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Reining in Estimates on the Biofuel Economy

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Iowa State University economist David Swenson has spent twenty years monitoring the biofuel industry in the United States. During his presentation at Tuesday’s Food, Fuel, and Society conference, Swenson argued for more conservative estimates on the potential jobs created from biofuels.

A study released last year by BIO, the biotechnology industry organization, estimated the number of jobs that will be created in the coming years. Brent Erickson, executive vice president of BIO’s Industrial and Environmental Section concluded from the report, “Increasing advanced biofuel production to a modest target of 45 billion gallons by 2030, which can be achieved by maintaining the same pace of technology development, could create more than 400,000 jobs within the industry and 1.9 million new jobs throughout the economy. Further, it could provide an economic boost of $300 billion.”

Kentucky is a fringe member of the major corn-production belt, but that hasn’t kept it from signing on with biofuels. In 2008, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear released his Energy Plan, which sets a goal of meeting 25 percent of the state’s energy needs through “reductions through energy efficiency and conservation and through the use of renewable resources.” As part of that, the administration added a Division of Biofuels. A task force within the agency estimated Kentucky’s biofuel industry alone could create, “as many as 10,000 permanent jobs.”

But Swenson says no way. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Angela Hatton

October 14, 2010 at 1:11 pm