Biofuels Strategy to be Unveiled by Obama Administration

obama biofuels.jpg

Photo via University of Manitoba

It looks like Obama is attempting to hammer down his clean energy strategies--while the big news last year was the flood of investment in cleantech unleashing in the stimulus bill, this year appears to be about making tougher, more concise calls. For example, clean energy and efficiency initiatives received careful markups, nuclear power funding was expanded, plans for high speed rail corridors were detailed--and now, Obama's administration has announced it's going to outline a comprehensive biofuels strategy.According to Reuters,

President Barack Obama on Wednesday will outline a government strategy to boost development of U.S. biofuels and address their environmental challenges, an administration official said.

The strategy will be laid out in a report titled "Growing America's Fuel" by the Biofuels Interagency Working Group, a body the president established to help spur investment in biofuels and make the industry more environmentally friendly.

Unfortunately, while the details remain to be seen, it looks like it's going to providing funding to ethanol--one the most dubious alternative fuels out there. Since ethanol is potentially politically popular--it ostensibly means jobs in rural areas for farms already creating a surplus of corn--it looks like that's what we're going to get.

The Biofuel group was charged with hammering out new policy, and assessing the environmental impacts of developing biofuels like ethanol:

The group was asked to develop a strategy to increase biofuel production, investment in the industry, and the use of "flex fuel" cars, which can run on either gasoline or fuel that is mostly ethanol.
The problems with ethanol are many--it's proven to be quite inefficient, due to the amount of water and time it takes to grow and harvest the crops it's made from, there are fears that ramped up ethanol production would lead to more leveling of forestland to create room for crops, etc.

As a commenter has pointed out below, I appear to have mistakenly jumped to conclusions about the administration's strategy focusing on ethanol. It was indeed a speculative reading of the Reuters piece, and I made a judgment without substantive evidence, and I regret the error. Corn ethanol will play a role, but will not be the focus of the plan.

More on Biofuels
New Study Finds Corn-based Ethanol More Harmful Than Oil-based Gasoline
Can You Feel OK About Filling Up With Ethanol ?
Ethanol Lobby 1, Environment 0: Compromise Struck to Move Climate ...

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