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Rise of biofuel crops threatens native tribes
Indigenous people are being pushed off their lands to make way for an expansion of biofuel crops around the world, threatening to destroy their cultures by forcing them into big cities, the head of a U.N. panel said Monday.
Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, chairwoman of the U.N. Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, said some of the native people most at risk live in Indonesia and Malaysia, which together produce 80 percent of the world's palm oil - one of the crops used to make biofuels.
She said there are few statistics showing how many people are at risk of losing their lands, but in one Indonesian province the U.N. has identified 5 million indigenous people who will likely be displaced because of biofuel crop expansion.
(15 May 2007)
Forestry leaders debate biomass potential as nation's newest energy source
Christine S. Diamond, Lufkin Daily News
NACOGDOCHES - Biomass energy derived from trees could be the short-term answer to the energy crisis for most of America, particularly in regions like East Texas. And then again, it might not.
This depends on policy changes, competing with a subsidy-driven market, and overcoming obstacles in bringing the new fuel to the market.
That is the mixed message experts in the bioenergy field from across the U.S. shared with the 100-plus landowners attending the first session of a two-day seminar on bioenergy and biofuels in Nacogdoches.
Driving this possible shift in the timber/energy market is the fact that the U.S. is one of the last of the developed countries worldwide to respond to the dawn of the oil crisis in 1973, according to speaker Carlton Owen, executive director of the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities.
"We as the world's largest energy consumer have done essentially nothing except become more dependent on oil coming from troubled parts of the world. Two thirds of our oil comes from parts of the world that doesn't like us."
While countries like Sweden, France, Brazil and Venezuela have all moved toward biofuels in place of foreign oil, the U.S. continues to exhaust this limited resource at the rate of 21 million gallons per day, Owen said.
(17 May 2007)