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EU round up--European parliament pushes for green biofuel production standards: the European Parliament's environment committee wants European Union (EU) rules to insist that biofuel production is environmentally sustainable.

THE EUROPEAN Parliament's environment committee wants European Union (EU) rules to insist that biofuel production is environmentally sustainable. The call was made in amendments tabled to proposed reforms from the European Commission to the EU's fuel quality directive, which insists on certain standards for petrol and diesel. These reforms are designed to make sure that fuels are formulated so less CO2 is generated during combustion, and the committee proposed amendments so that emissions are reduced by at least 2 % every two years from 2012 to 2020, rather than by 1% per year from 2011 as proposed by the Commission. But crucially, the committee also wants greenhouse gas emissions created by the manufacturing and distribution process of fuels--especially biofuels--taken into account, so that pollution reductions gained through improved formulation are not counteracted by problems such as the clearing of rain forest for feedstock production. Said a committee note: "So far, the fuel quality directive has only regulated the quality of fuels." And a tabled amendment says that the greenhouse gas reduction formula should take into account "CO2 equivalents emitted due to the extraction and production process, transport, distribution and changes of land use, minus emission savings of CO2 equivalents due to capture and storage or sinks related to the production of fuels."

This change will now be debated by the full parliament, whose support is required for it to be approved--it generally supports amendments tabled by its all-party committees.

Researchers are continually developing new ways of manufacturing biodiesel without causing environmental problems. For instance, researchers from the University of Leeds, England, have developed a way to turn waste sludge created by the production of bio-diesels into hydrogen-rich gas. The process mixes biodiesel production waste with steam at controlled high temperatures, separating it into hydrogen, water and carbon dioxide with no residues. A special absorbent material filters out the carbon dioxide, leaving combustible gas.
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Author:Nuthall, Keith; Dobie, Monica
Publication:International News
Date:Dec 1, 2007
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