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21st Century Snake Oil - Why the U.S. Should Reject Biofuels as Part of a Rational National Security Energy Strategy

21st Century Snake Oil - Why the U.S. Should Reject Biofuels as Part of a Rational National Security Energy Strategy

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An in-depth report by CAPT T. A. “Ike” Kiefer, from the Department of Strategy at the USAF Air War College, critical of the U.S. Navy's biofuels efforts.
An in-depth report by CAPT T. A. “Ike” Kiefer, from the Department of Strategy at the USAF Air War College, critical of the U.S. Navy's biofuels efforts.

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Published by: etiscribd on Feb 19, 2013
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12/09/2014

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Nitrogen is on a path to becoming even more regulated than CO2 because of
the ecological damage it can cause. Nitrogen from fertilizer runoff is implicated in
acid rain, in the nitrate poisoning (eutrophication) of one-third of US streams and
two-fifths of US lakes, and in human disease.144

Increased agriculture for biofuels
has multiplied this challenge. Nitrous oxide (N2O) is a gas released by ammonia-
based fertilizer production and use. One N2O molecule has 298 times the global
warming potential of one molecule of CO2.145

N2O currently contributes 8.4% of

global warming radiative forcing, and its share is growing.146

It is now also the top

ozone-depleting compound being released into the atmosphere.147

Between 1%
and 5% of the nitrogen in ammonia fertilizer applied to cultivated crops escapes to
the atmosphere as N2O.148

A host of new studies that consider both land use
change and nitrogen effects conclude it is better for the climate and the
environment to stick with conventional fuels than to put new land into cultivation
for biofuels.149

Section 526 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007
(EISA) specifies that the lifecycle GHG emissions of any alternative or synthetic fuel
purchased by the US government must be less than or equal to such emissions
from the equivalent conventional fuel produced from conventional petroleum
sources.150

In light of recent research, and in the interest of curbing global
warming, the US Government should reexamine all Section 526 certifications so far
given for biofuels and blends. Any that do not consider the full lifecycles including
land use change, that neglect N2O or any other GHG emissions, or that do not
properly compare opportunity cost with conventional fuels should be invalidated.

Twenty-First Century Snake Oil
T. A. Kiefer
39

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