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Nathanael Greene’s Blog

Klobuchar bill: trojan horse for bad biofuels

Nathanael Greene

Posted July 14, 2010 in Moving Beyond Oil, Solving Global Warming

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It should come as no surprise that the first copy of the full text of Sen Klobuchar's energy bill  was found on a corn ethanol industry association website; the bill reads like the industry's wish list. Klobuchar says she's trying to broaden the base of support for an energy bill and increase our reliance on renewable energy. These are good goals, but giveaways to old corn ethanol will counter act and undermine much of the benefits that the Senator claims to be seeking.

Today's corn ethanol is mature and mainstream and, unfortunately, generally causes more global warming pollution than gasoline. Klobuchar's bill would lavish over $30 billion on the ethanol and oil industries, it would pull the rug out from under entreprenours trying to develop cleaner, advanced biofuels, and it would threaten forests across our country where families have hiked and hunted for generations.

Here are some of laundry list of bad biofuel provisions:

  • 5 year extension of the corn ethanol tax credit (which mostly enriches oil companies such as BP). This would cost over $30 billion. (Here’s a link the NRDC’s posts on this wasteful tax credit.)
  • Gutting the definition of renewable biomass so that it would include everything from old growth to garbage without any regard for protecting the places families have hiked for generations and untold numbers of wild animals call home.
  • Legislating away the science of lifecycle GHG accounting for ethanol. Using lots of land to make ethanol instead of food means that food production moves to new land and that leads to deforestation. The Klobuchar bill would prohibit EPA from following the science.
  • Defining mature and mainstream corn ethanol, which has been commercially produced for well over 30 years as an “advanced biofuel” under the RFS2. This pulls the rug out from under investors and entrepreneurs that have been trying to develop truly advanced biofuels.
  • Mandating Giving a free pass to E15—a higher blend of ethanol and gasoline than currently allowed—and again trying to legislate the science ignoring possible public health and safety risks, which EPA and DOE are actively studying. the legislation provides a wiaver of liability for selling blends of ethanol and gasoline even if it poses a threat to public health or safety.
  • Huge give aways for building corn ethanol pipes to the coast so that we can ship our “home grown energy” overseas.  

Now to be fair the bill includes a good package of provisions to support renewables including an RES with reasonable goals and even an Energy Efficiency Resource Standard. But this is clearly just the bait on the end of the hook, or more likely if this bill becomes part of any deal making, the bait in a bait and switch. Watch as the RES and other good provisions get watered down and all that's left is the handouts for agrobusiness to keep turning food into fuel, filling our rivers with dirt, polluting our air with heat trapping gasses, and wasting our hard earned tax dollars.

Make no mistake about it, the Klobuchar bill is a wolf in sheep's clothing.

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Comments

Neil SteckerJul 14 2010 05:40 PM

Why won't anyone mention industrial hemp?

Ron SteenblikJul 19 2010 08:42 PM

Great post, again, Nathan.

Neil: OK, I'll mention industrial hemp. What about it? Restrictions on growing it are much less in Canada and Europe than they are in the United States. How much is being used for any kind of bio-energy in those places? Can you cite any authoritative studies on its production costs?

Comments are closed for this post.

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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