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Minnesota Project Releases New Report: Transportation Biofuels in the United States: An Update

August 19, 2009


The Minnesota Project is pleased to release our newest report, Transportation Biofuels in the United States: An Update.

Download the report >>

These days you cannot turn around without hearing and reading about new developments in the biofuels sector—it can be nearly impossible to follow all of the news. These updates come in many forms: Researchers continue to make advancements in the biofuels production process and in feedstocks; New state and federal policies and research and development efforts are announced on a weekly basis; Innovative collaborations and coalitions form to overcome information and political barriers; Start-up pilot, demonstration, and commercial biofuels production facilities are regularly announced by developers. To even the most engaged observers, it seems the biofuels wave continues to gain strength.

Yet, quiet announcements occur just as regularly about canceled or bankrupted biofuels facilities, research that yields bad news, and new concerns about the implications of ramping up biofuels production. These updates have led to one major question about the future of the industry: Will the uncertainty of biofuels goals, impacts, and results act as a rocky shore to the biofuels wave, breaking up the growing momentum and scattering the industry in several directions, perhaps delaying for years the growth of a stable, formidable, and sustainable biofuels sector that could truly begin to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and our reliance on fossil fuels?

While you can’t expect to find an answer to that question here, we do intend for Transportation Biofuels in the United States to act as a tool to provide an overview of the current status of major developments in the biofuels industry. We highlight recent changes in biofuels production processes, biomass development, and federal level policies such as the Biomass Crop Assistance Program. We also review unavoidable issues including the food versus fuel debate and the difficult indirect land use change debate. Our intention is not to criticize, cheerlead, or otherwise deny or approve particular results or arguments. Instead, our purpose is to provide information, pose questions, and seek objective analysis of the information that is currently available. Only through an open discussion may we most effectively find root problems and appropriate solutions. We believe that through honest evaluation and analysis, this wave of biofuels will not only stay together, but carry us all in the right direction.

Report Contents:
  • Section I: Technology
    • Cellulosic Ethanol
    • Algae Biodiesel
    • Corn Ethanol
  • Section II: Policy
    • Biomass Crop Assistance Program
    • Renewable Fuel Standard
  • Section III: Issues
    • Food versus Fuel
    • Indirect Land Use Change
    • Soil and Water
    • Invasive Species versus Native Species
    • Monoculture versus Polyculture
Download the report >>
6 Comments leave one →
  1. August 21, 2009 5:56 pm

    Thank you for highlighting the promise of biofuels to displace fossil fuel use and mitigate global warming. It is especially critical that this report notes our dependence on petroleum and further global warming is compounded if lifecycle analysis of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are not conducted accuately.

    The frightening fact is that EPA’s proposed GHG modeling is technically flawed, and is currently on a track to reverse a decade of Ameircan investmet in cleaner fuels and keep us addicted to dirty, imported petroelum.

    To learn more details of the technical inaccuraries in EPA’s proposed modeling and to ask EPA to use the best available science, you can visit our non-profit website at

    An examples of the many errors include failure to follow IPCC protocol, which includes a GHG credit for soybeans that remove nitrogen from the atmosphere and fix it into valuable soil nutirents. Correcting these errors results in GHG benefits vastly superior to petroluem and more than adequte to meet the 50% threshold for the RFS.

    • Ryan Stockwell permalink
      August 21, 2009 6:27 pm

      Good point, Don. Not only do the details of measurement processes have a huge impact in final scores for various fuel origins and processing systems, but they can dramatically alter the path of our fuel future.


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