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Obama to Triple Biofuel Production by 2022


Pangloss
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How does President Obama react to last year's reports about the hazardous secondary economic effect of ethanol production, the increase of the price at the pump, and the allegations of political influence by the ethanol lobby? By planning to more-than-triple production from 11 million to 36 million gallons per year within 12 years. But there is some evidence that the new government heard the warnings and is at least putting more emphasis on non-edible sources, which would seem to address the lion's share of last year's complaints (e.g. feeding the world's starving poor in stead of American gas tanks):

 

Most currently available biofuels are derived from corn grain ethanol. But the government working group said boosting the renewable fuels used to power the nation's cars, trucks, tractors and jets will require significant advances in next-generation fuels made from nonedible plant parts, woody materials and other substances.

 

http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/business/6849995.html

 

My opinion: If I hadn't heard yesterday that nuclear is getting a big boost in the 2011 budget I'd think this was a dodge. But it does make sense that all avenues need to be fully explored. I'd like to see more of a boost to solar, but perhaps such a boost is waiting in the wings.

 

What do you all think?

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This is a good plan, IMO, but perhaps more ambitious than can be acheived. I don't think there will be a silver bullet that will fix all the problems associated with fossil fuels, but I do think these problems can be overcome by a variety of sources including nuclear, biofuels, wind power, solar, etc.

 

Biofuels, by themselves won't replace all the need for oil. But perhaps we can replace a large percentage in this manner.

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How does President Obama react to last year's reports about the hazardous secondary economic effect of ethanol production, the increase of the price at the pump, and the allegations of political influence by the ethanol lobby? By planning to more-than-triple production from 11 million to 36 million gallons per year within 12 years. But there is some evidence that the new government heard the warnings and is at least putting more emphasis on non-edible sources, which would seem to address the lion's share of last year's complaints (e.g. feeding the world's starving poor in stead of American gas tanks):

 

 

 

http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/business/6849995.html

 

My opinion: If I hadn't heard yesterday that nuclear is getting a big boost in the 2011 budget I'd think this was a dodge. But it does make sense that all avenues need to be fully explored. I'd like to see more of a boost to solar, but perhaps such a boost is waiting in the wings.

 

What do you all think?

 

 

There is still a problem with that plan.... and I believe that the "non-edible" will make the problem even worse rather than better.

 

The problem is that in the last biofuel push there were large scale crop switches to take advantage of the biofuel market. Switching to non-edible sources doesn't guarantee that farmers the world over won't switch from wheat, rice or corn to hemp or some other non-edible biofuel source to take advantage of the demand.

 

The reason I find this troubling is that at least with corn and rice it was possible to turn on a dime when biofuel production was put on hold. At least with the old system you had the option of EATING the crops when the biofuel push stalled.

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There is still a problem with that plan.... and I believe that the "non-edible" will make the problem even worse rather than better.

 

The problem is that in the last biofuel push there were large scale crop switches to take advantage of the biofuel market. Switching to non-edible sources doesn't guarantee that farmers the world over won't switch from wheat, rice or corn to hemp or some other non-edible biofuel source to take advantage of the demand.

 

The reason I find this troubling is that at least with corn and rice it was possible to turn on a dime when biofuel production was put on hold. At least with the old system you had the option of EATING the crops when the biofuel push stalled.

If they used hemp, there are many other things you can do with it if biofuel production is put on hold. Hemp oil can be used for lubricants, plastics, paints and inks. And it has nutritional value for its essential fatty acids.
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I don't see what edible vs. inedible has to do with anything, other than maybe public perception. Does increasing the supply of biofuel necessitate a decrease in food supplies, or not?

 

Meh, our agricultural policy as a whole is pretty much a joke, apparently because of the wildly disproportionate influence of the agribusiness lobby. Take a look at this Nicholas Kristoff op-ed from December 2008;

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/11/opinion/11kristof.html?_r=1&em

 

One measure of the absurdity of the system: Every year you, the American taxpayer, send me a check for $588 in exchange for me not growing crops on timberland I own in Oregon (I forward the money to a charity). That’s right. The Agriculture Department pays a New York journalist not to grow crops in a forest in Oregon.

 

I'm all for supporting renewable domestic energy, but I'm pretty cynical about that goal remaining primary. Is biofuel really worth it?

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