AUGUST 16, 2011
In its ongoing effort to develop seemingly elusive renewable technology, the Obama Administration keeps pouring huge sums of taxpayer dollars into questionable “green energy” projects that, ironically, could infest the air with more pollutants.Already hundreds of millions of dollars have been steered to dubious adventures that claim to create environmentally friendly energy. In fact, in April Judicial Watch reported a $30 million allocation from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Energy (DOE) to a “Biomass Research and Development Initiative” that promises to help advance “biofuels, bioenergy and high-value biobased products.”A few months later an in-depth news report revealed that the government-backed projects actually infest the air with a “toxic brew of pollutants.” It turns out that the new power plants, promoted as innovative and environmentally-friendly generators of electricity, are polluting the earth with nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, ammonia and particulate matter. They also release thick plumes and visible dust and fail to monitor equipment or file emissions reports.Regardless, these sorts of enterprises continue receiving a steady flow of cash from Uncle Sam. Just a few days ago, the DOE and USDA doled out an additional $12.2 million for research projects across the nation that “accelerate bioenergy crop production.” This will “spur economic impact,” according to the two agencies and will provide “a more secure future for America’s energy needs.”The “potential benefits” of this costly research range from decreasing oil imports to increasing options for American farmers, according to the government. That’s because crops will be optimized to tolerate conditions such as drought and poor soils and can be grown on marginal lands unsuitable for food crops, thereby avoiding competition with food production. Additionally, farmers will have the option to grow bioenergy crops in addition to other existing crop choices.The latest allocation was announced with great fanfare at a new bioenergy facility in Vero Beach Florida, which has received generous sums of cash from U.S. taxpayers to operate a “biorefinery” capable of producing millions of gallons of ethanol and electricity each year. Obama’s Agriculture Secretary, Tom Vilsack, refers to the plant, which is still under construction, as a “waste-to-energy bioprocessing facility.” The plant was chosen because one of the state’s largest public universities, the University of Florida, will get a chunk of money to “improve energy production from cane biomass.”Ironically, recession-hit Americans likely will get slapped with higher energy costs if Obama’s precious biofuel plan comes to fruition. For instance, a huge biofuel project under consideration by Hawaii’s Public Utilities Commission will likely stick residents with “significant” increases in energy costs, according to a local news report. The adventure has ignited a stormy public policy debate about whether biofuel is in the best interest of the state and its ratepayers.
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