SF Bay Area Indymedia indymedia
About Contact Subscribe Calendar Publish Print Donate

East Bay | Education & Student Activism | Environment & Forest Defense | Fault Lines

Sat Apr 7 2007 Beyond Petroleum: UC Berkeley Sells Out to Energy Giant
With royal fanfare, British Petroleum just donated big money in research funds for UC Berkeley, Lawrence Livermore Laboratories, and the University of Illinois to develop new sources of energy—primarily biotechnology to produce biofuel crops. This comes on the anniversary of Berkeley’s hapless research deal with seed giant Novartis ten years ago. However, at 500 million dollars, the BP grant dwarfs Novartis’ investment by a factor of ten. The graphics of the announcement were unmistakable: BP’s corporate logo is perfectly aligned with the flags of the Nation, the State, and the University.

CEO/Chairman Robert A. Malone proclaimed BP was "[J]oining some of the world's best science and engineering talent to meet the demand for low carbon energy.we will be working to improve and expand the production of clean, renewable energy through the development of better crops. This partnership reflects the rapid, unchecked, and unprecedented global corporate alignment of the world's largest agribusiness (ADM, Cargill and Bunge), biotech (Monsanto, Syngenta, Bayer, Dupont), petroleum (BP, TOTAL, Shell), and automotive industries (Volkswagen, Peugeot, Citroen, Renault, SAAB). With what for them is a relatively small investment, these industries will appropriate academic expertise built over decades of public support, translating into billions in revenues for these global partners.

Could this be a "win-win" agenda for the University, the public, the environment, and industry? Hardly. In addition to overwhelming the University's research agenda, what scientists behind this blatantly private business venture fail to mention, is that the apparent free lunch of crop-based fuel can't satisfy our energy appetite, and it will not be free, or environmentally sound.

Dedicating all present US corn and soybean production to biofuels would meet only 12 percent of our gasoline demand and 6 percent of diesel demand. Total US cropland reaches 625,000 sq.mi. To replace US oil consumption with biofuels we would need 1.4 million sq.mi. of corn for ethanol and 8.8 million square miles of soybean for biodiesel. Biofuels are expected to turn Iowa and South Dakota into corn-importers by 2008.

The biofuel energy balance -- the amount of fossil energy put in to producing crop biomass compared to that coming out -- is anything but promising. Researchers Patzek and Pimentel see serious negative energy balances with biofuels. Other researchers see only 1.2 to 1.8 returns, for ethanol at best, with the jury still lukewarm on cellulosic biofuels.

Read More

07/28/15 City of Oakland Declares Humanist Hall a Neighborhood Nuisance, Issues Huge Fines   Health, Housing, and Public Services | Global Justice and Anti-Capitalism | Government & Elections
07/27/15 Community Farm on International Blvd Destroyed, But Farmer's Promise Comeback   Police State and Prisons | Environment & Forest Defense | Health, Housing, and Public Services
07/27/15 Fresno Cop Watcher Found Guilty of Vandalism for Chalk Writing on Police Memorial   Police State and Prisons | Central Valley
07/26/15 Two New Arrests Brings Total to Four Arrested for Huge String of ALF Actions in 2013   Police State and Prisons | California | Animal Liberation
07/16/15 RPSC Community Arts Space to Close as Result of Continuing Wave of Oakland Gentrification   Health, Housing, and Public Services | Global Justice and Anti-Capitalism | Arts + Action
07/16/15 Forum Participants Engage in Collective Discussion and Organizing to Create Global Change   Global Justice and Anti-Capitalism | South Bay
07/16/15 SC11 Say Attempt to Turn Bank into Community Center Could Have "Rippling Impacts"   Global Justice and Anti-Capitalism | Santa Cruz Indymedia
07/16/15 Donations Sought for Family of 17-Year-Old Killed by Sheriff's Deputies   Police State and Prisons | Santa Cruz Indymedia
07/16/15 Solar Project Agreement Compensates for Loss of Golden Eagle Nesting and Foraging Habitat   Environment & Forest Defense | Santa Cruz Indymedia
07/14/15 Supporters of Richard "Pedie" Perez Reject DA's Determination that Killing Was Justified   Police State and Prisons | Racial Justice
07/13/15 Animal Rights Groups Videotape Injuries to Horses and Calves at Salinas Rodeo   Animal Liberation | Santa Cruz Indymedia