Tuesday, July 31, 2012

U.S. Meat Producers "Call For Pause In Ethanol Quotas In Wake Of Drought" Environment360


"Amid a severe drought, does it still make sense to use corn for fuel?" WashingtonPost

"Regardless of the numbers, biofuels mandates are coming under increasing scrutiny. Last year, the World Trade Organization called on governments to pare back their ethanol laws, saying that they had increased food volatility around the world. Some scientists have argued that corn-based ethanol can actually be worse for the environment than gasoline if they indirectly drive deforestation. (Biofuels that are made from non-foodstuffs, such as algae, are still not yet viable.)
And some members of Congress have criticized government support for ethanol as an undue form of corporate welfare. This year, for the first time in three decades, Congress allowed a tax credit for ethanol production to expire. The credit was worth $6 billion in 2011. At the time, the ethanol industry didn’t put up much of a fight to preserve the credit—after all, the renewable fuel standard would ensure a continued market for their products.
But now even that standard is starting to come under attack. Earlier this week in the House, Reps. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Jim Costa (D-Calif.) introduced a bill, supported by the livestock industry, that would relax the ethanol mandate by up to 50 percent when supplies are low."

"US farmers urge Obama administration to suspend ethanol quota amid drought" The Guardian

"The Obama administration was urged on Monday to stop diverting grain to gas amid warnings of an "imminent food crisis" caused by America's drought. "


"WRAPUP 1-US drought spurs ethanol push-back; World Bank watchful" Reuters

"We cannot allow short-term food price spikes to have damaging long-term consequences for the world's most poor and vulnerable," World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said in a statement. "The World Bank and our partners are monitoring this situation closely so we can help governments put policies in place to help people better cope."


"Corn for Food, Not Fuel" Op-Ed New York Times

"The price of corn is a critical variable in the world food equation, and food markets are on edge because American corn supplies are plummeting. The combination of the drought and American ethanol policy will lead in many parts of the world to widespread inflation, more hunger, less food security, slower economic growth and political instability, especially in poor countries. "

"Any defense of the ethanol policy rests on fallacies, primarily these: that ethanol produced from corn makes the United States less dependent on fossil fuels; that ethanol lowers the price of gasoline; that an increase in the percentage of ethanol blended into gasoline increases the overall supply of gasoline; and that ethanol is environmentally friendly and lowers global carbon dioxide emissions. "

Saturday, July 28, 2012

"Groups battle over request from ranchers to ease ethanol rule" The Hill

"Interest groups on both sides of the corn ethanol debate are stepping up their messaging on an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule that lawmakers have targeted in recent weeks."


"Petition to waive ethanol mandate may come next week" Reuters


"The Coming Food Crisis: Blame Ethanol?" Forbes

"A series of spikes in global food prices resulted in riots in 2008 and contributed to violent uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East in 2011. The culprit is a matter of considerable and frequently heated debate, but the most commonly cited candidates include market speculators, global warming and aggressive government renewable fuel mandates."


New England Complex Systems Institute UPDATE July 2012 — The Food Crises: The US Drought

“Here we provide a second update, evaluating the effects of the current drought on global food prices. We find that the drought may trigger the expected third food price bubble to occur sooner, before new limits to speculation are scheduled to take effect. Reducing the amount of corn that is being converted to ethanol may address the immediate crisis.”

Friday, July 27, 2012

Africa: Are We Facing Another Global Food Price Crisis? Rob Bailey allAfrica

"In these circumstances the world is only one or two bad harvests away from another global crisis, and biofuel mandates appear increasingly hard to justify."


"The Ethanol Mandate Is Worse Than The Drought" Pope Wall Street Journal

"The nation's corn crop is in a state of crisis. We can't control drought. But we can and must address the impact of politics on corn supplies and prices by taking steps to ease the pressure and help prevent food inflation: We can waive the ethanol mandate now, and then work on a longer-term plan."

"Food vs. Fuel and the Midwest Drought" Geoffrey Styles theenergycollective

"...food vs. fuel quickly boils down to a debate over the tangible benefits of corn-based ethanol as a fuel.  There's growing evidence that those benefits have been oversold, despite industry claims."


Thursday, July 26, 2012

"In Drought-Stricken Midwest, It's Fodder Vs. Fuel" NPR

"As the drought continues to afflict the nation's corn belt, hog and chicken farmers are competing with ethanol factories for scarce and increasingly expensive corn. Meat producers say it's not a fair competition, because government rules call for a minimum level of ethanol production, no matter what the cost. They're campaigning for a suspension of those rules."


"Food prices to rise in California amid drought elsewhere" LA Times

"A persistent drought compounds a problem already besetting farmers, they and agriculture economists said. About a third of the country's corn is diverted to produce ethanol under federal renewable energy standards. Ethanol production already had driven up the price of corn in recent years.

"The ethanol policy is a bad idea because the impacts of a drought are much more severe than it used to be," said Colin Carter, a UC Davis agriculture economist."

"Put a damper on Congress’s drought drama" Washington Post

"And before Congress rushes through the farm bill, it’s worth reflecting on all the ways existing policies worsen the drought’s impact. More corn would be available for animals if not for federal ethanol mandates. One reason for drought- and flood-related crop losses is that federally subsidized crop insurance encourages farmers to cultivate marginal land and engage in other risky practices, knowing that taxpayers will, in effect, bail them out. Both the House and Senate versions of the farm bill would increase subsidized crop insurance, thus accentuating this moral hazard. "

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

"Big Oil sues EPA over cellulosic biofuels mandate"

"A bill introduced this week in the U.S. House of Representatives by Reps. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Jim Costa (D-Calif.) would cut the RFS by as much as 50 percent if corn surplus stocks fall below certain levels."


...Steve Ring: Drought should spur debate on ethanol.

"Food prices will go up. The real question is will there be enough food to go around the world? What happens if this isn’t a one-year event? What are our contingency plans? Sadly, there don’t seem to be any.  We are at the early stages of liquidation of cows and hogs. Once this continues to escalate, there won’t be a quick recovery due to the costs and time necessary to start livestock operations back up.
Burning food for fuel has always been a poor policy, in my opinion. Let’s see what type of knee-jerk reaction we get next. Remember Rahm Emanuel’s famous “Never let a crisis go to waste”? This one could be one of the current administration’s toughest yet. When will they recognize it?"


"Upper Midwest sees forecast of rain, but enough?" NBCNEWS.com

"U.S. crops are suffering from the worst drought in more than 50 years, which is raising worries about the world's largest food exporter's ability to meet the needs of food processors, livestock producers and ethanol makers."


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

"US Drought Could Spell Another Global Food Crisis" Mother Jones

"America's drought threatens a recurrence of the 2008 global food crisis, when soaring prices set off riots and unrest to parts of Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America, food experts warn."


RAHN: Irrational infatuation with biofuels

"People in poor countries spend as much as three-quarters of their income on food, so a rise in food prices can cause real misery and near starvation. Low-income people in the United States also spend a much higher percentage of their income on food, and a rise in food prices causes them more misery than the more affluent."

"So when you turn on your TV news and see very hungry people in poor countries, food riots in Europe and the Middle East, and Americans getting upset and suffering from high food prices and unnecessarily high energy prices, you should remember that the real villains in this global tragedy are the members of Congress and politicians in other countries who voted for these insane policies."


"When Drought Strikes, Should U.S. Policy Endanger Hungry People?" Marlo Lewis Globalwarming.org

" No matter how much of the U.S. corn crop is ruined by drought, no matter how high corn prices get, no matter how many people in developing countries are imperiled, the RFS requires that billions of bushels of corn be used to fuel cars rather than feed livestock and people. This is crazy."


EDITORIAL: Biofuel mandate worsens drought’s effect---Washington Times

"Washington’s ethanol mandate is hitting Americans in the breadbasket. The worst drought in a half-century is withering cornfields across the heartland while Uncle Sam stubbornly insists American corn be turned into billions of gallons of this unnecessary fuel additive. The result is higher food prices in an already struggling economy. Unless the government can make it rain, Congress should uproot the ethanol mandate."


"Appeals court tosses out ethanol policy challenge" Captial Press

"The meat industry groups had filed a legal complaint against the EPA because the agency adopted a looser emissions standard for which ethanol plants qualify for renewable fuel credits."

"Citing drought, livestock groups push bill to limit production of ethanol" The Hill E2Wire


“If the drought situation continues to get worse, you’re going to continue to see this conversation elevated in Washington,” she continued. “It’s really getting to be a scary situation out in the Midwest.”

Monday, July 23, 2012

Sunday, July 22, 2012

"The Biofuels Disaster" Canada Free Press

"You would have thought that after the UN referred to biofuels as a “crime against humanity” there might have been at least a pause for thought. It seems, however, that pork barrel politics can win out over pretty much anything and the headlong rush to reduce the supply of food and to increase the supply of ethanol continues unabated."


Drought, Climate Change, Corn Prices, Ethanol and Biofuels--Forbes

"If we can’t do the sensible and logical thing of abandoning them altogether perhaps we could at least be humanitarian and suspend them in times of bad harvests?"


Friday, July 20, 2012

"Record cereal prices stoke fears of global food crisis" TheGuardian

"On Wednesday, the US agriculture secretary pushed corn prices even higher when he said the situation was not bad enough to warrant a reduction in government quotas for biofuels, specifically ethanol, which is typically made from corn and is a factor in keeping prices high.

Ruth Kelly, Oxfam's food policy adviser, said: "The toxic combination of a heatwave in the US, which is decimating corn harvests, and the unwavering global demand for biofuels, is again pushing the price of basic food stuffs higher and higher."

"Spreading drought fuels growing attack on ethanol mandate" Lincoln Journal Star

"Tensions continued to mount at the national level Thursday between livestock producers and ethanol producers as they watched the 2012 corn supply shrink almost by the hour in a rapidly spreading and deepening drought."

"Mud-Slinging Enters Debate Over Ethanol’s Impact on Gasoline Prices" NYTimes


"As Drought Kills Corn, Farmers Fight Over Ethanol" Dan Charles NPR

"The real battle, he says, will be fought over ethanol production next year. If the drought continues, and corn prices rise even more, gasoline companies won't want to buy that expensive ethanol, and livestock producers will be fighting for their survival. And the EPA will face intense pressures to cut the safety net for ethanol producers. It is expected to announce its ethanol requirements for 2013 in November."


FarmEcon LLC "The RFS, Fuel and Food Prices, and the Need for Statutory Flexibility"


"Current U.S. biofuels policy contains escalating corn-based ethanol blending requirements (the Renewable Fuel Standard - or RFS) that do not automatically adjust to energy and corn market realities. That same policy contains cellulosic ethanol requirements that do not reflect the fact that the biofuels industry, despite decades of effort and large subsidies, has failed to develop a commercially viable process for converting cellulosic biomass to ethanol.

Corn-based ethanol blending requirements have pushed corn prices, and thus ethanol production costs, so high that the market for ethanol blends higher than 10 percent is essentially non-existent. That same policy has also destabilized corn and ethanol prices by offering an almost risk-free demand volume guarantee to the corn-based ethanol industry. Domestic and export corn users other than ethanol producers have been forced to bear a disproportionate share of market and price risk.

Increases in ethanol production since 2007 have made little, or no, contribution to U.S. energy supplies, or dependence on foreign crude oil. Rather, those increases have pushed gasoline supplies into the export market. Gasoline production and crude oil use have not been reduced. If the RFS is made more flexible, and ethanol production shrinks due to market forces, we can easily replace ethanol with gasoline currently being exported.

This paper will argue that it is time to reform the current RFS. Corn users other than the ethanol industry need assurance of automatic market access in the event of a natural disaster and a sharp reduction in corn production. Ethanol producers should bear the burden of market adjustments, along with domestic food producers and corn export customers. Ethanol prices should reflect the fuel’s energy value relative to gasoline, not a corn price that is both inflated and destabilized by the inflexible RFS.

Finally, the RFS schedule should be revised to reflect the ethanol industry’s inability to produce commercially viable cellulosic fuels. Policy should reflect reality when that reality does not reflect substantial and undeniable barriers to achieving policy goals. "

Thursday, July 19, 2012

EPA Fines Companies for Failure to Deploy Unicorn Farts



Regulatory uncertainty key challenge for EU biofuels: BP Biofuels CEO


Nestle blames biofuels for high food prices-BBC


North Africa: Rising Food Prices and Social Unrest By Keshia Pendigrast

"In August 2011, Marco Lagi, Yaneer Bar-Yam, and K.Z Bertrand released a report through the New England Complex Systems Institute (NECSI). The report, "The Food Crises and Political Instability in North Africa and the Middle East," reveals a link between the background trend of rising global food prices and riots around the globe using data from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization's (FAO) Food Price Index."


Korea Feed Group Asks U.S. to Curb Corn, Soybean Use in Biofuel--Bloomberg News

"South Korea’s top grain importer has urged the U.S. to consider cutting the use of corn and soybeans in biofuel production to ensure stable food supplies as prices soar amid the worst U.S. drought in decades."


Analysis: As corn burns, excess ethanol credits help dampen demand


"(Reuters) - As drought devastates the U.S. corn crop, relief from near-record prices may come from an unexpected quarter: oil companies, which may buy less ethanol than their government mandate suggests."

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Global Food Shortage, Rising Prices Feared as Drought Parches Midwest


"Punishing drought in Midwest shows no sign of abating"ChicagoTribune

"About 55 percent of the contiguous United States is in a drought, just as corn plants should be pollinating, a period when adequate moisture is crucial. The United States ships more than half of all world exports of corn, which is made into dozens of products, from starch and ethanol to livestock feed."


USDA'S Vilsack says drought will spike crop prices--Chicago Tribune

"U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the worsening Midwest drought will result in sharply higher crop prices but maintained there is no need yet to seek a reduction in corn-based ethanol production."


"Agriculture Secretary tells White House drought getting worse"CNBC

“In his briefing to President Obama, Vilsack said that the drought of historic proportions will shrink this year's harvest of corn and soybeans. The crops are used for food and feed and because of that Vilsack said meat and poultry prices will be higher this year and next….Hard-hit livestock producers and other groups want the Environmental Protection Agency to give oil refiners a waiver from the mandate to blend ethanol into gasoline, arguing demand for the corn-based fuel was driving up corn prices.
But Vilsack said ethanol demand was not a problem right now.”


"Ag Secretary Says RFS Okay with Ethanol Stocks" Cindy Zimmerman


"Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack held a sobering press briefing Wednesday after meeting with President Obama about the impact of the nation’s drought on agricultural production.
Vilsack says the drought is “most serious situation we’ve had in 25 years” with 61% of the land mass of the United States is currently characterized as being impacted. About one third of the counties in the United States are now designated as secretarial disaster areas and that is expected to grow higher. “This obviously will have an impact on the yields,” he said.
When asked if the drought impact on corn should prompt action by the Environmental Protection Agency to roll back the use of corn for ethanol under the Renewable Fuel Standard, Vilsack said, “There is no need to go to the EPA at this time based on the quantity of ethanol that is in storage.”
The latest Energy Information Administration data from last week showed another drop in ethanol production from the previous week bringing the average weekly rate down to 841,000 barrels per day for an annualized rate of 12.89 billion gallons. Stocks of ethanol now stand at 19.6 million barrels or about 824 million gallons."

"MIT Study Debunks RFA/Vilsack Claims on Ethanol, Gas Prices" GlobalWarming.org


"US 'absolutely not' mulling waiver to ethanol" agrimoney.com


"US energy watchdogs are "absolutely not" mulling an easing in ethanol targets to reduce the pressure on corn supplies, despite significant damage to the crop from heat, a senior official said.
Persistent market speculation in grain markets that the Environmental Protection Agency is poised to waive obligations for ethanol use in the US is "just rumour", a spokesperson for the watchdog told Agrimoney.com."

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

"Renewable fuel standard hits political divide at energy hearing" The Hill

"Republicans, environmentalists and traditional oil-and-gas producers have lined up to repeal or change the RFS — all for different reasons.
Environmentalists claim the RFS is a mandate for corn ethanol that has driven up global food prices, ..."


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

"Biofuels Battle" The Hill

"...Renewable Fuels Standard, which was expanded in a 2007 energy law. It requires increasing amounts of ethanol and other biofuels in the nation’s motor fuel supply."

"“EPA has allowed the RFS law’s volume requirements to drive decisions that are inappropriate and unwise. The law has become increasingly unrealistic, unworkable, and a threat to consumers.""


Friday, July 6, 2012

Biofuel Fraud Case in New York Times

"The scheme, and others like it, has had serious repercussions for both the biofuel industry and for conventional petroleum manufacturers. "

THE HILL---Biofuels Infrastructure Study "on the chopping block"


"The five energy programs on the chopping block are...Biofuels Infrastructure Study..."

"The Biofuels Infrastructure Study calls for the Energy, Transportation and Agriculture departments along with the Environmental Protection Agency to jointly assess infrastructure needs for developing and transporting biofuels with an eye toward market trends through 2025."

Biofuels and Global Land Rush


"The combination of preferential trade access and salubrious natural conditions have placed some African states in the middle of the biofuels boom. Addax Bioenergy took a 50-year lease in Sierra Leone's Bombali and Tonkolili districts in response to the European Union renewable energy directive to create a market for biofuels."

"In a public statement, the Land Matrix - an NGO coalition - claimed: "Investors are targeting countries with weak land tenure security, although they try to look for countries that at the same time offer relatively high levels of investor protection. Only very few projects seem to engage in adequate consultations with local communities."

 (Land Matric link http://landportal.info/landmatrix/get-the-picture )

"Critics worry about food security. The majority of land investment is export-oriented. While 78 percent of land deals globally are for agricultural production, three quarters is for biofuels, for which the African market has limited absorptive capacity."

"Purdue Economist: Drought Could Ignite Ethanol Debate"


"That fight could drive up food prices not only in this country but around the world. Hurt says that will create a debate over whether federal law should be changed.".