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Ethanol-driven feed costs cut U.S. meat output: USDA

Charles Abbott, Reuters via Yahoo
High feed costs, created by the explosive growth of the fuel ethanol industry, will lower U.S. beef and broiler chicken output this year by a quarter billion lbs from earlier forecasts, the U.S. government said on Friday.

… The Agriculture Department said beef output would dip by 62 million lbs and chicken by 124 million lbs from last month’s estimate, with total red meat and poultry production forecast for 90.359 billion lbs. Cattle, hog and poultry feeders say abrupt increases in feed costs — predominantly corn — are squeezing their operations.

Producers will send fewer animals to slaughter and at lower prices this year, said USDA. Both are ways to use less feed. Corn prices have doubled since last fall. The ethanol industry is expected to use 2.15 billion bushels of the 2006 corn crop and 3.2 billion bushels of this year’s crop. ..

It was the second month in a row that USDA lowered its forecast for beef and broiler production in 2007. In February, it reduced its beef estimate by 60 million lbs, saying “relatively high grain prices will encourage cattle to remain on grass longer” and result in lower beef production. USDA shaved its broiler forecast by 163 million lbs because fewer chicks were being hatched
(11 Mar 2007)

Ethanol use for biodiesel studied

Yuthana Praiwan, Bangkok Post
Processing ethanol into methyl ester to make biodiesel is being considered as a way to absorb an oversupply of ethanol, according to Metta Buntherngsuk, the director-general of the Department of Energy Business.

Local production of ethanol currently stands at 700,000 litres per day. But demand for ethanol to produce gasohol 95 is only 300,000 litres per day, leaving 400,000 litres per day as a surplus. Local ethanol supplies are expected to reach 4.8 million litres per day over the next few years from 26 producers who have been licensed since 2005.

The producers who obtained licences were counting on being able to tap heavy demand for gasohol, as the previous government had intended to end sales of premium gasoline this past January. However, the interim [post coup] government reversed that decision, saying that gasoline would remain available as long as there were cars that could not use gasohol. Most vehicles made before 1995 cannot use gasohol, and even the makers of some new vehicles advise owners against using the fuel. ..

Last week, oil companies stepped up efforts to promote gasohol by offering free maintenance to motorists who could prove that using gasohol 91 or 95 had harmed their engines.
(13 Mar 2007)

State makes big fuss over local couple’s vegetable oil car fuel

Huey Freeman, Herald & Review
..The [Illinois Department of Revenue] agents informed the Wetzels that they were interested in their car, a 1986 Volkswagen Golf, that David Wetzel converted to run primarily from vegetable oil but also partly on diesel.

Wetzel uses recycled vegetable oil, which he picks up weekly from an organization that uses it for frying food at its dining facility.

“They told me I am required to have a license and am obligated to pay a motor fuel tax,” David Wetzel recalled. “Mr. May also told me the tax would be retroactive.”

Since the initial visit by the agents on Jan. 4, the Wetzels have been involved in a struggle with the Illinois Department of Revenue. The couple, who live on a fixed budget, have been asked to post a $2,500 bond and threatened with felony charges.

State legislators have rallied to help the Wetzels.
(1 Mar 2007)

U.S. seen short of Bush’s ethanol plan

Tom Doggett, Reuters
The U.S. government’s top energy forecaster said on Wednesday that fuel ethanol production in a decade will fall short of what President George W. Bush says is needed to help cut America’s oil imports.

In his State of the Union speech to Congress last month, Bush said the country should increase its production of ethanol and alternatives fuels to 35 billion gallons by 2017.

But, after detailing his agency’s take on future U.S. energy supplies to lawmakers, Guy Caruso, the head of the federal Energy Information Administration, told reporters: “We don’t have the (Bush) goal in our outlook.” The EIA is the independent analytical arm of the Energy Department.

Caruso said ethanol was “basically” the main alternative fuel that will be available over the next decade. His comments reiterated remarks made to Reuters by other EIA officials last week that the agency expects ethanol output to be only about 11.5 billion gallons in 2017. ..
(28 Feb 2007)
Contributor Rick Lakin writes: As an alternative, Ethanol, like hydrogen, is an energy transition not an energy source.

Biodiesel made from palm oil might not be as ‘green’ as hoped

Les Blumenthal, McClatchy Newspapers
WASHINGTON – America’s drive for energy independence and clean air could threaten orangutans, Sumatran tigers, elephants, rhinoceroses and the world’s largest butterflies. All could be hurt as the rainforests of Southeast Asia are cleared to produce palm oil for use in biodiesel. It’s the downside of the crash effort to rein in global warming.

And the owners of what will be the largest biodiesel plant in the nation – at a deepwater port on Washington state’s coast – are well aware of the environmental consequences of logging and burning some of the most biologically diverse forests in the world to provide the prime ingredient for a much-in-demand clean fuel.

“We recognize there are serious deforestation issues,” said John Plaza, the founder of Imperium Renewables, which is building the plant in the Port of Grays Harbor. “It’s not OK to clear rainforest to put palm down. But to demonize an entire industry doesn’t do anyone any good. We need to solve these issues.”

Already, the Europeans are considering banning the importation of palm oil for use in biodiesel, and a Republican leader in the Legislature wants to close a loophole in state law and make biofuel production using imported palm oil ineligible for an existing state tax incentive. ..
(11 Mar 2007)