Everything is Up, But Corn is Up Because of Ethanol? Get Real.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Check out this article in the Economist magazine: Everyday Higher Prices. As you can see from the chart here, the price of everything is spiking up — washing machines, steel, cotton, etc. And all items — food and industrials — are tracking together.

But the rise of corn prices are because of the biofuel industry?!

Who comes up with this stuff?

I'll tell you who: Those whose profits are hurt by the biofuel industry and want to shut it down. Mainly Big Food and Big Oil. Their lobbyists and PR machines try to slander alcohol fuels in every way they can, and they've been doing it for almost a hundred years.

They've harped on the phony "food versus fuel" debate so hard for so long most people take it for granted. I am constantly coming across articles mentioning in passing that the alcohol fuel industry raises food prices without ever feeling the need to justify that statement because it is "self-evident."

Like the old "flat earth" presumption, the "food versus fuel" presumption needs to be quashed once and for all. In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Let the words be gazetted and ridiculous henceforward." Here are a few articles to get us started:

The Food Industry's Propaganda Campaign Against Ethanol

Agriculture is Not a Zero-Sum Game

Food Prices Are Driven By Oil Prices

Ethanol and World Hunger

Ethanol Policy and Meat Prices: Unspinning the Truth

BBC: Will Biofuel Leave the Poor Hungry?

Share these with your friends. Leave them as comments on articles that pass on the false presumption. Write letters to the editors. The false food-versus-fuel presumption is one of the main barriers preventing people from being committed to clean-burning, American-made, economy-boosting, national security-raising alcohol fuels. Let's enlighten our fellow citizens and let's do it quickly.

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How to Influence Your Representative

Friday, July 29, 2011

Here's how a representative's office works: The staffer responsible for a particular issue researches it, takes in all the information, digests it, and then educates the representative. There are too many issues to consider for the representative to be an expert on all of them.

So your best bet is not to try to talk to the representative directly, but to nurture a relationship with the staff member responsible for the issue and educate and influence that person.

The open fuel standards issue would fall into the "fuel" or "energy" category. There is a very high likelihood that the staffer who handles one will also handle the other (and also "environment") issue.

So here's what to do: Call your representative's DC office (except during the recesses when the staff may be home) and ask to speak to "the staff member responsible for flex fuel issues, or the staff member who would handle the Open Fuel Standard Act."

When you're on the phone with the right staffer, introduce yourself. Tell the staffer you want your representative to co-sponsor the Open Fuel Standard Act. Ask the staffer if she or he would mind if you send articles of interest on the topic. The staffer will probably say that would be fine.

Now you have a direct communication line to the person in the best position to influence your representative about the Open Fuel Standard. Stay in communication, but do not overwhelm. Send an article, a fact, or a good argument only once or twice a week, and send only the very best.

To find phone numbers for your representative's office, click here.

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How to Strip Oil of Its Strategic Status Permanently

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The following was written by Robert Zubrin and published in National Review Online July 27, 2011 here.

Tripling America's Fuel Production
Most alternatives to oil are pipe dreams. This one is not.

The United States currently produces 8 percent of the world’s liquid fuel but uses 25 percent, making up the difference by importing 5 billion barrels of oil annually. With prices currently near $100 per barrel, this dependency will cost us $500 billion this year, an amount equal to the nation’s entire trade deficit. Furthermore, at a time when Congress is seeking to keep taxes light in order to boost job creation, our dependency will impose a tax on our economy equal to 20 percent of what Americans pay the IRS. Except, of course, that these revenues will go to the treasuries of foreign governments instead of our own.

During the 1940s, the United States produced 60 percent of the world’s liquid fuel. This advantage proved to be a major factor in securing the Allied victory in World War II. Had we been as weak in energy security then as we are today, we might well have lost the war, as enemy submarines could have collapsed our economy, and with it our war effort, simply by cutting off our oil supply.

If we are to break free of the crushing economic burden and national-security threat that oil dependency imposes, we need to triple our liquid-fuel production. There is no realistic way that this can be done through expanding domestic drilling for oil, multiplying the yield of corn ethanol (which now accounts for 20 percent of domestic liquid-fuel production), or a combination of the two. Rather, we need a new source of liquid fuel, one that can be produced easily and economically, from resources available to us, and on the vast scale required to address the deficiency.

Fortunately, such a fuel is available. It is methanol, also known as wood alcohol. In contrast to algae oils and cellulosic ethanol, methanol is not a futuristic pipe dream touted by researchers seeking funding. Rather, it is one of the world’s top five chemical commodities, with an operating global annual production capacity of 27 billion gallons, and a current spot price, without any subsidies, of $1.28 per gallon. While methanol contains only about half the energy per gallon of gasoline, its excellent octane rating of 105 allows it to be burned more efficiently, making $1.28-per-gallon methanol equivalent to $2-per-gallon gasoline. All in all, a very competitive price.

The resources available to support expanded methanol production are vast. In contrast to gasoline — which can be made economically only from petroleum — or ethanol — whose mass production requires the use of sugars or starches — methanol can readily be made from any carbon-containing material. To list a few of methanol’s potential sources: oil, natural gas, coal, urban garbage, or any kind of biomass without exception.

The United States possesses around 4 billion metric tons (29.5 billion barrels) of proven oil reserves. This would barely be enough to support a fully fuel-independent America for four years. In contrast, our proven coal reserves exceed 270 billion tons, and our natural-gas reserves may be nearly as great. North America currently produces about 40 billion metric tons per year of biomass, of which 2 billion tons are harvested as farm and forestry products and 1 billion tons discarded as agricultural and forestry waste. We also discard approximately a quarter-billion tons per year of carbonaceous urban trash. Thus, taken together, our resources for methanol production not only are up to fully replacing our current oil imports, but are up to supporting the growing demands of an expanding economy for decades or centuries to come.

Methanol burns cleaner than gasoline, causing much less particulate pollution. It is also safer — it is much less likely to catch fire in the event of a crash, and its fumes contain none of gasoline’s rich mixture of carcinogens. While, unlike ethanol, methanol is not edible, it is not especially toxic. In fact, windshield-wiper fluid is one-third methanol, and, because it is readily biodegradable, it has been handled by the public and released onto roads worldwide in vast quantities for decades without any impact on public health or the environment.

If we could convert our auto fleet to run on methanol, the $500 billion per year we are now paying foreign potentates for oil could go instead to American businesses and workers to produce our fuel right here at home. On average, it takes $100,000 of GDP to create one job. At that rate, the $500 billion spent here instead of abroad would create 5 million American jobs directly, and millions more indirectly from the construction, retail, and service industries that would be supported by the methanol workers’ paychecks. This would help address our critical national and state deficits as well, as millions of people would go from the unemployment rolls to the tax rolls.

But can we readily open our vehicle-fuel market to methanol? The simple answer is yes, and quickly. The large majority of cars sold in the U.S. today (and for at least the last five years), including all GM and Ford vehicles, have been equipped with computers and chromated fuel lines that make them potentially capable of flex-fuel operation. If provided with the right software, and with methanol-impervious Buna-N rubber seals (costing less than 50 cents per vehicle) for their fuel system, every new car sold in the U.S. could be fully flex-fuel, capable of running equally well on methanol, ethanol, or gasoline.

There is currently a bill before Congress — the Open Fuel Standard bill (HR-1687), co-sponsored by a bipartisan group including Reps. John Shimkus (R., Ill.) and Eliot Engel (D., N.Y.) — that would require flex-fuel capability of the majority of new cars sold in America. If the bill passes, a market for methanol would be created that would very quickly call into being expanded production and distribution facilities, both in the U.S. and elsewhere. This would force gasoline into competition with methanol at the pump worldwide, thereby putting in place a permanent global competitive constraint on the price of oil. Thus owners of older cars, which are incapable of methanol operation, would also benefit, since their gasoline would be cheaper. And once methanol pumps become widely available, many drivers would see the benefit of spending a few hundred dollars to have their seals replaced and cars reprogrammed to obtain fuel choice. The switch to a predominantly methanol-fueled vehicle fleet could thus take place very rapidly.

The Open Fuel Standard bill would unchain the Invisible Hand, creating a true free market in vehicle fuels. Those reluctant to embrace it need to answer the following question: In whose interest is it that Americans should continue to be denied fuel choice?

We can break our fatal dependence on foreign oil, but Congress needs to act.

— Robert Zubrin is the president of Pioneer Astronautics, a fellow with the Center for Security Policy, and the author of Energy Victory: Winning the War on Terror by Breaking Free of Oil.

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Changing Our Fuel Paradigm

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

"Several years ago, Silicon Valley entrepreneur Thomas Quinn, who invented the motion sensor technology for Nintendo's Wii gaming system, believed he could bring fuel production to individuals," says ITT.

Quinn's dream became a reality in the MicroFueler, a machine that allows individuals to create their own ethanol at home easily and safely from waste.

"With Quinn's sense of what makes a winning product, the MicroFueler was made small, light and smart — with an internal Internet connection that remotely monitors the product performance and automatically 'phones home' when the pump needs service attention. With Quinn's financial backing, this new pump has moved into limited production and has solid, global growth aspirations."

"Last year, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger held a press conference to credit the MicroFueler for ushering in the 'dawn of the organic fuel era.'" Watch a video of the press conference below to see Governor Schwarzenegger introduce Quinn, who then describes the MicroFueler and what can be done with it:



Ethanol production lends itself to small-scale, local production, which has the potential to help people everywhere, including developing countries. The government of India has already expressed interest in hundreds of thousands of MicroFuelers to help homeowners in remote areas produce their own cooking fuel.

Here's an eight-minute video of Thomas Quinn describing his MicroFueler and its companion machine, the GridBuster:



Quinn says we're shifting from a "central energy distribution system" to a "micro distribution system," which he says is similar to what happened when Apple Computer entered the computer market at a time when IBM's model was central computing mainframes. Apple worked to create the micro or personal computer model that we have today.

In the following short video, Quinn shows you the inside of the MicroFueler and describes how it works:



In the following short video, Floyd Butterfield, the chief scientist for E-Fuel Corporation, describes how the MicroFueler works (using computer animation):



Below is a four-minute video by the Los Angeles Times showing GreenHouse partnering with E-Fuel to turn waste into fuel:



How much does the MicroFueler cost? On the video above, the narrator says the retail price is $10,000 but with a $5000 "stimulus rebate" the unit will really only cost you $5000.

If you'd like to learn more, CNN Money ran a good story about the MicroFueler: Run Your Car on Compost. And there is plenty of information at the MicroFueler.com web site.

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Another Advance in Ethanol Production Efficiency

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Ethanol production continues to become more efficient, less expensive, and more environmentally friendly. The following is another example of the continuous improvements in the industry. These are excerpts from an article by Holly Jessen (read the whole article here).

Harvesting Rhizopus oligosporus 
The ethanol production process results in five gallons of stillage for every gallon of ethanol produced. Although most of the solids are removed by centrifugation and are sold as distillers grains, the stillage does contain solids — organic compounds and enzymes. About 50 percent of the thin stillage is recycled back into the ethanol production, leaving the remainder to be evaporated and blended with distillers grains to make dried distillers grains with soluables (DDGS).

Researchers at Iowa State University, however, developed a process of adding a fungus (Rhizopus oligosporus) to the thin stillage, which grows into a thick mass in less than a day. About 60 percent of the organic material and most of the solids are removed, leaving cleaned water for the ethanol production process. The fungus is then harvested that is rich in protein, certain essential amino acids and other nutrients. It can be sold as a feed product or blended with DDGS to add value and make it more suitable for feeding hogs and chickens. “The animal feed/food created is of a much higher quality than the syrup condensed from thin stillage,” he said. “As the amino acid mix remedies some deficiencies in DDG, it could be used to add value. The ultimate benefit may be heading to the health food market or general nutrition.”

Researchers call the feed product MycoMeal. It’s bland tasting and quite healthy. “(It’s) much better than tofu as the fungal biomass, because of the filaments, has a structure like meat, resulting in a better mouth feel,” van Leeuwen said.

It’s a high-quality, high protein animal feed that could someday be sold as a low-cost food product for humans. Researchers are producing the fungus that, while growing in thin stillage from ethanol production, produces the new feed product and cleans the water, which can then be recycled back into the fuel production process.

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Super Efficient New Engine Design

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have come up with an engine design that "can achieve efficiencies of between 20 and 35 percent better than standard diesel engines, which are themselves about 20 to 30 percent more efficient than gasoline engines. This is a major fuel extender technology. Its also projected the engines will emit 75 percent fewer greenhouse gases."

This kind of work can help us strip oil of its strategic status. The engine uses two fuels: Diesel and gasoline. But there is no reason to believe the engine couldn't also be a flex fuel, using methanol and biodiesel, for example.

Read more about this important engine-efficiency breakthrough here.

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Guerrilla Marketing for the Open Fuel Standard

Monday, July 25, 2011

Do you want to wake more people up to the possibilities of the Open Fuel Standard? You can begin your own guerrilla marketing campaign right from your computer. Here's how.

First, sign up for Google News Alerts. It's easy to sign up and it's free. Use the keywords "national security" and click the option to send you something every day. When it sends you articles about national security, go to the article and see if you can make a comment on it. If so, let people know we have a piece of legislation that would do wonders for our national security. Explain the concept. Leave links. Do your best persuasion job.

If you want to do more, you can sign up for as many Google News Alerts as you want. Add one for "economic recovery" and "air pollution" and "energy independence." And so on.

When you put in these search terms, use quotation marks so you'll only get articles with those two words in that order rather than articles that just happen to include both the words used separately (read more about that). It's a good way to narrow down your searching to just what you're looking for.

Let's get the word out. Not enough people know the Open Fuel Standard Act exists. We need more recruits pushing their Members of Congress to co-sponsor the bill.

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Definition of "Stillage"

Sunday, July 24, 2011

When used in reference to ethanol production, "stillage" refers to the liquid (mostly water) left over after fermentation and distillation. The stillage has some nutrients in it.

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Senator Amy Klobuchar Urges Oil Industry to Embrace the Same Reduction in Tax Credits and Subsidies the Ethanol Industry Has Agreed To

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The following is an excerpt from an article by Holly Jessen:

Senator Amy Klobuchar
...in the last decade alone, oil companies have raked in nearly $1 trillion in profits while also benefiting from tax incentives projected to cost the U.S. $50 billion in the next 10 years. Some of the subsidies to the oil industry have been in place for more than 100 years. “It is a question about whether the mature oil industry should continue to receive billions in subsidies at a time when their profits are up 30 percent in the first quarter of 2011,” Senator Amy Klobuchar said. “I'm not against drilling at all. I'm pleased about what's going on in North Dakota right to our west. But when I look at what's happening with this debt right now, we have to be smart about this and this is clearly one place to look for savings.”

“It is a question about whether a hugely profitable industry should continue to enjoy lucrative tax advantages at a time when our nation can least afford it,” she added. “With oil prices much higher than actual costs, the oil industry doesn't need extra money from the government. We must get serious about tackling the deficit and putting our country back on sound fiscal grown.”

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Will Biofuels Cause Deforestation in the Amazon?

The answer is no. Deforestation of the Amazon actually slowed during 2000-2010, a decade of tremendous growth in biofuels production, and what deforestation occurred was driven primarily by human settlement, not ethanol production.

Furthermore, the sugarcane that provides 45% of Brazil’s biofuel program requires a long dry season, and thus cannot be grown in the Amazon. Sugarcane is grown in the southern regions of Brazil, while the Amazon is located in the north. So far, the program has only used 1% of the country’s arable land; however, another 100 million hectares of uncultivated arable land could prove useful to achieve 100% biofuel dependency. As such, Brazil’s ethanol program in no way threatens the Amazon forest.

The primary cause of environmental destruction in the developing world is poverty, which forces people to make short-term decisions that result in unnecessary damage to natural resources and wildlife. By providing many tropical third world countries with a stable and substantial source of income, biofuels can provide the economic base needed to avoid environmental destruction.

- Quoted from Myths and Facts from SetAmericaFree.org.

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Former Cabinet Officials Call on Congress to Break Oil's Transportation Fuel Monopoly

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

USESC members (click to see larger)
As Congress and the Administration work to solve America's budget crisis, a bipartisan group of 20 former cabinet level officials, retired senators and prominent business leaders are calling on both to address one of the major contributors to our economic vulnerability: oil's power as a strategic commodity, and its virtual monopoly as the global transportation fuel.

The United States Energy Security Council (USESC) is the highest level extra-governmental group ever convened to address any public policy challenge. Members of the group include former Sec. of State George Shultz, former Secs. of Defense Harold Brown and William Perry, former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan, former Sec. of the Interior Judge William Clark, former Secs. of Navy William Ball and John Lehman, former Sec. of Transportation Mary Peters, former Sec. of Agriculture John Block, former National Security Advisor Robert McFarlane, former director of Central Intelligence James Woolsey as well as former Senators Bennett Johnston and Gary Hart, Nobel Laureate in Chemistry Prof. George Olah, former White House Counsel C. Boyden Gray, Vice Admiral Dennis McGinn, former president of Shell Oil North America John Hofmeister, former Lockheed Martin CEO Norman Augustine, former Kraft Foods CEO Geoffrey Bible and president of Las Vegas Sands Michael Leven.

Over the past four decades, eight presidents have tried — and failed — to lessen America's vulnerability owing to its dependence on oil as essentially the only fuel for air, sea and land transportation. They all focused on reducing the level of oil imports when the real problem is oil's strategic status which stems from its virtual monopoly over transportation fuel.

"The fixation on our imports helps drive conservatives to a drill-baby-drill strategy and liberals to a conserve-baby-conserve one. Both of those measures are sensible; yet neither will break oil's monopoly in transportation," said one of the group's co-founders former Director of Central Intelligence James Woolsey.

The U.S. spends more than one billion dollars a day on oil imports. The amount of money paid annually is on par with Medicare spending. The Council holds that any attempt to put America's fiscal house in order without addressing oil's stronghold over transportation would be incomplete. The Council is focused on reducing the strategic importance of oil through policies that open the vehicle platform to fuel competition. More specifically, the Council believes that new cars sold in the U.S. and throughout the world ought no longer to be captive exclusively to oil but are equipped and warrantied to operate on non-petroleum fuels whether liquid, gaseous or electricity in addition to or instead of petroleum based fuels.

"Oil has become a strategic commodity second to none; a product which if disrupted or sold at an extravagant price will cause the collapse of our economy. Yet today almost all of our cars and trucks can run on nothing but oil. This gives oil an inordinate power over our economy and foreign policy," said former National Security Advisor Robert McFarlane, one of the group's co-founders.

The Council does not aim to pick technological winners, but rather to urge that vehicles allow fuel competition so consumers can choose to purchase fuels which on a cents-per-mile basis cost less than petroleum fuels. In the coming months, the Council will hold high level meetings with policymakers and presidential candidates.

The United States Energy Security Council is a project of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security (IAGS), a Washington based think tank focused on energy security.

For more information about the Council visit www.usesc.org. Subscribe to the U.S. Energy Security Council email updates here.

For more information contact Anne Korin (anne@iags.org) or Gal Luft (luft@iags.org).

For media interviews contact media@iags.org.

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Solar Powered Car Charging Station

The following is an article from Biofuel Blog War by Foxy:

Mitsubishi Electric and Electronics USA along with Mitsubishi Motors of North America (MMNA) has debuted an electric vehicle (EV) solar-powered charging station at its MMNA headquarters in Cypress, California. This is the city’s first of its kind EV charging station and the debut signals the company’s commitment to developing and launching its first plug-in electric vehicle, the Mitsubishi i in all 50 states. The EV will be available this November. The charging station is powered by 96, 175W photovoltaic modules produced by Mitsubishi Electric. The solar panels are made with 100 percent lead-free solder, and according to the company, have one of the higher sunlight-to-energy conversion ratios in the industry.

The EV charger is able to charge up to four PHEV’s simultaneously and features three types of chargers with different voltages: standard level 1 (110v) will fully charge an EV in 22 hours; level 2 (220v) that can fully charge an PHEV in six hours; and level 3 Quick Charger that can charge the battery up to 80 percent in 25 minutes.

“This project will build awareness of solar power’s versatility and efficiency,” said Katsuya Takamiya, president and chief executive officer, Mitsubishi Electric & Electronics USA. “As electric vehicles’ popularity grows, we expect to see more charging stations at large employers, automobile dealerships, shopping centers and schools, where cars can charge while people work, shop or study.”

The DC Quick Charger used for the Cypress charging station is manufactured by Eaton Corporation, and is the first-of-its-kind Quick Charger certified for U.S. sale and public utility. Mitsubishi hopes that consumers who purchase the Mitsubishi i will use the charging station as gateway charging pad when commuting between Los Angeles and Orange Counties.

Mitsubishi Motors North America President Yoichi Yokozawa added, “We hope that our dealers, learning institutions, and municipalities will look to this technology with a keen eye towards the future, and bear in mind that the gradual acceptance of the pure-EV transportation will be aided by increasing the number of facilities like this one.”

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U.S. Military Initiates Its Own "Open Fuel Standard" for Practical National Security Reasons

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The following is a Politico article by Senator Mark Udall, a Democrat from Colorodo and a member of the Armed Services Committee and the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Military fuel convoy
The Pentagon released its first-ever operational energy strategy last month — a plan that could dramatically cut costs and save service members’ lives. The plan is not about fielding a new weapons system, but rather is a comprehensive strategy to reduce the military’s reliance on fossil fuel.

By advancing cutting-edge energy technologies like portable solar power, algae-based diesel fuel and microgrids, the Pentagon’s energy strategy could transform the way we carry out military campaigns. This could even shift the geopolitics of oil in our favor, and ultimately lead to widespread use of renewable energy in the civilian world.

The military seems like an unusual trailblazer in the effort to go green. But our national security leaders say it may be the most important work we do to keep our nation secure.

“Energy needs to be the first thing we think about,” said Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, “before we deploy another soldier, before we build another ship or plane.” Former Gen. and current CIA director David Petraeus recently issued a new fuel conservation policy for troops in Afghanistan.

The statistics are staggering and clearly illustrate what’s at stake. The U.S. military is the world’s single-largest industrial consumer of oil, using more oil than 85 percent of all other countries combined. Every $10 increase in the price per barrel of oil costs the Pentagon $1.3 billion.

Because we must go to costly lengths to protect and deliver fuel supplies in combat zones, the same gallon of gas that might cost a driver $4 in Denver costs taxpayers nearly $400 per gallon by the time it reaches our troops in Afghanistan.

In the theater of war, oil is our greatest vulnerability. More than 3,000 service members have been killed or injured defending fuel and water supply lines in Iraq and Afghanistan. Fuel convoys are so vulnerable that Osama bin Laden reportedly called them our troops’ “umbilical cord.”

I introduced a bill last month to help advance the military’s energy strategy and spur it into further action. The Senate Armed Services Committee adopted several measures from it for the National Defense Authorization Act in mid-June, reflecting the fact that the committee stands united behind these important initiatives.

Some of my colleagues in Congress, however, have expressed concern about the cost of the Pentagon’s energy security initiatives. I agree we must make cuts to settle our crippling debt, but we also must heed the words of our military leaders, who caution that cuts should be strategic and not come at the expense of investments that can strengthen our economy and save billions of dollars in the near future.

Energy is one of those investments. Not only would renewable energy save money and lives in the military, it may be our best hope of bringing these new technologies to the public. We now rely on countless tools – from GPS to radar to the Internet — originally developed by the Pentagon.

If history is a guide, tomorrow’s viable renewable energy technologies may easily be in the hands of a soldier, sailor, airman or Marine today. DOD has already shown leadership in reducing its fossil fuel dependence. Consider:

• Troops in Afghanistan have begun using portable solar panels, among other technologies.

• The Navy is developing the “Great Green Fleet,” which could sharplyreduce fuel consumption. The 844-foot U.S.S. Makin Island has a hybrid-electric drive that saved more than 1 million gallons of fuel on its maiden voyage.

• The Air Force is now certifying advanced alternative fuels that would allow pilots to be far less reliant on imported fossil fuels, all without compromising aircraft performance.

• Since their deployment to Afghanistan, the Marines and sailors of the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, have been working with the Experimental Forward Operating Base, using portable solar power rather than liquid fuel.

• More than 60 Army installations, including Colorado’s Fort Carson, are leading the way through a voluntary pilot program called Net Zero, in which they aim to replace or recycle as much energy, water and waste as they use.

There’s no single solution to our energy security challenge. These efforts aren’t a silver bullet that can solve all our problems. It’s more of a silver buckshot solution.

When we’re fighting two wars, struggling to contain our national debt and growing more concerned every day about our ability to compete in the 21st century economy, we should listen to our military leaders about the investments they say they need.

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No Market For Flex Fuel Vehicles? Who Are They Trying to Kid?

Automakers say they don't make more flex fuel vehicles because there isn't a high demand for them. But how many flex fuel vehicles are left on the lot? The surprising answer is: None.

Flex fuel vehicles sell out. That means there are fewer flex fuel cars for sale than there are people who want to buy them.

Why the reluctance on the part of automakers? Who knows? But one thing we do know — Americans want flex fuel cars for lots of different reasons, and they want them even now — even while there are very few fueling stations providing the option of buying American-made fuel (except in the Midwest). Even with that enormous drawback, Americans still buy up all the flex fuel vehicles automakers can manufacture.

If alcohol fueling stations were more prevalent, even more people would want flex fuel cars. I just came across this letter to GM on the GM Insider Customer Discussion:

Dear GM:

Several years ago you announced that by 2012, more than 50% of your cars will be flex-fuel.

The last couple of years, the build-out of E85 pumps has been slow but steady. I now have gone three years without having to buy gasoline. My state, Michigan, has 132 E85 stations, so I can get E85 about wherever I go now. Been through the Midwest with no problem finding E85 thanks to E85prices.com's maps.

Now the problem: I cannot purchase a 4-cylinder fuel-efficient Chevy car with flex-fuel capability. And that's just wrong.

Sure, I can get a V6 Impala, and get a flex-fuel model. But you don't sell any Malibus to retail in flex-fuel. Can't even order it as an option. What's up with that? It costs you less than $100 more to make a car flex-fuel, and I can't buy a Malibu from a dealer that way.

Nor can I buy the shiny new Cruze in flex-fuel. It was supposed to be. It was advertised for months, before production started, that it was going to be a 1.4 liter turbo flex-fuel. Then, suddenly, one day all talk of E85 for the Cruze stopped, and when the car was finally in US production, it's not a flex-fuel car. What's up with that?

Please, GM, make your leading models — Cruze and Malibu — available retail with a flex-fuel option, if nothing else. I'd gladly pay an extra $100 or $200 for the ability to avoid ever having to buy Arab-made gasoline again. In the meantime, I'll have to continue driving my 2005 Dodge Stratus flex-fuel 2.7 liter car, and wait for the GM car of my dreams to be made.

Sincerely,

A future customer who is patiently waiting for a flex-fuel Cruze or Malibu.

Auto manufacturers don't want a mandate. And who can blame them? Nobody likes being told what to do. A good solution, then, would be for at least one of you automakers to voluntarily make your whole fleet flex fuel right now. Lead the way. See if you can get there before the Open Fuel Standard Act is passed. Show your true colors to the American people, and show up the other automakers. You'll make history if you do.

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Airlines Gearing Up to Use Fuel Made From Algae and Wood Chips

The following are excerpts from a Bloomberg article (read the whole thing here):

Growing jet fuel on an algae farm.
After decades of waiting, commercial airlines have been given the go-ahead to use fuel made from algae, wood chips and other plants with obscure names.

Test flights in recent years by United Continental Holdings Inc. (UAL), Japan Airlines Co. and Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd. have shown that planes can fly on everything from coconut oil to jatropha, a plant that grows in the tropics.

On July 1, ASTM International, an American organization that sets worldwide technical standards for the airline and other industries, gave approval for carriers to mix fuel made from organic waste and nonfood plants with kerosene, which is conventionally used to power planes, Bloomberg BusinessWeek reports in its July 11 edition.

“A lot of companies have been waiting for the certification,” says Mark Rumizen, fuel specialist at the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration. “It’s going to drive a lot of investment.”

Airbus, which together with Boeing makes about 80 percent of the world’s passenger planes, estimates that by 2030 plant-derived formulas could make up as much as 30 percent of the market for aviation fuel.

Boeing, Honeywell International Inc. (HON) and the U.S. Air Force have tested at least 20 different types of fuel derived from organic waste and plants such as jatropha and camelina, found in parts of Europe and North America, as well as organic material, including garbage.

Boeing and Airbus are building supply networks that include growers, refiners, transporters, and distributors to bring biofuel to airports worldwide.

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The Open Fuel Standard Gains Two New Co-Sponsors!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

We picked up a Republican from Illinois and a Democrat from Pennsylvania. Congressman Robert J. Dold (Facebook, Twitter) and Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz both understand the vital importance of national security and economic vitality, and they see in the Open Fuel Standard a way to bring about both without costing taxpayers a cent.

If they are your representatives, please give them a hearty thank you. Like anyone else, they don't hear thank you nearly enough.

And if your representative is not yet a co-sponsor, please continue to urge her or him to do so. See the list of co-sponsors so far.

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Flex Fuel Freedom Now

Friday, July 15, 2011

The following was written by Lilly Sherman, biofuels advocate and co-founder of OpenFuelStandard.org.

I recently put $40 dollars in my tank and only got ten gallons. Paying $4 a gallon was bad enough, but then I started thinking. Given we import more than half of what we need and half of that comes from OPEC nations, that means I just gave ten dollars to OPEC! It freaked me out. I felt helpless. I felt trapped. What else can I do? I have to have gas, but when I buy gas I’m giving my good money to bad men who do really bad things.

But that’s the way it is. We now live in a world where the fuel we need to power our engines is controlled by the most corrupt men on the planet. While home prices fall and businesses fail, OPEC raised the price of oil a dollar a gallon in one year alone. Then they did it again the next year. During the last two years of the worst worldwide recession in memory, OPEC has doubled the price of oil! How do we ever get out of this recession when any gain we make is eaten up by ever increasing fuel costs?

The greatest threat to our national security, and the security of democracies everywhere, is our dependence on foreign oil. Oil has a monopoly on 97% of all the engines in our transportation sector. That means nearly all our cars, trucks, ships, planes, trains, motorcycles, lawnmowers, tractors, and military tanks can only run on petroleum products.

If our engines don’t have fuel, nothing can move. Without oil, our economies die. We know it and OPEC knows it. So you and I continue to buy the only fuel our cars can use. And we continue to pay 25% of every fuel dollar to OPEC every time we fill our tanks. All because we have no choice.

But we can get out of this and we can get out of it today. I have beside me a little black box about the size of a long pack of cigarettes. It has four three-foot-long black wires coming out of it with funny looking little receptors on the ends. With this little gadget, I’m going to upgrade my fuel injection system so I can burn American made alcohol fuels and boycott OPEC oil.

The next time I fill up I can buy American-made E85 instead of OPEC oil. My money will stay here to boost our economy, create jobs in our country, and help us grow strong again.

Every engine that can only burn gas is a threat to our national security. Every engine we upgrade to handle many fuels makes our country that much stronger. It cost me less than a hundred dollars per cylinder to stop the flow of money out of my pocket and into OPEC. It is worth every penny.

I bought myself the power of choice at the pump. That has major benefit to all of us. If only half the gas-only engines were upgraded to flex fuel and capable of using American fuels, we would no longer be dependent on foreign oil (because we import about half our oil). Then those billions we spend on imported oil stay here in the free world and we will recover and start to grow strong again. Our wealth and our health would both improve because alcohol is a far superior fuel. It’s not only better for our economy and our national security, but it’s better for car engines, for the environment, and even for public health.

If you've already contacted your representative about the Open Fuel Standard Act and already urged your family and friends to do so, and if you're already sharing information on Facebook and via email and you want to do more, here's a very practical action you can take: Convert your car to a flex fuel vehicle.

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A Critical Flaw in the Lugar Energy Bill

Sunday, July 10, 2011

A bill has been introduced recently by Senator Dick Lugar, called the 2011 Lugar Practical Energy Plan. You can read a summary of the plan here,. You can see the whole bill here. Contained within the plan is a similar idea as Representative Shimkus' Open Fuel Standard bill in the House. But there is a crucial difference. Robert Zubrin explains:

Senator Dick Lugar
Section 122 of Lugar's bill defines a "fuel choice enabling vehicle" as one that is a member of any one of a number of categories, listed A through G on pages 50-51 of the bill. Among these, category B, is a vehicle capable of using "an advanced alternative fuel blend."

On pages 49-50, an "advanced alternative fuel" is defined as either E85, M70, or other. So as written, the bill would allow its criterion for a "fuel choice enabling vehicle" to be met by vehicles that are ethanol-gasoline flex fuel only, while keeping the vehicle fuel market closed to methanol.

This should not be allowed. While ethanol can make a contribution, only methanol — which can be made cheaply from natural gas, coal, trash, or any kind of biomass without exception — has a sufficiently broad resource base to actually break our dependence upon foreign oil. Not only that, because the resources to make methanol are available almost everywhere around the world, opening the vehicle fuel market to methanol would subject gasoline to competition from methanol everywhere, putting a permanent global constraint on the price of oil. This is essential, because high oil prices are a horribly regressive tax on the entire world economy.

Furthermore, excluding methanol from the vehicle fuel market is an action in restraint of trade, to the benefit of oil and ethanol producers, but very harmful to consumers, as methanol is currently selling, without any subsidy, for about $1.20/gallon (equivalent in energy price terms to gasoline at $2.40/gallon).

In addition, there is no valid reason to leave methanol out. Any flex fuel car that uses ethanol can also use methanol, provided that the seal between the fuel pump and the fuel tank is made of the plastic buna N, (which is invulnerable to methanol), instead of alternative nitrile plastics which decay in contact with methanol. Such a buna N seal can be purchased for less than 50 cents, and replaces an alternative plastic seal costing about the same.

Finally, there currently appears to be a deal brewing in the Senate to eliminate the ethanol subsidy. That being the case, there is a strong case for enacting the Open Fuel Standard as part of the deal. The rational position is: No subsidies for anyone, and no exclusive market for anyone. All fuels should get to compete equally, without the cars being rigged to only accept particular fuels to the exclusion of others.

Every GM and Ford car sold in the USA today carries a flex fuel car computer. They can all become flex fuel vehicles just by loading in the right software. If the right seals are used, they can all be fully flex fuel, capable of running equally well on gasoline, ethanol, or methanol. Any Senate bill needs to be written to insure that outcome.

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The Alcohol Fuel Industry Keeps Growing, Regardless of What OPEC Does

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The following was written by Jeff Broin, the CEO of POET, the world's largest ethanol producer.

Jeff Broin
Chores on the Broin family farm in the ‘80s probably weren’t the typical farm kid tasks. Sure they included tilling, planting, harvesting and raising livestock; but there was also the job of operating a farm-scale ethanol plant. It was small, and most probably saw it as too risky and too much work to be worth the trouble. That’s not how we saw it.

We saw perfectly good farmland going to waste. The government was paying to set aside arable acres; corn price was well below the cost of production because uses were limited and supply was high; rural America was falling while our dependence on foreign oil rose. We saw a chance to make a difference.

In 1987, my family purchased a foreclosed ethanol plant in South Dakota in a town with a booming population of 960. At 22, I was named General Manager and took up residency in the plant’s office area. It wasn’t the ideal lifestyle most young adults dream of, but I saw it as an opportunity.

I knew we had a chance to make this plant the beginning of a solution, and its impact could be enormous. We had a vision to create a market for ethanol where it could compete head-to-head with gasoline – a level-playing field, a fair-game marketplace. But it wasn’t going to happen overnight.

The plant in Scotland was the foundation for many to follow. We were pioneering an industry and a product that was unknown – and untrusted – by so many. There were ups and downs and times when we were running on pennies in the bank. It wasn’t easy, and huge risks were taken. It didn’t take long to learn that breakdowns and snags in the process weren’t a cause for frustration, but instead, an opportunity for learning.

Over two decades later, that small company, now 27 plants and 1.7 billion gallons of ethanol strong, hasn’t lost the knack for taking risks. It took a lot convincing at each site to bring investors and lenders on-board, and each site helped bring sections of small town America back to life.

That original plant, now POET Research Center, has become our flagship plant for new technologies. So many mutterings of “can’t” and “won’t” have been proven wrong. “It can be done,” might as well be etched in the walls of the building. PRC is now leading the charge for cellulosic ethanol with a successful pilot-scale facility operating adjacent to the original plant and our grain pilot-scale plant.

My vision from 23 years ago hasn’t changed. Ethanol now competes with gasoline at a larger scale than ever before, but that’s just a fraction of what this industry is capable of. We know what needs to happen and we’re making the changes to get there.

Growth Energy’s Fueling Freedom Plan calls for all U.S. vehicles to be Flex Fuel and a vast ethanol infrastructure including pipelines and blender pumps. It’s gaining traction. Rather than mandating 90 percent of their fuel choice be gasoline, we’ll provide American consumers a free-market and the ability to pick fuel from the Midwest over fuel from the Middle East.

And that teenager who grew up around that small ethanol plant with hope to make a bit of a difference? Let’s just say the challenges are larger, the tweaks and fixes come on an industry-wide scale now and we are much more recognized than before. And I assure you, the motivation to make a difference is still alive and well at POET.
_________________

Watch a 30 second video ad by POET here.

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McFarlane: The Easy Alternative to Fuel-Economy Standards

The following was an article in the Wall Street Journal by Robert McFarlane, former national security adviser, published July 9, 2011:

We could break OPEC's monopoly by mandating that cars run on fuels other than gasoline — like Brazil does.

The Obama administration recently floated a proposal to raise the Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency (CAFE) standard to 56.2 miles per gallon by 2025. The higher CAFE standard would, the thinking goes, reduce domestic consumption and thus reduce our reliance on foreign oil. If only it were that simple. A higher CAFE standard may help our balance of payments a little, but we will remain hostage to the OPEC cartel's control over the availability and price of oil throughout the world.

Transportation is fundamental to the functioning of every economy. Without it goods don't move, stores become empty, jobs are lost and economies melt down. The reality is that roughly 97% of all transportation in the U.S. still runs on fuels derived from oil. Oil has become a strategic commodity — a product which if disrupted or sold at an extravagant price will cause the collapse of our own and virtually every other economy. Yet we have nothing close to a national energy policy that will help wean us off our dependency on foreign oil.

The 12 members of OPEC control roughly 78% of the world's oil reserves yet account for just a third of daily global production. Still, controlling that amount of production enables them to set the global price. How? If nonmembers produce more, OPEC simply produces less. And when governments introduce policies like higher CAFE standards designed to decrease consumption, OPEC members again scale back production to maintain the price of their choice. In short, we can't conserve our way out of this dilemma.

The only lasting way to overcome a monopoly — such as oil enjoys in the global transportation sector — is to introduce competition. Fortunately, there is good news on that front. Over the past two decades, a variety of alternative fuels have become economically viable without subsidies. These include methanol made from natural gas, coal, or biomass; sugarcane ethanol; biodiesel and electricity to drive plug-in hybrid or electric cars. These technologies are proven and scalable, and the liquid fuels operate smoothly in conventional vehicles after about a $100 per car modification on the assembly line. What is needed is to ramp up their production so that they are available when you go to the pump.

Thirty years ago, the government of Brazil decided that it didn't want its people held hostage to OPEC, and it embarked on a program to develop sugar-ethanol as an alternative fuel. Today, 90% of new cars produced in Brazil are flex-fuel — able to burn gasoline or alcohol or any combination of the two. Most of the flex-fuel cars sold there are produced by Ford, Chrysler and GM. And today, Brazil is self-sufficient with a choice of fuels. Indeed, Brazil exports both oil and ethanol.

Government mandates were the key to Brazil's success in opening its market to fuel competition. Specifically, a high requirement on minimum blend levels in gasoline led auto manufacturers to ensure that most new cars in Brazil were flex-fuel. Mandates are mostly seen in America as government telling the market what is best. And yet, few Americans would challenge that many sensible innovations have resulted from government mandates: One thinks of seat belts and safety standards for countless consumer products. The key is to carefully circumscribe the mandate.

And, of course, one ought to acknowledge that neglecting to require auto companies to open their vehicles to fuel competition is to mandate a continued monopoly by oil.

Thankfully, our lawmakers are not standing still on this front. In May, a bipartisan bill was introduced in the House that aims "to ensure that new vehicles enable fuel competition so as to reduce the strategic importance of oil to the United States." The Open Fuel Standard Act of 2011 would mandate that a percentage of vehicles manufactured in the U.S. — starting at 50% by 2014 — be equipped to use some type of alternative fuel in addition to or instead of an oil-based fuel. That percentage would then rise to 80% by 2016 and 95% by 2017.

As in Brazil, a government mandate is crucial to bringing new investment into methanol, cellulosic ethanol, and biodiesel production. Without a mandate, it's difficult if not impossible to convince the majority of serious investors that alternative fuels are going to be entering a viable market.

Don't misunderstand, I am by no means anti-oil. We need oil and will for generations to come. Our country is blessed with huge oil reserves that ought to be developed for the benefit of all. But we need to make sure it competes in the marketplace like any other product, thus neutralizing it as a strategic commodity. Ever-higher CAFE standards won't accomplish that. Passing the Open Fuel Standard Act of 2011 will.

___________________

Listen to an interview with Robert McFarlane discussing the Open Fuel Standard with Chris Martenson.

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Robert McFarlane

Robert C. McFarlane served two tours of duty in Vietnam, then held positions as Special Assistant for National Security Affairs under President Ford, and National Security Advisor and special representative to the Middle East under President Regan.

After his reitrement from public service he founded Global Energy Investors, a developer of energy infrastructure projects in Asia and South America, and Energy and Communications Solutions, LLC, which focused on projects in Russia, Turkey and other emerging countries.

Currently, McFarlane serves as Chairman and CEO of McFarlane Associates Inc., developing energy projects in Russia, Africa and the Middle East, as well working with non-profit organizations to develop methods and projects to utilize alternative forms of energy and reduce US reliance on foreign oil.

Throughout the years, he has continued to provide advice to major corporations and governments on energy infrastructure, and privatization policies. Recently, he has played an integral role in bringing together the leaders of religious sects in Iraq as they work to reduce sectarian violence.

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Freedom, the Movie

FREEDOM is a one-hour documentary that takes a hard look at America’s perilous and unsustainable addiction to foreign oil. It explores the role that ethanol plays as a homegrown alternative that will boost the domestic economy, create jobs and reduce our need to rely on dangerous and unstable parts of the world for our fuel.

Filmmakers Josh Tickell and his wife Rebecca set out on a journey to take a fresh look at Ethanol and try to separate the myth from the hyperbole. This “green evangelist” couple is uniquely suited to lead this inquiry. Their 2008 Sundance-winning film FUEL explored in depth the world of biofuels here in America and around the world. In their new film, FREEDOM, they again take the pulse of the biofuel industry in 2011 and find that the time is right to correct some misperceptions about America’s original alternative fuel.

——–

The following was written by Josh Tickell, one of the filmmakers of Freedom.

Freedom is a powerful word. But it tends to be overused in today’s agenda-driven world of politics, consumerism and media.

When my wife Rebecca and I set out to make a movie that dealt truthfully with ethanol, we had mixed feelings around ethanol. Obviously, alcohol based fuel isn’t oil. Growing up deep within the oil laden bayous of Louisiana, I knew that was a good thing. But how much better than oil, if at all, was ethanol?

That was the basic question with which we began our investigation. What emerged was first a formidable and intense set of arguments from three powerful individuals — former NATO commander Wesley Clark, former President Reagan National Security Advisor, Bud McFarlane, and Former CIA director Jim Woolsey. In brief, they explained that our exporting of cash to import oil is bleeding America dry.

But there was a deeper argument that wasn’t at first so clear — Americans aren’t free to choose which fuel they use. Said a different way, each time we fill up with regular gasoline, we have to choose the fuel that actually causes harm to our air, water, soil, economy, communities and security. We’re being forced to sell off our future — and the profits for that sale are going to the shareholders of large oil companies.

But true choice is never forced.

Freedom to choose doesn’t require we buy fuel from companies that drill irresponsibly and endanger our beautiful shores. It doesn’t require we send the wealth of our nation abroad. And it certainly doesn’t mandate that we give trillions to banks that are deeply invested into the oil game.

As we learned on our journey to make the movie that became titled “Freedom,” a lot of people are waking up to the precarious situation that oil dependence has put us in. But most people are still unaware of the solutions. We learned a lot about the benefits of ethanol and the movie shows that, on every account where ethanol was deemed bad by the press, the oil companies, or the NGO’s — their claims were unfounded. Ethanol is beneficial, it works, it cuts emissions, it’s compatible with the environment and it makes sense.

But even if you don’t believe any of that and you like oil, as an American, you should have the freedom to choose between fossil fuel and ethanol. But we don’t — and I assert it’s because not enough of us are fighting for that freedom.

Our forefathers knew that freedom is something that must be defended with vigilance and, if necessary, fought for. Perhaps we got a little lazy as a nation. The promise of endless, cheap oil seduced us. Well, that promise didn’t pay out. The bad news is, we’re deeply addicted. The good news is we have a solution — it’s called ethanol. But to bring that solution to bear, we must be prepared to fight.

It’s not really a fight for a different fuel, or even a fight for a choice at the pump. Instead, this fight is truly for our freedom. If we don’t engage people at every level of our lives — from our friends and neighbors to our business associates and PTA members to our congressional representatives — about the absolute, unequivocal necessity of increased protections for, mandates for, and incentives for ethanol — we do a disservice to the word freedom and to all those who have fought for it. I invite you to use the movie “FREEDOM” as a tool in your arsenal. Let’s make sure our freedom is protected. This is one fight we have to win.

For information on ordering the film, visit thefreedomfilm.com.

——–

Preliminary tour schedule for the film:

August:

Bellingham 8/4/11

Portland 8/5/11

Seattle 8/6/11

San Diego 8/12/11

Los Angeles 8/13/11

Palo Alto 8/17/11

San Francisco 8/18/11

Phoenix 8/20/11

Sedona 9/21/11

Flagstaff 9/22/11

Santa Fe 8/25/11

Salt Lake City 8/27/11

September:

Burning Man 9/1/11 – 9/4/11

Fort Collins 9/8/11

Boulder 9/9/11

Denver 9/10/11

Lincoln 9/15/11

Omaha 9/16/11

Sioux Falls 9/17/11

Rochester 9/22/11

Minneapolis 9/23/11

Madison 9/24/11

Quad Cities 9/27/11

Hennepin 9/28/11

Indianapolis 9/30/11

October:

Cincinnati 10/1/11

Toronto 10/8/11

Burlington 10/13/11

Boston 10/14/11

New York 10/15/11

Washington D.C. 10/20/11

Raleigh 10/21/11

Charlotte 10/22/11

Atlanta 10/23/11

Find out more at their site: thefreedomfilm.com.

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National Clean Fleets Partnership Adds Six New Corporations

Thursday, July 7, 2011

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu today announced that six new corporate partners have joined the National Clean Fleets Partnership. The new partners operate a total of nearly a million commercial vehicles nationwide.

The National Clean Fleets Partnership, begun in April, is a public-private partnership that helps large companies reduce diesel and gasoline use in their fleets by incorporating electric vehicles, alternative fuels, and fuel-saving measures into their daily operations.

The National Clean Fleets Partnership aims to accelerate the adoption of clean, advanced, energy-efficient vehicles and the infrastructure to support their widespread use in communities nationwide.

Under the partnership, each company will work with the DOE (Department of Energy) to develop a comprehensive strategy to reduce petroleum and diesel use in their fleets. The DOE will also help connect partners with clean fuel providers and equipment manufacturers where their fleets operate.

The six new partners are:

1. Coca-Cola, which has the largest hybrid delivery fleet in North America, has deployed hybrid delivery trucks and trained drivers in eco-driving techniques. The company also expects to deploy additional hydraulic hybrid vehicles this year.

2. Enterprise Holdings, which includes Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Alamo Car Rent A Car, National Car Rental, and WeCar. They currently offer Chevrolet Volts and Nissan Leafs to consumers for rentals and expects to further expand its fleet.

3. General Electric has committed to convert half of their global vehicle fleet and will partner with fleet customers to deploy a total of 25,000 electric vehicles by 2015.

4. Ryder recently celebrated the opening of its first natural gas vehicle maintenance facility, which will deploy hundreds of heavy-duty liquefied natural gas (LNG) trucks, include two LNG fueling stations and two additional maintenance facilities. This project is expected to save 1.5 million gallons of diesel fuel per year.

5. Staples has increased the fuel economy of its fleet by more than 20 percent since 2007 through fuel-saving steps such as automatically limiting truck idling to no more than 3 minutes and limiting the top speed of its vehicles to 60 miles an hour. The company is also in the process of testing all-electric delivery trucks in Ohio and California.

6. Osram Sylvania aims to replace 10-12 percent of their fleet annually with more energy-efficient vehicles. This year, they will replace more than one-fifth of their utility trucks with more efficient ones that reduce the need for idling.

In addition to the members announced today, the partnership includes charter members AT&T, FedEx, PepsiCo/Frito-Lay, UPS, and Verizon.

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Food Prices Are Driven By Oil Prices

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The following was published in the Opinion Pages of the New York Times for July 3rd, 2011, in a section entitled, Is Ethanol a Solution, or a Problem?

Click to see image larger
To the Editor: I disagree with Steven Rattner’s argument that the corn ethanol program is responsible for rising food prices. Food prices are being driven by oil prices. This can be seen by noting that the price of corn shot up to $7 per bushel in 2008 simultaneous with the run-up in the price of oil to $140 a barrel; it then crashed to $3 per bushel in 2009, when oil dropped to $40 a barrel; and it has since come back up, tracking the price of oil. The prices of wheat and other grains have followed the same pattern, as has the price of fish.

Despite the ethanol program, American corn exports have not missed a beat. More important, because of the ethanol market, investments have occurred in new techniques that have increased average American corn yields from 120 bushels per acre in 2002 to 160 bushels per acre today, with some farms approaching 300 bushels per acre. These advances will help feed the world for decades to come.

There may be famine in many places globally this year. But this is because of the regressive tax on the world economy imposed by high oil prices. This needs to be eroded by competition from alternative fuels. Ethanol helps achieve that goal.

ROBERT ZUBRIN
Golden, Colo., June 26, 2011

The writer is the author of “Energy Victory: Winning the War on Terror by Breaking Free of Oil.”

Read more: Agriculture is Not a Zero-Sum Game.

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Refuting a Misleading NYT Article

The following was published in the Opinion Pages of the New York Times for July 3rd, 2011, in a section entitled, Is Ethanol a Solution, or a Problem?

Corn pouring into ethanol facility
to be crushed and fermented.
To the editor: In “The Great Corn Con” (Op-Ed, June 25), Steven Rattner claims that United States ethanol production makes food costlier and scarcer, pollutes the environment and drains the treasury. That is not the case.

While producing 13 billion gallons of ethanol last year, the American biofuels industry also generated 32.5 million metric tons of feed for cattle, pigs and poultry.

Mr. Rattner claims that ethanol “consumes vast quantities of water and increases smog.” In fact, using ethanol in gasoline has reduced smog-forming emissions by 25 percent since 1990 and results in a 48 to 59 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared with gasoline, according to a recent study.

Moreover, ethanol yields between 1.9 and 2.3 times as much energy as it takes to produce, and producing a gallon of ethanol requires about as much water as producing a gallon of gasoline.

In farming communities and factory towns far from Wall Street, the American ethanol industry supports some 400,000 jobs, contributes $53.6 billion to the gross domestic product, and pays $15 billion annually in federal and state taxes, far surpassing the cost of federal tax incentives for ethanol. Meanwhile, according to the Government Accountability Office, the oil industry has received over $130 billion in tax incentives over the past 30 years.

The United States ethanol industry is eager to discuss how to develop, produce and market the next generation of biofuels, made from plant and wood wastes and even municipal garbage.

BOB DINNEEN
Washington, June 27, 2011

The writer is president and chief executive of the Renewable Fuels Association, the trade association of the United States ethanol industry.

Read more about the "food versus fuel" debate: Ethanol and World Hunger.

Read more about the subsidies: How Taxpayers Subsidize the Oil and Ethanol Industries.

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Used Deep-Fryer Oil as Diesel Fuel?

Monday, July 4, 2011

Adam Savage, Jamie Hyneman, and the rest of the team on the Discovery Channel's Mythbusters show heard an urban legend that used deep-fryer oil could power a diesel car, so they did an experiment. Watch the four minute video below to see what they found out.

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Agriculture is Not a Zero-Sum Game

Sunday, July 3, 2011

The following is an excerpt from Robert Zubrin's Energy Victory:

At bottom, the entire food-versus-fuel argument boils down to a Malthusian conceit — that there is only so much that can be grown, so if we grow more of one thing we must necessarily grow less of something else. But this is simply false. Agriculture is not a zero-sum game.

There are roughly 2,250 million acres of land in the continental United States. About 1,600 million of those acres are arable. Roughly half of that land (800 million acres) is farmland, but only about a third of that (280 million acres) is actually being cultivated. Only about 85 million of those farm acres are presently growing corn, and just a fifth of that land — about 17 million acres — is growing corn that becomes ethanol.

In short, there is plenty of farmland in the United States that could be used to grow more corn — or more of the other staple crops needed to meet domestic or international demand. Even more important, agricultural technology is constantly advancing. US corn yields per acre have risen 17 percent since 2002, and the state of Iowa alone today produces more corn than the entire nation did in the 1940s.

Applied globally, such improved techniques can multiply world agricultural yields many times. In fact, they have risen by a factor of six since 1930 — which is why, even though the world's population has tripled since that time, there is a lot more food for everyone today.

Read more:

Will Food Prices Go Up When There is a Big Market For Alcohol Fuels?

The Food Industry's Propaganda Campaign Against Ethanol

BBC: Will Biofuel Leave the Poor Hungry?

Ethanol Policy and Meat Prices: Unspinning the Truth

Ethanol and World Hunger

Read more...

Ethanol and World Hunger

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The following is written by the brothers, Jeffrey and Adrian Goettemoeller, experts in environmental remediation and sustainable agriculture, and authors of the book, Sustainable Ethanol.

Growing corn in Mexico.
Understanding the relationship between ethanol and world hunger requires counter-intuitive thinking. Higher grain prices and decreased grain exports do not necessarily exacerbate world hunger. In fact, the opposite could be true in some cases. Most U.S. corn exports go to relatively wealthy countries. Japan topped the list in 2004. Significant amounts also go to less wealthy nations such as Egypt and Mexico. Those with the least income, however, often lack the means to purchase imported grains at any price. Furthermore, corn and other inexpensive commodities imported from the U.S. tend to take away markets for struggling farmers. This can damage rural economies and deepen poverty.

Less than 2% of the national incomes of rich countries come from agriculture. In middle and low-income countries, that figure rises to 17%-35% of gross domestic product. According to the International Food Policy Research Institute, over 75% of the poor in the developing world live in rural areas, and most are farmers. In September 2006, National Public Radio reported U.S. corn exports have damaged the ability of Mexican farmers to make a living. Many of these destitute farmers are attempting to enter the U.S.

In 2007, Alexandra Spieldoch of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy made a statement before the U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means about the consequences of selling grain at low prices in developing countries. "...without substantial government support," said Spieldoch, "developing-country farmers are driven out of their local markets by the below-cost imports. ...farmers who sell their products to exporters find their market share undermined by the lower-cost competition." According to Spieldoch, agricultural development within developing countries helps drive economic growth. "Research shows," said Spieldoch, "that domestic food productivity is more effective in stabilizing developing-country food security than the reliance on inexpensive (i.e., dumped) food imports. A fair price for the farmer's production will also help stabilize demand for wage labor in the local economy."

Keeping grain prices quite low might seem like a good way to fight poverty, but the opposite result can come about when economies based largely on agriculture are damaged. Ironically, then, a reduction in U.S. exports resulting from increased corn ethanol production might help alleviate poverty-driven hunger in some places when coupled with efforts to enhance food production within developing countries.

Read more:

The Food Industry's Propaganda Campaign Against Ethanol

BBC: Will Biofuel Leave the Poor Hungry?

Ethanol Policy and Meat Prices: Unspinning the Truth

Read more...

Electric Cars, Wind, and Consumer Demand

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Open Fuel Standard includes electric and hybrid vehicles. Not only can electricity compete very well with gasoline as a transportation "fuel" because it is inexpensive, electricity is also generated domestically. The United States has already achieved its energy independence with electricity.

One of the ways to produce electricity domestically that can and should be added to our energy-production portfolio is wind.

In Denmark, "where high-wind locations are readily available near the most important population centers," writes Robert Zubrin, "wind now supplies 20 percent of the nation's electric power."

Below is a video, just over two minutes long, showing the possibilities of the future, with not only wind, but with other forms of renewable energy.



The video introduces a great idea: Labeling products with their energy source so people can choose. According to the Global Consumer Wind Study, 90 percent of people worldwide want renewable energy. So why not give them the option of choosing one energy source over another?

"The Global Consumer Wind Study 2011 is the largest undertaken of its kind with 31,000 respondents participating in 26 countries," writes Joanna Schroeder. "The goal of the survey was to learn more about consumer demand for products made with renewable energy. Consumers were asked how energy decisions made by companies affect their purchasing decisions. In addition, consumers were asked about their perceptions of climate change."

We have many clean, renewable sources of power we have yet to fully employ, so it is foolish to continue spending hundreds of billions of dollars to import oil, especially when that money is being used to threaten our national security. Let's wise up and pass the Open Fuel Standard now. Find out how you can help.

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