Shocking new report: $600+ million in DOE next-gen biofuels funding falls flat

posted at 9:21 pm on September 12, 2013 by Erika Johnsen

Regular readers know that neither Jazz nor myself are exactly what you’d call “fans” of the Renewable Fuel Standard, the epically stupid federal requirement wherein refiners must blend an ever-increasing volume of regulators’ preferred biofuels, or else purchase credits to be excused from the requirement. Through the RFS and various other means, the federal government subsidizes and creates artificial market signals for biofuels — and the fact that biofuels, as everyone involved is perfectly well aware, are absolutely not environmentally friendly, not good for car engines, and jack up world food prices, is not a deterrent. The Big Ethanol lobby, too, much have its due.

Some of the most galling instances of government overreach coming out of the Renewable Fuel Standard Follies has been the EPA’s insistence on promoting so-called advanced biofuels production, i.e. cellulosic ethanol. The EPA even went ahead to try and punish fuel companies for their noncompliance — that these cellulosic ethanol blends were not actually for sale in anywhere approaching the sufficient quantities was evidently not relevant to them. An appeals court fortunately beat back the rabid regulators for the moment, but the Obama administration proceeded to expand the requirement even further, confident in their miraculous abilities to force their dreams into a state of reality.

And here’s another truly rich part of the tale, courtesy of the DOE Inspector General. Via The Hill:

A years-long Energy Department program to help spur industry production of next-generation biofuels has fallen short, the department’s inspector general concludes in a new report.

“Despite over 7 years of effort and the expenditure of about $603 million, the Department had not yet achieved its biorefinery development and production goals,” states the report made public Thursday.

“Specifically, the [Energy Policy Act of 2005] mandate to demonstrate the commercial application of integrated biorefineries had not been met and the Department was not on target to meet its biofuels production capacity goal,” it states.

Icing, meet cake.


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Well, knock me over with a feather, who couldn’t see this coming?

*Bish?*

predator on September 12, 2013 at 9:27 PM

Idiots … don’t those in the DOE know that it’s the DOD who’s supposed to be doing biofuels?

ShainS on September 12, 2013 at 9:27 PM

*Bish?*

predator on September 12, 2013 at 9:27 PM

*Bop!*

ShainS on September 12, 2013 at 9:28 PM

This garbage is all about wealth transfer payments from elected democrats to their cronies. We have to break this cycle of cash.

Murphy9 on September 12, 2013 at 9:33 PM

With a nod to Everett Dirksen, this DoE expenditure with no results is nothing.

Only just over a half-billion wasted…not like it is real money.

When you start talking about a half-trillion here and a half-trillion there, then you are talking real money.

My great grand son better get a damn good job…gonna play hell trying to pay back all this free money Team Obama is spreading around.

coldwarrior on September 12, 2013 at 9:33 PM

My great grand son better get a damn good job…gonna play hell trying to pay back all this free
money Team Obama is spreading around

We are talking $200T + in unfunded liabilities. There haven’t been enough humans on earth to produce that.

Murphy9 on September 12, 2013 at 9:41 PM

“Despite over 7 years of effort and the expenditure of about $603 million, the Department had not yet achieved its biorefinery development and production goals,” states the report made public Thursday.

Follow that money. Where was it spent? Not that with this administration $603M sounds like a lot of money. They squander it in BILLIONS and BILLIONS. $603M is decimal dust.

Here’s the thing.

Those few of us who pay taxes send more than enough money to DC for funding government. They waste it on crap like next-gen biofuels funding. What we need is a new court system. The taxpayers’ court. Where, in this case, the Secretary of Energy has to stand in the dock and explain creating artificial markets in bio-fuels and fining for non-compliance of things that are not remotely possible to comply with.

I know that we supposedly have Congress for this oversight but they are too busy with going from re-election campaign to re-election campaign to ever bother with accountability. Time for the Taxpayers’ Court made up of ordinary Americans charged with auditing both the Executive and Legislative branches of government. Armed with both subpeona power and the ability to fine Congress as well as departments and agencies.

Happy Nomad on September 12, 2013 at 9:45 PM

Idiots … don’t those in the DOE know that it’s the DOD who’s supposed to be doing biofuels?

ShainS on September 12, 2013 at 9:27 PM

Only until the first ship is sunk because the enemy honed in on their location by the scent of french fries.

Happy Nomad on September 12, 2013 at 9:48 PM

*Bish?*

predator on September 12, 2013 at 9:27 PM

*Bop!*

ShainS on September 12, 2013 at 9:28 PM

damn it Sophie

Axe on September 12, 2013 at 9:52 PM

I once asked the President of perhaps the large supermarket chain in the US about the wisdom of ethanol. He said at this point it’s not feasible unless gasoline hit $10 a gallon.

Burning corn in our gas tanks, besides causing premature wear of auto parts, helps starve the third world. You know, Mr. Obama, those starving children you’re so concerned about.

Paul-Cincy on September 12, 2013 at 9:52 PM

Only until the first ship is sunk because the enemy honed in on their location by the scent of french fries.

Happy Nomad on September 12, 2013 at 9:48 PM

Auto companies are patting themselves on the back for replacing plastic parts with soy and other food-based parts, such as electrical harnesses, which disintegrate quicker in landfills. Who cares about landfills. There are still identifiable items in landfills from the Roman Empire. So, we get parts eaten by rodents and other vermin, and, again, premature wear of parts, to no good purpose.

Organic car parts. Bullshit.

Paul-Cincy on September 12, 2013 at 9:56 PM

…corn liquor!

KOOLAID2 on September 12, 2013 at 9:56 PM

Paul-Cincy on September 12, 2013 at 9:52 PM

TO hell with the other countries… what about us? I can not even afford to feed my family any kind of beef cept maybe once or twice a MONTH. Pork has been slowly climbing too so its a lot of chicken with a hint of other proteins.

watertown on September 12, 2013 at 9:59 PM

But former Energy Secretary Chu is brilliant, and his plans are still working brilliantly! Your little minds just don’t understand his brilliance!
It’s a GOOD thing we have these brilliant people taking care of us, even if you don’t understand or appreciate it!
/Libs-proggies

Marcola on September 12, 2013 at 10:03 PM

Organic car parts. Bullshit.

Paul-Cincy on September 12, 2013 at 9:56 PM

Fundamental question here. Are we building cars that last as long as possible or are we building cars that quickly disintegrate?

We’ve become a disposable society. My last house was built in the 1960s. It still had the original kitchen cabinets. Quarter inch plywood, mortise and tenon joinery, solid wood fronts. They were “dated” but I could never have afforded to replace them with the same quality. And, BTW, the corner lazy susan shelves still ran smoothly after four decades. We simply don’t buy for longevity these days and to do so would be far more greener than any of these programs or projects because it would mean less consumerism and more buying for quality.

Happy Nomad on September 12, 2013 at 10:07 PM

I’m wondering how many of these “miracle” biofuel additive compounds aren’t available, and never will be, because they are impossible to synthesize.

Computer simulations (like those used by DOE in this area) have always had a bad track record when dealing with organic chemistry. An episode in liquid rocket monopropellant research in the 1960s is a good illustration.

Two computer experts at Dupont got the idea of feeding a computer the data on all known bond energies plus a program for computing specific impulse (ISp, expressed in Newton-seconds, usually just called “seconds” in the trade). The computer would then run the possible structural formulae until it hit on one which would produce an ISp over 300 seconds (the generally-accepted “top end” of chemical rocket performance, as opposed to nuclear).

The Air Force “bought” a one year program, and in June of ’61 they started the run. And, in the words of Dr. John D. Clark of NARTS (in his book Ignition!), printed out structures like the road maps of a disaster area, because if any one of them could have been synthesized, it would have instantly and infalliably exploded. The worst being one with the structure

H–C===C–N–N—H
…………………..| |
…………………..O O
…………………..| |
…………………..F F

Which the computer insisted had an ISp of 363.7 Newton seconds.

As Clark put it,

The Air Force, appalled, cut the program off after one year, belatedly realizing that they could have got the same structure from any experienced propellant man (me, for instance) during half an hour’s conversation, and at a total cost of five dollars or so. (For drinks. I would have been afraid even to draw the structure without at least five Martinis under my belt.)

-Clark, Ignition!; An Informal History Of Liquid Rocket Propellants, Rutgers U. Press, 1972. PP. 171-72.

I’m honestly wondering how many of these “miracle” compounds simply cannot be manufactured, due to stearic hindrance, inherent instability, too much sensitivity to their environment (a mixture of liquid methane and LOX will go boom if you simply shine a bright light on it), or two or more of the above plus even more “interesting” foibles.

Never mind DoE’s ‘experts”. Before they mandate these things be used, I want their work vetted by actual, honest-to-G-d chemists. Ones without axes to grind, political ambitions, social “reformist” tendencies- or grants to protect.

Of course, these days, the only place you’re likely to find such experts is in the private sector. Where the powers that be will reject their advice out of hand, on “principle”.

That’s what happens when people who deal in facts find themselves passing judgement on the work of people who are obsessed with finding (or creating) Truth.

clear ether

eon

eon on September 12, 2013 at 10:10 PM

But former Energy Secretary Chu is brilliant, and his plans are still working brilliantly!

Marcola on September 12, 2013 at 10:03 PM

Well, for his world. Not all of us can afford to live in million dollar mansions close enough to the office we ride our $3,000 bike instead of driving or taking public transportation with the common folk.

Chu was hired for being a stupid toady willing to sign off on the wealth redistribution of Obama. He should be in jail. If he were in China he would be executed for his failures.

Happy Nomad on September 12, 2013 at 10:12 PM

This garbage is all about wealth transfer payments from elected democrats to their cronies. We have to break this cycle of cash.

Murphy9 on September 12, 2013 at 9:33 PM

It looks like wealth transfer but it’s much simpler, its U.S. dollar destruction. The commies understand they can spend all of our money.

deptofredundancydept on September 12, 2013 at 10:12 PM

Interesting how an agency can fail to meet it’s goals and that’s okay.

The private sector fails to meet a (impossible) mandated goal and they must be punished.

What’s wrong with this picture?

FOWG1 on September 12, 2013 at 10:16 PM

Shocking new report: $600+ million in DOE next-gen biofuels funding falls flat

.
Oh Thank God! I initially read “biofuels” as “brothels!” Man, I was so upset I downed a shot of Old No. 7 and had to sit down.

ExpressoBold on September 12, 2013 at 10:17 PM

Ain’t REALITY a real bitch?

GarandFan on September 12, 2013 at 10:20 PM

Only an arrogant government would demand the creation of non-existent technologies, spend $600 billion on them and then want to double-down with more fail. Watertown is right: screw this. Stupid is fine, if Americans aren’t suffering as a direct result, but its embarrassing to so epically fail when they are.

MTF on September 12, 2013 at 10:23 PM

District 4 better get their god d@mn act in gear or we will exact twice the tribute!

WryTrvllr on September 12, 2013 at 11:44 PM

TO hell with the other countries… what about us? I can not even afford to feed my family any kind of beef cept maybe once or twice a MONTH. Pork has been slowly climbing too so its a lot of chicken with a hint of other proteins.

watertown on September 12, 2013 at 9:59 PM

Americans consume too much meat protein so the hell with you.

– The UN commission on evil America

WryTrvllr on September 13, 2013 at 12:19 AM

We’ve become a disposable society. My last house was built in the 1960s. It still had the original kitchen cabinets. Quarter inch plywood, mortise and tenon joinery, solid wood fronts. They were “dated” but I could never have afforded to replace them with the same quality. And, BTW, the corner lazy susan shelves still ran smoothly after four decades. We simply don’t buy for longevity these days and to do so would be far more greener than any of these programs or projects because it would mean less consumerism and more buying for quality.

Happy Nomad on September 12, 2013 at 10:07 PM

And yet we have huge numbers of people without jobs, not even looking for work. But the labor on that type of workmanship is just too damn expensive.

This all HAS to collapse.

WryTrvllr on September 13, 2013 at 12:22 AM

“Despite over 7 years of effort and the expenditure of about $603 million, the Department had not yet achieved its biorefinery development and production goals,” states the report made public Thursday.

That’s the bad news.

The good news is that a whole lot of Democrat-owned, Obama-supporting “alternative fuel” companies raked in hundreds of millions of “free” taxpayer cash.

Has there ever been a more corrupt administration in the history of this country? There certainly has never been one that stole as much money, or did it as blatantly, as these crooks.

AZCoyote on September 13, 2013 at 7:37 AM