November 2008

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This page includes information on news and events in November 2008. (News and events are archived here at the end of the month.)



  • US Ethanol Sector to Shrink, 30 November 2008, by Farmonline:
    • "In the ethanol industry's infancy, small, locally owned plants were the way for farmers to capitalize on a booming industry. Then, all of a sudden, Wall Street found out there was money in ethanol and jumped on board."[1]
    • "Speaking at the American Bankers Assn.'s Agricultural Bankers Conference in November, Mark Lakers of Agribusiness & Food Associates said as many as 40 ethanol plants could be bankrupt by early next year of the roughly 175 plants currently under construction or on line." [2]
  • Brazilian President Wants Europe to Invest in Biofuel in Africa, 24 November 2008, by Brazzil Magazine: Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva spoke in support of international cooperation at the closing of the International Conference on Biofuels, November 21, in the city of São Paulo.
    • "We do not want European countries to dismantle their agricultural structure in order to plant sugarcane. We want them to invest in biofuel production in impoverished countries that have land available, such as the African countries." [3]
    • "[D]iversifying the means for energy production is a pressing need for wealthy and developing nations. This summit launched a discussion on regulations and technical parameters. The world must allow for biofuels to turn into a commodity, so that they can be produced and exported to a greater number of countries." [4]
  • For UN, Brazil's Biofuel Model is a Win, Win, Win Strategy, 20 November 2008, by Brazzil Magazine: "We analyzed the Brazilian model so as to see in which countries it might be reproduced. The use of biofuels as we imagine it is a win, win, win strategy. The environment wins, the commerce wins, and development wins too." [5]
    • "Global warming is a general concern. We must discuss the problem to the maximum. We are holding meetings in Brazil and in South America seeking sustainability standards, with more jobs, more opportunities. We are developing standards for biofuels production with all of the known players involved." [6]
    • "It takes a global movement for lands to be used in a way that will reduce CO2 emissions. I hope that the European Union and Brazil will be able to create a common market in which to work. We are unable to meet the goal of 10% reduction by 2020 and we are going to need to import. That is good news to Brazil." [7]
  • World food prices collapsing: were biofuel critics wrong?, 14 November 2008, by biopact: "A whole army of biofuel critics may have been wrong: contrary to what they said, it is now becoming clear that green fuels like ethanol and biodiesel have played virtually no role in the recent global surge in food prices. The spectacular trends in agricultural commodity markets prove it."
  • Biofuel producers warn EU over "unjustifiably complex" sustainability rules, 7 November 2008 by BusinessGreen: "Eight developing countries have written to the EU warning they will complain to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) if it passes proposed legislation designed to improve the environmental sustainability of biofuels by restricting the types of fuels the bloc imports."
    • "The EU is considering legislation that is intended to ban the purchase of biofuels from energy crop plantations that are believed to harm the environment and lead to food shortages by displacing land used for food crops and contributing to rainforest deforestation."
    • "[E]ight countries – Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Malawi, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Indonesia and Malaysia – have written to the EU to protest against the proposals" in a letter that "claims that the new rules would 'impose unjustifiably complex requirements on producers' and argues that environmental criteria 'relating to land-use change will impinge disproportionately on developing countries'."[8]
  • Ramsar wetlands convention adopts resolution on biofuels and wetlands, 7 November 2008, report by Earth Negotiations Bulletin: After detailed debate, the Conference of the Parties of the Ramsar Convention for international protection of wetlands adopted a resolution on biofuels and wetlands.
    • "Delegates debated references to the positive impacts of biofuels, carbon balances and impacts on carbon storage capacity, and criteria for the sustainable production of biofuels. Over the course of the meeting, the discussion became more focused on the aspects most relevant to wetlands, such as drainage of wetlands for biofuel production and biofuel production on peatlands. After arduous discussions, delegates eventually reached agreement and adopted a resolution that focuses on the wetland-related aspects of biofuel production and places a strong emphasis on further study of benefits and costs as well as on impacts of biofuel production on different types of wetlands."
    • The resolution as adopted (COP10 DR 25 Rev.2) "recognizes the potential contribution of sustainable production and use of biofuels to sustainable development and achieving the Millennium Development Goals, but expresses awareness of potential negative environmental and socioeconomic impacts from unsustainable biofuel production and use".[9]
  • U.S. biofuels sector sees ally in Obama, 5 November 2008 by The Guardian: "U.S. biofuel makers, struggling to make a profit at a time of tumbling oil and gasoline prices, look upon President-elect Barack Obama as a staunch ally for growth."
    • "Obama has expressed support for the federal requirement to use ethanol, made mostly from corn, as a motor fuel and says he will accelerate the development of new feedstocks."
    • "The Renewable Fuels Association, a trade group, said Obama was steadfast in backing ethanol, biodiesel and other biofuels throughout the campaign."[10]
  • Economy Shifts, and the Ethanol Industry Reels, 4 November 2008 by the New York Times: "As producers of ethanol navigate a triple whammy of falling prices for their product, credit woes and volatile costs for the corn from which ethanol is made, an economic version of 'Survivor' is playing out in the industry."
    • "Last week, VeraSun, one of the nation’s largest ethanol producers, announced that it had filed for bankruptcy protection after its bets on the price of corn turned out to be wrong — and costly."
    • "Fewer than 10 of the country’s ethanol plants have stopped operating, according to Matt Hartwig, a spokesman for the Renewable Fuels Association, an industry group. But construction times have slowed and some plants in the planning stage have been halted."[11]
  • Rainforest fungus promises biofuel breakthrough, 4 November 2008 by BusinessGreen: "Scientists believe they have discovered a fungus that shares so many of the characteristics of conventional biofuels, that it has the potential to be pumped directly into fuel tanks without prior treatment or processing."
    • "The organism, Gliocladium roseum, is an endophidic fungus that lives inside the Ulmo tree, found in the Patagonian rainforest. Professor Gary Strobel from Montana State University said his team had found that the fungus was capable of acting naturally on cellulosic plant matter to produce a biodiesel."
    • "The findings appear in the November issue of the journal Microbiology."[12]
  • Does Ethanol Raise Risks? Studies Tie Bacteria in Beef to Fuel Byproduct, 4 November 2008 by the Washington Post: "Last year scientists noted an uptick in the prevalence of potentially deadly E. coli O157:H7 bacteria in beef products." Now, scientists "at Kansas State University who were studying the types of bacteria that live in cattle feces unexpectedly found higher levels of E. coli O157:H7 in the feces of cattle fed a diet that included an ethanol product called distillers grain."
    • "Distillers grain is what is left after the starch from corn is removed to make ethanol. It has been around for decades, but its popularity as a feed ingredient has surged in recent years. One reason is that demand for ethanol, fueled by rising gas prices and federal mandates and subsidies, has pushed the price of corn -- and in turn, corn feed -- to record levels, said Darrell Mark, an economist at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln."[13]
  • Hoping for a Green Renewal, Mich. City Will Turn Sewage to Fuel, 2 November 2009 by the Washington Post: Flint, Michigan, "and local Kettering University have teamed up with a Swedish company to turn Flint's municipal sewage into fuel for its bus fleet while reducing or ending the need to incinerate sewage sludge."
    • "The company, Swedish Biogas International, received a $4 million grant from Michigan's Centers of Energy Excellence program to develop the biogas system, which officials hope will begin powering buses by next summer. Producing methane from sewage, landfills and manure is common in the United States, but the gas is more often burned onsite to produce electricity rather than compressed and purified for use by vehicles."
    • "In Sweden -- where high gasoline taxes forced investment in alternative fuels years ago -- buses, trains and 6 percent of private vehicles run on biogas made from sewage, restaurant and slaughterhouse waste, and other organic sources."
    • "Sweden's King Carl XVI Gustaf ceremonially broke ground on the biogas plant in Flint on Sept. 26."[15]

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