The headline should read “corn ethanol,” not biofuel-

Despite the past, and continuing subsidies, ethanol made from corn produces little net energy and a lot of political conflict as it consumes a quarter of the country’s corn crop.

Advanced biofuels might hold promise, especially those using bacteria to directly produce ethanol or other low carbon fuels. However, the creation of vast monocultures of vegetation on lands unsuited for crop (such as corn) production, could pose a planet changing environmental cost. “Waste” trees and brush from all over the countryside fed into a bottomless biofuel energy machine could leave the countyside looking like Haiti.

Northwest’s biofuel boom goes bust. By Scott Learn, The Oregonian

Tagged with:
 
avatar
About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University with specialties in natural resource politics, public opinion, interest groups, political parties, voting and elections. Aside from academic publications, he is author or co-author of three hiking/backpacking guides, and he is President of the Western Watersheds Project.

6 Responses to Northwest's biofuel boom goes bust

  1. avatar Linda Hunter says:

    I worry very much about the proposals to use “forest slash” as biofuel. They would of course make a big destructive industry out of taking the compost, life giving slash out of the forest. . the very thing that causes life to happen in wildlands starting with bugs and ending with bears. . forest debris provides cover, moisture, food, regeneration, and who knows what else to every manner of animal. Local advocates here have assured me that they would only use forest slash such as in clear cuts. . ha ha ha any fool can see that once a forest slash eating machine in the form of big business is born it’s appetite will consume us all. What happened to the idea of cutting back on our excessive life styles and conservation of non-renewable resources?

  2. avatar DB says:

    Well the OSU economist is probably right when he says tht wood waste for biofuels may be wishful thinking. But it does seem that we spend a lot of energy on machine piling and burning huge quanities of woody debris from logging operations. What a waste. If much of that was scattered and left on site to ammend and protect the soil perhaps the rest could be economically transported to biofuel facilities. There are also thoudands of acres of dense stands of small trees on public lands as a result of decades of fires suppression. Many of these acres are accessible without new roads and could be a source of biofuel material. It would take proper planning and administration by our public land agencies of course. Given the downsizing of the Forest Service and outsourcing of many of its fucntions and the politicization of state agencies I doubt such programs could be trusted to work.

  3. avatar Craig says:

    I noticed in my travels last week the brand new Ethanol plant in Burley Idaho is now shut down. They had to spend a forturne to build that thing with all the rail spurs ect! One of my customers told me they filed for Bankruptcy, don’t know if it’s true or not.

  4. avatar pc says:

    I’m not much for biofuels, but how bout producing hydrogen out of garbage. This is one link, their are many for this concept.

    http://www.hydrogencarsnow.com/blog2/index.php/hydrogen-production/italys-hydrogen-power-plant-fueled-by-garbage/

    I’m all for putting garbage to work instead of putting it in a landfill.

  5. avatar stopethanol says:

    Craig said:
    “I noticed in my travels last week the brand new Ethanol plant in Burley Idaho is now shut down. They had to spend a forturne to build that thing with all the rail spurs ect! One of my customers told me they filed for Bankruptcy, don’t know if it’s true or not.”

    That plant is one of the Pacific Ethanol plants that are in bankruptcy and it is shut down.

Calendar

June 2009
S M T W T F S
« May   Jul »
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
282930  

Quote

‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey

%d bloggers like this: