Bloomberg reports “As Corn Devours U.S. Prairies, Greens Reconsider Biofuel Mandate”. I can only say “What took you so long?” To wit:
“Environmentalists who once championed biofuels as a way to cut pollution are now turning against a U.S. program that puts renewable fuels in cars, citing higher-than-expected carbon dioxide emissions and reduced wildlife habitat.”
According to Bloomberg, several non-governmental organisations (NGOs) including Friends of the Earth, the National Wildlife Federation, and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) are now bemoaning the detrimental effects of the Renewable Fuel Standard.
How times have changed
For example, the U.S.-based NRDC, counting more than 550,000 members, in their lengthy 2004 report on “GROWING ENERGY” had such glowing statements for biofuels like:
“The United States does not have to rely on oil to drive our economy and quality of life. We can replace much of our oil with biofuels—fuels made from plant materials grown by American farmers.”
“Biofuels can clean up the environment.”
None of that was true—nor will it ever be. If it had been or were, studies would have been able to show that. Instead, the few studies by independent investigators all showed the opposite to be true. Between sowing and reaping the harvest, converting, distilling and distributing the product(s), no energy was “saved,” the environment was not “cleaned up” but rather destroyed, and the economy did not improve either. In short: a giant boondoggle all around. I called it the Biofuel Curse in another post, published two years ago. Even the great oracle of time, former U.S. - V.P. Al Gore has admitted to being wrong in pushing the biofuel (bio-ethanol) idea, already years ago. Still, many of the activist groups like Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, 350.org, WWF, etc. were all in favour of biofuels (including ethanol from corn kernels) until recently.
Bio-ethanol from Cellulose
This idea is to use waste products from agriculture, such as corn stover (cobs, husks, stems and leaves) to produce ethanol. Another idea touted by NGOs was growing switchgrass, a native grass of the prairies. Either one was to solve all fuel needs and make “lots of hay” for the farmers to boot. There only a handful of cellulose-to-ethanol plants in operation in the U.S. actually use corn husks and stalks to make ethanol.
However, the ethanol production from cellulose is fraught with technical problems. Not surprisingly, the companies involved recently filed a response to Environmental Protection Agency’s “Renewable Fuel Standard Program: Standards for 2017 and Biomass-Based Diesel Volume for 2018” in which they ask to be permitted to use corn starch as source for the “cellulosic ethanol” too. Starch, of course is primarily in the kernels, not the corn cob or stem. In my mind, that request is a tacit admission that the ethanol production from corn stover does not work very well. It also reminds me of the Ivanpah solar power plant that produces now about one half of its “solar power” electricity from burning natural gas.
Of course, the whole biofuel idea was based on false accounting of energy input vs. output, misunderstanding of cause & consequences, and—most importantly—government prescribed subsidies, “renewable fuel credits” and related costs that every fuel consumer has to pay for, one way or another.
Most recently though, still barely perceptible, some sanity seems to come into the picture; a new dawn, a dawn of truth.
New Dawn of Truth
In September 2016, a conference on the New Dawn of Truth is being planned to take place at London, UK. The 120-page information booklet with extended abstracts is available online. Perhaps it will bring an end to the “Thermageddon” cult that seems to pervade western main stream thinking these days. Perhaps, it’s wishful thinking as most of the media are still full of “climate doom.”
The New Dawn of Truth conference comes hard on the heels of the “CLEXIT” (Climate-Exit) campaign, officially announced on Aug. 1, 2016. The Clexit movement is spreading world-wide and has the support of scientists from numerous countries. Below, a salient quote from the CLEXIT summary statement:
“We must stop this futile waste of community savings; cease the destruction and dislocation of human industry; stop killing rare bats and birds with wind turbine blades and solar/thermal sizzlers; stop pelletizing trees and shipping them across the world to feed power stations designed to burn coal; stop converting food to motor vehicle fuel; and stop the clearing of bush and forests for biofuel cultivation and plantations.
Carbon dioxide does not control the climate. It is an essential plant food and more carbon dioxide will produce more plant growth and a greener globe.”
May sanity prevail, once again!