Biofuel Boom Runs Out of Gas

By Drew Nelles,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 27, 2009 12:49 PM CDT
Josh Taylor, front, a chemical engineer at Gevo, Inc., pours biogasoline into the tank of a Jeep Rubicon in Englewood, Colo., on Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2008.   (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
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(Newser) – Once considered a win-win for the environment and energy independence, America’s biofuel industry is sputtering to a halt, the Wall Street Journal reports. Thanks to the recession, lower oil prices, and government delays, two-thirds of American biodiesel refineries—dozens of plants—are idle, and companies across the country are shutting down. The crisis could scare investors away from newer technologies more promising than much-maligned corn-based ethanol.

"If your investors are losing money in first-generation biofuels, I guarantee you they'll be more reluctant to put money into more biofuels, including next-generation fuels," an observer says. In one high-profile case, a company that was supposed to supply 70% of the Environmental Protection Agency’s biofuels allegedly defrauded investors, making it all but impossible for the government to hit its green targets.