Today's Report: Biofuels: Potential Effects and Challenges of Required Increases in Production and Use
In 186 pages the report addresses the challenges meeting the Renewable Fuel Standard set by Congress, especially when it comes to non-corn ethanol. As some may know, a little bugaboo of mine is the inanity of ethanol subsidies. As noted in the report (according to experts) the ethanol subsidies raise crop prices (and thus food prices on nearly everything, since nearly everything has corn, but that is for a different post) while doing little to actually offset the power of foreign oil countries. Furthermore, the environmental problems caused by ethanol through changing land use and (little mentioned) the massive amounts of water needed to turn corn/cellulose to ethanol is rarely discussed. Alas, in the name of the farmer, job creation, and all that is good and right in the world politicians have decided that subsidizing ethanol is worth the billions of taxpayer's dollars.
Take it away GAO:
The RFS allows the use of up to 15 billion gallons per year of conventional biofuel by 2015 and requires at least 21 billion gallons of advanced biofuels—with at least 16 billion gallons of this amount coming from cellulosic feedstocks—in 2022. Yet, at present, the distribution infrastructure and vehicle types necessary to transport and use increased ethanol production do not exist. In addition, the United States will reach the blend wall limit as early as 2011 solely with existing ethanol production from corn starch, which could greatly restrict the growth of the cellulosic biofuels industry. Thermochemical processing technologies such as pyrolysis, have the potential to produce advanced biofuels that can be used in the nation’s existing fuel distribution and vehicle infrastructure and therefore avoid future blend wall issues. However, DOE and USDA have not focused substantial R&D resources on developing these technologies. Furthermore, EISA and the 2008 Farm Bill define renewable biomass differently regarding feedstocks and land eligibility, creating difficulties for agencies to formulate rules, implement program activities, and effectively execute the interagency National Biofuels Action Plan. This may also create uncertainty for biofuels producers and could potentially reduce the nation’s ability to increase advanced biofuels feedstock production and realize their benefits.
Bringing it Baby!