by 2010-15, up from the 76.5 million acre average between 1983 and 2006.

The report said that there would be an associated price increase in corn that would make last year’s price spike (where futures briefly topped $8 per bushel) “look like a walk in the park,” according to a Reuters report. The full study can be downloaded here.

According to the American Meat Institute, the study was completed on behalf of members of the Balanced Food and Fuel Campaign, “an alliance of animal agricultural groups concerned about the impact that the corn-based ethanol policy may have on the competitiveness of animal agriculture, exports, the food industry and ultimately the consumer,” according to the BF&FC website. Members include American Meat Institute, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Chicken Council, National Meat Association, National Milk Producers Federation, National Pork Producers Council, and the National Turkey Federation.

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National Biodiesel Board blasts EPA in ILUC hearings -

Biofuels Digest
June 10, 2009

“Faulty data and unrealistic scenarios that punish the U.S. biodiesel industry for wholly unrelated land use decisions in South America.”

In Washington, National Biodiesel Board public affairs head Manning Feraci said that the EISA Act required the EPA to conduct a lifecycle analysis of biofuels as part of the Renewable Fuel Standard’s implementation, but said that “This does not require the EPA to rely on faulty data and unrealistic scenarios that punish the U.S. biodiesel industry for wholly unrelated land use decisions in South America.”

Faraci’s comments came as a flock of biofuels friends and foes descended on the EPA for a day of public hearings. The hearings were part of public outreach on the EPA’s proposed rulemaking for the Renewable Fuel Standard.

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Killingly man runs truck on wood, leaves
Posted Jun 08, 2009 @ 11:51 PM

Killingly, Conn. — A Killingly man has spent the last few years resurrecting and modifying a 130-year-old technology that allows him to run a 4,000-pound truck on wood, leaves and trash.

Five years ago, Dave Nichols, fed up with the rising cost of fuel and wood waste disposal and concerned with the amount of emissions produced by traditional gas-powered vehicles, began constructing a biomass gasification system for his 1989 Ford F150 pickup truck.

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Of Kites, Coal and the Waxman-Markey Climate Bill

Mon Jun 8, 2009 4:13pm EDT
By Marc Gunther - Marc Gunther

If nothing else, the Waxman-Markey climate change bill is keeping the think tanks and Washington lobbyists busy. I've been surveying analyses and comment from critics including The Heritage Foundation ("a massive energy tax in disguise that promises job losses, income cuts, and a sharp left turn toward big government"), former Lotus CEO Jim Manzi in The National Review ("a terrible deal for American taxpayers"), the U.S. Chamber of Commerce ("expensive, complicated, regulation-heavy, domestic-only legislation"), The Breakthrough Institute ("may allow American emissions to continue to rise for up to twenty years") as well as Greenpeace ("not strong enough to stop global warming") and Friends of the Earth ("we have serious concerns and misgivings that prevent us from offering our support"). Now we are getting analyses of the analyses, such as the NRDC's Laurie Johnson's persuasive takedown of Heritage's work.

Lest you think that the climate-change bill lacks supporters, Environmental Defense last week released a list of backers that includes a broad swath of corporate America (GE, GM, PG&E, Exelon, Duke Energy, Shell, Starbucks and Nike), labor (the UAW, United Mineworkers, SEIU) and nonprofits (NRDC, Sierra Club, World Wildlife Fund, League of Women Voters, Consumers Union, National Wildlife Federation, etc.)

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

SG Biofuels discovers cold-tolerant jatropha; may open US for more cultivation

Biofuels Digest June

In California, SG Biofuels today announced that it has identified multiple strains of cold tolerant Jatropha capable of thriving in climates outside the crop’s traditional subtropical habitat.
The strains are included among thousands of variations of Jatropha curcas the firm has collected from a range of climates and geographies around the world as part of its Genetic Resource Center, the company’s collection of Jatropha genetic material and reputed to be the world’s largest.

The strains were collected from various sites in Central America at elevations ranging from 1,600 meters (5,200 feet) to over 1800 meters (about 6,000 feet), where the average daily low temperature between December and February are typically around 45 degrees Fahrenheit, and nightly temperatures can fall well below freezing.

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USDA Meets Obama Biofuels Objective


Programs Will Provide Critical Support to Nation's Biofuels Industry

WASHINGTON, June 8, 2009 - Responding to President Obama's directive to expedite and increase the production of biofuels, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that USDA met its 30-day deadline to help produce more energy from homegrown, renewable sources.

"Further developing the biofuels industry helps create jobs and stimulates rural economies, an important part of getting our economy back on track," said Vilsack. "President Obama and I are committed to advancing clean and renewable energy as it creates jobs domestically and boosts tax revenues at all levels of government."

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Congressmen and Corn Farmers Coalition Call on EPA to Reconsider Ethanol Rules Using Better Information

Business Wire
June 09, 2009 09:30 AM Eastern Daylight Time

WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Corn farmers and two veteran corn-state congressmen asked the federal Environmental Protection Agency to reconsider new rules on ethanol in light of the phenomenal productivity and declining environmental impact of America’s largest crop.

Reps. Leonard Boswell (D-Iowa) and John Shimkus (R-Ill.) said farmers don’t get enough credit for growing more corn every year on the same amount of land with less energy and fewer resources.

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Ford advancing with Bobcat twin-fuel engine, using ethanol to boost engine efficiency, power, mileage

Biofuels Digest
June 09, 2009 Jim Lane

In Michigan, Ford made presentations to the Department of Energy and the Society of Automotive Engineers to update them on its development of a twin-fuel engine, code named Bobcat. Unlike flex-fuel engines that use a blend of ethanol and gasoline, the Bobcat engine uses gasoline and injects small amounts of ethanol when higher octane is needed to prevent fuel detonation.

This allows the engine to operate at higher compression ratios and achieve greater mechanical efficiencies. Using this technique, ethanol adds to fuel economy and mileage — as opposed to the use of E85, which reduces fuel efficiency by burning high-octane ethanol fuel at lower compression ratios.

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Indirect land use calculations giving ethanol, biodiesel producers heartburn

Southeast Farm Press
Jun 8, 2009 9:45 AM, By Forrest LawsFarm Press Editorial Staff

Collin Peterson remembers the first ethanol boom in the 1970s. The Arab oil embargo and resulting long lines and high prices at the gas pumps prompted a number of entrepreneurs to jump into corn-based renewable fuels.

But when unexpected energy conservation measures by the U.S. public reduced the demand for oil, gasoline and ethanol prices plummeted and the plants were shuttered. Peterson has said ethanol producers in his state of Minnesota never recovered.

So you might understand why Peterson was visibly angry when EPA released its proposed rule for implementing the Renewable Fuels Standard earlier this month. The proposal includes calculations of greenhouse gas emissions for all fuels covered by the standard.

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New Ways to Look at Old Waste
Published on June 8th, 2009
by Becky Hammad

The race is on to find more cost-effective, energy-efficient strategies for turning biomass, or renewable feedstocks, into alternative fuels. But just as important, researchers are seeking ways to produce these fuels without compromising global food supply and land.

In recent years, more attention has been given to creating energy generated from waste and from biomass consisting of organic materials. This renewable energy is favorable because the process produces fewer toxins, is easier on the environment and sends less waste to the landfills.

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Ag Secretary says ethanol blend increase likely

Monday, June 8, 2009, 8:27 AM
By Darwin Danielson

State Ag Secretary Bill Northey says increasing the amount of Iowa-produced ethanol that's mixed in gasoline is a good possibility. The Environmental Protection Agency is taking input on raising the amount of ethanol allowed from 10% to 15%.

Northey says we are in the middle of the comment period, and once the period is done, federal officials will look at the comments and make a decision. He says there is a good chance for a higher blend, maybe starting at a 12 or 13% blend on the way to a 15-percent blend. Northey says a change in the formula is overdue.

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Agriculturalists future of little ‘camelina’ plant

Idaho Business Review
POSTED: Monday, May 25, 2009
by Zach Hagadone

The term “wonder crop” germinates and blooms, or withers and dies, when the rarefied camelina sativa comes up in conversation.

With its bright yellow blossoms, this sturdy relative of mustard grows fast, grows in the cold, grows in drought and grows when ignored.

Its tiny seeds have an oil content of around 40 percent, and are exceptionally high in omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants. Some scientists claim camelina can be used to produce heart-healthy oils and supplements, meal for livestock and, potentially, low-cost biofuel.

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INL and OriginOil to develop algae-to-oil technology

Idaho National Laboratory
by Reuel Smith and Keith Arterburn , INL Communications & Public Affairs

Idaho National Laboratory recently signed an agreement to help OriginOil, Inc. validate and scale the company's proprietary technology for converting algae to oil. Representatives from the company converged at the U.S. Department of Energy lab for a February signing ceremony.
OriginOil Chief Technical Officer Vikram Pattarkine (left) signs an agreement on algae research with INL commercialization manager David Anderson.

Algae grows faster and requires less energy than other biofuel sources, or "feedstocks." But only a few technology companies have seriously pursued algae-to-oil research. In addition to INL's science and engineering strengths, the lab has a history of algae research experience dating back three decades.

"INL is uniquely positioned to analyze the efficiency and effectiveness of industrial systems and to develop algal resources for biofuels," J.W. "Bill" Rogers Jr., INL associate laboratory director for Energy and Environment, said at the signing ceremony.

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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Dry At The Pump

Conservation Magazine - Journal Watch Online
June 5, 2009

When it comes to water, bioenergy is not one size fits all

Think you’re saving the planet by filling up with biodiesel? You might want to do your research first. If jatropha was the source, then you just consumed more than 300,000 gallons of water while filling an average-sized tank.

A new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences ranks the water footprint of twelve of the world’s most common crops along with jatropha, which is often considered a more sustainable or “advanced” biofuel. Per liter of fuel, jatropha, it turns out, is the most water-hungry of the bunch.

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California Bioenergy First to Sell Greenhouse Gas Emission Reductions to PG&E

Electric, Light & Power; Utility T & D, Automation & Engineering

June 5, 2009 — California Bioenergy, a renewable energy company, agreed to sale of greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions from its livestock methane capture project to Pacific Gas and Electric Co.'s (PG&E's) ClimateSmart Program. The ClimateSmart Program is a voluntary, tax-deductible program allowing PG&E customers to mitigate the GHG emissions produced through their energy use by paying a separate amount on their monthly bill. PG&E invests the funds in new, independently verified projects that reduce or absorb GHG emissions. The California Bioenergy project, located on a dairy farm in Kern County, Calif., will help combat climate change by yielding 75,000 metric tons of GHG emission reductions.

"California Bioenergy's contract with PG&E creates tremendous benefits," said Edwin F. Feo, co-chair of Milbank's Power, Energy & Utilities practice, working with associate Ari Bessendorf, both in the firm's Los Angeles office. "The project will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as well as facilitate economic development in the area."

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World ethanol leaders meet in Brazil to discuss the industry’s future

Ethanol Producer Magazine July 2009
By Hope Deutscher
Report posted June 5, 2009, at 3:41 p.m. CST

Ethanol industry leaders discussed the present and future of biofuels in São Paulo, Brazil, on June 1-3. Specialists, researchers, leading business executives and government officials from around the world participated in the Ethanol Summit, which has been held annually since 2007. The summit provides a platform for in-depth discussions on the present and future of biofuels in Brazil and the world, with special focus on the most widely used biofuel of all, ethanol.

Brazil, which is the world’s largest exporter of ethanol and the second-biggest producer after the U.S., has been lobbying for greater access to the U.S. and European Union markets.

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Farmers quiz federal agriculture chief
By Bruce C. Smith
Posted: June 6, 2009

Vilsack urges technology, energy issues
Not everything Hendricks County farmers heard this week from U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack pleased them, but after hearing him speak in Danville, many said they are encouraged about the future of their industry and lifestyle.

David Hardin, 35, who runs a hog-and-grain operation of about 2,400 acres in western Hendricks County, with his father, John Hardin, said farmers often get mixed messages from Washington, D.C., about environmental and other issues.

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Ethanol Makers Still Trying to Catch a Break from Banks, Debt Holders

Seeking Alpha
June 07, 2009 by MARIE DAGHLIAN

A combination of lower oil prices and challenging financial markets continues to spell disaster for U.S. ethanol companies, with another 10 providers of this first-generation biofuel going belly up in the first five months of 2009. Among the latest was Pacific Ethanol (PEIX), which saw its shares swoon 44 percent to 32 cents on May 19 when five of its six ethanol-producing units filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The company had gone public in 2005 with shares debuting at $12.95.

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Algae could become reliable jet fuel source

Dallas Morning News
12:00 AM CDT on Sunday, June 7, 2009
By ED TIMMS / The Dallas Morning News

Seawater algae – a cousin to pond scum – may someday become a significant source of fuel for military jets and airliners, and at the same time rejuvenate farmlands where tumbleweeds fill old irrigation ditches and abandoned cotton gins bake in the Texas sun.

Algae farmers conceivably could become the newest breed of Texas oilmen. For now, that's still a very big "if." Several scientific and technical obstacles must be overcome before the tiny plantlike organisms, which create unsightly rings on boat hulls and slime on fish tanks, can be turned into a viable fuel.

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Monday, June 8, 2009

CME extends agriculture, ethanol e-trading hours

Fri Jun 5, 2009 12:58pm EDT

CHICAGO, June 5 (Reuters) - CME Group Inc (CME.O) said on Friday it would expand electronic trading of agricultural contracts by 75 minutes, effective July 1, in a move aimed at further boosting business on that platform.

"It allows customers based in Europe more time to trade during trading hours that are most convenient for them," said CME Group spokesperson Mary Haffenberg.

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Home Ethanol Maker

Fox 40 Sacramento, California
Lonnie Wong KTXL News
June 4, 2009

SACRAMENTO - Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is endorsing a new mini-ethanol maker designed for home use. He is touting EFuel's MicroFueler as an example of new technology that can boost California's economy while reducing the reliance on foreign oil.

"It was really meant to be just like a gas station," said EFuel ethanol scientist Floyd Butterfield.The unit is the size of a refrigerator and was designed to look like a gasoline pump.

Plug it in, attach a garden hose, and add sugary organic waste and it produces up to ten gallons of ethanol a day. According EFuel engineers, that is twice the amount a typical family of two uses for their automobiles. The ethanol can also be used to power a generator to produce electricity.

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Over 100 RE applications swamp DoE

Manila Bulletin
June 5, 2009, 5:05pm

There have been influx of interests on renewable energy projects, making the Department of Energy (DoE) currently swamped with the task of reviewing over 100 applications.

Energy assistant secretary Mario Marasigan confirmed the "high level of interest" shown by prospective investors, but he stressed the proposals are still going through the department's review.

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Study highlights bioenergy's water footprint

[Date: 2009-06-04]

Researchers and industry actors are on the bandwagon to find alternative sources of energy, for example by replacing petrol with biofuels. The spotlight is now on the water footprint - the volume of fresh water used to produce goods and services for consumption.

New research from the Netherlands assesses the water footprint of bioenergy - the amount of water needed to cultivate crops for biomass. The study's findings are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) Early Edition.

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Ethanol Production Could Jeopardize Soil Productivity


ScienceDaily (June 2, 2009) — There is growing interest in using crop residues as the feedstock of choice for the production of cellulosic-based ethanol because of the more favorable energy output relative to grain-based ethanol. This would also help provide a solution to the debate of food versus fuel, because less of the grain would be diverted to ethanol production, leaving more available for food and feed consumption.

Crop residues are viewed as a low cost and readily available source of material since more than 50% of crop production is residues. However, crop residues should not be considered simply a waste or benign material. They possess a critical role in sustaining soil organic matter.

Consequently, extensive removal of crop residues for ethanol production—or for other industrial purposes—may impact the long-term productivity of soils.

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Friday, June 5, 2009

Report: Ethanol policies support domestic fuel, American farms

Ethanol Producer Magazine June 2009
By Ryan C. Christiansen
Report posted June 3, 2009, at 2:10 p.m. CST

Researchers at the University of Missouri’s Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute warn that if the U.S. allows the 54-cents-per-gallon tariff on imported ethanol to expire as scheduled at the end of 2010, imported Brazilian ethanol will displace domestic ethanol production and, due to decreased demand for corn, American farmers will suffer lost revenue. This is just one scenario outlined in a report from FAPRI titled “Impacts of Selected U.S. Ethanol Policy Options". The report was published in response to a request from several members of Congress.

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Agriculture: Will the yield keep growing?

StarTribune (Minneapolis-St. Paul)
By MATT McKINNEY, Star Tribune
Last update: June 3, 2009 - 10:44 AM

Corn yields seem to rise every year, along with demand. But the question is whether, even with genetic tinkering, the yields will continue to increase.

As farmers put the state's 2009 corn crop into the ground this month, they expect to grow more corn per acre than last year. And if history is any guide, they will.

Farmers today harvest more corn than their parents did a generation ago from the same fields, a fact made evident in historical charts that show corn yield over the past several decades as a steadily rising line.

So reliable is corn's growth of about 2 extra bushels per acre per year that government analysts folded it into their forecasts for this year's 12.1 billion bushel crop. It's just expected.

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Western Biofuels introduces new process

Biodiesel Magazine
By Susanne Retka Schill
Posted, June 3, 2009

Western Biofuels Inc. released the results of an independent validation test and announced plans to build a 1.4 MMgy demonstration plant for a new biofuel process. Fuel chemist Nicholas Irving, president and founder of Western Biofuels, described the process as combining a chemical reaction using nitrogen compounds and distillation to create a unique biofuel from fats and oils that is not a methyl ester. He’s calling it a High Energy BioFuel (HEBF) because it combines the energy advantage of petro-diesel with the benefits of biofuels.

“HEBF has no restriction as to feedstock, it can be tallow, palm, olive oil or 100 percent FFAs [free fatty acids],” Irving said. “We can even use crude vegetable oils, the water isn’t a problem.” The distillation is done at atmospheric pressure, Irving added, although the HEBF process does require the proper equipment and can’t be done even on a bench scale with glassware.

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Poet looks at bankrupt ethanol plants

Tue Jun 2, 2009 7:16pm

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Poet, the largest U.S. producer of ethanol, is interested in buying new distilleries including ones from recently bankrupt companies, and has "multiple trade secrets" that could help make them profitable, the company's chief executive said.

"We're looking at all of the opportunities out there that reasonably fit within our model," Jeff Broin, the chief executive of privately held Poet, told the Reuters Global Energy Summit by telephone.

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Biomass generates most jobs in renewable energy sector

Biomass Magazine June 2009
By Anna Austin
Posted June 3, 2009, at 1:17 p.m. CST

Biomass, wind and hydro are the most important technologies to generate jobs under the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive, according to a study recently conducted on behalf of the European Commission’s Directorate-General Energy and Transport.

At the end of 2008, the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union agreed on the RED, which commits EU member states to achieve a 20 percent share of renewable energy in the country’s energy consumption by 2020, and to cut carbon emissions 20 percent by 2020.

Several different economic models were used for study assessments, including input-output model MULTIREG, which was used to observe the effect of developments in the renewable energy sources (RES) sector on other economic sectors.

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President Clinton Calls for Rainforest Protection at Ethanol Summit

Wed Jun 3, 2009 2:46pm EDT
By Gas 2.0 - Gas 2.0
By Joanna Schroeder

This week Sao Paulo, Brazil is hosting one of the world's largest gatherings of the international biofuels industry.

The Ethanol Summit 2009 was kicked off in part by President Bill Clinton who noted that Brazil is known for producing the most energy efficient and cost competitive ethanol in the world using sugarcane. The downside, though, says Clinton, is that the country's increase in ethanol production is a precursor to the continued destruction of the rainforests.

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Pelosi, US House farm chief discuss climate bill

Reuters India
Wed Jun 3, 2009 3:00am IST

WASHINGTON, June 2 (Reuters) - Speaker Nancy Pelosi met the House Agriculture Committee chairman on Tuesday to discuss the climate change bill that he opposes but which is a priority for House Democrats this year.

The Agriculture Committee is among eight committees with the right to review the climate bill. The bill would cut industrial emissions of greenhouse gases by 17 percent by 2020.

During a news conference, Pelosi said she met Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson and Charles Rangel, chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee, on the climate bill. She said she was optimistic of action on the bill in coming weeks.

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Lawmakers seek broader U.S. biomass-for-biofuel list

Wed Jun 3, 2009 6:37 pm EDT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Farm-state lawmakers on Wednesday asked the Obama administration to back a broader definition of biomass for use in renewable fuels, an issue entangled with congressional action on climate change.

Some lawmakers from rural districts say they will not support the climate bill without a more favorable treatment of biofuels, such as an expansive definition of biomass. The climate bill is a top priority for House Democratic leaders.

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Grass could be fuel of the future
May 28 2009 by James McCarthy, Western Mail

SCIENTISTS in Wales are working on a ground-breaking £1m scheme to turn grass into fuel.
The Assembly Government- backed “grassohol” project aims to develop a commercially viable way to make ethanol which is used as an alternative to petrol.

The project, which has been funded by the UK government, the Welsh Assembly Government and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, is led by the Institute of Biological Environmental and Rural Sciences at Aberystwyth University.

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Reuters Summit-Higher ethanol blends would be good for US -Chu
Reuters, Monday June 1 2009
(For other news from the Reuters Global Energy Summit)
By Timothy Gardner

NEW YORK, June 1 (Reuters) - Mixing slightly higher levels of ethanol into gasoline would benefit the U.S. energy supply provided the higher blends do not hurt car engines, U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu said.

"We are looking at whether when you go up to 12 and 13 percent (of ethanol in gasoline) whether the current fleet of automobiles would be fine in terms of the gaskets and seals and things of that nature," said Chu speaking at the Reuters Global Energy Summit in Washington. "If it turns out the existing automobile fleet ... could accept that, it would be good if we can go up to 12 or 13 percent."

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Bioenergy Makes Heavy Demands On Scarce Water Supplies

ScienceDaily (June 4, 2009) — The ‘water footprint’ of bioenergy, i.e. the amount of water required to cultivate crops for biomass, is much greater than for other forms of energy. The generation of bioelectricity is significantly more water-efficient in the end, however – by a factor of two – than the production of biofuel. By establishing the water footprint for thirteen crops, researchers at the University of Twente were able to make an informed choice of a specific crop and production region. They published their results in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) of 2 June.

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Thursday, June 4, 2009

Ethanol to take over 75 pct Brazil car fuel market

Wed Jun 3, 2009 12:01pm
By Roberto Samora

SAO PAULO, June 3 (Reuters) - Sugar cane-based ethanol fuel is expected to take over 75 percent of Brazil's light vehicle fuel market, shrinking gasoline's stake to 17 percent by 2020, the head of the state-run oil company said.

The flex-fuel engine technology, which is now included in about 90 percent of all new car sales, is the reason that Brazilians are buying more ethanol fuel, said Jose Sergio Gabrielli, chief executive of Petrobras(PETR4.SA) (PBR.N), Brazil's state-run oil company.

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