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 …
President Obama will pardon two 19-week, 45-pound turkeys from Minnesota today. Their names are Liberty and Peace. It is possible to have Thanksgiving without turkey or turkey-shaped soy loaf. Here are a few ideas for …
If you're a fan of Uno's pizza, O'Charley's, White Castle, or, god forbid, P.F. Chang's, you have only our government's stubborn love of ethanol subsidies to blame for the increasing cost of your favorite meals, …
Oil has reached New Zealand beaches, after an oil tanker ran into a reef last week. The tanker was carrying 1,700 tons of oil and 200 tons of diesel. All these attacks on obscure regulations about boilers and concrete might seem boring, but in reality, they're part of a campaign that could destroy decades of environmental progress. Europeans think that climate change is one of the top two issues facing the globe. (Although the No. 1 concern was a sort of Voltronesque mega-problem: poverty, hunger, and lack of drinking water.) Rick Perry used to be against ethanol, but now he's in Iowa, so … he's not sure what he thinks.
Today's supervillains are soooo boring. If only they'd wear tights and touch entrapped damsels’ hair in a way that made us uncomfortable, we'd be up for patriotically pistol-whipping them, Captain America style. Instead we find out that Wall Street and ethanol -- a diffuse network of trading computers and a colorless inebriant, respectively -- are the reason billions are going hungry in the developing world. How are we supposed to launch a hideously expensive vendetta-war against that?
A company called Renmatix says it can make ethanol from wood and woody biomass using nothing but water. If they're right -- and they just cut the ribbon on an R&D facility in Pennsylvania in order to find out -- it could mean the unlocking of a vast reserve of biomass previously untouched by the cleantech industry.
Despite the backlash against ethanol in the U.S. and biodiesel in the E.U., global production of biofuels was up 17 percent in 2010. That's 27.7 billion gallons of liquid fuel for the year. (For reference, the U.S. uses 137 billion gallons of gasoline per year, though that's not directly equivalent because biofuels include biodiesel, and ethanol contains slightly less energy than regular gasoline.)
One down side of biofuels like ethanol is that they rely on easily processed crops that are also staple foods. The more farm space is given over to raising corn, soybeans, and sugar for fuels, the less is available for raising those crops to feed humans. Luckily, scientists have just discovered microbes that could help turn waste plant matter like corn stalks and wood chips into fuel. All they needed was a little bit of panda poo.
Two steps forward, one step back: Congress cuts two ethanol subsidies worth billions, but the White House redirects $510 million to power the military's ships and aircraft with corn-sourced biofuels.
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