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Can a rugged Latin American palm become a major sustainable biofuel source?

June 24, 2016
Bailis, R.

A huge demand has developed for oil for biodiesel and now also for aviation biofuel, but finding a sustainable source has been hard. Oil palm is sturdy and highly productive, but grows best in wet tropical areas, and vast swaths of rainforest have been razed to make way for it. Jatropha also raised hopes, because it can grow in poor soil with minimal inputs, but it turned out not to be as hardy and self-sufficient as initially thought. Now, Acrocomia aculeata, also called macaúba or macaw palm, is gaining attention as a potential sustainable biomass feedstock, particularly for biofuel. A newly published paper says the tree has promise, but also faces significant risks, and more study must be done before attempting commercial cultivation.

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Phasing out U.S. federal fossil fuel leases could yield real climate benefits

May 3, 2016
Erickson, P. , Lazarus, M.
U.S. fossil fuel production is at an all-time high, up by 20% in energy terms since 2010. The U.S. now ranks first in the world in oil and gas, and second in coal production. About a quarter of the fuels being extracted, including two-fifths of all coal, come from lands and waters leased to producers by the federal government. A new SEI analysis shows phasing out leases for extraction on federal land could reduce fossil fuel consumption equivalent to more than 100 million tonnes CO2 per year by 2030 – and more in later years.
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U.S. again overlooks top CO2 impact of expanding oil supply… but that might change

April 30, 2016
Erickson, P.
SEI Senior Scientist Peter Erickson has been focusing attention on how changes to the supply of fossil fuels can affect consumption and, therefore, CO2 emissions. In a new blog post, Erickson looks into the U.S. Department of the Interior’s (DOI) plan to lease new areas in the Gulf of Mexico and Arctic for offshore oil and gas drilling. He found expanded oil production would lead to a net consumption increase of about 450 million barrels in the U.S. and 4 billion barrels elsewhere.
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In Peru, turning páramo into grazing land threatens water supply

March 22, 2016
Flores, F.
An estimated that 40 million people depend directly on Andean páramos for their water resources. In Peru's Piura region, near the Ecuadoran border, SEI has estimated that although páramos cover only 5% of the watershed area, they contribute up to 50% of river flows during dry seasons in those watersheds. SEI set out to build capacity within local communities, government agencies and regional water resource management authorities to conserve and manage páramos in the Piura region. Using SEI’s Water Evaluation and Planning (WEAP) system, SEI Senior Scientist Francisco Flores-López and colleagues developed a comprehensive model to simulate the impacts of both climate change and human activities, as well as the benefits of potential adaptation measures.
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