– by James Q. Lynch, November 24, 2017, Globe Gazette
The Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to deny attempts to change Renewable Fuel Standard rules is good news for the ethanol industry and fuel retailers who would have had to assume responsibility for blending ethanol with gasoline, according Iowa officials who opposed the changes.
“This is the right policy conclusion and I’m glad to see it happening,” Sen. Chuck Grassley said about the EPA decision announced Wednesday. “This decision puts the issue to bed, and certainty is so important. It’s a decision from the EPA that sides with the integrity of the RFS.”
– by H.J. Mai, May 10, 2017, Pacific Business News
Photo: Hu Honua Bioenergy
Hu Honua Bioenergy LLC said on Wednesday that it has reached an agreement with Hawaii Electric Light Co. on an amended power purchase agreement for its half-completed biomass plant on the Big Island.
HELCO agreed to revised terms for electricity to be produced by the biomass project and is submitting the amended contract to the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission for approval of Hu Honua’s proposed pricing, according to a company statement.
– by Anna Simet, April 25, 2017, Biomass Magazine
In an 87-11 vote, on April 24, the U.S. Senate confirmed Sonny Perdue as the 31st U.S. secretary of agriculture.
Perdue brings to the USDA a farming background and lengthy career of public service, ranging from Captain in the U.S. Airforce, to 11 years as a Georgia state Senator, to a two-term governor. As governor of Georgia, according to his USDA biography, Perdue was credited with transforming a budget deficit into a surplus, dramatically increasing student performance in public schools, and fostering an economic environment that allowed employers to flourish and manufacturers and agricultural producers to achieve record levels of exports.
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Biomass Energy: Carbon Neutral or Not?
Study Assesses Economic Benefits of Biomass Energy on Rural Communities
OPINION: Middlebury College Declares Carbon Neutrality, Thanks to Biomass
OPINION: Middlebury Biomass Not Carbon Neutral
– by Prachi Patel, January 26, 2017, Anthropocene
Many climate policies and models consider biomass carbon-neutral. The argument is that carbon emitted during burning the biomass is balanced out by the carbon that plants and trees sequester. But that understanding is flawed.
Biomass is indeed renewable, and burning biomass or biomass-derived fuels can offset fossil fuel use. However, cultivating and harvesting biomass, transporting it, and processing it for energy or to make liquid fuels all emits greenhouse gases. Exactly how the biomass is used—whether directly or turned into fuel—also makes a difference.
– January 24, 2017, Phys.org
To make biofuels, tiny microbes can be used to break down plant cells. As part of that digestive process, specialized enzymes break down cellulose—a major molecule that makes plant cell walls rigid. Scientists showed that an enzyme, from the bacterial glycoside hydrolase family 12, plays an unexpectedly important role in breaking down a hard-to-degrade crystalline form of cellulose. Surprisingly, the enzyme breaks apart the cellulose via a random mechanism unlike other hydrolases.
Breaking down cellulose is a major challenge in developing more efficient strategies for converting plant biomass to fuels and chemicals. The discovery of a specialized enzyme that is highly effective at breaking down rigid plant cell wall components could be harnessed to solve this challenge.