Tempi brutti per i biocombustibili: era ora!

Di Ugo Bardi

Una cosa che mi ha sempre stupito è come, appena ci siamo accorti che c’era un problema energetico, la corsa è partita a tutta velocità verso le soluzioni – peccato che fossero tutte quelle sbagliate, per esempio l’idrogeno. Fra le non-soluzioni al problema, una delle più gettonate è quella dei biocombustibili. Qui, oltre ad essere una non-soluzione perché troppo costosi, ovvero a basso EROEI, i biocombustibili portano problemi peggiori di quelli che (non) risolvono. Usare prodotti dell’agricoltura per nutrire le automobili invece degli esseri umani, decisamente, non è una buona idea

Per fortuna, arriva una buona notizia dal Senato degli Stati Uniti. Soppresse le sovvenzioni al bioetanolo! Era ora! Fra l’altro, sei miliardi di dollari non erano certo noccioline.

Non che sia una decisione ragionata; probabilmente arriva più che altro dalla foga della maggioranza repubblicana di tagliare ovunque possibile e anche doce non-possibile. Così, non è detto che il taglio non sia semplicemente dimostrativo; nel senso che il finanziamento potrebbe essere riammesso. Comunque, è un buon segno.

Ecco l’articolo da “Reuters” riprodotto da “Scientific American

Senate Votes to End $6 billion in Ethanol Subsidies

By Tom Doggett

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Senate voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to eliminate billions of dollars in support for the U.S. ethanol industry, sending a strong message that the era of taxpayer support for biofuels is ending.

The Senate in a 73-27 vote approved an amendment to end the 45-cent-a-gallon subsidy the government gives refiners and the 54-cent-per-gallon tariff on imported ethanol, which would be a boon to a major ethanol-producing country such as Brazil that makes ethanol from sugarcane.

The Senate measure still faces a long road to becoming final. The White House issued a statement saying it was against a full repeal of ethanol subsidies, indicating it could use its veto power if the amendment continued to advance in Congress.

“We need reforms and a smarter biofuels program, but simply cutting off support for the industry isn’t the right approach,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

The strong vote in favor of eliminating the $6 billion a year in ethanol subsidies reflects the push by both parties to rein in the government’s huge deficit.

“The way we get out of trouble as a nation is a couple of billions of dollars at a time,” said Republican Senator Tom Coburn, who co-sponsored the ethanol amendment.

The Senate vote also comes as criticism mounts globally over subsidies for corn-based ethanol, blamed by some for raising food costs.

Last week, the World Bank and other international organizations called on governments to stop their ethanol subsidies because of concerns they were driving up world food prices.

While more ethanol is good for corn farmers, U.S. livestock producers argue their feeding costs have gone up, which has raised food prices.

Corn prices have slumped more than 12 percent since hitting a record high near $8 a bushel on Friday. Traders are betting on reduced demand from ethanol makers whose profit margins are being squeezed between near-record corn cost and falling gasoline prices.

The sell-off has been led by investment funds, traders say, in part because of the increasingly hostile political climate that they believe may diminish demand prospects in the years ahead.

Lawmakers are working on other compromise measures to scale back the subsidies that are also due to expire by the end of this year.

On Tuesday the Senate fell far short of the 60 votes needed on a similar amendment that would have stripped the industry of federal incentives .

The ethanol subsidy amendment on Thursday from Coburn and Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein will be tacked on to an underlying economic development bill, which faces a difficult time passing the Senate.

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives voted 283-128 on Thursday to prevent Agriculture Department funding for tanks and blender pumps that the ethanol industry wants so stations can sell gasoline with higher ethanol blend rates.

The Senate took the opposite view, voting against a separate amendment that would have blocked federal funding for such ethanol infrastructure.

(Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Russell Blinch)

4 comments ↓

#1 Franco on 06.19.11 at 16:30

Mentre in USA si frena, in Italia si accelera di brutto: http://www.gruppomg.com/news.php?newsid=25

Mossa&Ghisolfi inaugureranno a breve a Crescentino (VC) un impianto basato su tecnologie PROESA (ChemTex srl) per il bioetanolo di seconda generazione da 40Kt/anno. La biomassa lignino-cellulosica proverrà da 4500ha piantati con Arundo donax (canna comune) e ne serviranno tra 120 e 140Kt/anno. Il claim è che si useranno “terre marginali” per produrre l’Arundo, ma chi conosce la zona sa che di maginale c’è poco nel vercellese.

D’altra parte il mondo scientifico è in ebollizione perchè proliferano nuove specie a basso contenuto di lignina (http://www.pnas.org/content/108/9/3803.short) che promettono rese eccezionali in etanolo.

La questione biofuels è tutt’altro che chiusa. Ne vedremo delle belle, Ugo…

Franco

#2 mauriziodaniello on 06.19.11 at 19:54

Se il biocombustibili sono prodotti con lo scarto/rifiuto (esempio l’olio fritto) oppure con culture appropriate che non ledono l’agricoltura dei commestibili (esempio alghe) sono un toccasana (nel senso che non risolvono il problemone ma lo attenuano) MA sperare di bruciare il cibo non è solo immorale ma anche più dispendioso di quanto si creda.

Ciao

#3 hemp on 07.03.11 at 03:59

Um no…On Thursday the Senate approved an amendment that could wipe out billions of dollars earmarked for the ethanol industry by voting 73-in-favor 27-against. The ethanol-related amendment that passed on Thursday will be tacked on to an economic development bill which will likely face a tough battle in the Senate…Turning our attention back to that though similar its not identical to amendment that passed through the Senate on Thursday…On a related note the House of Representatives voted 283-in favor 128-against to ban the United States Department of Agriculture USDA from dishing out across the U.S…………….. Source Images ….

#4 Christina Carabini on 07.08.11 at 22:45

ethanol industry sending a strong message that the era of big taxpayer support for biofuels is ending. The 73-27 vote may ultimately be symbolic since the White House has vowed not to repeal ethanol subsidies fully and the bill the repeal language is attached to is not expected to make it into law.