Monday, November 24, 2014

"A Sustainable Solution for the Corn Belt" New York Times Op-Ed Mark Bittman

"It’s easy enough to argue that one of the most productive agricultural
regions in the world could be better used than to cover it with just two crops
— the two crops that contribute most to the sad state of our dietary affairs,
and that are used primarily for animal food, junk food and
thermodynamically questionable biofuels."

"In recent years, many Iowa farmers have believed that if they weren’t
100 percent “in” corn, they weren’t doing a good job. Because of the pressure
to plant, many of them have expanded their cultivated areas beyond where it
makes sense, creating erosion and runoff problems. Iowa is among the
major contributors to the Gulf of Mexico’s “dead zone,” a direct result of
fertilizer runoff into the Mississippi water system, and half of Iowa’s topsoil
has been lost."

Sunday, November 23, 2014

"E.P.A. Postpones Setting Standards for Biofuel Blends" New York Times

"The market is saturated with regular corn ethanol, while production of cellulosic,
or so-called advanced, biofuel — made from nonfood parts of corn plants or
other biomass like wood waste — has fallen short of what the mandate requires refiners to use."

"EPA Delays Renewable Fuels Decision" 24/7 Wall St.

"In a brief statement on Friday the EPA said:
Finalization of the 2014 standards rule has been significantly delayed. Due to this delay, and given ongoing consideration of the issues presented by the commenters, EPA is not in a position to finalize the 2014 RFS standards rule before the end of the year. Accordingly, we intend to take action on the 2014 standards rule in 2015 prior to or in conjunction with action on the 2015 standards rule."
Read more: EPA Delays Renewable Fuels Decision - 24/7 Wall St.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

"Don’t Ask How to Feed the 9 Billion" New York Times 2014 Mark Bittman

"Poverty isn’t the only problem, of course. There is also the virtually
unregulated food system that is geared toward making money rather than
feeding people. (Look no further than the ethanol mandate or high fructose
corn syrup for evidence.)"

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

"An ethanol surprise in Iowa?" The Hill

"A higher ethanol mandate also would turn more food into fuel, putting upward pressure on grocery prices in the United States and limiting the amount of grain used to feed people around the globe. Studies by the European Union show food prices would be 50 percent lower in Europe by 2020 and 15 percent lower throughout the world without EU biofuel policy support. Research also shows there will not be enough food to feed the world’s populations by 2050 as long as food is diverted into fuel.
The costs of hunger, price hikes, and poorer transportation fuel might be worth it to an administration desperate to retain control over the U.S. Senate. Citizen voters nationwide, regardless of party affiliation, should decry any increase in the ethanol mandate for 2014—and beyond. Cronyism and political bribes are no solution for a democracy in deficit."

Thursday, July 17, 2014

"Repeal the Renewable Fuel Mandate"

"Under the RFS, the average grocery bill for families has grown by $2,000 annually. Lower-income families, who spend a greater percentage of their paycheck on groceries, have been hit especially hard -- so much so that poverty advocates are now demanding that U.S. corn feed mouths rather than fuel tanks. According to Oxfam America, the grain required to fill an SUV's gas tank with biofuels is enough to feed one person for a year."

Saturday, July 12, 2014

"Gulf dead zone should be smaller than 2013, tied to ethanol production"

"The dead zone occurs when nitrogen-based fertilizer washes from Corn Belt  farms into the Mississippi River and winds its way south into the Gulf, providing nutrients for a bloom of algae. When the bloom dies, it leaves oxygen-depleted water where  other marine life can’t survive.

An indirect link was established between the dead zone and U.S. ethanol production when, in 2012, the dead zone contracted dramatically after an extreme drought damaged corn crops."

"Why is the EPA stalling on ethanol?" Chicago Tribune

"The Renewable Fuel Standard also requires more use of so-called advanced biofuels. Nearly all the ethanol produced in the U.S. today comes from corn รข€” roughly 40 percent of the nation's largest cash crop gets burned up in gas tanks. Congress approved the RFS mostly to encourage commercial production of ethanol from inedible ingredients such as grass or wood chips.

That idea has flopped. Very little of this next-generation ethanol is available commercially. The outlook is bleak for ramping up production. Yet under the law, refiners and blenders are required to boost their use of this scarce fuel, which adds more unnecessary costs.",0,6446153.story

Thursday, July 10, 2014

"EU to limit production of biofuels from food crops" The Guardian

"Initially, the EU backed biofuels as a way to tackle climate change, but research has since shown that making fuel out of crops such as maize displaces other crops, forces the clearing of valuable habitats, and can inflate food prices."

"EU agrees plan to cap use of food-based biofuels"

"EU energy ministers agreed a deal on Friday to limit production of biofuels made from food crops, responding to criticism these stoke inflation and do more environmental harm than good."

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

"Ethanol’s Broken Promise" EWG

 "Between 2008 and 2011, American farmers converted 23 million acres of wetlands and grasslands – an area the size of Indiana – to crop production.  EWG’s analysis estimates that this massive transformation in the way the land is being used has resulted in greenhouse gas emissions of between 85 million and 236 million metric tons a year more than previous years.
It turns out that corn ethanol has actually accelerated global warming more than gasoline. Recent research by the EPA has estimated that ethanol production increases greenhouse gas emissions by 33 percent, compared to gasoline."

"High Food Prices: An Investor's Dilemma" Forbes

"Finally, there’s the inflation part of the story. Prices at the grocery store are rising fast. The meat, poultry, fish, and eggs component of CPI has risen 25.6% in seven years, which represents 3.66% per year on average. The meat component has the highest weight (by far) in the CPI Food index."

"It hurts! High prices weigh on consumers, many of whom are unemployed or underemployed. Personal incomes are not growing, tax rates have risen along with costs for everything from rent to fuel to food. Don’t expect a consumer led improvement in the economy."

"The following chart shows the extraordinary relationship between the RFS and crop prices. We’ll focus on corn because it’s so important to the food supply. The price of corn was stable – between $2.00 a bushel and $2.50 per bushel – for 50 years until George Bush signed the Energy Policy Act in 2005. That blew the first air into the food price bubble we see today.
When the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 passed, officially establishing subsidies and the ambitious, escalating mandate, prices marched to all time highs. As you can see, they took a breather for the “Great Recession” before racing, yet again, to fresh highs as the drought of 2012 hit. Again, droughts come and go, but when 40% of the supply is diverted away from food production…well, corn prices peaked that year at $8.25 per bushel, a nearly 400% increase above their long-term average."

"Switch from gasoline to ethanol linked to higher smog levels" LA TImes

"Scientists have made a surprising discovery about ethanol: The more it was used by drivers in Sao Paulo, Brazil, the more ozone they measured in the local environment.
The finding, reported this week in Nature Geoscience, is contrary to other studies predicting that increased use of ethanol would cut levels of ground-level ozone, or smog."

Monday, March 31, 2014

"Biofuels do more harm than good, UN warns" The Telegraph

"The United Nations will officially warn that growing crops to make “green” biofuel harms the environment and drives up food prices, The Telegraph can disclose.
A leaked draft of a UN report condemns the widespread use of biofuels made from crops as a replacement for petrol and diesel. It says that biofuels, rather than combating the effects of global warming, could make them worse."

"Biofuels Might Hold Back Progress Combating Climate Change" Scientific American

"The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has for the first time acknowledged the risks of uncontrolled biofuels development, a skepticism that has slowly emerged into the mainstream scientific community, say academics."

"A table from the report was leaked last week in which authors list the potential negative risks of development. These issues include indirect land-use change, the conflicts between land for fuels and land for food, water scarcity, loss of biodiversity and nitrogen pollution through the use of excess fertilizer."

Monday, February 17, 2014

"Ethanol Mandates Put The Squeeze on Small Businesses"

"The National Academy of Sciences also found that ethanol creates more greenhouse gas emissions than standard gasoline."

"Tom Tanton: Making ethanol is wasting California's water"

"A biorefinery that produces 100 million gallons of ethanol per year uses the equivalent of the water supply for a town of about 5,000 people — approximately the size of such Central Valley farming communities as Fowler, Gustine and San Joaquin. All in all, it takes 34 times the amount of water to produce one gallon of corn-based ethanol as regular gasoline. Ethanol's water utilization rate doesn't seem to fall in line with the idea of a "renewable fuel." All this water lost and for what gain? The answer is not much for our environment nor for California food producers. The Environmental Protection Agency's analysis has shown that lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions of corn ethanol were higher than those of gasoline in 2012 and will still be higher in 2017. Moreover, from 2008 to 2011, the mandate has contributed to plowing up more than 23 million acres of wetlands and grasslands — an area the size of Indiana — to grow crops, largely corn. This rapid conversion is driving up greenhouse gas emissions even higher by releasing carbon stored in the soil and by increasing use of fertilizers that swell emissions of nitrous oxide, a potent greenhouse gas.
What's more: As more and more corn is diverted to ethanol production to meet the RFS, less is available for livestock feed. High demand for corn on account of the RFS has caused extreme price volatility for this key commodity, forcing prices through the roof and at one point increasing prices up by more than 200% from pre-RFS years. Elevated corn costs drove prices for feed — the single largest input cost to food producers — up by 32% in 2012, increasing production costs for food producers across the state. This proved a deal breaker for many of them in the first year of California's drought, which saw countless farmers forced into foreclosure. Just look at the California dairy industry that has been forced to slash herd sizes and lost hundreds of farms since 2012."

Read more here:

Monday, January 6, 2014

"Dump the ethanol mandate" Chicago Tribune

"The law has succeeded in pumping up profits for corn-ethanol producers and their suppliers, but it has failed to serve the public interest. It hasn't launched a new cellulosic-ethanol industry. It hasn't made the nation less vulnerable to the risks of Middle Eastern oil supplies — domestic production and reduced consumption have had a far more dramatic impact on that count.",0,7010989.story

"Congress Wakes Up to the Bad News About Biofuels" Bloomberg Businessweek

"Senators Feinstein and Coburn want to go considerably further and completely abandon the corn ethanol mandate. Especially given the failure of European reform, that not only would be good for American consumers, but good for the global environment and poor people worldwide."