Why the amount of fossil carbon is the defining metric.
Healing the planet’s atmosphere is a pretty straightforward proposition. Basically, we stop burning fossil fuels to produce energy and replace them with renewable energy such as wind, solar, and biofuels. Because fossil fuels (coal, oil, natural gas) have been forming underground since the Carboniferous Period, their carbon has been sequestered for several hundred million years. Excavating these hydrocarbon compounds has escalated since they began powering the Industrial Revolution about 250 years ago. Burning the sequestered carbon not only produces life-endangering air and water pollution, but also adds carbon compounds to the atmosphere, primarily carbon dioxide. This extra CO2 is the primary greenhouse gas responsible for man-made global warming. Its runaway release has, to use the scientific term, wrecked the natural carbon cycle.
If we stop burning fossil fuels, we could check most of the man-made global warming and endangered plant and animal species being pushed to extinction. We would also check the further acidification of the oceans, which is killing coral reefs and marine life. What’s more, switching to non-fossil, renewable fuels will help reclaim the air and water poisoned by man-made pollution.
Wind and solar are succeeding in replacing coal and natural gas in electric power generation and creating new jobs in the clean energy sector. But only environmental dilettantes think wind and solar are all we need.
Until every internal combustion engine is replaced by a Tesla battery and Elon Musk is recycling the old ones into spaceships somewhere in the Nevada desert, the world is going to run its billion motor vehicles on liquid fuel. And for a low-cost, easy-to-produce, non-carcinogenic liquid, ethanol is the best available choice for replacing gasoline. But the next generation of ethanol is even better, made from fermenting the cellulosic sugars in wheat straw, corn stalks and sugar stems and leaves, we refer to as the leftovers of the harvest.
This is not rocket science. Think back to your high school biology and photosynthesis classes. Remember how sunlight, water, and a few nutrients create plant growth? Remember learning that flora breathe in carbon dioxide and exhale oxygen, which allows fauna to do the opposite? And how the carbon cycle nicely balanced the health of earth, sky, and sea—all of life?
As the fossil hydrocarbons have burned, the environmental and social penalties have mounted from the accumulation of too much carbon dioxide, the primary greenhouse gas emission, in our atmosphere and oceans. For too long, these enormous costs have been kicked down the road into some deal-with-it-later in the future.
But this new generation of cellulosic ethanol is made in near-perfect harmony with the natural carbon-cycle. So it’s extraordinarily low in adding new carbon to the atmosphere. In fact, our cellulosic refineries may be carbon-neutral. Or even 190% below the baseline of gasoline depending on our designed operating platform.
By replacing gasoline with cellulosic ethanol, says the U.S. Department of Energy, America can cut GHG emissions 108%. A good start, we’d say. But we think we can do better.
The proving ground is currently California.
What counts is how California defines low-carbon.
Defining a low-carbon or carbon-neutral fuel is a complex process of determining its carbon intensity (CI) score. The CI score is based on how much fossil fuel is burned to make the fuel and how much CO2 the fuel emits when it’s burned to power automobiles. All of our engineering and testing to date tells us that our cellulosic ethanol will be awarded one of the lowest CI score of any liquid fuel by the California Air Resources Board.
Long a leader in fighting automotive air pollution with tough regulations, California enacted a law in 2015 requiring 50% renewable energy by 2030. Regardless of what the federal EPA does next, California is going its own way, leading the country on environmental protection.
And right now the California Air Resources Board, under Governor Newsom, is demanding clean air, clean water, and ultra-low-carbon fuel for motor vehicles. Because of the California Low Carbon Fuel Standard, a very attractive carbon reduction premium is paid for a fossil-free fuel like ours.
In fact, it’s so attractive New Energy Blue is now heading up a clean energy project to custom-tailor a low-carbon cellulosic ethanol in North Dakota and deliver it to the California fuel market. New Energy Spirit Biomass Refinery is planned for the Spiritwood Energy Park, right next door to all the wheat and barley straw and corn stalks it will ever need.
A low CI score isn’t the only requirement. The California Ambient Air Quality Standards sets the nation’s toughest requirements for lowering harmful air pollution, CI requirements our cellulosic ethanol can meet or exceed. Tests performed by the federal EPA and DOE have consistently shown that ethanol is superior to gasoline in virtually all forms of environmental protection.
California is the world’s sixth largest economy, with more cars and light trucks than any other state—making up 11% of all the vehicles in the United States. In fact, California demand is so great it can support over 70 projects the size of the New Energy Spirit Biomass Refinery. At the moment there’s no other project like it in America open to outside investors. The states Oregon, Washington, New York and many Midwestern states and the country of Canada are following California’s success.
Our success will help the world to breathe a little easier.
Join our fight for clean air and water.
The following pages list some facts we all should know of 1. how we are destroying our planet and 2. what we can do to reverse the damage.
Chairman and CEO, New Energy Blue