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A snapshot of news on bioenergy.

  • This page lists selected news stories from the popular press and other sources, listed in reverse chronological order. (News stories can also be found on the various topic pages.)


Recent News

May 2012

  • Swapping Out Charcoal With Ethanol, 18 May 2012 by Joanna M. Foster for New York Times Green Living blog: "Africa used to boast nearly three million square miles of forest, only about one-third of which remain today. The principal culprit is charcoal production for cookstove fuel, which emits soot that leads to endemic health problems."
    • "The World Health Organization says the health consequences of cooking with charcoal parallel the effects of smoking two packs of cigarettes a day. Just imagine firing up a charcoal barbecue indoors every time you cooked."
    • "This week, CleanStar Mozambique, a company formed by CleanStar Ventures and Novozymes, opened a biofuel plant to supply ethanol to the hundreds of thousands of households in Maputo, the Mozambican capital, that rely on charcoal for cooking." [1]
  • Biofuels and a Green Economy, 17 May 2012 by Siwa Msangi for International Food Policy Research Institute: "The role of bioenergy in a green economy, a subject of heated debate and concern among members of the international community, will be a topic of discussion at the Rio+20 negotiations."
    • "As IFPRI’s Global Food Policy Report reveals, biofuels were once viewed as a means to reduce dependence on fossil fuels, whose carbon emissions contribute to climate change. Now, however, it appears that some biofuels have a damaging effect on the environment—and large impacts on agricultural markets."
    • "Nonetheless, the challenge of reducing carbon emissions in the developed and developing world requires that bioenergy—in some form—becomes part of the renewable energy mix. Indeed, biofuels and other forms of bioenergy are among the only viable alternatives to harmful fossil-based fuels, especially in the transportation sector." [2]
  • Republicans Order Navy to Quit Buying Biofuels 14 May 2012 by Noah Shachtman: "On Monday, the U.S. Navy will officially announce the ships for its demonstration of the “Great Green Fleet” — an entire aircraft carrier strike group powered by biofuels and other eco-friendly energy sources. If a powerful congressional panel has its way, it could be the last time the Navy ever uses biofuels to run its ships and jets."
    • "In its report on next year’s Pentagon budget, the House Armed Services Committee banned the Defense Department from making or buying an alternative fuel that costs more than a “traditional fossil fuel.” It’s a standard that may be almost impossible to meet, energy experts believe; there’s almost no way the tiny, experimental biofuel industry can hope to compete on price with the massive, century-old fossil fuels business." [3]
  • Biofuels on the Brink in Europe 7 May 2012 by Leon Kaye for TriplePundit: "Are biofuels about to become irrelevant in Europe? It is not just austerity on the decline throughout Europe with France’s Nicolas Sarkozy another leader down as of yesterday. While Europeans are rethinking their countries’ austere budgets, European Union officials in Brussels are also doubting the efficacy of biofuels."
    • "Biofuels have become a lynchpin in the European Union’s long-term energy strategy. As Europe lurches towards a goal of 20 percent of its total energy requirements by 2020, biofuels are an important part of that goal. Another EU directive mandates that 10 percent of transport fuel comes from renewable energy sources. But “renewable” has become a loaded word when it comes to biofuels because of the effects they have on land where they are grown as well as their resulting emissions."
    • "At issue is the concept of indirect land use change (ILUC). ILUC theory dictates that by converting farms for food into land grown for biofuel crops, such production increases an overall demand for additional land for farming. If farmers therefore cut down trees or drain wetlands, the results would be the release of millions of tons of carbon emissions that would otherwise be sequestered in peat bogs and forests. Studies the EU commissioned suggest that the risk of ILUC is higher for biodiesel, often made from oilseeds, than for bioethanol, manufactured out of sugar or grain. Meanwhile there is talk in Brussels over whether biodiesel is really better for the environment than conventional diesel, though some experts argue that plants grown for biodiesel’s production offsets any carbon emissions from biofuels." [4]
  • The unintended consequences of America's ethanol policy 4 May 2012 by James M. Griffin and Mauricio Cifuentes Soto for the Houston Chronicle: "The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA) mandated a steep rise in domestic ethanol production. The goals were to ease dependency on imported petroleum, cut greenhouse gas emissions and reduce fuel costs to motorists. EISA mandated ethanol production to grow from 4.9 billion gallons in 2006 to 36 billion gallons by 2022. Today, at 14 billion gallons, we're not even half-way there. The unintended consequences of the policy, especially those influencing world food prices, far outweigh the intended benefits." [5]
  • Uncertainty still clouds future of EU biodiesel, 3 May 2012 by Reuters: "Senior European Union officials failed on Wednesday to agree on how to measure the full climate impact of biofuels, prolonging uncertainty in a debate that threatens to wipe out large parts of Europe's biodiesel industry...."
    • "The debate centred on a relatively new concept known as indirect land use change (ILUC)....
    • "By estimating the ILUC emissions associated with each specific crop, scientists concluded that most biodiesel currently used in Europe emits more carbon than conventional diesel...."
    • "The realisation that EU rules on ILUC could kill off much of Europe's estimated 13 billion euro biodiesel industry and undermine its climate goals led to paralysis within the Commission, while officials argued over whether current ILUC models were robust enough to warrant such drastic action."
    • "Biodiesel producers say there is too much uncertainty in the assumptions used to model ILUC emissions to justify immediate action, and that specific rules should be delayed for several years in favour of an indirect approach."[6]
  • Further delay as Commissioners fail to agree biofuels clean-up plan, 2 May 2012 by Greenpeace: "European Commissioners today failed to agree how to close a major loophole in EU biofuels policy. The lack of progress adds to years of delay while the climate impact of harmful biofuels continues to grow, Greenpeace said."
    • "EU biofuels policies are indirectly causing habitat destruction and unforeseen carbon emissions. Sustainability rules for biofuels currently ignore greenhouse gas emissions from the indirect destruction of forests, peatlands and other habitats linked to fuel production from crops - the indirect land use change (ILUC) effect."
    • "In a debate this morning, the EU’s 27 commissioners were unable to agree a common approach on how to account for ILUC...."
    • "A Commission ILUC impact assessment found that habitats more than half the size of Belgium are set to be destroyed to meet EU demand for biofuels by 2020, increasing Europe’s greenhouse gas emissions by more than the total annual emissions of Italy or France."[7]

April 2012

  • EPA palm oil analysis draws support, criticism as comments close, 26 April 2012 by Erin Voegele for Biodiesel Magazine: "The public comment period for the U.S. EPA’s palm oil pathway assessment under the renewable fuel standard (RFS2) closes April 27. As the deadline approaches, groups representing both sides of the issue are speaking out in an effort to sway the EPA’s final decision on the matter."
    • "As the deadline approaches, parties arguing in support and opposition of the EPA’s findings are speaking out. Robert Shapiro, chairman and co-founder of Sonecon LLC, a firm that advises organizations on market conditions and economic policy, is one of the people who has submitted comments opposing the EPA’s analysis of palm oil biofuels."
      • "First, he questions the accuracy of the agency’s method to predict indirect land use change (ILUC), noting that without the highly unreliable inclusion of ILUC data, palm oil-based biodiesel and renewable diesel would meet the prescribed RFS2 thresholds."
      • "He also states that his analysis has found that the EPA’s assumption that palm oil yields will not increase in the future is false. He also stated that the EPA’s calculated 'midpoints' for its projected range of emissions effects are inaccurate."
    • "However, there are also individuals and groups that are arguing that the EPA’s analysis was too lenient, and the actually GHG emissions associated with palm oil biofuels are much higher. A group of scientific and environmental groups, including the Union of Concerned Scientists, is set to submit a public comment on the issue April 27 agreeing with EPA’s assessment that these fuels don’t meet RFS2 GHG reduction thresholds, and also arguing that the agency’s GHG assessments are too low."
      • "According to Jeremy Martin, senior scientist for the UCS’ Clean Vehicles Program, the EPA’s analysis underestimates the serious environmental problems caused by palm oil production. 'We’ve done a thorough review of EPA’s analysis and have found that in several important areas they did substantially underestimate the emissions,' Martin said. 'We’ve provided EPA with data substantiating more appropriate values.' Using those new values, Martin said the analysis shows palm oil biofuels actually result in more GHG emissions than petroleum-based fuels. He also brought up issues associated with food production and the long history of deforestation associated with palm oil production." [9]
  • Africa: Stop Human Rights Abuses Fuelled By EU Biofuels Policy, Says Actionaid, 25 April 2012 by ActionAid (London): "As the European Commission is given an opportunity to revise the EU's biofuels targets in 2012, a new ActionAid report reveals that the EU continues to ignore that its biofuels policies are driving up global food prices and pushing people in poor countries off their land."
    • "'Fuel for thought' highlights that increased demand for biofuels may push global food prices to crisis levels; EU's biofuels policies alone could push up oilseed prices by up to 33%, maize by up to 22%, sugar by up to 21% and wheat by up to 10%, between now and 20201."
    • "Laura Sullivan, ActionAid's Head of European Advocacy said: 'If it continues to ignore the impacts of its biofuels policy on people living in some of the poorest parts of the planet, the EU will effectively be sponsoring hunger and human rights abuses on a massive scale'."
  • "The ActionAid report, launched at a biofuels debate with participants from the European Commission, United Nations, NGOs and business, shows how a series of dodgy deals by European companies have led to mass displacements and rights abuses in countries in Africa and Latin America." [10]
  • Climate change, biofuels mandate would spike corn prices, 23 April 2012 by Brian Wallheimer for Drovers Cattle Network: "A study from Purdue and Stanford university researchers predicts that future climate scenarios may cause significantly greater volatility in corn prices, which would be intensified by the federal biofuels mandate."
    • "The findings, published this week in the journal Nature Climate Change, show that severely hot conditions in corn-growing regions and extreme climate events that are expected to impact supply would cause swings in corn prices."
    • "When coupled with federal mandates for biofuel production, the price volatility could increase by about 50 percent over the period from 2020-2040 as compared to recent history." [11]
  • RSB announces Public Consultation on the issue of Indirect Impacts (PDF file), 13 April 2012 by the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels (RSB): "During the past three years, the RSB Secretariat, based at Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), has collected a considerable volume of information, data and knowledge about indirect impacts of biofuel production, thanks in part to the contribution of the RSB indirect impacts expert group (IIEG). It is now time for the RSB constituencies to decide on a way forward regarding a possible inclusion of indirect impacts in the RSB Standard.
    • "In May-June 2012, RSB members will discuss the issue of indirect impacts in a series of RSB Chamber calls and during the June in-person Steering Board meeting. But before these discussions take place at the membership level, the RSB Secretariat is launching Public Consultation on the subject, in which all members of the general public are invited to provide us with feedback on this issue."
    • "For this purpose, the RSB Secretariat has drafted the attached Background Paper (PDF file) (“Indirect Impacts of biofuel production and the RSB Standard”) that is meant to be a neutral and objective representation of indirect impacts, state of knowledge, potential options to address the issue in the Standard (including the option not to address it), and an evaluation of such options. This paper will form the basis for the public consultation and also for the discussion at the Chamber and Steering Board level."
    • Summary timeline for this consultation:
      • Public consultation (1 month): April 13 – May 15
      • RSB Chambers consultation: 2nd half of May
      • Steering Board Meeting and decision on way forward: June 12-13
    • To submit feedback, send an email or a marked-up pdf document to: victoria.junquera[at] or use the Feedback Form available at before May 15, 2012.
  • EU report questions conventional biofuels' sustainability, 11 April 2012 by Euractiv: "Conventional biofuels like biodiesel increase carbon dioxide emissions and are too expensive to consider as a long-term alternative fuel, a draft EU report says."
    • "The study 'EU Transport GHG [greenhouse gases]: Routes to 2050' estimates that before indirect effects are counted, the abatement cost of reducing Europe’s emissions with biofuels is between €100-€300 per tonne of carbon."
    • "At current market prices, this would make their CO2 reduction potential up to 49 times more expensive than buying carbon credits on the open market at €6.14 a tonne."
    • "But the EU’s authors conclude that it 'it is not possible (and useful) to determine cost effectiveness figures for [conventional] biofuels' because their indirect effect - measured in cleared forests and grasslands ('ILUC') - make it a CO2-emitting technology."
    • "The latest report will feed a growing unease about the reasons for the EU's original biofuels policy - justified in environmental terms - and the way it has developed since...."
    • "Brussels is due to publish a proposal measuring the indirect emissions caused by biofuels later this year, distinguishing between low-emitting biofuels such as ethanol and high-emitting ones like biodiesel."
    • "But the EU’s decision-making process has been paralysed by the ongoing dispute between its energy directorate – which does not want ILUC factors considered – and its climate directorate, which does...."
    • "For now, the proposal remains stuck in the corridors of an EU that appears equally frightened of the political consequences of admitting a policy mistake and the environmental consequences of denying it."[12]
  • EU biofuel policy could defeat its environmental aims 9 April 2012 by Fredrik Erixon for New Staits Times: "Is it really in Europe's interest to provoke a trade war with emerging markets in Southeast Asia and Latin America over biofuels? Of course it is not. Yet open trade with these regions may become the first casualty when the European Union (EU) moves closer to restricting access to its markets for foreign producers of biofuels."
    • "At the centre of this emerging trade conflict is the Renewable Energy Directive (RED), a law with the noble ambition of substituting fossil fuels with biofuels, yet in a manner that espouses green protectionism in Europe."
    • " EU biofuel policy is generally prejudiced against foreign production. Production in Europe is both heavily subsidised and protected by tariffs, especially ethanol, with tariffs of up to 63 per cent. Total subsidies add up to between 25 and 35 per cent of the market price for the fuel. Unsurprisingly, biofuels consumption in the EU is heavily dependent on local production." [13]
  • Journal article explores hybridized life cycle analysis method by Kris Bevill for Ethanol Producer Magazine, 4 April 2012.
    • "A recently published article in the peer-reviewed Journal of the Royal Society Interface suggests that in order for life cycle analyses (LCA) of biomass-based products such as biofuels to be most accurately calculated, modelers should develop a hybridized methodology that considers both direct and indirect effects, to measure the carbon intensity of production. Further, the authors of the paper stressed the need for policymakers worldwide to develop methodologies that are compatible and comparable, rather than continue forward with the patchwork of individualized policies specific to country or region."
    • "Susan Tarka Sanchez served as lead author of the paper, titled 'Accounting for Indirect Land Use Change in the Life Cycle Assessment of Biofuel Supply Chains,' while working as the senior scientist at California-based business and environmental consulting firm Life Cycle Associates LLC, the company which developed the CA-GREET life cycle analyses model used by the California Air Resources Board in developing the state’s low carbon fuel standard. Sanchez admits that indirect land use change (ILUC) continues to be a controversial topic, but said the group of international experts that contributed to the journal paper feel it is essential to incorporate indirect effects into biofuels methodology in order to gauge the full effects of the product." [14]
    • Read the paper, Accounting for Indirect Land Use Change in the Life Cycle Assessment of Biofuel Supply Chains by Susan Tarka Sanchez, Jeremy Woods, Mark Akhurst, Matthew Brander, Michael O'Hare, Terence P. Dawson, Robert Edwards, Adam J. Liska and Rick Malpas.
  • EPA takes steps to bring new biofuel blend to the pumps 4 April 2012 by Michael Ahene for Medill Reports - Chicago, Northwestern University: "Fuel companies can move ahead with the production and distribution of a new ethanol blended gasoline that may save motorists hundreds at the pump each year."
    • "The Environmental Protection Agency on Monday approved the first applications granting fuel manufacturers the ability to distribute a gasoline and ethanol blend called E15."
    • "The majority of gas stations in the U.S. already offer a gasoline blend containing 10 percent ethanol. The new mixture proposed by the ethanol industry will increase the amount of ethanol allowed in hybrid gasoline mixes to 15 percent, creating a second, higher octane option for drivers with biofuel capable vehicles."
    • "“'We’re very pleased with the news,' said Jim Nussle, president of the trade group Growth Energy that represents U.S. producers and supporters of ethanol. 'It’s one more step to get E15 in the market place.'” [15]
  • Is Bioenergy Expansion Harmful to Wildlife? 3 April 2012 by ScienceDaily: "Despite the predicted environmental benefits of biofuels, converting land to grow bioenergy crops may harm native wildlife. Researchers at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research in Leipzig [ Germany ] have developed a way to study the effects of increased energy crop cultivation on farmland bird populations."
    • "'The Skylark is an indicator species for agricultural areas because it occupies many habitats of the wider countryside around the globe, breeds on the ground within fields and feeds mostly on insects' notes lead researcher, Jan Engel. 'Improving the habitat suitability for Skylark, accordingly, would improve conservation of natural vegetation, insects, and other ground breeding farmland bird species.'"
    • "Mr. Engel and his colleagues developed a computer model that evaluated the habitat requirements of Skylark in a variety of bioenergy cultivation scenarios. The study, published in Global Change Biology Bioenergy, found that bioenergy crop expansion will not harm Skylark populations if field sizes are low, many crop types are present, and small natural areas, known as Integrated Biodiversity Areas, are included within the landscape. [16]
  • EU carbon target threatened by biomass 'insanity' 2 April 2012 by Arthur Neslen for EurActiv: "The EU's emissions reduction target for 2020 could be facing an unlikely but grave obstacle, according to a growing number of scientists, EU officials and NGOs: the contribution of biomass to the EU's renewable energy objectives for 2020."
    • "On 29 March, a call was launched at the European Parliament for Brussels to reconsider its carbon accounting rules for biomass emissions, and EurActiv has learned that the issue is provoking widespread alarm in policy-making circles."
    • "Around half of the EU's target for providing 20% of energy from renewable sources by 2020 will be made up by biomass energy from sources such as wood, waste and agricultural crops and residues, according to EU member states' national action plans... Wood makes up the bulk of this target and is counted by the EU as 'carbon neutral', giving it access to subsidies, feed-in tariffs and electricity premiums at national level."
    • "But because there is a time lag between the carbon debt that is created when a tree is cut down, transported and combusted – and the carbon credit that occurs when a new tree has grown to absorb as much carbon as the old one – biomass will increase atmospheric CO2 concentrations in the interim." [17]

March 2012

  • Eight Biofuels-related Groups Send Letter to Congress Championing the Success of the RFS, 27 March 2012 by Renewable Fuels Association: "The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) joined with seven other biofuel-related organizations to champion the success of the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Senator Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), House Speaker John Boehner(R-OH) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). The letter highlighted ethanol’s proven ability to lower gas prices and reduce this country’s dependence upon foreign oil. It also noted that any changes to the RFS could dampen investment in the development of next generation biofuels."
    • "The letter signatories were: the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE), the Advanced Ethanol Council (AEC), Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), the Energy Future Coalition, Growth Energy, the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), and the 25x25 Alliance." [18]
    • Read the full letter here (PDF File)
  • When Defending Biofuels, Supporters Point to History, 27 March 2012 by David Ferris for Forbes: "At a conference today sponsored by the Carbon War Room outside Washington, D.C., a panel of biofuels entrepreneurs, supporters and financiers pointed to disruptive episodes in American history that bear some similarity to the current debate over cooking-oil fuel that costs $26 a gallon."
    • "Kate Brandt, an adviser to U.S. Navy, echoed a line of argument that her boss, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, has been making recently: that the Navy has led several revolutions in the propulsion of warships, from wind power to coal in the 1850s, from coal to oil at the time of World War I, and in the 1950s from oil to nuclear power for aircraft carriers and submarines."
    • One of the major promises of biofuel, Brandt said, is price stability. A $1 rise in the cost of oil costs the Navy $30 million, she said. “For us this is a true and present vulnerability,” she added.
    • "Biofuel could avoid zigzagging prices because so many feedstocks are under development at so many points of the globe, unlike oil, where prices are determined by the relatively few countries that possess it. The Navy’s goal, Brandt said, is to obtain eight million barrels of oil from renewable sources by 2020." [19]
  • Neste Oil: European Commission Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC) Public Consultation, 27 March 2012 by Greenpeace Finland: "The core position of Neste Oil on ILUC is that 'Clearly it is not possible with any degree of accuracy to give a value for ILUC (p.3)'.” [(Based on comments submitted by Neste Oil for the European Commission Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC) Public Consultation.)]
    • "However, 'if ILUC actions are taken before the full understanding of the phenomenon the policy should be to offer incentive to do additional ILUC mitigation actions by the operator. The example of such incentives could be added bonus - -. As the intention of the RED directive is to improve the environmental performance of biofuels, then the only workable solution to this problem will be to have all sectors included (p.5)'"
    • Other excerpts from Neste Oil's comments:
      • "Especially in developing countries, poverty is a major cause of deforestation."(p.1)
      • "It is not reasonable to assume that ILUC could be controlled by imposing restrictions on one industrial sector." (p.1)
      • "Trying to combat ILUC in by starting with a minor user of global commodities is merely poor policy making and in this case, may also be threatening the targets of actions against climate change." (p.1) [20]
    • Read the full comments submitted by Neste Oil for the European Commission Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC) Public Consultation (PDF File)]
  • Environmental burden shifting and sustainability criteria for biofuels, 26 March 2012 by Anil Baral for ICCT blog: "Biofuels are here for three reasons – climate change mitigation, energy security and to increase rural incomes. The supposed climate change mitigation potential of biofuels comes with the idea that renewability implies carbon neutrality. However, with the introduction of the systems approach of analyzing environmental costs and benefits, it has emerged that biofuels, especially first generation biofuels, do not offer environmental and human health benefits on all fronts. The systems approach, such as life cycle analysis (LCA), looks into far ranging impacts including GHG emissions from indirect land use change (ILUC). We find that in many cases we may not expect to achieve net greenhouse gas reductions from biofuel policies – but also that even where climate change mitigation might be effective, there can be other tradeoffs in choosing biofuels, indicating a potential risk of environmental burden shifting for policies that solely focus on GHG mitigation." [21]
  • Coconut and mango waste could help power Asia, 22 March 2012 by Syful Islam for SciDev.Net: "[DHAKA] Researchers in the United States say agricultural waste from coconut and mango farming could generate significant amounts of off-grid electricity for rural communities in South and South-East Asia."
    • "Many food crops have a tough, inedible part which cannot be used to feed livestock or fertilise fields. Examples of this material — known as ['endocarp'] — include coconut, almond and pistachio shells, and the stones of mangoes, olives, plums, apricots and cherries... Endocarp is high in a chemical compound known as lignin. High-lignin products can be heated to produce an energy-rich gas that can be used to generate electricity."
    • The researchers identified high-endocarp-producing regions of the world – and noted that coconut and mango agriculture account for 72 per cent of total global endocarp production. Coconut production alone accounted for 55 per cent... Most coconut endocarp comes from South and South-East Asian countries, including Bangladesh, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam.
    • They then overlaid these findings with energy consumption data to identify communities with little access to electricity, who could benefit from endocarp-based energy.
    • [Tom] Shearin [co-author and a systems analyst at University of Kentucky] said endocarp was preferable to crop-based biofuels as it had no value as a food item. "Its exploitation as energy source does not compete with food production," he said. [23]
  • Biofuels About More Than Climate 21 March 2012 by Alessandro Torello, (blog) for Wall Street Journal: "Biofuels have been heavily promoted in the European Union as the most straightforward way to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions from transport."
    • "Other ways of doing it are a more distant prospect. Electric cars are making a push, but are still some way from taking off, as are other innovative technologies. Biofuels, meanwhile, are perfectly compatible with combustion engines used today and are–more or less–readily available... They are considered greener than gasoline and [[diesel based on fossil fuels because their carbon dioxide emissions –just the same as regular fuels when burned in an engine–are offset by the plants that are grown to produce them."
    • "Now, however, a phenomenon called Indirect Land Use Change –or ILUC, in Brussels jargon– is calling into question their green credentials." [24]
  • ‘This must be the most researched subject in the EU’s history!’, 19 March 2012 by Nusa Urbancic for European Federation for Transport and Environment: "Two new reports are expected to put more pressure on the [European] Commission over its biofuels policy. Both add to the growing bank of evidence that under current policies, changes in land use caused by growing biofuels crops will wipe out the climate benefits of using certain biofuels, especially in the case of biodiesel."
    • "One report on the cost-effectiveness of policies to decarbonise transport, due to be published by a group of consultancies later this month, says most models show that indirect land-use change (Iluc) will mean ‘a net increase of greenhouse gases’ for biodiesel. The other report, also still to be published, says that if biofuels’ lifecycle emissions, rather than just direct emissions, from Iluc are taken into account, the EU would achieve little more than half its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 60% by 2050." [25]
  • 7 states fight California rule over ethanol carbon scores 19 March 2012 by Adam Belz for USA TODAY: "A California rule assigning higher carbon scores to fuel produced outside the state has drawn the ire of the ethanol industry and the Midwestern states that produce most of the ethanol in the U.S."
    • "At least seven states — Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, North Dakota and South Dakota— are opposing California's effort to enforce the mandate, which critics say threatens the renewable fuels business in the nation's grain belt."
    • "In December, a federal judge blocked California's Air Resources Board from enforcing the regulation, which encourages refiners to blend gasoline with ethanol produced in Brazil or California. The California rule considers Midwestern ethanol to have a larger carbon footprint. The judge said the rule unconstitutionally interferes with interstate commerce. California officials are appealing the decision."
    • "The rule hinges on the concept of indirect land use change, Thorne said. The idea is that if farmers in the U.S. sell their grain for ethanol, farmers in other parts of the world must grow more corn for the food supply, pumping more carbon into the atmosphere, he said."
    • "Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning, who said the regulation threatens $1.3 billion in annual ethanol sales from his state alone, called the indirect land use change a 'highly controversial and undeveloped theory,' in a brief signed by attorneys general from five other states."[26]
  • Seattle: Officials keen to make region a center for aviation biofuels: Efforts are under way to create an aviation biofuels industry in the Northwest, harnessing the presence of Boeing, Alaska Airlines and research labs across the state. 17 March 2012 by Kyung M. Song for The Seattle Times: "For three weeks last November, Alaska Airlines flew passengers aboard Boeing 737s powered in part with used cooking oil, becoming only the second American carrier to operate scheduled flights using renewable biofuel."
    • "The destination for one of the maiden flights from Seattle? Washington, D.C. — home to lawmakers Alaska and other U.S. airlines believe are crucial to eventually securing plentiful aviation biofuels that cost no more than petroleum jet fuel. That's a distant reality. As it was, the biofuel Alaska bought was made from restaurant grease by a Louisiana company and sold through a broker based in Amsterdam — at $17 a gallon."
    • In all, Alaska flew 75 flights with a 20 percent biofuels blend "to highlight the issue. But it was very expensive for us to do it," said Keith Loveless, Alaska's executive counsel, who led the trial effort."
    • "The goal is to establish the Pacific Northwest as an epicenter for aviation biofuels by harnessing the presence of Boeing, Alaska Airlines and research labs across the state. In addition, the region's forests and farms are promising sources of [ biomass ] crops, algae and woody material that could be converted to fuel."
  • Joint BioEnergy Institute team engineers E. coli to overproduce diesel-range methyl ketones; may be appropriate for blendstock, 15 March 2012 by Green Car Congress: "Researchers at the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) have engineered Escherichia coli bacteria to overproduce saturated and monounsaturated aliphatic methyl ketones in the C11 to C15 (diesel) range from glucose. In subsequent tests, these methyl ketones yielded high cetane numbers, making them promising candidates for the production of advanced biofuels or blendstocks."
    • "The team, led by Dr. Harry Beller, found that it was possible to increase the methyl ketone titer production of E. coli more than 4,500-fold relative to that of a fatty acid-overproducing E. coli strain by using a relatively small number of genetic modifications. Methyl ketone titers in the best producing strains were in the range of 380 mg/L."
    • "A paper describing this work was published in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology. Co-authoring this paper were Ee-Been Goh, who is the first author on the paper, plus Edward Baidoo and Jay Keasling." [27]
  • Algae Amendment Puts Biofuels Back in Energy Debate, 13 March 2012 by Alex M. Parker for U.S.News & World Report : "The Senate is set to vote Tuesday on legislation that will give an additional $1 per gallon tax credit to the producers of algae-based gasoline."
    • "The legislation, offered by Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow, would expand an existing tax credit for certain biofuel production to include the cultivation of algae for use in fuel. Stabenow's amendment would also extend several other tax credits for energy production."
    • "The cultivation of algae to create or enhance biofuels has, in the past, been relatively non-controversial. But the issue became politicized quickly after President Barack Obama mentioned it as a component of his energy platform last month. Mocking the idea as a pie-in-the-sky response to the real-life problem of high gas prices, the GOP presidential candidates have made it a regular laugh line on the campaign trail. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has taken to calling Obama 'President Algae.'"
  • Global Demand for Vegetable Oils Contributing to Deforestation: New Report Helps Businesses Become Deforestation-Free, 7 March 2012 by The Union of Concerned Scientists: “The global demand for vegetable oils is increasing at an unsustainable rate – more than 5 percent annually over the past decade – contributing to massive deforestation in tropical regions, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS)... UCS’s report Recipes for Success: Solutions for Deforestation-Free Vegetable Oils, which was co-authored with Climate Advisers, offers solutions for businesses, governments and consumers on producing and using vegetable oil without causing deforestation.”
    • "“Deforestation results in a loss of biodiversity, destroys ecosystems and puts indigenous peoples at risk. Globally, the most damaging effect of deforestation is its contribution to global climate change, which account for about 15 percent of annual carbon emissions – more than the pollution from every car, truck, plane, ship, and train on Earth.”
    • “‘It’s important for consumers to insist that companies ensure the products they sell are deforestation-free,’ said Calen May-Tobin, policy analyst and advocate for UCS’s Tropical Forests and Climate Initiative. ‘If leading companies commit to using deforestation-free vegetable oil in their products, others will follow suit, curbing the rate of deforestation and climate change.’ ”
  • Spike in Food Prices Projected by 2013, 7 March 2012 by the New York Times: "In 2008 and in 2011, the world was rocked by riots and by revolutions coinciding with spikes in food prices. Now researchers are projecting that by 2013, food prices will soar to unparalleled heights, causing widespread hunger in the most vulnerable populations and social unrest, with an enormous potential for loss of human life."
    • "The computer modeling that generated the prediction of a food crisis was first published by the New England Complex Systems Institute in September. The modeling has gained considerable credibility by accurately predicting food prices over the last 10 months. The research indicates that the crucial factors behind food price increases are the conversion of corn crops to ethanol and investor speculation on the agricultural futures market."
    • "'There are two policy decisions we’ve identified as key drivers,' said Yaneer Bar-Yam, president of the institute. 'The first is the promotion of ethanol conversion, which provides the U.S. with less than 1 percent of its energy but has a much larger effect on global food availability.' The second is the deregulation of commodity markets by Congress’s Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000, the report said."[28]
    • See the report, The Food Crises: Predictive validation of a quantitative model of food prices including speculators and ethanol conversion
  • Virdia Moves Into Mississippi To Turn Wood Chips Into Sugars, 6 March 2012 by Ucilia Wang: "A California startup called Virdia said Tuesday it’s getting ready to jump into the market after raising a new round of venture capital and lining up an incentive package from Mississippi."
    • "The company, which has raised $35 million in equity since its inception, plans to start building its first [sugar processing] plant later this year and expects to spend two years completing the project and getting the plant up and running, said Philippe Lavielle,Virdia’s CEO. The first plant will have the capacity to produce 150,000 tons of sugars per year, he added. The company will need to raise more capital to build the plant; Lavielle declined to disclose the total cost. It plans to eventually build a plant that can produce 500,000 tons of sugars per year."
  • EPA switches course on new feedstocks in fuel standard, 6 March 2012 by Amanda Peterka for Governors' Biofuels Coalition: "On the heels of opposition from the environmental community, U.S. EPA today withdrew a rule that would have added four new feedstocks to the Renewable Fuel Standard."
    • "The direct final rule, proposed in early January, would have allowed advanced biofuels made from camelina oil, energy cane, giant reed and napiergrass to qualify under the yearly obligations set by the standard. It also would have opened the standard to biomass-based jet fuel and certain renewable gasolines made from crop residues and yard, food and municipal solid wastes."
    • "But in a notice posted today in the Federal Register, the agency said it is withdrawing the rule after receiving 'adverse comment.' EPA had proposed the initial rule without taking public comment, describing it as a 'noncontroversial' action." [29]
  • Europe: Pressure mounts over side-effects of biofuel, 5 March 2012 by Population Matters: "The debate over whether biofuel does more environmental harm than good has reached boiling point in the European Commission – and... new studies are likely to raise the temperature further."
    • "A report to be published later this month on the cost-effectiveness of policies to decarbonise transport concludes that without weeding out the biofuel that causes indirect land-use change (ILUC), the fuel source is so bad for the environment that its benefits cannot even be calculated. 'Most of the models predict a net increase of greenhouse gases when incorporating the ILUC effect for biodiesel,' says a draft of the report, written by a group of consultancies including CE Delft. 'For these biofuels, determining the cost-effectiveness in terms of euros/tonne of carbon dioxide reduction makes no sense.'" [30]
  • Land Matters – Sizing up the bioenergy potential of marginal lands, 5 March 2012 by Greg Breining: “During 2007-8, world food prices exploded…. Many analysts later pinned most of the blame on commodities speculation, oil prices, and weather—not biofuels production. But the food-versus-fuel debate had begun.”
    • “Today, looking beyond corn for ethanol toward the possibility of producing cellulosic and other new biofuels on a meaningful commercial scale, researchers and policymakers are asking: How can we raise new non-food feedstocks without displacing food crops?”
    • “Such concerns have driven the search for abandoned land. J. Elliott Campbell, assistant professor of engineering at the University of California, Merced and colleagues from Stanford University consulted historical land-use data dating to 1700, satellite land-cover imagery, and global ecosystem modeling to identify lands worldwide that had once been farmed but now lay idle.”
      • “Campbell’s and Cai’s assessments identify lands suitable for biofuel crops. That’s not to say they are economically viable. The actual acreage used for biofuel feedstocks will depend on land ownership, transportation costs, markets, prices of other crops, [etc.]…” [31]
  • ANALYSIS-Biodiesel doubts threaten EU green transport targets, 5 March 2012 by Charlie Dunmore and Ivana Sekularac, in Sharenet: "Growing consensus that EU may miss 2020 biofuel targets... Demand for biodiesel threatened by land use change studies... Switch to bioethanol seen as unlikely to make up shortfall."
    • "The European Union will almost certainly miss its 2020 targets for cutting transport fuel emissions if policymakers act on scientific warnings about the climate impact of biofuels."
    • "Several EU studies have questioned the climate benefits of biodiesel made from European rapeseed and imported palm oil and soybeans, and some have warned that it releases as many climate-warming emissions as conventional diesel."
    • "With two-thirds of EU biofuel use in 2020 projected to come from biodiesel, there is a growing consensus that any move to exclude some biodiesel feedstocks, such as the U.S. has proposed in the case of palm oil, would put the goals out of reach. Even if Europe tried to boost its use of bioethanol and advanced biofuels from non-crop sources to make up the shortfall, technical barriers and the EU's rising thirst for diesel would still leave it short of the mark." [32]
  • ILUC: The ‘Soap’ Continues, 5 March 2012 by Robert Vierhout, Secretary-general of ePURE, in Ethanol Producer Magazine: "Contrary to the USA where the U.S. EPA managed to get some indirect land use change (ILUC) values out of a black box relatively quickly, the EU is progressing slowly in ‘solving’ ILUC. For already more than two years, the European Commission services have been deliberating what to do."
    • "In my opinion, the delay in putting a bill on the table is caused by the fact that the ILUC ‘science’ is simply not conclusive. A study by the International Food Policy Research Institute assessing ILUC caused by biofuel policy does not seem to convince everyone within the commission that indirect land use change is more than just an imaginary problem...."
    • "The latest compromise under discussion by the commission services would allocate an ILUC value differentiated by crop (vegetable oil, sugar and starch) to biofuels to be used to achieve the target set in the law on fuel quality...."
    • "If countries in Southeast Asia can no longer, due to this ILUC value, export their palm oil to the EU, they will find other markets, most likely closer to home. A leakage effect would occur. If, as a result, the EU produces less biofuel, would we then not even need to import more biofuels to compensate for the lower GHG saving? More imports, more risk of unwanted land use change? Finally, we would not be addressing the problem where it is occurring: outside Europe."
    • "A more effective way to prevent unwanted land use changes leading to higher carbon release is by concluding agreements with the countries that are exporting biofuels to Europe. These agreements should restrict or forbid imports of certain biofuels unless proper land management is guaranteed."[34]
  • Biodiesel doubts threaten EU green transport targets, 5 March 2012 by Reuters: "The European Union will almost certainly miss its 2020 targets for cutting transport fuel emissions if policymakers act on scientific warnings about the climate impact of biofuels."
    • "Several EU studies have questioned the climate benefits of biodiesel made from European rapeseed and imported palm oil and soybeans, and some have warned that it releases as many climate-warming emissions as conventional diesel...."
    • "If the EU penalises crop-specific biofuels for their estimated ILUC emissions, any incentive for governments and oil firms to promote biodiesel from rapeseed, palm oil and soybeans would disappear...."
    • "The Commission has already drafted two compromise proposals on ILUC without reaching an agreement on either, reflecting deep internal divisions on the issue."
    • "The deal now under discussion would penalise biofuels for their crop-specific ILUC emissions in the fuel quality law but not the renewable energy directive, removing the incentive for oil companies to buy biodiesel without excluding it entirely...."[35]
  • Well, Is Bioenergy Carbon Neutral Or Not? 2 March 2012, by John Bonitz in CleanEnergy Footprints, from the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy: "Decades of science show us that biopower from forestry residuals has been helpful to reducing our total greenhouse gas emissions. However, equally clear in recent studies is the fact that all energy sources have costs, and some take longer to repay these costs: Not all biomass energy is ‘climate friendly’ in the short term.... Recently, there have been four noteworthy efforts to grapple with similar questions surrounding biomass."

February 2012

  • Ethanol industry lurches in wake of lost subsidy, oversupply, 28 February 2012 by Minnesota Public Radio: "After predicting they would survive the end of a major federal subsidy without problems, it looks like officials at the nation's ethanol producers may have been too optimistic."
    • "Since the subsidy ended Dec. 31, ethanol profit margins have declined sharply, even slipping into negative territory. Experts see no quick turnaround in sight...."
    • "The loss of the 45-cent-per-gallon federal tax break marks a major change in the economics of ethanol. It also created a double whammy beginning with the closing months of last year, when ethanol producers saw a rush of buyers for the last of a subsidized product."[36]
  • Single spark sends 10% of UK's renewable energy capacity up in smoke , 28 February 2012 by ClickGreen: "Fire investigators believe a spark from machinery triggered the huge fire that swept through Europe's biggest biomass power plant yesterday."
    • "Firefighters spent more than 15 hours tackling the fire at the Tilbury power plant on the banks of the River Thames in Essex...."
    • "The fire involved between 4,000 and 6,000 tonnes of wood pellet fuel in storage cells - at least two of the bunkers were destroyed in the fire...."
    • "In early 2011, RWE npower was granted the necessary consents from the Environment Agency and Local Planning Authority to convert all three of the power station’s units to generate power from 100% sustainable biomass...."
    • "The UK has signed up to achieve a legally binding target of 15% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020. The Department of Energy and Climate Change estimates as much as half of that may be generated from biomass, which includes municipal waste, wood pellets and straw...."[37]
  • Airbus urges EU to scrap biodiesel incentives for road transport, 16 February 2012 by EurActive: "The EU should bin incentives for road-transport biodiesel or provide equal ones for the production of biokerosene used in airplanes, a senior Airbus executive has told EurActiv."
    • "'We are asking for a level playing field or the scrapping of incentives that cover the biodiesel industry,'said Paul Nash, the Airbus head of environment and new energies."
    • "Biodiesel, which is primarily used in road transport, may eventually be deemed one of the ‘worst performing biofuels’ with leaked EU data putting its emissions on a par with those from tar sands, when ILUC effects are counted."
    • "Last month, the US Environmental Protection Agency also ruled palm oil-based biodiesel inadmissible for its Renewable Fuel Standard Program, because it did not meet the minimum 20% lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions reduction threshold needed to qualify. Such valuations have in turn fuelled complaints about the incentives that road-based biodiesels proportionately receive in Europe, as a result of the EU’s target to power 10% of its transport system with renewable energies by 2020."
    • “'All of the incentives today in Europe are focused on the production of biodiesel and there are no incentives in terms of aviation,' Nash told EurActiv, referring to the increasing competition for biofuels between the two transport sectors."
    • "Industry insiders argue airlines should be given priority access to sustainable biofuels as aviation will continue to rely on liquid fuels for decades. Road transport, by contrast, has already started its transition to electricity, something that airlines simply cannot do." [38]
  • Biomass Supply and Carbon Accounting for Southeastern Forests , 14 February 2012 by National Wildlife Federation: "A new study of southeastern forests in the U.S. finds that in the long run, burning wood instead of fossil fuels to make electricity can reduce heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, but not soon enough to prevent worsening the conditions leading to global climate change."
    • "...[T]he southeastern United States has seen recent interest in significantly expanding the biomass energy sector, including building new power plants, co-firing with coal power in existing plants, pellet manufacture for export to Europe, and producing cellulosic ethanol. While some look to these developments and see promise, others look with great concern at pressures on the region’s forests, implications for forest health and sustainable wood supply, and impacts on cumulative greenhouse gas emissions...."
    • "...[T]his study seeks to address two key questions relevant to the biomass electric power sector in this region of the country:
      • "How much biomass (primarily wood) is available on a sustainable basis to source the expanding southeastern biomass electric power sector? And, what is the potential of public policy to create demands that exceed sustainable supply levels?
      • "How will the increased use of forest biomass for electric power generation in the Southeast affect atmospheric carbon over time, and how does biomass energy compare to several fossil fuel energy alternatives in terms of cumulative GHG emissions over time?"[39]
    • Download the report: Biomass Supply and Carbon Accounting for Southeastern Forests (PDF file)
  • Major Milestone for Sustainable Biofuels -- World's first sustainable biofuels certification under new RSB international standards , 10 February 2010 by National Wildlife Federation: "The NCS International announced on Thursday that it has certified the world's first biofuels operation to achieve certification against the Principles and Criteria of the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels (RSB).
    • "The RSB has developed a third-party certification system for biofuels sustainability standards, encompassing environmental, social and economic principles and criteria through an open, transparent, and multi-stakeholder process. National Wildlife Federation played a key role in establishing this global standard for the voluntary certification of biofuels and hopes the new system will promote good practices on the ground, and eventually help end biofuels production practices that are harmful to the climate and environment."
    • ""Barbara Bramble, Senior Advisor for the International Climate and Energy Program at the National Wildlife Federation, and Chair of the Board of the RSB, said today:
      • "'We are pleased that the Manildra Group has achieved certification, under the RSB's global system of Principles and Criteria, for their wheat flour production operation, Shoalhaven Starches Pty Ltd. This is a significant achievement for the Australian-based project, which makes biofuels out of an otherwise potentially polluting waste stream, so it fulfills several objectives at once."
    • "For more information on the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels, visit"[40]
    • See also the website of RSB Services
  • Website of RSB Services Launched, 10 February 2012, by RSB Services: "The RSB Services Foundation is a US-based non-profit organization to implement the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuelssustainability standard. The RSB Services Foundation works with companies who wish to become certified and third party verifiers (i.e. Certification Bodies) to maintain the tools and internal systems for the RSB certification process...."
    • "If you would like to apply for RSB certification please click here to learn how to begin the application process."[41]
  • Sustainable land use strategies to support bioenergy described in Industrial Biotechnology journal, 9 February 2012 by EurekAlert!: "Applying 21st century tools and technologies to manage land use, maximize biomass production, and increase the efficiency of processes for extracting energy from renewable resources will enable the biofuels industry to overcome current challenges in bioenergy production," according to the article Sustainable Land Use for Bioenergy in the 21st Century, published in Industrial Biotechnology.
    • “[The authors] provide a detailed review of the current methods in use for producing bioenergy and the key hurdles yet to overcome.”
    • “The article… focuses three main areas: enhancing the growth of biomass from a variety of resources; optimizing the thermo-chemical conversion of biomass to energy; and implementing land management strategies to create a sustainable biomass-to-energy industry that does not have an undesirable impact on the environment.”
    • “The authors emphasize the need for innovative methods to increase the energy density of biomass, enhance growth strategies, improve energy yield, and maximize the use of waste generated as a result of biomass processing.” [42]
    • Read the paper, Sustainable Land Use for Bioenergy in the 21st Century.
  • US Report Casts Doubt On Palm Fuel Benefits, 8 February 2012 by Jakarta Globe: "Indonesia has come under greater scrutiny over its policy to encourage palm oil development, following a report by US authorities that fuels derived from the commodity were not as environmentally friendly as initially believed."
    • "Last month, the US Environmental Protection Agency put out a notice that palm oil-derived biofuels such as biodiesel and renewable diesel fell short of its threshold for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions savings of 20 percent compared to regular diesel...."
    • "[The notice indicated that] 'palm oil production produces wastewater effluent that eventually decomposes, creating methane, a GHG with a high global warming potential'...and that 'expected expansion of palm plantations onto land with carbon-rich peat soils which would lead to significant releases of GHGs to the atmosphere.'"
    • "Meine van Noordwijk, chief science adviser at the World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF), said if more than 10 percent of palm oil originated from peatland plantations, then the EPA’s standards could not be met, regardless of all other efforts."
    • "In 2009, 22 percent of Indonesia’s palm oil plantations were on peat soil, while in Malaysia the figure was 13 percent, according to the EPA...."
    • "In 2008 the EU banned biofuels from palm oil grown from deforesting tropical forests peatlands."[43]
  • EU energy chief against higher biofuel target for now, 7 February 2012 by AlertNet: "The EU's energy chief said on Tuesday for now he was opposed to raising the bloc's 10 percent biofuel target due to environmental concerns and urged the bloc to agree 2030 energy goals within two years."
    • "On the biofuel target, he told a conference: 'If I had to decide today, I would reject a proposal to go beyond 10 percent (on biofuels). The whole question of sustainability has to be addressed.'"
    • "The European Union has a binding target to raise the share of renewable energy in road transport to 10 percent by the end of the decade, almost all of which is expected to be met by blending biofuels with conventional fuels."
    • "The EU executive is grappling with the question of how to regulate the unintended environmental consequences of biofuel production and has repeatedly delayed legislative proposals due last year on indirect land use change (ILUC)." [44]
  • Biodiesel industry tries to limit damage from fake credits scandal, 6 February 2012 by Platts: "US biodiesel producers fear the recent scandal uncovering phony renewable fuel credits could erode support for the federal energy policy at a crucial time in its implementation."
    • "National Biodiesel Board CEO Joe Jobe on Monday urged opponents of the Renewable Fuel Standard to avoid the temptation to use the fake credits as a weapon to bludgeon the mandate, which requires an increasing share of biofuels get blended into the US transportation fuel supply."
    • "Federal investigators and the Environmental Protection Agency's compliance division have flagged two sellers of renewable identification numbers (RINs), codes that should correspond with actual biofuel production to satisfy renewable energy mandates. In November, EPA declared invalid 32.3 million biodiesel credits sold by Clean Green Fuels of Maryland. Last week, the agency tossed out 48.1 million biodiesel credits sold by Absolute Fuels of Texas."[45]
  • Location key to calculating biofuel carbon footprint, 4 February 2012 by “The US government has set a target for producing cellulosic ethanol of nearly 40 billion litres each year by 2020. The perennial grass Miscanthus x giganteus is one potential source… But the climate impact of using the grass to make cellulosic ethanol depends on how and where it's grown, processed and transported. With that in mind, researchers from the University of California, Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, US, have assessed the optimum conditions for producing the fuel, using six different scenarios.”
    • “The team found that, provided indirect land-use change was successfully minimized or mitigated, the major factors affecting the greenhouse-gas emissions of cellulosic ethanol production were the amount of soil carbon emitted or stored during growth of the grass, and greenhouse-gas offset credits for electricity exported to the grid by biorefineries.”
    • "What also became increasingly clear to us is the importance of location; where the biomass is grown, where the biorefineries are located, and by what mode and how far both the biomass and ethanol product must be transported are all key to assessing the environmental impacts," said Scown. "These are all unknowns for an industry such as cellulosic ethanol production that has yet to develop on a commercial scale."[46]
    • Read the paper, Lifecycle greenhouse gas implications of US national scenarios for cellulosic ethanol production, published in Environmental Research Letters (ERL).
  • IATP paper probes deeper implications of ILUC debate, 2 February 2012 by Ethanol Producer Magazine: "Looking for a middle ground where environmentalists and ethanol advocates could meet, the Minneapolis-based Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy released a paper by Julia Olmstead reflecting on the lessons learned regarding the debate over indirect land use change (ILUC)."
    • "One of the points made in the six-page paper emerging from those efforts is that although those in support of the ILUC factor have argued higher demand for corn for ethanol production stimulates land conversion, it may be based on a faulty assumption. 'Although the connection between price signals and reduced land conversion isn’t often part of the ILUC conversation, the implicit assumption is that low prices will help stem land conversion,' the paper states. 'High prices stimulate agricultural expansion, but there is evidence that low commodity prices can do the same.'"[47]
    • Download the paper, Learning from the Indirect Land Use Change Debate (PDF file)
  • EU biofuel targets will cost €126 billion without reducing emissions, 2 February 2012 by Friends of the Earth Europe: "Motorists across Europe are set to pay an additional €18 billion a year for petrol and diesel as a result of EU biofuel targets that have been shown not to reduce emissions, says new research published today."
    • "New figures, commissioned by Friends of the Earth Europe and ActionAid, show that the planned increase in biofuels use could cost European consumers an extra €94 to €126 billion between now and 2020. This despite evidence that biofuels will actually make climate change worse and increase global hunger...."
    • "Biofuels have been promoted as a ‘green’ alternative to climate-damaging fossil fuels, but studies for the European Commission confirm that that the EU’s projected use of biofuels could actually increase emissions – particularly where countries rely on biodiesel from palm oil, soy and rapeseed...."
    • "In its 2012 reporting, the EU will be under pressure to acknowledge the damaging impacts of its biofuels policies on land rights and food prices globally – with cases already recorded, in countries from Guatemala to Kenya."[48]
    • Download the report, EU wide extrapolation of UK cost of biofuels calculations (PDF file).

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