Conservation vs Grass Ethanol

In an otherwise great piece of news, this little paragraph caught my eye (Scientific American, emphasis mine):

 The use of native prairie grasses is meant to avoid some of the other risks associated with biofuels such as reduced diversity of local animal life and displacing food crops with fuel crops. “This is an energy crop that can be grown on marginal land,” Vogel argues, such as the more than 35 million acres (14.2 million hectares) of marginal land that farmers are currently paid not to plant under the terms of USDA’s Conservation Reserve Program.

Part of the program’s purpose is to reduce soil erosion and protect water supplies.  If the land is being used for a harvested crop, might that put the “environmentally sensitive lands” the program protects at risk?

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3 Responses

  1. Good Point.
    Biofuel is becoming quite a ‘hot topic’, everyone is rushing out to make the stuff without considering some of the long term environmental impacts.

    You may be interested in this article, which was on the midday news today. Concerns grow over biofuel eco impact

  2. All this talk of alternative energy is more political posturing. Nothing good will be done about the problem else the oil that we are addicted to like crack will lose it’s appeal.

    Hydrogen engines have been talked about for years but nothing has been done to promote the conversion of todays engines to accommodate this process. And it is an easy process. It does not require advanced, expensive technology and can be integrated into all modern gas or diesel engines rather quickly. So why have we not heard more about this? Ask any president, oil CEO, or Saudi prince and they will not answer.

  3. ozatheist, thanks. Biofuel could be amazing, but like so much new science, there isn’t nearly enough thought aimed at “well, what will the impact be? In 10 years? 50? 100?).

    Thanks for the link, that’s a very interesting article.

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