Last week President Obama announced his plans to ensure that the mandate for biofuels, 36 billion gallons by 2022, voted into law in the Energy Independence and Security Act in 2007, is met, and to provide huge new supports through the USDA for the cutting, harvesting and transport of biomass (aka forests, plants) to be delivered to incinerators and burned as "renewable" electricity and heat.
The transportation biofuel mandate was adopted without clear consideration of the impacts of production on food, public health, direct and indirect land use, greenhouse gas emissions, soils, water or biodiversity. Since being passed into law, the critique of biofuels, particularly corn ethanol, has only grown deeper and more damning. Cellulosic fuels, not much available yet, will, according to mythology, avert these concerns because they are made from the inedible parts of plants. True, we do not eat forests, but creating huge new demands for wood is a recipe for disaster.