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U.S. projected to become world’s top oil producer by 2015

ETHANOL: The Associated Press continues its reporting on the environmental impacts of ethanol, finding more than 1 million acres of grassland have been converted to farmland.

ALSO: Iowa farmers defend their conservation practices, the EPA will soon release a decision on the renewable fuel mandate, and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says “I don’t know” if ethanol has climate benefits. (Cedar Rapids Gazette, Politico, The Hill)

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OIL: The U.S. is forecast to become the world’s top oil producer by 2015, but the distinction won’t last for long. (McClatchy)

PIPELINES: Enbridge will likely reroute a proposed pipeline to avoid organic farms in northern Minnesota, and North Dakota officials begin testing groundwater at the site of September’s 20,000 barrel pipeline spill. (Duluth News Tribune, Associated Press)

COAL: Minnesota regulators are expected to make a decision tomorrow that could determine the future of the state’s largest coal plant. (Minnesota Public Radio)

WIND: A report finds wind farms could cut property tax rates in some rural Nebraska counties by as much as 39 percent, and work is halted on a Michigan wind project as developers investigate a broken blade. (Omaha World-Herald, Battle Creek Enquirer)

OHIO: Wind energy opponents line up to support a bill to weaken Ohio’s renewable energy law. (Columbus Business First)

TRANSPORTATION: States look to tolls to fund road projects as gasoline tax revenues decline, and the rise of electric vehicles creates a growing charging infrastructure industry. (Stateline, New York Times)

EFFICIENCY: The Chicago Infrastructure Trust approves its first project, which will make energy upgrades to 75 city buildings. (Chicago Tribune)

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SOLAR: Construction begins on what will become the largest solar array in Wisconsin. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

COMMENTARY: What solar power needs for a brighter future, and is it “time to just cut our losses” on ethanol? (Wall Street Journal, Washington Post)

Comments (1)

Commentary on the commentary…

In his recent editorial in the Washington Post Plum Line blog, Ryan Cooper makes an all-too-common mistake. He assumes that the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) was established by Congress solely to deal with climate change. He also fails to ask the musical question: “If we don’t burn ethanol in our vehicles, what fuel will we use?”
The answer, at least for many of us in the upper Midwest, is petroleum fuels from the Tar Sands region of Alberta Canada. It takes great amounts of water and energy to produce these fuels, and their greenhouse gas emissions are significantly higher than other petroleum sources.
The series of articles that Cooper cites is not the best journalism I have seen from the Associated Press, an institution I respect and trust. I say this not as a biofuels advocate (which I am, unabashedly so), but as a former newspaper editor. Had a reporter handed this to me for publication, I would have insisted on an extensive re-write.

By Robert Moffitt on Nov 13, 2013