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Tagged with ethanol

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The answer to our fuel woes might be monster sweet potatoes

Corn ethanol is a good idea in theory -- what's more renewable than a fuel source you plant and harvest every year? But corn is such an inefficient energy source that if we wanted to meet our biofuel goals with corn ethanol alone, they'd have to shoulder out every other crop. You know what yields more ethanol per acre than corn, though? Sweet potatoes. And you know what yields more ethanol per acre than sweet potatoes? GIANT MOTHERFUCKING SWEET POTATOES OF DOOM.

Read more: Biofuel

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Antibiotics in your meat? The ethanol industry might be partly to blame

Photo by USDA.

Last year, while touring a fairly small, pasture-based farmstead cheese company, I found myself in a giant feed barn with a group of curious foodies. It was one of the last stops before the cheese tasting, so no one wanted to linger. But I have a distinct memory of what it was like to stand there staring at the giant piles of grains, thinking: “The cows eat all this, on top of the grass?”

Like many dairies and livestock operations, the farm owners had been able to lower their feed costs by using the byproducts of industrial food and fuel production. Towering around us that day, we were told, were giant piles of canola pellets, cotton seeds, and soy hulls (from oil production), and dried distillers grains (from ethanol production).

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Critical List: Warmest March on record for 25 states; LEGO hermit crab shell

Half of the United States just lived through the warmest March on record.

The EPA gave 20 companies approval to make E15, a biofuel containing more ethanol than blends available now in the U.S.

President Obama's campaign released a new video about his love-hate relationship with Big Oil.

Commercial-scale production of algae biofuel is starting in Brazil.

The Maryland state legislature is working on clearing the way for offshore wind.

Read more: Uncategorized

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In 2014, corn biofuel is out, wood biofuel is in

Biofuel sounds like a pretty good idea -- down with power plants, up with regular plants! -- but if the country switches over to corn ethanol we will basically be unable to grow any other crops. A new study has calculated that corn destined for ethanol production would have to take over 80 percent of current farmland in order for the country to meet current biofuel goals. But next generation biofuels can come from many other plants besides corn. And for the first time, they might be commercially viable.

Read more: Biofuel

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Map shows avalanche of cellulosic ethanol projects on the way

In the battle between food and fuel, cellulosic ethanol might not be a great idea or even a viable solution to our energy woes, but enzyme company Novozymes says it's coming, regardless. (Cellulosic ethanol is different than the regular kind -- it's produced from "leftover" crop waste that is first digested by enzymes.)

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Critical List: Court upholds local fracking ban; New York could ban shark fin sales

A New York state court upheld the town of Dryden's ban on fracking.

Republicans are trying to pin rising gas prices on President Obama.

Apple could allow independent environmental reviews of two factories in China.

Chinese air pollution is visible from space.

Read more: Uncategorized

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Critical List: Republicans still want Keystone XL; Obama ad focuses on energy

The State Department denied TransCanada's permit application for the Keystone XL pipeline. President Obama agreed, saying that he was rejecting the permit because Republicans wouldn’t stop trying to force the pipeline forward.

Republicans are responding to this by looking into legislation that would force the pipeline forward. They’re also asking Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to come testify on yesterday’s decision next week.

House Republicans ALSO want to promote ethanol derived from … natural gas and coal. And they want to classify it as renewable fuel. What? It’s ethanol!

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Critical List: Canadian minister hates tar-sands opposition; airlines charge for free carbon permits

Canada's natural resources minister is not happy that all of you with your "radical ideological agenda" think Canada's turning into a creepy petrostate. Japan is releasing those three whaling activists who boarded a Japanese whaling vessel. Carbon emissions are delaying the next ice age. Even though they're getting E.U. carbon permits for free initially, airlines are already charging passengers for the "extra" cost. Oil companies are paying penalties for not blending cellulosic ethanol into their products -- even though cellulosic ethanol isn’t commercially available yet. (This is sort of absurd but it’s hard to drum up sympathy for oil companies …

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Critical List: Ghost octopi in the Antarctic; without ethanol subsidies, gas prices rise

The creatures discovered living in thermal vents near Antarctica -- ghost octopi, limpets, yeti crabs -- are le awesome. Two major solar industry groups are merging in order to focus on state-level policies. With ethanol subsidies gone, gas will cost more. Try as it might, Chevron cannot squirm away from responsibility for $18 billion worth of oil pollution damage in Ecuador's rainforest. Green-roofed gas station: STILL A GAS STATION.

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Critical List: Iran could block oil shipping; presidential candidates can criticize ethanol in Iowa

If America and its allies put sanctions on Iran, the Iranian navy could block the Strait of Hormuz, an important channel for international oil shipments. Have Republicans ensured the death of Keystone XL by pushing Obama to decide one way or another about the pipeline? The EPA is scaling back requirements for cellulosic ethanol in the coming years. Presidential candidates are allowed to criticize ethanol now -- even in Iowa. These NASA photos document the growth of the Athabasca tar sands pits in Alberta.