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.
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 …
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.
Robert Rapier has an important post on the prospects for algal biodiesel:
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 $8 billion earmark.
George Monbiot writes a column about nuclear power and conditions under which he would not oppose it.
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 been shrugged off by industry and the agencies charged with protecting public health. The media watchdog group FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting) has a nice new piece in the February 2009 issue (alas, not yet available online) on the media's code of silence with respect to the environmental causes of cancer. It's worth a trip to the library or magazine stand to check it out. Meanwhile, there's a good discussion of the topic that starts at about 18:40 in this week's "CounterSpin," the FAIR radio program. The bottom line: environmental insults are at least as significant as the usual factors discussed around incidence of breast cancer in the US -- but are studied far less, and are almost entirely absent from the wave of feel-good pink bushwa that floods the media every year during "Breast Cancer Awareness Month." The sterling SF Bay-area group Breast Cancer Action has been a real leader in refusing to allow industry to bury the connection between their emissions and women's breast cancers. For a good example of their work, check out this factsheet on breast cancer and the environment.
"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.