January 25, 2012
In 2011, I had the priviledge to act as external on Alphanso Williams’ Masters thesis defense. It was an outstanding effort by a very talented young academic. Alphanso’s enthusiasm has served him well as he tackles policy issues around energy. In this article entitled “Wishful Thinking in Energy Policy:Biofuels in the US and EU” in Energy Politics 2011 (developed out of Williams’ Masters research), Alphanso and Dr. Bill Kerr contrast and compare US and EU energy policies.
“It would appear that in both the European Union and the United States, the shortfalls in meeting the mandates are likely to be significant. For those contemplating investments in the energy sector, both where biofuel mandates have been put in place and around the world, this creates considerable uncertainty.”
“…the restrictions on technology and land use could be removed allowing more agricultural land to be diverted to production of biodiesel and corn-based ethanol. This would likely re-ignite the food-versus-fuel debate…”
“None of these options is politically palatable. There is no obvious policy choice.”
Congratulations, again, to Alphanso on his successful defense. His work points out some of the problems with existing energy policies. This article will represent a first in many, I am sure
Check out page 729+ – article by Strauss et al on the implications of regulations on biofuel crops/development (grasses and woody plants) in US entitled “Far reaching Deleterious Impacts of Regulations on Research & Environmental Studies of Recombinant DNA-modeified Perennial Biofuel Crops in the US”
October 2010, Volume 60 No. 9
“…the current legal and regulatory situation places severe constraints on both the ability to develop GE crops at all, and then on the performance of adequate environmental studies to inform regulatory and other social decisions about their use…” (p. 738).
Strauss etal outline some ways to address the current constraints/problems:
1. focus regulatory requirements on defined risks.
2. use scientific criteria for design of categories for a low-level presence (LLP) system
3. create an early stage LLP management system
4. clarify the role of NEPA and the CBD
According to Strauss etal, “…the regulatory thicket is deep and thorny…” Resolving issues will require reworking of laws (in US and internationally) or “…a fundamental court precedent that stops the penalization of the GE process” and “enshrining into law the ‘product not process’ principle” (p. 739).
“Solving these problems will require new ways of thinking and strong scientific and political leadership to move us toward a regulatory system that enables, rather than arbitrarily blocks, the use of GE as a tool to accelerate and diversify the breeding of … biofuelcrops.” (p.739).
An article from Physorg.com outlines the report by Strauss and colleagues http://www.physorg.com/news205157589.html
Article excerpt: “The current environment poses enormous legal risks that can and have cost some companies millions of dollars in civil lawsuits, the scientists said, sometimes for damages that were more of perception and market issues, than of safety or environmental impact.”
Klaus Schumacher, Toepfer International http://www.acti.de/en/index.php
“Developments on the Markets for Grain, Oilseeds, Oils and Fats”
Transatlantic Biofuels Policies: What’s in it for Developing
March 16, 2007