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The rollback of a $1/gallon federal tax credit on biofuels threatens to sink many small biodiesel producers across the country.  (Source: Alibaba)
Without the $1/gallon federal tax credit, the biodiesel industry no longer appears commercially viable

While most are hoping that the U.S. can transition to electric vehicles and vehicles running on sustainable biofuels, this last year has made it clear that the process will be no walk in the park.  Recent studies showed that, in their current form, hydrogen cars emit more carbon over their lifecycle than gas cars.  And early consumer electric vehicles, like the BMW Mini E, while low emissions, have suffered from a variety of temperature related woes.

Now the biofuels sector has become the latest green transportation field to suffer disappointment in 2009.  The year started off rocky with the European Union in March unveiling import-killing tariffs on biodiesel and other biofuel.  Then, as the U.S. recovered from the recession, diesel prices dropped 18 percent off their highs, making it harder to justify the high costs of biodiesel.

Now another nail has been placed in the commercial biofuel industry' coffin -- the government $1/gallon federal tax credit will expire this Friday.  And for many businesses in the industry, it may be the last; amid a frustrating market, many biodiesel makers across the U.S. say they will likely call it quits and cease production when the credit ends.

The largest biodiesel refinery, located in Houston, Tex. has already shut down.  Another large refinery, located in Hoquiam, Wash. has been shut down as well, following a December explosion. 

However, it's not just big businesses that are cutting biofuel production and jobs.  Small businesses are also suffering.  Dwight Francis of Valliant, Okla. launched a new biodiesel venture earlier this year when the local timber economy tanked.  He was producing 12,000 gallons of biodiesel fuel per week by mid-year, and his business was viable, thanks to the $1/gallon tax credit.  Now with the credit gone, he says he's shutting down the promising startup.

He bemoans, "By the time you buy the feedstock and the chemicals to produce the fuel, you have more money in it than you get for the fuel without the tax credit.  We won't be producing any without the tax credit."

Congress and the U.S. Environmental Protections Agency have set the ambitious benchmark of producing 36 billion gallons of home-grown biofuel a year by 2022, reducing dependence on volatile foreign oil.  The prospects of achieving that goal now look bleak, according to government officials.  States Robert McCormick, principal engineer at the Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory, "You could say the entire biofuels industry has had a rough year."

Despite these setbacks both optimism and debate on biofuels remains high.  Many liken the departure from traditional gas combustion to EVs, fuel cell vehicles, and biofuel vehicles to be similar to other past modern technological breakthroughs such as the computer, internet, airplane, and railroad.  These past innovations only reached consumers thanks to massive subsidies and investment of both money and land from the U.S. federal government.  Many argue that similar investments are needed to allow the alternative energy transportation industry to reach viability.  The real question, many say, is which candidate(s) is/are best to invest in (EVs, fuel cells, and/or biofuels) and when and how much should be invested.


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RE: Are electric cars really clean???
By AEvangel on 1/4/2010 11:26:21 AM , Rating: 0
quote:
Ozone contributes to at most 7% of the global warming potential, while CO2 contributes as little as 9% and as much as 26%. So ozone has quite a bit of headroom before it's on the level of CO2. CO2 has nothing on H20 (36%-72%), the greenhouse gas with the largest GWP.


You forgot to add in THEORY....since that all that is, none of the Global Warming by believers or Deniers is proven it's all THEORY at this point.


RE: Are electric cars really clean???
By Iaiken on 1/4/2010 12:34:13 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
You forgot to add in THEORY...


No, the world's current warming trend is scientific fact... The ice caps ARE melting, glaciers ARE retreating, Greenland is actually going to be green soon. That's not what is up for debate...

In Canada's great white north and there are glaciers that were hundreds of thousands of years old when I first saw them as a child and several of had disappeared before my last visit to Banff and Yoho national parks this previous year. Other glaciers in the parks have had their terminus moved significantly up the mountains when only twenty years ago they reached all the way to the valleys below. Surveying has shown that glacial area of these parks have decreased by about 35% that average glacial volume has decreased by around 50%.

In Africa, the ice cap of Mt. Kilimanjaro was over 10,000 years old. It has lost 80% of it's volume and aproximately the same amount of are since it was first surveyed in the early 1900's. 60% of that melt occurred since a detailed NASA satellite/ground survey conducted in the early 90's.

The theories people ARE debating are as follows:

- that we are the cause of global warming
or
- global warming is a natural occurring phenomenon
or
- global warming is natural, but we are speeding it up

These theories all require significantly different action on our part as it is not something that we can simply ignore.

So the first question that needs answering are thus:

- Are we the cause?
- Can we do anything to stop/slow it?
- Which areas will be affected and how?
- What can we do to adapt to it in affected areas?

What's more, this isn't some problem that will affect only far away lands.

A significant source of humanities fresh drinking water is going to disappear by 2030 as glaciers melt and drain into the ocean. Areas such as those surrounding the Sierra Nevada's are already feeling the crunch as the snow pack is almost completely gone. Reservoirs are depleting and the region has been left to the mercy of infrequent rainfall. Cities like Las Vegas, Los Angeles and San Diego already have full blown water crisis's on their hands and are entering their 4th consecutive year of drought conditions.


By AEvangel on 1/4/2010 1:43:30 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
No, the world's current warming trend is scientific fact... The ice caps ARE melting, glaciers ARE retreating, Greenland is actually going to be green soon. That's not what is up for debate...


Once again I could link to you TONS of websites and studies that say they are not melting but growing and that in the last ten years temperatures have actually dropped on a Global average. It all depends on whose study of what you believe.

quote:
In Canada's great white north and there are glaciers that were hundreds of thousands of years old when I first saw them as a child and several of had disappeared before my last visit to Banff and Yoho national parks this previous year.


This is anecdotal evidence at best, I could once again show you historical evidence that less then 20k years ago all of Canada was covered in ice.

quote:
A significant source of humanities fresh drinking water is going to disappear by 2030 as glaciers melt and drain into the ocean.


While I don't like alarmist statements like the one you make here I do however agree that fresh drinking water is a much larger problem then Climate change is at this time.


By Kurz on 1/4/2010 7:18:24 PM , Rating: 2
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