Breaking News
Home » Tag Archives: ethanol

Tag Archives: ethanol

Harnessing Ag’s Energizer Bunny

Put a plug on a hybrid car and give it flex-fuel capabilities and you will have David Morris’ dream-solution to our oil woes. This weekend, the Vice President of the Institute for Local Self Reliance spoke at the Alternative Energy Resource Organization’s (AERO) annual meeting, and argued that this kind of car will best utilize the current centralized electric grid system. A larger battery would give it the capacity to go further on less fuel. And flex-fuel would increase efficiency even more because it would allow the car to travel on gas or ethanol. Ethanol can be derived from corn or other plants such as switchgrass, wood or shrubs, but corn is most common because it is easier and currently cheaper to produce. Regardless of the plant matter, enzymes are used to digest the material and turn it into alcohol – the kind that can fuel an engine but not get you drunk.

Read More »

On Ethanol: Conservation Should Precede Biofuels Mania

Why invest billions of dollars in ethanol? For national security, cleaner air, expending less carbon dioxide to slow global warming, and helping out farmers in America's heartland. These are some of the reasons behind the rapidly evolving shift toward biofuels produced from corn and other crops. But is corn the answer? What about cutting trees? A number of prominent policy experts worry about using a valuable food staple like corn for humans and livestock to produce ethanol. They also fear the landscape level impacts of rushing into a quick fix. Here, Tom DeLuca, a senior scientist with The Wilderness Society based in Bozeman, Montana, examines the issue and explains how the perspective from Montana holds wide implications for the rest of the country.

Read More »

America Is Paying A Steep Price For Cheap Food

George Wuerthner has been called a brilliant provocateur who knows how to get under the skin of Western ranchers. With this essay, one that is certain to incite a strong reaction from readers, he examines the costs of America's cheap food policy on both the U.S. Treasury and the environment. Wuerthner writes: "Agriculture is the most destructive land use in America." As an activist, trained biologist, photographer and environmental writer, he has become a prominent figure in the campaign to eliminate livestock from public lands. The author of several dozen books, Wuerthner also has written prolifically about forest ecology, wildfire, the impacts of ATVs and, of course, the effects of non-native cattle and sheep on native species. His coffee-table picture book,Welfare Ranching: The Subsidized Destruction of the American West, set off a firestorm of debate over the impacts of livestock and the multiple ways that beef production is subsidized by U.S. taxpayers. His most recent book is Wild Fire: A Century of Failed Forest Policy. With this first piece, NewWest.Net is debuting a regular column from Mr. Wuerthner that will run twice a month on all things nature-related and anything that suits his fancy.

Read More »

Western Lawmakers Like President’s Energy Proposals

Western lawmakers’ reaction to President Bush's State of the Union speech was a mixed bag, but many lawmakers praised the president’s plan to expand energy conservation plans and to increase production of renewable energy . An Associated Press article in the Santa Fe New Mexicansaid that Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch hoped the president would include geothermal energy in his repertoire of renewable energy options, while New Mexico’s Sen. Pete Domenici criticized the president for not aggressively pursuing nuclear energy in his plan. The New Mexico Republican said nuclear power is the single most important change the nation can make to confront climate change. But President Bush’s mention of “clean, safe nuclear energy,” riled up Nevada Rep. Shelley Berkley, who scoffed at the depiction. The Las Vegas Review-Journal quoted the Nevada Democrat as saying, "There is no such things as 'clean and safe' nuclear energy..”

Read More »

What Al Gore Hasn’t Told You About Global Warming

Is there any hope of really addressing climate change or is the environmental movement merely sounding a deafening alarm as Rome continues to burn? In the following review of George Monbiot's new book, Heat: How To Stop The Planet From Burning, posted first at AlterNet, David Morris lays out the author's blunt assessment of the challenges facing civilization. The title of the piece is What Al Gore Hasn't Told You About Global Warming. The most difficult hurdle is modifying current human lifestyles necessary to gain any ground in slowing the amount of carbon dioxide pouring into the atmosphere. It's the big white elephant in the room. Will humans voluntarily limit their creature comforts or will it require a government program similar to the one imposed by FDR on Americans during World War II? Will Gore speak to this point when he delivers a keynote address at Boise State University later this month or will he dodge the issue?

Read More »

A Free-Marketeer Asks: What Is The Solution To Our Energy Future?

"I find it interesting that green activists and their political allies uniformly favor dramatic and draconian action to avert climate change," writes Pete Geddes. "Serious policy analysts are different; they generally favor less dramatic action applied over the long term." Mr. Geddes, executive vice president of the Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment (FREE), a Libertarian think tank headquartered in Bozeman, Montana, returns once again to the theme of climate change and possible alternatives to carbon-based energy. Implying that the body of scientific evidence affirming human-caused global warming appears to be partisan and unconvincing, he writes: "Despite assurances to the contrary from Al Gore, there are large uncertainties regarding the physical processes driving climate change." In the essay which follows that is sure to elicit a response from readers—including a reply, hopefully, from scientists out there—Geddes makes a number of pointed assertions. We, at New West, are adding our discussion questions in parenthesis and we hope you will join in. "Over the next fifty years," Geddes writes, "the world’s developing nations will seek to emulate the West’s material success. Their leaders know that improving the quality of life for their citizens requires more, not less, energy consumption." (Our response is: What about China? There, 550 brand new old-technology coal-fired power plants are scheduled to come on line at the rate of almost one per week over the next decade, exacerbating what is already the worst air quality affecting hundreds of millions of people. Those plants also serve as a major source of greenhouse gases affecting climate worldwide. Indeed, Chinese leaders are right now employing Geddes' argument about quality of life being improved by racing industrialization, based upon the burning of oil and coal, but the net effect of this case study is also huge public health problems, water shortages, and an unprecedented environmental disaster growing in magnitude. How is the free-market going to remedy this and who will pay for it)? While once again advocating for a market-based carbon trading program, Geddes points to another possibility: "A different approach involves the interesting question of geoengineering, i.e., our ability to manipulate the global climate through, say, space-based mirrors or carbon from jet exhaust. This is a serious area of research and raises important questions and possibilities. Among them, what temperature do we want and who decides? Do we let the Maldive Islanders decide, since future sea level rise could submerge their homes? The Russians might prefer some moderate warming, to increase agriculture in Siberia and provide ice-free ports. I’ll explore this topic further in a future column." New West looks forward to Geddes' next column on that subject. Meantime, we pose another question for discussion: (Mr. Geddes appears to put a lot of faith and promise in the very same scientific community that many of his skeptical peers have either dismissed or claimed as not being credible. Many skeptics have also asserted that humankind is not capable of being a significant force in altering climate. If that is the case, then perhaps he could explain the apparent paradox in his argument in which he points to the "uncertainty" of humans influencing climate, on the one hand, and yet being poised, through scientific technology, to provide a manipulated fix)?

Read More »

Amid Record Heat, Wildfires, Fishing Bans, and Drought, An Inconvenient Truth Torches The Skeptics

To the so-called skeptics of human-caused climate change, the movie, An Inconvenient Truth, turns to a quote from the great American writer Upton Sinclair who wrote: "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it." On a sweltering summer evening, Todd Wilkinson, our Bozeman editor, ruminates a bit about the film and the multitude of ways its message is playing out before our eyes.

Read More »

Is Ethanol Worth the Hype?

by Christian Tokkelossi Where I come from we eat our food, we don’t burn it. Maize meal (usually just with salt and boiling water) is most of Africa’s staple food, eaten three times a day — by the more fortunate. To go and burn it, albeit in a sophisticated internal combustion engine would be an act of lunacy and suicide for most Africans. That’s why I’m skeptical about the latest hype surrounding ethanol. From Pres. Bush's State of the Union Address to the “Live Green, Go Yellow” campaign by General Motors, something feels fundamentally wrong. People have never voluntarily burned their crops...

Read More »

Biofuelin’ an Ethanol Industry

During a meeting this week of a thousand Oregon business and government bigwigs in Portland, Harvard business prof Michael Porter argued that the state needs to develop its industrial "clusters,"or groupings of related industries. They feed off one another's energy, it seems. One cluster that may be sprouting in our neighborhood: Ethanol plants. One Gresham man, Hiroshi Morihara, hopes to construct an ethanol plant (producing ethanol from the wood chips of poplar trees barged down the Columbia River) and research center in east Multnomah County. Further along with its plans is WestPac Fuel of Mill Valley, Calif., which signed a deal in December to lease 25 acres from the Port of Morrow in Boardman, Ore.

Read More »