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The Corndoggle

The Portland, Ore. "Willamette Week" has a fairly decent piece on the (fiscal) implosion of the outrageously heavily subsidized ethanol plant in Clatskanie, Ore., which (briefly) produced some "homegrown" motor fuel using 100% imported corn and 100% imported natural gas.

Read more: Climate & Energy

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Oregon's folly

Oregon tries to undo ethanol leg. while ‘enviros’ lobby for biofuels subsidies

Oregon is struggling to undo bad ethanol legislation. Meanwhile, the Oregon Environmental Council continues to shill for ethanol subsidies because there might someday be a magic pony of ethanol created in an entirely different way, using entirely different plants and processes, and if we don't support agribusiness with subsidies and mandates now, why, why, they won't try to find this magic pony any more! But most didn't directly defend heavily subsidized corn-based ethanol, the feedstock for Oregon's two industrial-sized plants. Instead, they said maintaining Oregon's guaranteed demand for ethanol would boost development of more environmentally friendly forms. Biofuel development is …

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Biocharged

George Monbiot cautions against grasping for environmental miracle cures

George Monbiot is the best environmental writer in English. On biochar: Whenever you hear the word miracle, you know there's trouble just around the corner. But however many times they lead to disappointment or disaster, the newspapers never tire of promoting miracle cures, miracle crops, miracle fuels and miracle financial instruments. We have a bottomless ability to disregard the laws of economics, biology and thermodynamics when we encounter a simple solution to complex problems. So welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the new miracle. It's a low-carbon regime for the planet which makes the Atkins Diet look healthy: woodchips with everything.

Read more: Climate & Energy

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Algal biodiesel -- also a magic pony

High energy requirements make the manufacture of algal biofuel prohibitive

Robert Rapier has an important post on the prospects for algal biodiesel: [Algal biodiesel] will be subject to the Law of Receding Horizons, which simply means that energy sources that require high energy inputs will always see their point of economic viability pushed farther out as energy prices rise. Remember when oil was $20 a barrel, and oil shale was going to be viable at $40 oil? By the time oil got to $100, I was hearing that it would be viable at $120 oil. This won't stop people from throwing money at algal biodiesel. As John Benemann once said …

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Why not medium-speed rail?

The always-excellent Sam Smith, a keen observer of politics and society as a journalist for over 50 years, introduces an outstanding long piece on the high-speed rail money in the stimulus: There's nothing wrong with high speed rail except that when your country is really hurting, when your rail system largely falls behind other countries' because of lack of tracks rather than lack of velocity, and when high speed rail appeals more to bankers than to folks scared of foreclosing homes, it's a strange transit program to feature in something called a stimulus bill. One might even call it an …

Read more: Uncategorized

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Wrestling with hard choices

Monbiot on nuclear

George Monbiot writes a column about nuclear power and conditions under which he would not oppose it.

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The elephant in the cancer ward

We need to stop blaming victims of breast cancer and start researching envirotoxicity

Having been touched by breast cancers in numerous women important to me, I've long been astounded by the extent to which discussions of the subject start by blaming women -- you picked the wrong parents, you didn't have your kids soon enough, you forgot to have kids, you ate too much, you ate the wrong things ... on and on and on. Sandra Steingraber, Ph.D, an environmentalist and brilliant poet, writes about the medical-industrial complex and its instant assumption that the genesis of cancer is in the genes in her outstanding book Living Downstream. Sadly, her message seems to have …

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California's shocking unreasonableness

DFHs take over, threaten Big Agribusiness

"Biofuel companies are worried about the impact California's low-carbon standard could have in that state and elsewhere." Freaking hippies. If God had meant people to use land for growing food instead of fuel for cars, he wouldn't have created lobbyists.

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Fighting the devil down in Georgia

Georgia legislator introduces bill that would restrict coal-fired power plants

If Georgia would consider restricting coal, maybe we are stumbling toward a new economic/energy paradigm?

Read more: Politics