A new campaign funded by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has created controversy in the biofuels industry. The campaign was developed, according to a blog post by Nathanael Greene, “to sharpen the distinction between biofuels done right and biofuels done wrong.” The campaign cites that ethanol plants using coal power is “wrong” as well as biofuels that “pillage” natural resources are done “wrong”. How to do them right? Use crops like switchgrass that use less water and fertilizer.
Sean O’Hanlon, the executive director of the American Biofuels Council (ABC), responded to the campaign by noting that NRDC made an error in that they just made themselves feedstock specific.
However, in an article published by OPIS, Greene clarified the intention of the campaign. “Congress and the country are working now to create a clean energy future and grow green jobs. If biofuels are going to be part of that future, we need to get them right. All biofuels — first generation, advanced, cellulosic, algae, you name it — they all need to be done right and measured against strict performance standards.”
“Today, environmental groups are the ones who are dictating what fuels, methodology and technology the biofuels industry should be developing.” said O’Hanlon. “What the biofuels industry should have been doing from day one is producing its fuel using wind, solar, hydo-electric, and geothermal power.”
O’Hanlon concluded by saying, “In order to produce biofuels sustainably, there are additional issues we are going to face including water use. The industry needs to start preparing for this now.” There are many experts who would agree that water use is going to come under fire in the next few months. Let’s hope the industry gets out ahead of the issue and doesn’t face another crisis similar to food versus fuel.