July 2010

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Bioenergy > Timeline > 2010 > July 2010

This page includes information on News and Events in July 2010. (News and events are archived here at the end of the month.)



  • Opponents of E15 ethanol blend launch campaign calling for more testing, 27 July 2010 by AutoBlogGreen: "Last month, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that its decision to raise the ethanol blend from ten percent (E10) to 15 percent (E15) had been postponed pending further testing. Prior to announcing the postponement, the EPA received reports from automakers suggesting that E15 could be detrimental to modern engines."
    • "Environmental and industry groups are now calling on Congress to require thorough scientific testing before increasing the ethanol blend. The groups banded together to create FollowTheScience.org, a site focused on the negative impact of E15. FollowTheScience launched an ad campaign with the tagline 'Say NO to untested E15'."
    • A press release by the coalition stated:
      • "Most gasoline sold in the United States contains 10 percent ethanol (E10). Some ethanol lobbyists are seeking to boost that to 15 percent (E15), or to compromise with a boost to 12 percent (E12)."
      • "Ethanol burns hotter than gasoline and corrodes soft metals, plastics and rubber. The groups collectively believe more testing is needed to determine how much ethanol is too much for different types of existing engines to use safely without risking engine failure".[2]
    • Sponsors of the ad include the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Hispanic Institute, the Engine Manufacturers Association, and the Snack Food Association.
  • New Perspectives on the Energy Return on (Energy) Investment (EROI) of Corn Ethanol: Part 1 of 2, 26 July 2010 by The Oil Drum: "The following is the first of two posts based on a recent paper published under the same title in the journal Environment, Development, and Sustainability."
    • "Over the past decade there has been considerable debate on corn ethanol, most focused on whether it is a net energy yielder. The argument is generally that if the Energy Return on Investment (EROI) of corn ethanol is positive then it should be pursued. On one side are Pimentel (2003) and Patzek (2004) who claim that corn ethanol has an EROI below one energy unit returned per energy unit invested, and on the other side are a number of studies claiming that the EROI is positive, reported variously as between 1.08 and 1.45....Even with numerous publications on this issue, disagreement remains as to whether corn ethanol is a net energy yielder."
    • "[M]ost analyses to date...use optimal (i.e. Iowa) values for corn yield, fertilizer, and irrigation, despite the fact that each of these have large geographical (as well as other) variation. Because of this they fail to represent the variable nature of corn production across space, and by extension the subsequent variability in the EROI of corn ethanol."
    • "The results from our meta-error analysis indicated that the average EROI for corn ethanol was 1.07 with a standard error of 0.1....EROI values calculated in the spatial analysis ranged from 0.36 in less optimal corn-growing areas, for example southern Texas, to 1.18 in optimal areas, for example Nebraska...If we apply the same confidence calculated in the meta-error analysis to the results of the county EROI analysis, we find that none of the counties had an EROI that was high enough (1.20) to conclude that corn ethanol was produced at an energy profit."[3]
  • The race to make fuel out of algae poses risks as well as benefits, 22 July 2010 by ClimateWire via EarthPortal: "One day, Big Algae may be competitive with Big Oil, but as researchers search for the ideal oil-producing algae strain to grow in commercial quantities, there are still a host of uncertainties standing in the way."
    • "The first is simply supply. A central question dominating algal biofuel conferences is whether the best oil-producing algae crop will come from strains occurring in nature, or if they will need to be genetically modified to enhance their fuel-producing potential."
    • "History shows that in general, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) can be difficult to contain."
    • "Unlike genetically modified, or GM, corn, which has been used for some 15 years, similarly altered algae are newcomers to the scene and have not been tried outdoors before. 'Being a nascent industry, there are no existing standards for various aspects of algal biofuels production,' said an Energy Department algae road map issued last month."
    • "If companies do not take the time to educate the public and regulators about potential risks and the current state of the technology, they run the risk of a 'serious backlash from the public and from advocacy groups and eventually from regulators that could shut down these projects' in the event anything goes wrong,'" according to Evan Smith, "co-founder of Verno Systems, a Seattle-based consulting firm that looks at financial strategies for advanced biofuels."[4]
  • New CBO Report Examines Biofuels Tax Incentives, 16 July 2010 by Mackinnon Lawrence: "CBO releases report this week assessing biofuel incentives. Study finds that biofuel subsidies, costs associated with reducing petroleum use and GHG emissions vary by fuel."
    • "First, after making adjustments for the different energy contents of the various biofuels and the petroleum fuel used to produce them, the report finds that producers of ethanol made from corn receive 73 cents to provide an amount of biofuel with the energy equivalent to that in one gallon of gasoline. On a similar basis, producers of cellulosic ethanol receive $1.62, and producers of biodiesel receive $1.08."
    • "Second, the report finds reducing petroleum use costs taxpayers anywhere from $1.78 – 3.00 per one gallon of gasoline, again, depending on the type of fuel."
    • "Third, the costs to taxpayers of reducing greenhouse gas emissions varies from $275 per metric ton of CO2e for cellulosic, $300 per metric ton for CO2e for biodiesel, and about $750 per metric ton of CO2e for ethanol . NOTE: the CBO estimates do not reflect any emissions associated with land use change (direct or indirect)."
    • "Domestic Fuel reports this week that the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) asserts the report provides no comparison to other technologies or types of biofuels against the destruction that goes hand in hand with fossil fuel production."[5]
Ret. General Wesley Clark, Co-Chair of the U.S. ethanol lobbying group Growth Energy.
  • Growth Energy proposes shift in fuel policy, 15 July 2010 by Ethanol Producer Magazine: "With the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit, set to expire at the end of the year, Growth Energy is calling for a change in the way ethanol tax incentives are used and an eventual phase out of governmental support of ethanol."
    • Growth Energy’s "Fueling Freedom Plan calls for, ideally, a five-year extension to VEETC. However, rather than provide the all incentive money to blenders, the oil industry, Growth Energy is advocating that some of that tax money go to installing 200,000 blender pumps and ethanol pipelines."
    • "Another part of the plan would require that all automobiles sold in the U.S. be flex-fuel vehicles (FFVs)."
    • "Currently, the ethanol industry is supplying about 10 percent of the U.S. fuel needs."
    • "Ethanol tax incentives cost the U.S. about $5 to $7 billion a year, said Growth Energy co-chair Ret. Gen. Wesley Clark."
    • "On the same day as Growth Energy’s announcement, RFA [the Renewable Fuels Association] joined with the American Coalition for Ethanol, the National Corn Growers Association and the National Sorghum Producers to lend its support to the current tax incentive legislation" that would "extend ethanol tax incentives through 2015."[7]
  • Alaska Airlines, Boeing, & Airports Partner on Biofuels, 14 July 2010 by Bill DiBenedetto: "Their endeavor, called the “Sustainable Aviation Fuel Northwest” project, is the first regional assessment of its kind in the U.S., according to a joint announcement from the group this week."
    • "The assessment will examine all phases of developing a sustainable biofuel industry, including biomass production and harvest, refining, transport infrastructure and actual use by airlines. It will include an analysis of potential biomass sources that are indigenous to the Pacific Northwest, including algae, agriculturally based oilseeds such as camelina, wood byproducts and others. The project is jointly funded by the participating parties and is expected to be completed in about six months."
    • "Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Jim Albaugh added, 'Developing a sustainable aviation fuel supply now is a top priority both to ensure continued economic growth and prosperity at regional levels and to support the broader aim of achieving carbon-neutral growth across the industry by 2020.'"
    • "The assessment process will be managed by Climate Solutions, an Olympia, WA, environmental nonprofit organization, which will align the effort to sustainability criteria developed by the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels. The project’s objective is to identify potential pathways and necessary actions to make aviation biofuel commercially available to airline operators serving the region."[8]
  • Klobuchar bill: trojan horse for bad biofuels, 14 July 2010, Nathanael Greene’s Blog/NRDC: "It should come as no surprise that the first copy of the full text of Sen Klobuchar's energy bill was found on a corn ethanol industry association website; the bill reads like the industry's wish list."
    • "Today's corn ethanol is mature and mainstream and, unfortunately, generally causes more global warming pollution than gasoline. Klobuchar's bill would lavish over $30 billion on the ethanol and oil industries, it would pull the rug out from under entreprenours trying to develop cleaner, advanced biofuels, and it would threaten forests across our country..."
    • "Here are some of laundry list of bad biofuel provisions:
  • "5 year extension of the corn ethanol tax credit (which mostly enriches oil companies such as BP)."
  • "Gutting the definition of renewable biomass so that it would include everything from old growth to garbage..."
  • "Legislating away the science of lifecycle GHG accounting for ethanol. Using lots of land to make ethanol instead of food means that food production moves to new land and that leads to deforestation."
  • "Defining mature and mainstream corn ethanol, which has been commercially produced for well over 30 years as an 'advanced biofuel' under the RFS2."
  • "Huge give aways for building corn ethanol pipes to the coast so that we can ship our 'home grown energy' overseas."[9]
  • New Rules May Cloud the Outlook for Biomass, 9 July 2010 by New York Times: "An energy technology that has long been viewed as a clean and climate-friendly alternative to fossil fuels is facing tough new regulatory hurdles that could ultimately hamper its ability to compete with renewable power sources like wind and solar."
    • "There is opposition to a proposed biomass power plant in Russell, Mass. Critics of the technology fear the use of wood products for fuel would create a rapacious industry and threaten forests."
    • "[A] long-simmering debate in Massachusetts questioning the environmental benefits of biomass has culminated in new rules that will limit what sorts of projects will qualify for renewable energy incentives there....The new proposals would, among other things, require the projects to provide 'significant near-term greenhouse gas dividends.'"
    • Biomass power, "a $1 billion industry in the United States...has long been considered both renewable and carbon-neutral on its most basic level."
    • "But many environmental groups say that the benefits of biomass power — and all forms of energy derived from organic sources, including biofuels — are realized only in carefully controlled circumstances. The cycle of carbon emission and absorption also unfolds over long periods of time that need to be carefully monitored."[12]
  • Africa Energy Forum Considers Renewable Energy and Biofuels Development in Africa, 2 July 2010 by Climate-L.org: "The Africa Energy Forum, which took place from 28 June-1 July 2010, in Basel, Switzerland, examined the interlinkages among environmental concerns, development goals and power supply in Africa."
    • "The Forum included, inter alia: an Africa Renewable Energy Forum, which considered government, financial and technology and efficiency solutions, as well as best practice examples of renewable energy projects; an Energy Summit, during which government ministers, industry leaders and development and environment experts discussed energy development goals; and AfricaBIOFUELS, during which African and European Government representatives and investors offered their perspective on the development of the African biofuels sector."[13]
  • Ethanol Credits Have A Major Beneficiary In Big Oil Firms, 2 July 2010 by National Journal/Congress Daily: "BP could stand to reap [U.S.] federal tax credits approaching $600 million this year for blending gasoline with corn-based ethanol, making the British oil and gas giant one of the largest beneficiaries of the 45 cents-per-gallon ethanol incentive."
    • "The credit expires Dec. 31, and the House Ways and Means Committee is preparing as early as next month to debate a 'green jobs' bill eyed as a vehicle for an extension."
    • "'Generally, we feel that after 30 years, it's finally time for ethanol to stand on its own,' said Dusty Horwitt, senior counsel at the Environmental Working Group. 'These massive handouts flow to oil companies like BP and only cement our dependence on environmentally damaging sources of energy'."
    • "Ethanol backers say the BP argument is a straw man. 'I don't think that has any legs,' said House Agriculture Chairman Collin Peterson."
    • "On BP's website, the firm states: 'As one of the largest blenders and marketers of biofuels in the nation, we blended over 1 billion gallons of ethanol with gasoline in 2008 alone.' Extrapolating from Energy Information Administration data on 2009 refining capacity, BP is estimated to have produced about 11.5 billion gallons of gasoline."[14]
  • GBEP Newsletter Highlights Progress on Sustainability Indicators for Bioenergy, 1 July 2010 by Climate-L.org: "The Global Bioenergy Partnership (GBEP) has published its eighth newsletter, which discusses, inter alia, the recent G8 Summit in Muskoka, Canada, GBEP’s new partners, and new online resources for greenhouse gas (GHG) measurement."
    • "The newsletter opens by noting that G8 leaders renewed GBEP’s mandate, highlighting the need for further progress on sustainability indicators and criteria, and capacity building efforts. The newsletter further highlights that, concerning sustainability indicators, the GBEP Task Force on Sustainability has recently reached agreement in a number of areas including economic, energy security, social and environmental aspects. This is contrasted, however, with hurdles that remain in the areas of food security, government support, trade, land rights and national legal, policy and institutional frameworks."[15]
      • See the GBEP newsletter here

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