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Friday, December 21, 2007

Email to Senator Bill Nelson

Dear Senator Nelson,

Thank you for taking the time to reply to my recent email.

You have clearly indicated the challenge of the problem that your country faces due to its dependency on foreign fuels and it is disappointing to learn that tax breaks for alternate energy production were dropped from the energy bill.

However, I am extremely upset to see that you voted for the CLEAN Energy Act in the Senate. An act mandating 36 billion gallons of fuels coming from bio fuel can in no way be described as clean. As I pointed out in my previous email to you, this will convert one of the worlds most productive bread baskets into a second rate gas pump.

The Seatle Times recently reported: “The land needs of the bio-fuel’s industry are gargantuan. In the U.S., nearly one-third of corn production will go to make ethanol by the end of the decade, replacing only 8 percent of gasoline use, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The department also projects that nearly a quarter of the nation's soybean crop will go to bio diesel, producing less than 2 percent of highway diesel consumed in the U.S.”

Given current figures for ethanol productivity per acre, by 2023 approximately 50% of total US crops will be needed to produce the mandated amount of bio-fuel. This will result in world wide food shortages and starvation on a mass scale.

All this disruption will not mitigate global warming at all. Almost as much fossil fuel is needed in the manufacture of bio fuels as is actually produced. Bio fuel production on the scale that is envisaged in your bill will result in huge amounts of NO2 emissions from the massive amounts of fertilisers necessary to achieve the production quotas. NO2 is 300 times more potent a greenhouse gas than CO2. These factors will far outweigh any perceived enivoromental benefits. From a security perspective, Americal will simply trade its dependancy for foreign fuel for food dependancy on food, which will be a far worse situation.

Your email talks about increasing standard fuel economy of cars to 35 mpg. There is little merit in arguing that more efficient cars will significantly reduce CO2 emissions if the bill does nothing to curtail car use in any significant way. Experience shows more efficient cars simply encourage people to travel further if nothing is done to constrain demand and emissions do not fall. I have read through the bill and see nothing to suggest any significant measures that will curtail car use.

I remain sceptical and disappointed that the US senate has introduced such a narrow minded and limited bill when the world is currently desperately looking for leadership.

This email will be published on my blog http://kevsclimatecolumn.blogspot.com/

Regards, Kevin Lister

Sources:

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/biotech/2004026594_biotechcrops21.html

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/science/article2507851.ece

http://www.news.cornell.edu/releases/Aug01/corn-basedethanol.hrs.html

http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/F?c110:4:./temp/~c110N6b6LP:e24227
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