Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Energy bill may offer more to farmers and agribusiness than the Farm Bill, by pushing ethanol

Today, President Bush signed an energy bill that "presents a huge opportunity for the nation's fledgling biofuels industry -- and uncertainty for energy markets," reports The Washington Post. (Associated Press photo by Dirk Lammers shows combine with a Cob Caddy gathering corn and cobs while blowing stover back into the field on a farm near Hurley, S.D., on Oct. 30, 2007. Ethanol maker Poet was testing the equipment because it wants to make cellulosic ethanol, an advanced biofuel, from cobs.)

Post reporter Steven Mufson writes that for farmers and agribusiness, the legislation provides "more support than perhaps even the Farm Bill. It doubles the use of corn-based ethanol -- despite criticism that corn-based ethanol is driving up food prices, draining aquifers and exacerbating fertilizer runoff that is creating dead zones in many of the nation's rivers. The law will also require the massive use of biofuels using other feedstocks, creating an industry from technologies still in laboratories or pilot stages whose economic viability is unproven. The law says that at least 36 billion gallons of motor fuel a year should be biofuels by 2022, most of it in 'advanced biofuels,' not a drop of which are commercially produced today" but which are likely to get federal subsidies in order to meet the goal.

The bill, noted most for requiring higher fuel efficiency, disappointed promoters of wind and solar energy. To overcome largely Republican opposition to tax increases, "Congressional leaders dropped a tax package that would have reduced breaks for the biggest oil and gas companies and extended breaks for wind and solar projects," Mufson notes. Still, Sierra Club Director Carl Pope told him that the bill "is a clean break with the failed energy policies of the past and puts us on the path toward a cleaner, greener energy future." (Read more)

1 comment:

Claudia L. Meydrech, CN said...

I listened to Bush today as he gave a wrap up of the years accomplishments, mentioning his energy bill. He admits that this bill is maybe a step in the right direction, but that the price of corn is getting out of sight for those that use it to feed cattle. He continues to promote "nucular" as he pronounces it :-) as the best approach. I am not putting the man down by the way, he's had quite a lot to deal with in his 8 years. Claudia Married to Politics