Pacific Ethanol slams conventional wisdom in indirect land-use change at California Low Carbon hearings

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Tom Koelher’s excellent presentation at the CARB hearings is downloadable from

In California, Tom Koehler of Pacific Ethanol asked incisive questions at California Air Resources Board hearings on the proposed California Low Carbon Fuel Standard. The proposed standard includes an indirect land-use change component that biofuels supporters say is based on thin, untested science.

Koehlers presentation, which focuses on Indirect Land Use Change and is downloadable here, is perhaps the most cogent short examination of the ILUC issue from a biofuels producers perspective, and asks:

Is conventional wisdom correct?
CW on food versus fuel has proven to be wrong. Current biofuel production volumes are not driving up food prices; oil prices drive food prices.

Is oethe Science settled?
Science is generating hypotheses, testing them against the available data and Choosing those that best fit the data. 
Can ILUC models (hypotheses) fit the historical data? 
Can they hindcast or backcast previous trends in agriculture?

Will ILUC penalties slow deforestation?
How will penalizing U.S. biofuels producers change the decisions made by illegal timber operations in the Third World?

Yield, yield & yield
Do ILUC models correctly estimate potential increases in global agricultural yield and productivity e.g. 700% corn yield increases in Africa? 
Do they account for new high yielding biomass feedstocks e.g. switchgrass or miscanthus?

Are they politically feasible?
Will U.S. producers be economically responsible for foreign land owners use decisions? Perhaps all land use change is direct? By holding governments and land owners directly responsible, can we begin to define a more predictable, transparensequestration practices?

In a related development at the California AARB hearings, it was revealed that the California Energy Commissions Vice-Chair and Presiding member, James Boyd, is married to the COO and Chief of Staff of the Western States Petroleum
Association, an oil industry trade organization.  Consumer Watchdog has protested Boyds presence in matters involving the oil industry.

Meanwhile, Neil Koehler said that the ethanol industry will recover from its current troubles, but speculation is growing that a Pacific Ethanol bankruptcy is imminent and the company may not survive to see the era of advanced biofuels, and that oil companies are swooping in and picking up ethanol plants on the cheap.

Consumer Watchdog
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