Biofuel

Critical List: Exxon could lose a big Gulf oil lease; alligator fat makes good biofuel

Exxon could lose its lease on one of its biggest oil finds ever. Bill McKibben explains why Keystone XL protesters will wear Obama '08 buttons. Isn’t there some place to put a big wind farm that won't threaten endangered species of birds? (Spoiler: No. Or anyway, not South Texas.)

Critical List: The Navy and USDA invest in biofuels; Norway's big oil find

The Navy, USDA, and Energy Department are investing in biofuels that come from plants we don't eat. As Shell fought an oil leak in the North Sea, Norway's biggest oil company announced it had found a huge oil field there. Oh awesome, nothing can go wrong with this! Shell's also helping Iraq to double its capacity to produce natural gas. U.S. solar manufacturers say it's hard to compete against China's low-priced workers.

North Korea runs on wood-burning trucks

If you've ever wondered what we'll do after we've run out of cheap oil, other than eat each other, you have only to look to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, a.k.a. North Korea. Ever since the shipments of crude from the USSR and China dried up, they've had to improvise.

Trash trucks powered by trash gas reduce emissions by 80-90 percent

Waste Management Inc. owns 1,000 trash trucks that run on natural gas, plus a bunch of landfills that are constantly pumping out natural gas as a natural product of the decomposition of organic waste. Closing the loop on this cycle is a no-brainer, but it took Waste Management a decade to perfect the technology required. Now they’ve got trash trucks that run on gas from the trash they carry.

Critical List: $6 billion ethanol subsidy to end; Wyoming wolves screwed by Senate politics

The Senate is ending a $6 billion subsidy program for ethanol; anti-ethanol food and environmental groups say it's "not a perfect comprise" but that they're "encouraged" by the step. Carbon captured from coal plants can feed biofuel-producing algae. Which is awesome because nobody else wants to eat it. Put that tuna burger down! Overfishing could extinguish five out of eight tuna species.

Critical List: Republicans plan to defund the environment; no one likes the EPA

House Republicans want to defund all kinds of environmental activity -- the EPA, the Department of the Interior, the Forest Service. You know, just anything having to do with the outside. And the USDA thinks that bioengineered bluegrass doesn't fall within its regulatory sphere, which means companies could grow the stuff without any regulation. Exposing mice to air pollution makes them dumber and more depressed. So it's probably good for everyone that the EPA is putting new regulations on coal-fired power plants that should reduced emissions of sulfur dioxide by 73 percent and nitrogen oxides by 54 percent from 2005 levels. Should Republicans succeed in cutting the agency’s budget yet again, this action could be little more than an empty gesture, though.

Critical List: Dust storm hits Phoenix; Electric Prius hits the roads

Phoenix was hit by a 5,000-foot-tall, 50-mile-wide wall of dust. What does Virgin Australia have in common with koala bears? They're both very interested in consuming eucalyptus leaves, which hopefully will not get the airplanes as stoned as they get the koala bears. Car companies don't trust drivers with 10-year-old cars to steer clear of 15% ethanol, which can damage older vehicles. So they think nobody should get it.

Biofuel

Biomass is the new coal

Dominion wants to convert three of its Virginia coal plants to run on waste biomass. Will biomass be a smart way to transition away from coal?

The Senate likes ethanol slightly less than it used to

For years, Washington has been really gung-ho about putting corn (America’s crop!) into cars (America’s bikes!), and has supported corn ethanol production with a suite of subsidies. But now senators are ready to say: “With food prices rising, we're not so comfortable with that! Maybe people should eat the corn instead, in the form of some kind of high-fructose syrup.” esterday, the Senate passed a measure that would end a 45-cent-per-gallon tax credit for ethanol producers.

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