Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Blame It All on Biofuels

I for one am SICK TO DEATH of all the worlds ills suddenly being blamed on biofuels. When people say that food prices are being driven up by ethanol, they are simply unaware of what drives commodity prices. HIGH OIL PRICES are driving up food prices FAR MORE than anything ethanol could ever do to cause price spikes. That's because just about EVERYTHING we eat, drink, etc . . . comes from somewhere else -- usually, somewhere far away -- and it takes oil, gasoline, diesel to get it to us.

Its really a neat spin trick when you think about it, oil is now at $117/barrel -- and what are people talking about? The "trouble" with biofuels? Are you kidding?

This would be funny if it weren't tragic. We need biofuels to move beyond oil. Its that simple. If you want to end fledgling biofuels markets, YOU MUST THEN TAKE ON THE SOCIAL, FINANCIAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL COSTS OF A WORLD DRIVEN BY THE SEARCH FOR MORE OIL.

Funding terrorism? That's just a nasty side-effect of the only "perfect" environmentally-friendly fuel . . . oil!

Wake up! The more this line goes unchallenged, the more average people in the U.S. and abroad will start to become brainwashed into thinking that biofuels are bad and to be abandoned -- rather than fixed and improved.

I was very happy to see the story below noting that the Europeans are sticking with their biofuels plan despite the growing criticism. Hopefully, America will stay the course as well.

On this Earth Day, how about people taking a minute to think about all the damage that oil has and continues to do -- to the Earth AND TO ITS PEOPLE.

Biofuels are a tool to get us out of the very economic instability that they are now being blamed for causing. Only when we have a diversity of transportation fuels to pick from, will the world be able to avoid these high price spikes in world energy.


Europe to stick with plan, though it fuels controversy (04/22/2008)

Special to ClimateWire

AMSTERDAM -- Criticism of the biofuel requirements in the European Commission's plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is unfair and not based on facts, a high-ranking commission official said yesterday.

"Biofuels are essential to tackle both climate change and security of supply," said Hans van Steen, the head of unit for the European Commission's Directorate General for Energy and Transport. "We feel we have a very clear set of criteria that make sure we can benefit from introducing renewables also in the transport sector. Every year, CO2 emissions from the transport sector go up, and we haven't found the answer to how to stop this," he said at the Renewable Energy PowerGen 2008 conference in Amsterdam.

Energy Harvest: Power From the Farm -- An E&E Special Report

Van Steen was closely involved in designing the European Commission's ambitious plan to fight climate change, unveiled in January, which pledges to cut carbon emissions in the European Union by 20 percent by 2020 compared to 1990 levels. It also requires biofuels to make up at least 10 percent of transportation fuels by 2020.

This demand has come under increasing attack from some scientists and environmentalists who argue that biofuels may not actually deliver significant reductions in greenhouse gases but will lead to higher food prices and deforestation as producers clear land to plant crops used to make biofuels.

Van Steen acknowledged the risk but said the commission's proposal guarded against it with stringent requirements.

"There is a risk of contributing to some of the bad things related to biofuels, like deforestation or producing biofuels that actually release more greenhouse gases," van Steen said. "But we require these biofuels to have a greenhouse gas savings of at least 35 percent. We are protecting certain types of land, like rainforest, certain types of savannah, wetlands, continuously forested area and nature protection areas. There can be no conversion of these types of land."

Taking up half of Europe's crop land for energy?

Van Steen added that biofuels produced in violation of these rules will not count toward national targets and will not receive tax breaks.

But another conference speaker warned that if all biofuels needed to meet the 10 percent requirement were produced from crops grown in Europe, these crops would take up half the agricultural land on the continent. "Obviously, this is not possible, so we need to have a lot of discussion where this will come from in the future," said Christian Schonbauer, head of renewable energy at E-Control, the regulator in charge of the liberalization of the Austrian power and natural gas markets.

Van Steen responded that his figures were much smaller, at around 10 percent to 15 percent of Europe's arable land. "If we decided to, we could meet the entire target with production inside the E.U., but it's not likely to happen because it's cheaper to produce it elsewhere," he said. "It's up to the market, but they have to comply with these criteria to count toward the target."

He said that biofuels were unfairly blamed for the rise in food prices, which he argued had more to do with more people in China and India changing their diet and eating more meat, combined with some poor harvests in Australia and the United States.

"We know that the impact on developing countries is very controversial, but we are creating new opportunities for economic development in these countries," he said. "Of course, it depends on how they use these opportunities."

Van Steen said the second generation biofuels will silence the debate, as they will not be produced from feedstock for food. "For now, they are experimental and too expensive, but we're convinced that they will come on-stream before 2020," he said. Activists would also be appeased if incipient ideas to create incentives for the growth of biofuel crops on desert land in Africa or India succeed, he said.

Either way, the biofuel requirement will stay in the European Commission directive, and van Steen expects it to be formally adopted in the European Parliament before spring of 2009, with the whole package entering into force in March 2010.

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