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The Future of Biofuels Part 3: Biodiesel

Faithful readers will have seen my data-based analysis of the US mandates for biofuels under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA)  big choices on how to administer the program looking ahead. These choices highlight how the “food versus fuel” debate extends far beyond corn. The bottom line is that if the agency expands the RFS advanced mandate to make up for the slow commercialization of non-food “cellulosic” fuels, it will undermine the environmental and fuel security goals of the fuel standard, and contribute to food supply problems worldwide. Read More

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President’s Proposed Energy Security Trust Could Help, But Much More Needed to Address Oil Use

During President Obama’s State of the Union address, he spoke to the importance of cutting America’s oil use. As part of that, he proposed the creation of an Energy Security Trust that would use revenues from oil and gas production to invest in research for clean vehicle technology. The goal: to “shift our cars and trucks off oil for good” and “free our families and businesses from the painful spikes in gas prices we’ve put up with for far too long.”

So, would a proposed trust help or hurt efforts to cut oil use? Or is it too soon to tell? Read More

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Is the Drought a Perfect Storm for U.S. Beef?

In writing about climate change it’s hard to avoid the use of catch phrases and clichéd metaphors, as much we try to stop shooting silver bullets and keep all those pesky canaries out of our coal mines. At times, though, such oft-repeated words are used in paradoxical ways, jarring you into thinking about them a bit more deeply. This happened to me a few days ago when, in response to new Department of Agriculture data on the U.S. livestock industry, a beef producer referred to the impacts of the persistent drought as “a perfect storm.” Read More

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The Coming Fork in the Road for Biofuels

For those of us in the business of educating the public and influencing policy makers, feature stories in the New York Times can be game changers. So the story by the Times’ Elisabeth Rosenthal published earlier this month on the cost of biofuels in Guatemala was not only great journalism on an important human rights issue, it also (hopefully) showed our government decision-makers the human cost of biofuels policy at a time when they have a real opportunity to do something about it. Read More

Categories: Biofuel, Vehicles  

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The Food Versus Fuel Fight Is About Much More than Corn

Only a few years ago everyone was bullish on biofuels. It was that rarest of things: something that Al Gore and George Bush agreed on. Times have changed — and changed quickly. Read More

Categories: Biofuel, Vehicles  

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Looking for the Signal in the Noise: Accounting for Global Warming Emissions from Biofuels

I consider myself a wonk, although I am comfortable with the title nerd as well. And it is a good time to be a wonk: Nate Silver’s pinpoint polling analysis stole the show on November 6, and the Washington Post’s Wonkblog regularly blows me away with its ability to make compelling reading out of a deep dive into specialized technical content. Read More

Categories: Biofuel, Global Warming  

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Biomass Resources in the United States: More Biomass Than You Can Shake a Stick At

The internet has made it possible to answer questions faster than you can ask them. For instance, it took me all of 10 seconds to discover there 953 other Jeremy Martins in this country. There are also, I was shocked to see, nearly 1,000 James Bonds, making the country a much more hazardous place for international criminals than I’d previously imagined.

In the age of information overload, often the trick is to find ways of synthesizing data in a way that is helpful and useful. We at UCS would like to think that’s something we’re pretty good at. Last month I completed The Promise of Biomass: Clean Power and Fuel – If Handled Right, a comprehensive assessment of biomass resources in the United States available for sustainable use for clean power and fuel development. Read More

Categories: Biofuel, Energy, Vehicles  

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Oregon, My Oregon : Leading the Way on Reducing Oil Use Through a Clean Fuels Program

Hats off to Oregon – the land of locally sourced chicken, a frightening number of ghost towns, and now – a model low carbon fuel program.

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Categories: Biofuel, Energy, Vehicles  

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Cars and Mars

Ever have a dream and wake up to find out that it wasn’t a dream after all – that you were actually living the dream?  I think that must be how many of the NASA engineers felt when the rover Curiosity landed on Mars earlier this month, but such dreams aren’t confined to outer space exploration. Right here on the Blue Planet, dreams really can come true…even in Washington, DC, during the so-called “silly season” that is an election year. Read More

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The 2012 U.S. Drought and Our Future

It’s now nearly a month since we started our series of blog posts on the 2012 Drought in America, and during that time we’ve seen its effects spread more and more widely through the network of connections that make up our modern global society. Read More

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