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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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Biofuels Policy Flexible Enough to Weather the 2012 U.S. Drought

The drought parching the Midwest is raising serious questions about our agriculture and energy policies. Stocks of corn in storage were already low, and the intense dryness and heat means this year’s crop will be much smaller than was expected even a few months back. The share of the corn crop going to make ethanol has been rising, and was 40 percent last year, heightening tensions over how this year’s suddenly diminished harvest will be divvied up  (the principal uses are ethanol, animal feed, and exports). Read More

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Will the 2012 U.S. Drought Burst the Farmland Property Bubble?

The Midwest drought continues to intensify. As you can see in this animation of how the 2012 drought has spread and deepened over the past 12 weeks, we’re witnessing a major climate impact on our agricultural system that is leading to record corn and soybean prices, among other significant and costly consequences. Lately I’ve started considering the potential long-run impact of this drought on the region and on the entire structure of U.S. agriculture. Read More

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From Muppet Labs to Your Gas Tank: The Emerging Cellulosic Biofuel Industry

One of my role models, Dr. Bunson Honeydew, began each episode of the seminal series, Muppet Labs, by proclaiming, “Muppet Labs, where the future is being made today.”  Although society is still waiting for edible paperclips, electrical nose warmers, or magnetic carrots, the future is indeed being made today in the cellulosic biofuel industry. Read More

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A Good Week for Clean Cars – Unless You Are in the House of Representatives

This week provided 4 important reminders of why we need standards that require the auto industry to build cleaner, more fuel efficient cars and trucks and the benefits these standards will bring for our health, economy and environment. Read More

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DEJA-vu: Another Oil-Backed Attack on Public Health

In less than 36 hours, Congress will once again be voting on your health.

On Thursday, the House of Representatives will consider HR 4480 – Domestic Energy and Jobs Act – or DEJA. It’s aptly named, because as Yogi Berra would say, it certainly feels like “deja-vu all over again” – with fossil fuel lobbyists and their Congressional allies once again attempting to undermine the Environmental Protection Agency by  using false claims about the impacts that future standards could have on gas prices. Read More

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