Ten Energy Stories to Watch in 2014

What will shake the energy world this year?

In our energy law classes at Cal, we like to start the day by talking about Energy in the News. The media never fails us. Every day, there are multiple energy-related stories of significance touching on resource development, new technologies, policy shifts, jobs, regional politics, prices, international relations, or the environment. Once you start looking …


Indirect Land Use Change and Biofuels

Biofuels are a promising way to reduce carbon emissions, but they have a potential side-effect: indirect land use change (ILUC).  ILUC is more serious for some fuels than others, but it’s a possibility with any biofuel except perhaps algae grown in tanks in the desert. The logic of ILUC seems undeniable: because demand for food …


Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Biofuels — And More!

Click here for videos of a conference at the University of Illinois Law School on the current state of play in the biofuels world.


EPA’s New Biofuels Standards

While I was traveling last week, EPA issue new standards for biofuels.  This rule makes changes to the Renewable Fuel Standard program as required by a 2007 statute. The statute sets new specific annual volume standards for cellulosic biofuel, biomass-based diesel, advanced biofuel, and total renewable fuel that must be used in transportation fuel. The …


In Terms of Ethanol, Corny Is Not Funny

Today’s NY Times has an excellent op ed on corn ethanol.  In terms of the environmental impact, the author (Russell Harding) says: . . . .  if ethanol use was really helping the environment, it might be worth putting up with higher costs. But many environmental groups dropped their support for corn-based ethanol after two …


Two Important New Papers About Climate Policy

The latest issue of Science has two key papers on climate policy.  First, Tim Searchinger, Dan Kammen (a faculty member at ERG), and others argue that an accounting exemption for bioenergy that appears in the Kyoto Protocol, the European carbon trading scheme and draft legislation on Capitol Hill treats all biofuels as “carbon neutral” even …


Ethanol and World Hunger

A new report, based on intensive modeling, raises serious concerns about the impact of first-generation biofuels such as corn ethanol.  The picture for second-generation fuels, such as the cellulosic ethanol now being researched at the Energy Bioscences Institute, is much better.  Note, however, that the source is somewhat suspect  — the OPEC Fund for International …