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Got biofuel resources or questions? Let us know

The thing we discovered while researching our biofuels series is this: there's no end of freakin' information on this ever-evolving topic. We've put together a glossary and a resources page for you, our dear readers, but we know they are by definition incomplete. In fact, we heard yesterday from reader Kate McMahon, a research assistant with Friends of the Earth, who let us know about a beta version of an online biofuels database she's building. She'd love your help reviewing it -- check it out. We know there's a teeming underworld of biofuels info out there. That's why we want …

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How cash and corporate pressure pushed ethanol to the fore

... got all liquored on that road house corn ... -- Tom Waits, "Gun Street Girl" Before it became widely used as a car fuel, ethanol was just grain liquor -- and the federal government was not particularly kind to it. We pledge allegiance to ADM. Shortly after the American Revolution, the new government imposed a draconian tax on the stuff, hoping to pay down wartime debt. Instead, it got the Whiskey Rebellion of 1794, an insurrection eventually put down by forces led by President Washington himself. Similar hostility -- including the indignity of Prohibition, the 1920s-era federal ban on …

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The what, where, and why of E85 ethanol

If you're like the rest of us, you've probably heard of E85 -- yet don't have the slightest idea what it is. Or if you do have an idea, it's, well, slight. But never fear, friends and neighbors: We've got the skinny on the corn-a-rific fuel that's increasingly on the tips of tongues and in the depths of gas tanks. Lend us your ears. Photo: Ohio Dept. of Agriculture So ... what is it? E85 is a motor fuel that is a blend of 15 percent unleaded gasoline and 85 percent ethanol, by volume. In the U.S., ethanol is usually …

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A look at the impacts of biofuels production, in the U.S. and the world

Nothing but blue skies from now on? Photo: house.gov Great news! We can finally scratch "driving less" off our list of ways to curb global warming and reduce our dependence on foreign oil! Biofuels will soon not only replace much of our petroleum, but improve soil fertility and save the American farmer as well! Sound too good to be true? Well, yes. But you could be excused for buying the hype. Ethanol and biodiesel are being promoted as cures for our energy and environmental woes not just by flacks for corporations like Archer Daniels Midland, BP, and DuPont, but by …

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Find out which cars can run on ethanol and biodiesel

Going bio with your auto doesn't mean you have to invest in some strange contraption your neighbors will stare at. In fact, upward of 4 million cars currently on the road in the United States are already compatible with E85, a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. More automakers are making new E85-ready models -- known as flex-fuel vehicles -- every year. To top that off, so to speak, any gasoline-powered car can run on a 10 percent ethanol/90 percent gasoline blend -- in fact, the state of Minnesota requires that all gasoline sold there is of …

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All the resources you need to hop on the biofuels bandwagon

Once upon a time, we were going to make a beautiful map for you, showing all the available biofuel pumps in the country. Then we realized: hey, there are already beautiful maps out there. Not to mention books. And articles. And organizations working their tails off on this stuff. So why reinvent the wheel? Instead, we compiled this list o' links. Then we went out for a heaping plate of French fries -- because they smell just like biodiesel. Got more resources to suggest? Add them in Gristmill. Maps OK, you're sold on biofuels. Now where the heck are they …

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A Royal Al-ly

Gore lends heft to sustainable-business campaign launched by Prince Charles We were so excited when we saw that Prince was recruiting Al Gore for a green campaign. We loved thinking about the velveteen rocker and the ex-veep partying like it was 1999 again. But alas, it was gently pointed out to us that it's Prince Charles who's brought Gore on board, convincing him to join a project called Accounting for Sustainability that will encourage businesses to assess their eco-impacts. Launching Wednesday, the effort also involves BP head Lord John Browne. Prince Charles is apparently eager to be a model with …

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Snowe and Rockefeller on the 'uncertainty' agenda

Senators send letter to ExxonMobil

Today's Wall Street Journal printed a letter from Senators Snowe and Rockefeller to ExxonMobil (here) along with an editorial about the letter (here). In the letter, Snowe and Rockefeller ask ExxonMobil to stop perpetuating the uncertainty agenda (which they refer to as the "obfuscation agenda"). The letter is similar in many respects to a letter sent to Exxon by the British Royal Society. The editorial is a broadside against the Senators. How dare they write that letter! You can feel the anger in it -- I'm quite certain the first draft was written in all caps. Here are a few …

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The numbers behind ethanol, cellulosic ethanol, and biodiesel in the U.S.

America devours oil like no other country in the world. Representing 5 percent of the global population, the country consumes fully a quarter of the world's oil. Every year, to move ourselves and our goods around, we burn 140 billion gallons of gasoline and 40 billion gallons of diesel -- enough to propel the average U.S. car around the world 1.6 billion times. But rising prices, climate change, and seemingly endless crises in the Middle East have sparked a reckoning. We love to pump, and it shows. Photo: hawaii.gov While there is plenty of disagreement about how best to end …

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Umbra on peak oil

Dear Umbra, I have recently been alerted to what many people term "peak oil." I don't know how to characterize my feelings regarding this subject. Obsession might be a good term. I feel that I need to prepare. What do you think? Is "peak oil" another Y2K? MichaelPittsburgh, Pa. Dearest Michael, Who cares if it's another Y2K? Prepare away, my friend. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Eternal sunshine of the oil-less mind. Photo: iStockphoto Peak oil is a concept originally developed by a geophysicist, Dr. M. King Hubbert, which is why it is sometimes called Hubbert's …

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