Understanding the Implications of Biofuels Doesn’t Require a Biology Degree

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Following years of extensive research and product trials, biofuels are today considered a viable fuel source for vehicles. Proponents of these alternative fuels tout their sustainability, ability to lower carbon emission levels and comparable (if not superior) vehicular performance — though some major oil companies have been slow to embrace the movement.

Here’s a look at some of the major renewable fuel alternatives, including a few many consumers may not be aware of….

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Notes from Iowa: The Downside to Biofuels

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Fully 58 percent of Iowa’s 2010 corn crop was used to make ethanol. So, it is not just “surplus” corn that is going into ethanol, as is claimed by the ethanol industry. Even the livestock industry does not believe the ethanol industry’s claim that this much corn going for ethanol does not affect prices. That is why the livestock commodity groups for hogs, cattle and poultry are all lobbying against ethanol subsidies in Washington, D.C.

A recent Iowa State University analysis indicated that ethanol subsidies are no longer needed to keep the ethanol industry profitable. It’s time to end the $0.45 per gallon ethanol subsidy, which cost taxpayers nearly $6 billion in 2010….

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Francis Thicke on Biofuels, Biodiversity, and Erosion

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Francis Thicke is a soft-spoken, thoughtful man. He is also an accomplished scientist and an award-winning organic farmer. Thicke’s list of credentials is impressive, including selection by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation as a Policy Fellow in their Food and Society program, work as the National Program Leader for soil science for the USDA-Extension Service, and a current seat on the board of directors of the Organic Farming Research Foundation….

Thicke (pronounced TICKee) is also a candidate for Iowa Secretary of Agriculture. Blue Planet Green Living (BPGL) interviewed Thicke to learn about his vision for improving agriculture in Iowa….

BPGL: Why did you decide to run for Iowa Secretary of Agriculture?

THICKE: I see a lot of challenges coming down the road for agriculture in Iowa, as well as opportunities. I think we need new vision and new leadership to meet those challenges and take advantage of the opportunities.

One challenge is escalating energy costs….

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My 5: David Blume, Executive Director, International Institute for Ecological Agriculture

September 22, 2009 by  
Filed under Agriculture, Biofuels, Blog, Books, Front Page, My 5, Organic

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Blue Planet Green Living (BPGL) asked David Blume, Founder and Executive Director of the International Institute for Ecological Agriculture, author of Alcohol Can Be A Gas, and a frequent speaker at ecological, sustainability and agricultural conferences throughout the Americas, “What are the five most important things we can do to save the planet?” Here are his responses.

BLUME:
* Stop buying oil. Replace oil with ethanol. Ethanol is a clean burning, high octane fuel that sells for around $1.80 a gallon. You don’t even have to pay more to do the right thing.

* Only buy organic products. Vote with your dollars to send the message that you’re not going to continue doing business as usual…

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From Swamp to Gas Pump – Cattails Take on New Role

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Cattails are among nature’s most primitive species. They were here when dinosaurs ruled. They kept baby Moses from floating down the Nile to a premature death. They’re ubiquitous, found in ditches the world over. Grown in clean water, they’re edible. Grown in wastewater, they remove pollutants from the sewage so it can be safely returned to the natural water cycle. In the process, cattails absorb the atmosphere’s increasingly abundant carbon dioxide to fuel photosynthesis, producing sugars and starches that can be converted easily, cleanly, and cheaply into alcohol used for biofuel.

Biofuels solve the same problems that petroleum fuel creates. Plants use the carbon dioxide they remove from the environment to grow. Harvested and converted to alcohol, they return that same energy when used as fuel. This is why corn has garnered a lot of attention as a source of biofuel. But corn-for-ethanol is problematic. Land devoted to growing fuel is land that can’t be devoted to growing food. And, unless it’s grown organically, corn is fertilized with materials that pollute our groundwater and contribute to global warming. Gas-powered tractors harvest it; gas-powered vehicles truck it to market. All this for a fuel source that yields – depending on which study you consult — 75 to 200 gallons per acre? There’s got to be a better way…

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Solar Living Institute Sustainable Living Workshops

November 2, 2008 by  
Filed under 2008, Biofuels, Blog, California, Mexico, Solar

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Want to get off the grid? Build an electric car? Sell solar systems for fun and profit? Find your own place in the green collar market? Then sign up for one or more sustainable living workshops sponsored by the Solar Living Institute. Courses still available at the time of this post include the following offerings.

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Former Chef Now Cooks Up Biofuels

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Steve Fugate, biofuels entrepreneur and owner of Green World Biofuels, talks with BPGL’s Joe Hennager.

BPGL: Steve, I’ve known you for about 10 years as a chef at Iowa City’s best-known local diner. I know everyone around here asks you this, but what made you give that up and get into biofuel production?

FUGATE: I had been making biodiesel for a couple of years and had begun conducting workshops to educate people. I quickly grew tired of troubleshooting the inadequate equipment that was on the market. My wife, Wende, and I had extraordinary success producing our own biofuel and I had expertise in acquiring waste cooking oil from restaurants. So, I decided to pursue marketing an effective turnkey biodiesel production system and educating the fuel- and education-hungry masses full time…

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David Sieg, Biofuel Pioneer

October 29, 2008 by  
Filed under Biofuels, Blog, Books, e-Books, Ecopreneurs, Front Page, Iowa

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In this series, Blue Planet Green Living brings you interviews with environmental pioneers, leaders in the green movement, and “regular” people, who are putting the principles of “organic, green, and natural” to work in their daily lives.

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