Remember five years ago, when cellulosic ethanol was going to fill our tanks without eating into food crops? The Environmental Protection Agency does, because it's had to keep rolling back the minimum renewable fuel standards put into place by the passage of the 2005 Energy Policy Act (H.R. 6). 2012 will be no different than the last two years, when the EPA backed off cellulosic ethanol targets of 100 million gallons in tanks for 2010 and 250 million gallons in 2011, reducing those figures to just 6.5 million gallons for both years. The EPA has proposed setting the 2012 requirement at 12.9 million gallons.

Part of the problem, the EPA says, is that suppliers have not created the biorefineries and thus not generated the production volume that was projected in 2005 when H.R. 6 was signed by then-president George W. Bush. "What's the hold up?" asked Nebraska representative Lee Terry. "I would have expected mass production by now," he commented during a hearing in May. In March, President Obama indicated a desire to get four new cellulosic ethanol refineries up and running by 2013.

Under the original plan laid out in H.R. 6, the U.S. should be using 1 billion gallons of cellulosic ethanol in 2013, a number also likely to be rolled back due to the lack of fuel available on the market, though the EPA says it will continue to evaluate the market and remains optimistic that celluloic ethanol will play a larger role in the nation's fuel mix.


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  • 14 Comments
      Peter Foglia
      • 3 Years Ago
      Why we (The People) continue to allow this joke on the consumer is beyond me. If it can't be done with grasses, drop the corn subsidies (kickbacks!) and get rid of this crap. We'll get our mileage back too. Washington contnues to to prove it can't do anything right.
      JIM J
      • 3 Years Ago
      I own and farm a half section (320 acres) of Iowa farmland. A normal to small farm by today's standards. Every farmer I know expects corn subsidies will go away. There was a huge interest a number of years ago and numerous Ethanol plants were built. Most are up for sale, have sold or are no longer in service. It takes about 35,000 - 40,000 bushels/day to feed a single plant (BTW, they add gas to the mix prior to shipment so folks won't steal it to drink). Think about the volume of corn represented by 35,000 bushels and the transhipment/storage costs for that amount of material. A major cost in the making of Corn Ethanol. Now consider the following... About 50 miles from my ground the government is trying to build a cellulosic Ethanol plant using Stover. They've been working at making this plant work for more than a few years, throwing money at the research. Stover is the stuff that comes out of the back of the combine during harvest - everything that is not the corn kernel. The problems using Stover for Ethanol production are many; when bio material is not plowed back into the ground the ground becomes very, very hard and difficult to work (read greater cost). More fertilizer is required (read greater cost) since the natural fertilizer is not returned to the soil. Fertilizer costs about as much as seed corn itself (~$200/bag of 80K kernels, expected to be up ~ $450/bag in the next year or two). Storage/transportation. If 35,000 bushels of corn has major transportation and storage issues, they don't even begin to compare with Stover (read more costs). All those costs will be passed along. Not trying to take sides here, just trying to let the group know some of the issues surrounding Ethanol production. Obviously the cellulosic plant can be used with Switch Grass, but unless the farmer is able to make more growing Switch Grass than what he is growing now, he's not going to switch (no pun intended). Should we do the research. Yes, I think we should but certainly the return on corn Ethanol is very low and hardly worth it, Switch Grass is much, much better, but again there is no free lunch.
        rlog100
        • 3 Years Ago
        @JIM J
        Considering the best part of the plant in terms of what comes out of the soil is in the seed and/or the portion we eat, the issue about losing the natural fertilizer doesn't make sense. We're doing that already when we take away the edidble portions.
          Evan McMiller
          • 3 Years Ago
          @rlog100
          I'd think he would know which is the most fertile part...owning the farm and all...
      Thomas Curt
      • 3 Years Ago
      Couldn't have said it better, Monte. Well put.
      EZEE
      • 3 Years Ago
      So George W. Bush signs a Lawton protect the environment, and Barack Obama keeps watering it down. Tsk tsk tsk. Next thing you know, he will start bombing a country with no weapons of mass destruction, that did not attack us first! Oh, wait...
        rally25rs
        • 3 Years Ago
        @EZEE
        Yeah, Obama was sitting at his desk the other day, personally reading through these bills, noticed this one was signed 'George W. Bush', and he personally decided to 'water it down'. Never mind that the original bill wasn't technically feasible anyway. It is all Obama's fault since he personally decided to make this change, without any other government parties involved. Give me a break...
          LEDfoot
          • 3 Years Ago
          @rally25rs
          That would be funny if it wasn't a little to close to being so plausible...
      detox440
      • 3 Years Ago
      Name one thing the government has touched that turned out like it "planned" and benefited ALL people in this country? Social security, medicade, just about every welfare program, every war for the past 60 years, Everything they touch turns to crap, and people cannot seem to see this. I'm not saying this about a particular party because in my opinion both parties have set us up for a first class ticket to hell here soon.
      Nowuries
      • 3 Years Ago
      Agree with the previous comments, and hope they throw away the ethanol requirement. My darn Ducati hates it and the ethanol has ruined my tank (it expanded due to the additional water absorption from the ethanol... supposedly). Luckily, I am getting a new tank for free, but Ducati North America needs to admit the mistake and fix everyone's bike!
        Pat Hughes
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Nowuries
        just imagine if they put E15 in the gas: the Government will owe me a BRAND NEW Fuel System for my 1998 Plymouth. (Plastic Tank (would not be suprised if the same thing that happened to your tank is happening to mine...), Rubber Hoses, Plastic Fuel Pump/Gauge Sender Housing, not to mention the corrosion of the Steel Lines running up to the Engine Compartment.)
      nardvark
      • 3 Years Ago
      Weird, I would have thought a Congressional mandate guaranteed scientific progress.
      Clumsy Grandpa
      • 3 Years Ago
      All the ethanol we use in the USA should be cellulosic based asap even if we have to import it from Brazil to force the issue. Also no more subsidies and only enough ethanol to replace lead/tbtp in gasoline. Do away with E85 and the idea of E20 since we're never going to use enough ethanol to put a sizable dent in our oil addiction.
        dreadcthulhu01
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Clumsy Grandpa
        Brazil produces ethanol from sugar, not from cellulosic sources. And anyways, for the last couple of years Brazil has been importing ethanol from the US, as they can't even meet their own demand.
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