– by Jennifer A. Dlouhy and Mario Parker, June 7, 2018, Bloomberg News
A day after a tentative agreement to overhaul U.S. biofuel policy appeared to collapse amid farm-state concerns, EPA chief Scott Pruitt met to discuss the issue with the lead senator pushing for the changes: Ted Cruz.
Pruitt, the Environmental Protection Agency administrator, declined to comment on the June 6 meeting, but Cruz said it included discussion about the Renewable Fuel Standard and had been planned well before reports June 4 that a White House-brokered accord was unraveling. Cruz stressed that a deal to overhaul the biofuel policy could be revived.
“The conversations are ongoing,” Cruz said. “And I continue to believe that there is a positive win-win solution for everyone.”
– 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 Erin Voegele, October 30, 2017, Biomass Magazine
The U.S. Department of Energy has announced an open meeting of the Biomass Research and Development Technical Advisory Committee on Nov. 15-16 in Washington, D.C.
According to information published in the Federal Register, the meeting aims to develop advice and guidance that promotes research and development leading to the production of biobased fuels and products. The agenda is expected to include an update on USDA and DOE biomass research and development activities and presentations from industry, national laboratories, and federal agencies on improving feedstock supply chain cost and efficiency and upgrading of biomass into feedstocks.
READ MORE at Biomass Magazine
– 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.
– January 20, 2017, Phys.org
Photo: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Using corn and soybeans as their testing ground, researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory devised methods to peer into the mechanisms that modulate crop yield variability. They used statistical models to examine how climate variability impacts yields of these popular bioenergy crops at the county level. Among climate factors, the team showed that temperature is predominant in corn-growing counties, both by volume and percentage of production. Precipitation has a similar impact. The amount of energy from the sun, or radiation, has a much smaller effect USA-wide on both soybeans and corn.
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Cellulosic Biofuels, Food Security and Land Rights
On December 15 we spoke with Kelly Stone, Policy Analyst for ActionAid USA, who discusses a new cellulosic biofuels paper along with concerns related to food security and land rights.