Good News For Ethanol

8 04 2009

According to the American Clean Energy Act of 2009, financial support will be offered to companies if they promote biofuels and/or the use of electric cars. This is good news for ethanol because it is a type of biofuel.

Ethanol Producer Magazine

Ethanol Producer Magazine

Furthermore, the Environmental Protection Agency raised the renewable fuel standard, which designates the minimum requirement of renewable fuel per gallon of gasoline, to 10.21 percent for 2009. This is a 24 percent increase from the 2008 standard of 7.76 percent.

This initiative is not surprising considering President Obama’s recent nominations for two specific positions within the Department of Energy.

From left, Steven Chu and Steven Koonin at Berkeley

From left, Steven Chu and Steven Koonin at Berkeley

Steven Koonin was appointed to the position of Undersecretary of Science by President Obama on March 23. He had been the Chief Scientist at BP since 2004 where he researched renewable and alternative fuels.

Steven Chu was sworn in as Secretary of Energy in January by the Obama Administration. Chu won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1997. “Both Chu and Koonin previously collaborated on biofuel research through a BP partnership with academia.”

Carbon Market Conference

7 04 2009

WASHINGTON DC — At a carbon market conference on Tuesday Nancy Sutley, chairperson of the Council on Environmental Quality, emphasized last week’s bill from Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and the regulations it placed on carbon cap-and-trade allowances. She said the energy goals of the bill were inline with those of President Obama.

Nancy Sutley, Chairperson for the Council on Environmental Quality

Nancy Sutley, Chairperson for the Council on Environmental Quality

“In setting out this agenda, the administration has signaled … that the United States is ready to assume leadership in helping to bring the world together to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions,” Sutley said. “It will also encourage the development and deployment of the clean-energy technologies that will be critical to address climate change, enhance energy security and create jobs that can’t be outsourced.”

The draft of the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, introduced by Waxman and Markey, called for a 20 percent decrease in the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions based on 2005 levels, to be achieved by 2020, and an 83 percent cut seen by mid-century.

However, the Waxman-Markey draft did not address how companies will receive their carbon credits. But, Obama said he would like companies to purchase all of their credits at an auction, instead of just being handed them. This would raise hundreds of billions of dollars to fund clean energy programs and give tax breaks to greener companies. But some, including big polluters, say the costs of 100 percent auctions would be too great.

Stimulus Package To The Rescue

29 03 2009

The Environmental Protection Agency was awarded almost $100 million from the stimulus package to fund environmental programs.

The first project to receive funds was a clean-diesel program run by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, which was awarded $1.73 million.


Making Biofuels More Practical

24 03 2009


The basic argument against biofuels is that food sources like corn and wheat should not be used to make fuel. The substitutes for these crops are plants such as switchgrass and miscanthus, but these grasses take longer to break down than corn kernals, making the fuel production process more costly.



BUT, researchers at Cal Tech have synthesized several new enzymes that will break down cellulose plants quicker than the current method, ultimately making the process cheaper.

This is also good news for the Obama administration, which continues to advocate funding for alternative energy policies and research.

At the White House on Monday Obama said, “Speaking to entrepreneurs in the fields of energy…Your country will support you. Your president will support you.’ The administration’s $787 billion stimulus package includes $39 billion for the Department of Energy and $20 billion in tax incentives for clean energy.”

He plans to speak more about the stimulus package in a televised address Tuesday night.

Obama: The Future is Green and Bright

25 02 2009

Last night, in an address to Congress, Obama once again stressed the importance of shifting toward a better environmental policy, based on the future development of, “wind power, solar power, advanced biofuels, clean coal, and more fuel-efficient cars.”

Unfortunately this means that only about 5.5 percent of the stimulus package funds energy and environmental advancements.

Obama's Stilulus Package

Obama's Stimulus Package

Obama made some good points however, especially when he said, “We invented solar technology, but we’ve fallen behind countries like Germany and Japan in producing it. New plug-in hybrids roll off our assembly lines, but they will run on batteries made in Korea.”

Germany is in fact very far ahead of the U.S. in terms of environmental standards. “In 2007 greenhouse gas emissions were down 21.3% in comparison with 1990 levels.

Solar Technology at Berlin-Adlershof

Solar Technology at Berlin-Adlershof

But, the only action Obama has taken in addressing environmental matters so far, was to ask for a, “legislation that places a market-based cap on carbon pollution and drives the production of more renewable energy in America.”

I think the carbon cap is a good idea, but I’m wondering how Congress will “drive” this “production”, and production of what exactly?

Oh Canada

16 02 2009

Obama is coming to Canada this Thursday to discuss how to combat global warming, greenhouse gas emissions and the oil sands of Alberta.

Oil sands are areas of land with deposits of Bitumen, a crude oil in the form of sand. The result is a fossil fuel that is very hard to refine, but produces a lot of energy.

Some Canadian lobbyists feel Obama’s visit is their chance to debate new pollution caps for refining the oil sands. The sands produce oil that has three times the carbon impact per barrel in the production process as regular oil.

Tougher Tailpipes Scare Automakers

4 02 2009

California and 13 other states (Vermont, New Jersey, New York, Arizona, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington and Rhode Island) asked President Obama to resubmit a request that would allow states to enforce stricter regulations than the federal government’s for auto emissions and fuel efficiency.

William Kovacs, a VP at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce was not happy with the President’s decision. “In addition, such a move would put the EPA one step closer to making carbon dioxide ‘subject to regulation’ under the Act. This would … have the unintended consequence of creating costly and burdensome permitting requirements on millions of construction projects, including hospitals, schools, and office buildings,” he said.

But what is wrong with an agency finally having the ability to regulate CO2?

And, the excuse of “costly and burdensome” has been used for far too long. Former President Bush rejected the same proposal in 2007, probably for similar reasons, but it’s about time someone took some action.

Currently, each gallon of gasoline you burn creates 20 pounds of CO2 and in California, about 40 percent of its greenhouse gas emissions are caused by automobiles, so perhaps it is time for better regulations.

2004 Greenhouse Gas Emission In California

In California, “the new regulations would force automakers to reduce vehicle emissions by a third by 2016…and increase fuel efficiency from 27 miles per gallon to 35 miles per gallon in cars and light trucks.”

Currently “California produces roughly 1.4 percent of the world’s, and 6.2 percent of the total U.S., greenhouse gases.”