Ag Secretary Criticizes Report on Biofuels

The U.S. Department of Agriculture was one of the government agencies that sponsored a report on biofuels released yesterday by the National Research Council, but the secretary of agriculture is critical of the findings.

“I think they’re basing conclusions on old information that’s not as accurate as it once was,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack during a press conference on another subject Tuesday afternoon. “I think it’s unfortunate that reports based on, in my view, outdated information are suggesting that we ought to just give up the ghost.”

“We’re not going to give up on this industry,” Vilsack continued. “This industry’s too important to the United States, it’s too important to rural America, it’s too important to our future in terms of national security and it’s too important to the whole innovative culture we’re trying to accelerate in this country.”

Listen to Vilsack’s comments here: Tom Vilsack comments on NAS Report

3 thoughts on “Ag Secretary Criticizes Report on Biofuels

  1. Hi,
    I think that Vilsack is behind the issue. But the first problem was making Agriculture the lead agency on this file. There’s an excellent chance that the very best fuels in terms of sustainability in the most comprehensive sense will have nothing to do with agriculture.

    Cases can be made for certain developing fuel technologies that depend on the exploitation of domestic land resources, water resources etc. But exploitation of those things constitutes a hurdle right away. I’m not saying that certain options can’t overcome obstacles and succeed but there may be much better options in the long run. And certainly, every single dimension of sustainability must be considered when making policy decisions to back a certain fuel technology horse.

    Best option, all things considered? Look for fuel technologies that use no land, fresh water, fossil energy, petrochemicals or any other sustainability-challenging processes or inputs.

    It’s true that celluloscic might be able to use things that would otherwise be ‘waste’ but that plant mass represents soil richness that may need to be replenished, so it doesn’t necessarily come at no cost.

  2. It does seem obvious that cellulosci ethanol is proving to be a much tougher ‘nut’ to crack in terms of commercial viability than some had thought it would be. It does look as though the 2022 goals for boifuels may not be achieved.

    This is why the Government’s lack of interest in supporting the commercialization of the MIT designed ethanol enabled Direct Injection engine is foolhardy and not perticularly bright.

    The Ethanol Enabled Direct Injection engine, designed by three MIT scientists, can achieve a 30% increase in mpg and reduce fuel consumption 28% – while using 5% ethanol and 95% gasoline. It does this at a cost of $1,000 to $1,500 or about one third to one fourth the cost of a conventional hybrid. This engine multiplies the impact of ethanol by using turbo-charging to achieve high compression efficiency made possible by ethanol’s high octane property.

    Given the increased level of IN-security of our oil supply due to the onset of the “Arab spring” movement, the Government’s lack of recognition of the fact that we do not have 20 to 30 years to achieve a degree of oil independence is unconscionable. With the Ethanol Enabled Direct Injection Engine we could achieve a reduced dependence on imported oil in the shortest time vs other technologies (electric cars).

    We do need to develop electric vehicles, but we must recognize that the apprecialble reduction of petroleum consumption from the widespread use of electric cars will not be achieved for 20 to 30 years. We cannot afford to wait that long to reduce our dependence on petroleum.

  3. Cellulose and grain based fuels on a national scale is not a economical option as of yet. It would make more sense to select a organic feed stock such as algae, that can be grown in a 3D media (water), with a greater return per acre.