June 2010

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Bioenergy > Timeline > 2010 > June 2010

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



  • Greener palm oil arrives in the United States, 29 June 2010 by Mongabay.com: "The first shipment of palm oil certified under sustainability criteria [has] arrived in the United States, according to the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO)."
    • "AAK, a vegetable oils and fats manufacturer based in Malmo, Sweden, announced the arrival of the first shipment of segregated RSPO-certified palm oil to its refinery in Port Newark, New Jersey. Segregated RSPO-certified palm oil has been kept separate from conventional palm oil throughout the supply chain. Most 'sustainable' palm oil users don't actually use segregated certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO), Instead they offset conventional palm oil buy purchasing the equivalent amount of GreenPalm certificates, which represent real CSPO sold elsewhere as conventional palm oil."
    • "The RSPO also announced that daily production of CSPO has now surpassed 5,000 metric tons per day."
    • "Some critics say the [RSPO] lacks oversight, sets a low bar for compliance, and is underfunded. Supporters argue that RSPO is still a relatively new initiative that needs more time to prove itself."[1]
  • NGOs Say EU Fuelling Hunger By Grabbing Land For Biofuels , 29 June 2010 by Eurasia Review: "Western development and environmental groups warned Tuesday that EU biofuels targets are leading to uncontrollable land grabbing from poor communities in Africa, pushing more people into hunger."
    • "A day before EU member states submit their renewable energy plans to the EU, NGOs Action Aid and Friends of the Earth Europe called on European leaders to halt the expansion of biofuels."
    • "Adrian Bebb, from the Friends of the Earth Europe said, 'huge tracts of land are being snatched across the developing world for European biofuels.'"
    • "Whether it's their impact on the environment, the climate, or the need to swallow up more land, the arguments against large scale biofuels continue to grow."[2]
  • The Rainforest Alliance Releases New Verification Mark to Recognize Achievements in Sustainability, 23 June 2010 by Environmental News Network: "The Rainforest Alliance today released its new verification mark to recognize businesses and projects that have achieved significant and measurable sustainability milestones. The new mark is awarded to forest carbon projects and tourism and certain forestry enterprises that meet standards developed by the Rainforest Alliance itself or by other organizations with which the Rainforest Alliance is aligned."
    • A key issue is "verification of the legality of wood sources, which is particularly important since illegal logging throughout the world continues to undermine efforts to promote social equity, environmental conservation and sustainable economic growth in many nations."
    • "For nearly 20 years the Rainforest Alliance CertifiedTM seal has been used to designate farms and forestlands that meet the rigorous, third-party standards of the Sustainable Agriculture Network or the Forest Stewardship Council. These standards for environmental, social and economic sustainability are developed through an independent, participatory process."[4]
  • EPA “Dropping the Ball” on E15, 18 June 2010 by The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA): "EPA is preparing to approve E15 use for only model year 2007 and newer vehicles in September while waiting to approve E15 for model year 2001 and newer vehicles later this fall. The RFA has repeatedly challenged EPA to provide any justification for such a decision, but the agency has yet to do so."
    • "Allowing up to E15 blends, up from current 10 percent limits, would mean a potential increase of 6.5 billion gallons of new ethanol demand, displacing more than 200 million additional barrels of imported oil." [5]
  • Net Benefits of Biomass Power Under Scrutiny, 18 June 2010 by Tom Zeller Jr. from The New York Times: "Matthew Wolfe, an energy developer with plans to turn tree branches and other woody debris into electric power, sees himself as a positive force in the effort to wean his state off of planet-warming fossil fuels."
    • "[P]ower generated by burning wood, plants and other organic material, which makes up 50 percent of all renewable energy produced in the United States, according to federal statistics, is facing increased scrutiny and opposition."
    • "Biomass proponents say it is a simple and proved renewable technology based on natural cycles. They acknowledge that burning wood and other organic matter releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere just as coal does, but point out that trees and plants also absorb the gas. If done carefully, and without overharvesting, they say, the damage to the climate can be offset."
    • "But opponents say achieving that sort of balance is almost impossible, and carbon-absorbing forests will ultimately be destroyed to feed a voracious biomass industry fueled inappropriately by clean-energy subsidies. They also argue that, like any incinerating operation, biomass plants generate all sorts of other pollution, including particulate matter. State and federal regulators are now puzzling over these arguments."[6]
  • Magically carbon neutral biomass, evil EPA rules and other myths, 18 June 2010 by Nathanael Greene on the NRDC Switchboard blog: "The [biomass] industry has convinced policymakers that no matter how much carbon is 'spent' when biomass is burned for energy, there will magically be enough income in the form of regrowth to cover all expenses. Because of this magic, the industry would have us categorically exclude their emissions when we do our carbon accounting."
    • Recent climate and energy bills "buy into this magically carbon neutral source of energy. The European Union has done it too."
    • "So how did the biomass industry and its supporters...react recently when EPA said it was going to account for the emissions column of the ledger as part of its rules governing which facilities will be covered by the Clean Air Act? Sadly, with willful misinterpretation."
    • A recent Massachusetts report "makes it very clear that most forest biomass is not carbon neutral."
    • "The ultimate solution is a comprehensive climate and energy bill that requires careful accounting of all carbon, including the carbon released and absorbed by biomass."[7]
  • For Gulf, Biofuels Are Worse Than Oil Spill , 17 June 2010 editorial by Investor's Business Daily: "Our growing addiction to alternative energy was killing aquatic life in the Gulf long before the Deepwater Horizon spill. Abandoning oil will kill more and also release more carbon dioxide into the air."
    • "Before the first gallon gushed from Deepwater Horizon, there existed an 8,500 square mile 'dead zone' below the Mississippi River Delta....Hypoxia, or oxygen depletion, caused by agricultural runoff...has been on an upward trend as acreage for corn destined to become ethanol increases."
    • "[A] 2008 study by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) found that 'nitrogen leaching from fertilized cornfields in the Mississippi-Atchafalaya River system is a primary cause of the bottom-water hypoxia that develops on the continental shelf of the northern Gulf of Mexico each summer.'"
    • "Ethanol from corn sounds like an energy panacea, but the devil is in the details. It takes 4,000 gallons of fresh water per acre per day to replace evaporation in a cornfield. Each acre requires about 130 pounds of nitrogen and 55 pounds of phosphorous."
    • The OECD "recently stated in a report: 'When acidification, fertilizer use, biodiversity loss and toxicity of agricultural pesticides are taken into account, the overall impact of ethanol and biodiesel can very easily exceed those of petrol and mineral diesel.'"
    • "All of this may not be as visually exciting as a gushing oil well a mile below the Gulf, but it shows no form of energy is pain-free and the benefits and trade-offs of any form of energy must be judged on the basis of science and not ideology."[8]
  • New Energy Coalition Calls for Passage of Clean Energy Bill, 16 June 2010 by American Wind Energy Association (AWEA): "On the heels of President Obama's June 15 speech calling for clean energy legislation, a new coalition of renewable energy, energy efficiency, and biofuels organizations today called on the U.S. Senate to quickly pass comprehensive energy legislation that will create millions of American jobs and decrease our reliance on foreign supplies of fossil fuels by using our own clean and abundant resources."
    • Members of the coalition include "the Biomass Power Association, Growth Energy, the Energy Recovery Council," and others. A letter issued by this coalition reads in part:
      • "We urge that the Senate move quickly to consider legislation promoting energy efficiency, renewable energy generation, and biofuels, along with associated manufacturing opportunities."
      • "Important programs affecting renewable energy industries, energy efficiency initiatives and biofuels programs are all due to expire this year."
      • "Ensuring steady growth of the industries that will solve our climate, water, and waste challenges will be a critical way to address not only near-term employment challenges but our long-term environmental and energy security goals. Renewable energy, energy efficiency, and biofuels can make a significant down payment on carbon pollution targets."[10]
  • New Federal Policies Needed to Jump-Start Clean Advanced Biofuels Industry, 14 June 2010 by The Union of Concerned Scientists: "The federal government needs to adopt a suite of new policies to spur production in the stalled advanced biofuels industry, according to a report, The Billion Gallon Challenge, released today by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).
    • "Advanced cellulosic biofuels – made from grasses, woodchips, wastes and other non-food sources – release dramatically less pollution than gasoline or corn ethanol. Reforming production tax credits for biofuels and providing new loan guarantees, investment tax credits and other financial incentives would spark investment in cellulosic biofuels, cut oil consumption, reduce global warming pollution, and ultimately save taxpayers money, the report found."
    • "Currently, cellulosic biofuels are falling far short of the mandated levels. In 2010, the standard requires fuel suppliers, largely oil companies, to purchase 100 million gallons of cellulosic biofuel, but the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had to lower this target to just 6.5 million gallons due to a lack of supply."[11]
  • Cyanobacteria generate electricity under sunlight by John Pisciota, Youngjin Zou and Ilia Baskakov, University of Maryland, Baltimore.
    • For the first time, researchers at the University of Maryland showed that cyanobacteria have a natural ability to convert sunlight directly into electricity, as reported this week in the journal PLoS One: Light-Dependent Electrogenic Activity of Cyanobacteria.
    • "Cyanobacteria account for ~30% of Earth’s photosynthetic productivity. The amount of energy that passes through cyanobacteria exceeds more than 25 times the energy consumed by humans."
    • "This previously unappreciated process could be responsible for a considerable influx of energy into the Earth’s biosphere".
    • Cyanobacteria utilize the energy of sun light to drive photosynthesis, a process where the energy of light is used to split water molecules into oxygen, protons and electrons. While most of the high-energy electrons derived from water are utilized by the cyanobacterial cells for their own needs, scientists at the University of Maryland BioMET laboratories found that a fraction of these electrons are donated to the external environment, generating electricity.”
    • "The newly discovered physiological activity of cyanobacteria can be utilized for generating green electricity in completely self-sustainable, CO2-free manner."[13]
  • Mass. study: Wood power worse polluter than coal, 10 June 2010 by Associated Press: "A new study has found that wood-burning power plants using trees and other 'biomass' from New England forests releases more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than coal over time."
    • "The report, conducted by the Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences, concludes that the net cumulative emissions of greenhouse gases from replacing coal-fired plants with biomass would be 3 percent greater by 2050 than from using coal to generate electricity."
    • "Researchers arrived at the figure by comparing how much carbon is emitted into the atmosphere through the burning of wood — what they termed 'carbon debt' — with the amount of carbon removed from the atmosphere from the regrowth of forests, or 'carbon dividends.'"
    • "The report found that harvesting trees for biomass facilities could have 'significant localized impacts on the landscape, including aesthetic impacts of locally heavy harvesting as well as potential impacts on recreation and tourism.'"
    • "The study has broad policy implications for states like Massachusetts. And environmental groups called the study 'a wake up call.'"[15]
  • Surging costs hit food security in poorer nations, 6 June 2010 by Associated Press: "With food costing up to 70 percent of family income in the poorest countries, rising prices are squeezing household budgets and threatening to worsen malnutrition....Compounding the problem in many countries: prices hardly fell from their peaks in 2008, when global food prices jumped in part due to a smaller U.S. wheat harvest and demand for crops to use in biofuels."
    • "The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization's food price index — which includes grains, meat, dairy and other items in 90 countries — was up 22 percent in March from a year earlier though still below 2008 levels."
    • "Costs also have been pushed up by a rebound in global commodity prices, especially for soy destined for Asian consumption. That has prompted a shift in Argentina and elsewhere to produce more for export, which has led to local shortages of beef and other food."
    • "In Argentina, soy production has taken over more than 32 million acres (13 million hectares) of grassland once used to raise cattle and replaced less profitable wheat and corn as well, driving up prices in supermarkets."[16]
  • Big Meat: Fueling Change or Greenwashing Fuel?, 3 June 2010 by Anna Lappé in The Atlantic: "On January 13, 2009, Tyson—one of the world's largest processors of chicken, beef, and pork—and the fuel company Syntroleum broke ground in Geismar, Louisiana, on a 'renewable' diesel plant. The fuel will be produced in part with Tyson factory farm byproducts, including animal fat and poultry litter."
    • "Tyson claims these facilities produce eco-friendly, cleaner-burning fuels from scraps that would otherwise be wasted. But critics beg to differ, arguing that the fuel doesn't actually burn any cleaner and, worse, that these plants incentivize intensive livestock production and processing methods that are decidedly bad for the environment and the climate. They charge that this fuel is renewable only in the narrowest sense, if you ignore the complete life cycle of its production. The fuels depend on energy-intensive, greenhouse-gas-emitting confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs), which require feed raised with methods that deplete topsoil and overuse synthetic fertilizer, contributing to carbon dioxide emissions."[17]
  • Cars and People Compete for Grain, 1 June 2010 by Earth Policy Institute: "At a time when excessive pressures on the earth’s land and water resources are of growing concern, there is a massive new demand emerging for cropland to produce fuel for cars — one that threatens world food security."
    • "Historically the food and energy economies were separate, but now with the massive U.S. capacity to convert grain into ethanol, that is changing....If the fuel value of grain exceeds its food value, the market will simply move the commodity into the energy economy."
    • "The grain required to fill an SUV’s 25-gallon tank with ethanol just once will feed one person for a whole year."
    • "Suddenly the world is facing an epic moral and political issue: Should grain be used to fuel cars or feed people?"
    • "For every additional acre planted to corn to produce fuel, an acre of land must be cleared for cropping elsewhere. But there is little new land to be brought under the plow unless it comes from clearing tropical rainforests in the Amazon and Congo basins and in Indonesia or from clearing land in the Brazilian cerrado."[21]

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