EPA Sets Rules for Sizing Up Ethanol’s Carbon Footprint, Controversy Rages On

Should greenhouse gas emissions resulting from changes in land use related to biofuels production — directly or indirectly — factor into official measurements of the fuel’s carbon footprint? That question has divided ethanol advocates, environmental groups and policymakers for years, and today the Environmental Protection Agency weighed in with its final answer: Yes.

The agency will consider emissions from direct and indirect land-use changes (such as forests cleared in other countries to grow food crops to compensate for U.S. crops being used as feedstock) when it implements the Renewable Fuels Standard, or RFS, which mandates an increase in biofuels production to 36 billion gallons by 2022, up from 11.1 billion gallons last year. To count toward the required volume, fuels have to show a smaller carbon footprint compared to the fossil fuels they’re meant to replace. Read More about EPA Sets Rules for Sizing Up Ethanol’s Carbon Footprint, Controversy Rages On

Big Auto & Oil to DC: Relax on the Ethanol Blend

An alliance of 14 industry groups representing mostly oil, gas and car companies says in a new letter to the feds that its members “want biofuels to succeed in the U.S.,” but they want more data and more time to comment before the Environmental Protection Agency decides whether to allow higher levels of ethanol in gasoline (h/t Autoblog Green). Keep in mind, the Environmental Protection Agency already extended the public comment period last year for that controversial question, which could increase demand for ethanol in the U.S. and which some ethanol backers are painting as a make-or-break issue for the industry.

Now, in a six-page letter addressed this week to Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and White House climate czar Carol Browner, the group — including the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the American Petroleum Institute — say they want the EPA to hold off on final decisions about ethanol fuel blend standards until after the Department of Energy has spent “all the $15 million targeted for expanding and accelerating mid-level ethanol blends research in the 2010 appropriations bill.”
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Daily Sprout

Constant Feedback for Better Driving: If you had a gadget in your car that was monitoring your behavior, would it change the way you act the way smart metering systems are supposed to change the way we use electricity? — Slate

EPA Puts Off Ethanol Blend Decision: The EPA released a letter today to an ethanol lobby group saying it has postponed until the middle of next year any decision about whether to increase the amount of ethanol allowed in the nation’s fuel. — NYT’s Green Inc.

Join the Fun: At 6:30 pm PST (9:30 pm EST) this evening General Motors is hosting a panel discussion on the importance of consumer incentives in order to stimulate demand for plug-in vehicles. Here’s where you can watch a live video webcast. — Autoblog Green

Government’s Role in Auto Innovation: Venture capitalist Steve Westly and Ceres president Mindy Lubber urge the Senate to pass the energy and climate bill, and call on the government to “invest in auto companies based on their innovation and potential, not just the size of their workforce.” — Fortune Brainstorm Tech

The Problem With DOE Loans: Darryl Siry, former marketing chief for Tesla Motors (winner of a DOE loan) and adviser to Coda Automotive (no loan), sees a downside to the federal green car loan program: “[T]he vibrant and competitive market for ideas chasing venture capital…is being subordinated to the judgments and political inclinations of a government bureaucracy that has never before wielded such market power.” — Wired’s Autopia

Seesmic for Windows: An AIR-less Twitter Client

I’ve long been looking for a Windows-based Twitter client that can delight me as much as its native Mac counterparts. Too many clients for Windows (s msft) depend on Adobe AIR (s adbe), something which isn’t an ideal arrangement, in my opinion. TweetDeck and Seesmic are both powerful tools, but why can’t someone make a Windows-native app that works just as well?
Seesmic apparently saw the wisdom in that idea, because it recently revealed a new Windows-only Twitter client that doesn’t require AIR to run. I jumped at the chance to take the software, which is currently only available as a preview edition, for a test run. Read More about Seesmic for Windows: An AIR-less Twitter Client

Online Video Rights: Why Technology Isn’t Enough to Bring About Change

This morning’s Video Rights Roundtable was, as we hoped, a rare opportunity for online video industry players to talk about their conflicts and collaborations in the wild — not in a courtroom or conference room. In a (more than) two-hour discussion, the nearly 50 attendees shared their perspectives on the increasingly complex world of rights, responsibility and opportunities surrounding online video content. Complete liveblog coverage is available at GigaOM Pro (subscription required), and Ryan Lawler was on-site with some additional event coverage at NewTeeVee. More links below the fold (and full event video coming soon!). Read More about Online Video Rights: Why Technology Isn’t Enough to Bring About Change

Rumor: Netflix Heading to the Wii

Netflix’s (s NFLX) streaming service is reportedly coming to Nintendo’s Wii game console “very soon,” if Streaming Media‘s anonymous sources are to be believed. Evidently, the service was originally planned to be out on the Wii before the end of this year, but may be held for the release of the Wii HD in 2010.

It’s not that much of a stretch, given Netflix’s exclusive with Microsoft’s (s MSFT) Xbox went out the window when the streaming service went to Sony’s (s SNE) PlayStation 3 earlier this week. Nintendo’s casual gaming console has a massive penetration. PlayStation 3 offers a nice roughly 9 million units, but the Wii has shipped more than 24 million in the U.S. Wii-ll it happen before the holidays? Stay tuned.

Apple Kills 40GB Apple TV, Lowers Price of 160GB Model

Apple TVLike a ninja assassin, Apple (s AAPL) sneakily killed off the 40 GB model of its Apple TV set-top box and shaved a hundred bucks off the price of its 160GB model last night, reports MacRumors.com. The bulkier 160GB flavor is now $229 (the price of the old 40GB model). But will this stimulus package for the Apple TV be enough?
Getting rid of the low-end model isn’t too much of a surprise. As our sister site The Apple Blog writes:

At the beginning of the month, AppleInsider reported Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster noting long wait times for the 40GB model, resulting in predictions of a minor upgrade at the then rumored Apple event.

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Daily Sprout

Shaq Backs Micro Refinery Maker: NBA star Shaquille O’Neal has invested in GreenHouse, maker of portable refinery systems for making fuel at home from organic waste, and says he’ll now go by “Big Eth” instead of “Diesel.” — Orange County Register via Kicking Tires
Charging Infrastructure: Tricky Business: “Cars are sexier than gas pumps or charging stations, but as the history of the oil industry shows, fuel is big business.” But some “skeptics say charging stations won’t be a viable business because drivers will top off batteries at home.” — Reuters
GM Assesses Volt Competition: In a regulatory filing submitted to the U.S. Treasury Department yesterday, General Motors (s GM) notes that “competitors and others are pursuing similar technologies” to the Chevy Volt, “and other competing technologies, in some cases with more money available.” — Autocar
Bumpy Road Ahead for Electric Car Startups “Small entrepreneurial companies are tapping into the expertise of others in bids to launch new vehicle brands featuring technology they say will leapfrog the major manufacturers,” but they face “daunting obstacles to success.” — Washington Post
Time Running Out for Climate Negotiations: Top UN climate official Yvo De Boer said at the start of informal climate talks in Bonn this week, “You’re looking at hugely divergent interests, very little time remaining, a complicated document on the table and still a lot of progress to be made on some very important issues like finance.” — BBC News

Rise of Lost Empires: Like Warcraft for iPhone, but Not Nearly as Good

riseoflostempires

I think I may have achieved a grasp of Gameloft’s concept design strategy for their iPhone (s aapl) catalog. It seems to have something to do with being “inspired” by titles and franchises that are already wildly successful. You can’t help but see the similarity between Hero of Sparta and God of War (even syntactically). Likewise, with Rise of Lost Empires ($4.99, iTunes link), their new real-time strategy game for the platform, which resembles a certain other title in which humans and orcs do battle strategically.

Don’t get me wrong, Gameloft’s “inspiration” strategy is not something I’m against. It has resulted in some very fun games to date, and Rise of Lost Empires is, hopefully, just one more opportunity for them to get iPhone gaming right with yet another lovely homage. If the original dev studios aren’t bringing the platform any love, I’d rather Gameloft did than no one at all. Read More about Rise of Lost Empires: Like Warcraft for iPhone, but Not Nearly as Good

Daily Sprout

Quest for Corn-Free Gas: Some SUV and boat owners in Florida are more than willing to drive out of their way to fill up at stations that sell biofuel-free gasoline, looking for “the extra mpgs that come from ditching ethanol.”Autobloggreen, Florida Today

Co-Ops Strike Out Against Climate Bill: Some 930 rural customer-owned utilities that are more dependent on coal than many other generators have pitted themselves against supporters of the Waxman-Markey climate and energy bill and the Edison Electric Institute. — ClimateWire via NYT

Energy Prices in the Tank: Gasoline futures started falling midweek after a government report showed a huge surplus, showing some of the first signs that an extended rally in pump prices is nearing an end after 52 straight days on the rise. — Associated Press

Duke for Nuke: Duke Energy, Usec and other energy companies have teamed up to evaluate a Department of Energy site in Piketon, Ohio, as a potential location for a new nuclear power plant. — Press Release

Electrovaya on Deck: ExxonMobil has been working with Electrovaya on technology for electric cars, and next week the company Electrovaya will discuss its plans for the Maya 300, an all-electric vehicle slated for 2011. — Greentech Media