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Waste and Emissions»Lower C02 for Biofuels

»Thursday, May 7,2009

 

United States President Barack Obama's administration issued a draft rule on Tuesday to lower greenhouse gasses emitted by biofuels but also confirming his predecessor's target for the production of corn-based ethanol.

This rule seeks to increase production of advanced biofuels and make production of U.S. corn-based ethanol more efficient. Corn ethanol has been criticized for indirectly causing greenhouse gas emissions as it contributes to high food prices forcing forests and other lands to be burned abroad to create farmland.

Obama called on the heads of the Department of Energy, the Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency to chair a group to identify policies to increase use of "flex fuel" cars and develop advanced biofuels. The flex fuel cars will be developed so that they can run on gasoline or fuel that is mostly ethanol.

In a release Obama said that we need to invest in cleaner energy to create new jobs and reduce the need to depend on foreign oil. "We can and will succeed through American ingenuity and determination," he said.

This new rula was issued by the EPA and confirms the schedule of the 2007 Renewable Fuels Standard, this was signed by Obama's predecessor President George W. Bush, which calls for the blending of 36 billion gallons (136 billion litres) per year of biofuels into gasoline by 2022.

A maximum of 15 billion gallons of corn grain and corn-based ethanol will be blended into gasoline annually by 2015.

The target of blending 16 billion gallons per year bu 2022 is also confirmed of cellulosic ethanol made from substances such as agricultural waste and switchgrass. Cellulosic ethanol has shown signs as a fuel lower in carbon emissions and at the same time will not raise food prices, this is not yet made in commercial amounts.

"Corn-based ethanol is a bridge to the next generation of biofuels," EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said in a teleconference about the draft rule.

The rule aims to spur traditional bio-refineries that make corn ethanol to run on cleaner fuels like biomass instead of fossil fuels. That is expected to lower life-cycle emissions from corn-based ethanol.

The 1,004-page "Regulation of Fuels and Fuel Additives: Changes to Renewable Fuel Standard Program" will be published in the Federal Register and open for public comments.

Jackson said the comments would help the government find the best way to measure global warming pollution from biofuels before issuing final rules.

INTERAGENCY GROUP

The interagency group will seek to ease transportation of identify policies to develop advanced biofuels and transport them to market.

Obama said that nearly $790 million from the stimulus bill will accelerate advanced biofuels research and development. He asked Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to speed up financing opportunities, including loan guarantees and funding, under the 2008 Farm Law to develop bio-refineries and demonstration-scale plants.

The draft rule states greenhouse gas cuts for alternative fuels. Any carbon dioxide emissions are measured from "indirect land use change." Those include any global warming pollution given off when U.S. production of crops like corn for biofuels displaces other crops, pushing farmers around the world to burn down forests and grasslands to grow them.

Many corn ethanol producers oppose such measurements saying advances in seeds and fertilizers cut the need for more land to grow corn for more ethanol.

The issuing of the rule was applauded by some environmentalists.
 
"This rule is a major first step in understanding greenhouse gas emissions from biofuels," Britt Lundgren, an agricultural policy specialist with the Environmental Defense Fund, said by telephone.

But President of Clean Air Watch Frank O'Donnell, said the draft did not go far enough and risked forming rules based on far-off future projections.

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