Bush pushes plant energy

US President George W. Bush early in March renewed his pledge to increase energy security through a variety of reforms, which include bolstering corn-based and cellulosic-derived ethanol for renewable energy. Bush pointed out that the Department of Energy (DOE) invested a total of nearly $1 billion since fiscal year (FY) 2001 into technologies for producing cellulosic ethanol from sources such as wood chips and switch grass. The FY 2009 budget proposal calls for an increase of nearly $27 million, or 13%, for supporting biomass and biorefinery R&D. But Carol Werner of the Washington-based Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) notes that “funding priorities reflected in the President's FY 2009 budget appear to conflict with the goals of expanding renewable energy development and making the economy more energy efficient.” The FY 2009 budget request for DOE programs supporting renewables is $1.26 billion—a mere 5% of the total DOE budget. This figure is “essentially flat” compared to the FY 2008 budget request and 27% below FY 2008 appropriations. To complicate matters further, a debate is raging among climate-change experts as to whether moving to greater reliance on renewable ethanol will lead to changes in agricultural land use that could exacerbate global-warming trends. More immediately, the rush to make ethanol from corn is driving up food prices.


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Fox, J. Bush pushes plant energy. Nat Biotechnol 26, 483 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1038/nbt0508-483a

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