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Energy in the News: Friday, July 15

The future of biofuel isn’t corn-it’s algae

Pacific Standard, feat. John DeCicco

When they hear “biofuel,” people tend to assume you’re talking about corn. That makes sense, given that corn is anticipated to provide 80 percent of this year’s ethanol production — much more, say, than algae — until we consider a few numbers.

By all accounts, microalgae is less land-intensive than corn production, and although it can pull double duty, providing high-quality feed for fish farms, it doesn’t compete with food crops. Furthermore, even by the largely pro-corn Renewable Fuel Association’s water-consumption standards, corn ethanol is a thirsty fuel: Drinking 2.8 gallons of water for every gallon of fuel refined, corn is often outclassed in efficiency by algae-based fuels.

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Industry emissions down, transportation up

University of Michigan News, feat. Michael Sivak

While industry in the U.S. has made solid strides in reducing greenhouse gas emissions over the past 25 years, the transportation sector has increased its carbon footprint, say University of Michigan researchers.

Industry, still the nation’s largest emitter, accounts for about 29 percent of all emissions—down from nearly 36 percent in 1990. However, transportation—the country’s second-largest contributor to greenhouse emissions—has increased its share from 24 percent in 1990 to 27 percent in 2014.

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Michigan moves ahead with review of Straits of Mackinac line

E&E News

State officials will push forward with a pair of studies aimed at determining the safety of an oil pipeline through a crucial Great Lakes-area waterway, and whether there are alternatives that could replace it.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette (R) announced that two contractors will perform the studies on Line 5, a pipe owned by Canadian energy giant Enbridge Inc. that spans the Straits of Mackinac between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.

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Michigan, California race to win self-driving car funds, jobs

The Detroit News

Michigan’s latest push to market itself as a leader in self-driving car development is part of a national scramble to secure federal funds, manufacturing jobs, investment — and bragging rights.

Last month, Gov. Rick Snyder and other policymakers unveiled Planet M, a marketing initiative meant to shine a spotlight on Michigan’s assets for testing connected and autonomous cars.

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What’s in, what’s not for the energy conference

Bloomberg Government

Now that the Senate’s (finally!) agreed to go to conference with the House on energy legislation, the question is:  What’s on the negotiating the table? Democrat Maria Cantwell says that House Republicans agreed to drop veto-bait measures. That would mean that much of the House’s initial energy package, H.R. 8, is out. In particular, the White House has taken issue with provisions that would change FERC deadlines for natural gas pipeline approvals and limit environmental reviews for hydropower projects.

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When it comes to saving energy, it’s really not all about the money

The Washington Post

recent psychological study has provided suggestive evidence that when people decide to take steps to use less energy at home, and so to protect the environment, they don’t merely do so because they want to save a little bit of cash on their electricity bills. If anything, it suggests, some forms of materialistic or competitive thinking may inhibit deep or long-lasting conservation attitudes.

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