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Is Small Farmers’ Firewood Use Burning up the Forests?

For many years, small farmers in developing countries have been blamed for deforestation because of the way that they make breakfast. While in developed countries nearly everyone cooks with fossil fuels, or with electricity generated by fossil fuels or hydroelectricity, in developing countries firewood still predominates, especially among the poorest people in rural areas. But is this really an important driver of deforestation—and thus a major contributor to global warming? A new study—the most in-depth and comprehensive look at the subject yet—says no.

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Low Carbon Fuels: How Clean Fuels Can Power the West Coast and Beyond

UCS-commissioned research released today is the latest to find that, with stable policies, we can achieve ambitious clean fuels goals. Recent publications from UC Davis, the International Council on Clean Transportation and E4Tech have drawn similar conclusions. As California prepares to readopt their 2010 Low Carbon Fuel Standard, we are seeing clear evidence that diverse types of clean fuel can be make a significant contribution to cutting oil use and transportation carbon pollution. Read More

Categories: Biofuel  

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How Oregon Can Fill Up On Clean Fuels

Something big is brewing in Oregon. No, it’s not a new IPA from Portland-based Bridgeport Brewery—though that sounds delightful. It’s the next phase of Oregon’s Clean Fuel Program, a forward-thinking regulation that requires transportation fuel to get steadily cleaner on average, ultimately achieving a 10 percent reduction in carbon emissions per unit of fuel in 10 years. Extending this rule is a big deal because approximately one-third of Oregon’s greenhouse gases come from transportation, and Oregon has the in-state resource potential to produce significant amounts of clean fuels. Read More

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The Latest on Biofuels and Land Use: Progress to Report, but Challenges Remain

Carbon pollution caused indirectly by the increasing use of crops to produce biofuels has been a contentious topic for the last 7 years. In this post I look back at what we have learned since then about indirect land use change (ILUC) emissions, as this phenomena is generally called. The headline 7 years ago – that crop-based biofuels are far worse than fossil fuels – no longer holds. Read More

Categories: Biofuel, Global Warming, Vehicles  

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The Day After: What the Mid-Terms Mean and How To Move Forward

While this morning’s headlines naturally focus on the change in leadership in the U.S. Senate, nothing in the results should change anyone’s mind on these clear truths: we know Americans trust science, support cutting global warming emissions, and want help for communities struggling with the very real consequences of climate change.   Read More

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Policy Matters: Why Clean Fuels Forecasts Come Up Short

Cellulosic biofuel facilities are opening this year to much fanfare and a renewed promise that we can look forward to a quickly increasing supply of clean, non-food biofuels. At the same time, forecasts about the future of cellulosic biofuel have recently gotten more pessimistic, with the Energy Information Administration forecasting a plateau once these first plants open. What to believe? I use a simple model to show how progressive, consistent clean fuels policies will lead to lower costs over time. Read More

Categories: Biofuel, Vehicles  

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Production Begins At Second Cellulosic Biofuel Facility

You don’t often hear Kansas and Spain mentioned in the same sentence. Yet today Spanish company Abengoa is bringing another big cellulosic biofuel facility online in Hugoton, a small community in the Southwest corner of the state. This is the second big plant starting up this year, showing that after some predictable yet highly scrutinized delays, the cellulosic fuel industry is truly beginning to establish itself and making critical contributions to oil savings and climate goals. Read More

Categories: Biofuel  

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5 Things I Learned in Iowa about Biofuels

In July my colleagues and I, together with the Great Plains Institute, organized a Cellulosic Summit in Iowa. We brought together experts in clean transportation (many from California) with experts in sustainable agriculture (many from Iowa) to see for themselves the latest developments in cellulosic biofuel commercialization.  Read More

Categories: Biofuel, Vehicles  

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Bio-what? Organic Waste Can Provide Clean Energy

Before I became president of UCS, I served as Massachusetts’ environmental commissioner, and I pushed hard to turn an environmental problem (food waste) into a clean energy solution (biogas). It is great to see that the federal government has signed on to this idea.

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The Opportunity for Agricultural Residues and Manure to Fuel a Sustainable Future

Not all ethanol is created equal. The benefits, or consequences, of this ubiquitous ‘home-grown’ fuel that is blended in nearly every gallon of gasoline sold across the country vary depending on how it is produced and what it is produced from. As my colleague and uber biofuels-wonk Dr. Jeremy Martin has explained, ethanol produced from food, like corn or soybean, does little to reduce the carbon intensity of our transportation fuel and, in some cases, can actually be responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions on a lifecycle basis compared to gasoline. Read More

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