Beyond Petroleum: The Ever Receding (Deep Water) Horizon

In 2007 Congress and President Bush enacted a Soviet-style production quota for "renewable" motor fuels commonly known as the ethanol mandate. Fuel blenders were required to sell 100 million gallons of "cellulosic" ethanol (alcohol fuel made from switch grass, wood chips, and other plant fibers) in 2010 and 250 million gallons in 2011. For years biofuel lobbyists said cellulosic fuel was "just around the corner." However, commercial output was so anemic that EPA last year dumbed down the 2010 quota to 5 million gallons and the 2011 quota to 6.6 million gallons. Alas, even those targets were too ambitious. Today's Climatewire (subscription required) reports that cellulosic ethanol production in 2010 likely did not exceed 1 million gallons, and the Energy Information Administration projects less than 4 million gallons this year in its most optimistic scenario.