Range of experts extoll virtues of new rule at Capitol Hill forum

Source: Jessica Estepa and Jason Plautz, E&E reporters • Posted: Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

The proposed federal fuel economy standards have garnered backing from a wide range of supporters, from drivers to small businesses, according to members of a panel who spoke yesterday on Capitol Hill. Set to be finalized this summer, the Obama administration proposal would set a fleetwide 54.5 mpg corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standard by 2025 (Greenwire, May 15). Interest groups promoted the benefits of the proposed rule during a panel sponsored by green investment firm Ceres and Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine).

Industry anticipates launch of next-generation plants

Source: E&E • Posted: Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

According to Biofuels Digest, about 400 million gallons of new U.S. biofuels production will start up this year. And from 2013 to 2015, an additional 1.7 billion is expected to go online. Companies have spent years trying to advance to the next generation of biofuels production, moving beyond corn-based ethanol to lower-carbon-footprint sources that do not compete with food demand. Many of the companies are planning to use a variety of materials — like cellulosic plant materials, animal waste and plant oils — to generate ethanol, diesel, jet fuel or components for gasoline.

Scientists find bacteria that could streamline biofuel production

Source: Umair Irfan, E&E reporter • Posted: Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

A rainforest-dwelling bacterium may hold the key to a simpler way to make biofuels. Researchers at the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) in Emeryville, Calif., said the microbe, Enterobacter lignolyticus, can tolerate ionic liquids used to process plant matter before it is converted to fuels for cars and planes. This eliminates several cleaning steps and makes the procedure less complicated, reducing costs.

Key energy advisers point to potential legislative deals next session

Source: Elana Schor, E&E reporter • Posted: Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

Political head winds are likely to slow progress on energy legislation until next year at the earliest, veteran congressional observers on both sides of the aisle said yesterday. That bleak prognosis is hardly surprising to many who have watched a divided 112th Congress spend much of the past two years fighting over basic duties such as keeping the government funded. But the long view offered by Bob Simon, top aide to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee’s Democratic majority, and former senior GOP energy adviser David Conover hardly sounded like a funereal dirge for substantive environmental policymaking.

Early Iowa corn ratings are very positive

Source: Written by DAN PILLER, Des Moines Register • Posted: Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s first rating on the 2012 Iowa corn crop shows the newly planted corn 60 percent good condition and 21 percent excellent. The 81 percent good-to-excellent rating surpasses the 70 percent rating that agronomists generally consider to indicate a potentially strong crop. Iowa’s April and May plantings were aided this year by timely April rainfall, which ease concerns about dry soil conditions.

Swapping Out Charcoal With Ethanol

Source: By JOANNA M. FOSTER, New York Times • Posted: Monday, May 21st, 2012

This week, CleanStar Mozambique, a company formed by CleanStar Ventures and Novozymes, opened a biofuel plant to supply ethanol to the hundreds of thousands of households in Maputo, the Mozambican capital, that rely on charcoal for cooking. The organizers are also working with rural farmers to help them shift from slash-and-burn subsistence agriculture and charcoal production to more modern farming methods that could result in far bigger food crops and the use of cleaner fuel. The push to supplant charcoal is also a big business opportunity: the charcoal market in sub-Saharan Africa is valued at more than $10 billion.

Biofuel Production Facilities Spotlight Next Generation

Source: By Matt Daily, Reuters • Posted: Monday, May 21st, 2012

After a decade of promise, advanced biofuels makers are entering a crucial make-or-break period with the first of a new generation of production facilities about to come on line. The new facilities are designed to take biofuels beyond corn-based ethanol and begin to shift the industry to “advanced” fuels made with a lower carbon footprint derived from products that will not compete with demand for food.

Biofuel pits SECNAV vs. House Republicans

Source: By Charles Hoskinson, Navy Times • Posted: Monday, May 21st, 2012

The Navy this summer plans to sail a carrier strike group powered by a biofuel mix amid efforts by congressional Republicans to cut off funds for Secretary Ray Mabus’ signature initiative. The cruiser Princeton and destroyers Chafee and Chung-Hoon, along with the aircraft aboard the nuclear-powered Nimitz, will run on a 50/50 blend of diesel and biofuel made from used cooking oil and algae during the biennial Rim of the Pacific exercise June 29-Aug. 3.

With Sales Imminent, Ethanol Blend’s Impact on Engine Durability Remains Contentious

Source: By JIM MOTAVALLI, New York Times • Posted: Friday, May 18th, 2012

A new engine-durability study that found damage in engines run on gasoline with 15-percent ethanol content proved one of two things: either the Environmental Protection Agency was hasty in authorizing the sale of the fuel blend or the study’s authors produced “junk science,” in the words of one critic.

E15 alcohol fuel can wreck engines, auto groups’ data say

Source: By James R. Healey, USA TODAY • Posted: Friday, May 18th, 2012

The government has approved the use of E15, a blend of 15% ethanol and 85% gasoline, but that was premature, because testing wasn’t finished, according to Auto Alliance and Global Automakers, Washington, D.C., trade groups that represent most car companies.