Daily Digest: Pirates, ethanol production and stimulus bonds

Lisa Zehner

Welcome back from Easter weekend. Hope you had a chance to go home and spend some time with the fam. On to the digest of University of Minnesota-related news.

Toxic waste and Somali piracy

Somali piratesNot sure if you have been following issue of Somali piracy. An American captain was freed Sunday after being held hostage by pirates for days, Associated Press reports. I know, it sounds like something straight out of Pirates of the Carribean. But an Al-Jazeera story reports that some Somali pirates are accusing European firms of dumping toxic waste off the the coast of Somalia. A University of Minnesota professor, Abdi Ismail Samatar, offered his insights into how the dumping must have been observed by those involved in maritime operations:

"Is the cargo aimed at a certain destination more important than monitoring illegal activities in the region? Piracy is not the only problem for Somalia, and I think it’s irresponsible on the part of the authorities to overlook this issue."

Ethanol production and water use

Ethanol production may use up to three times as much water than expected, University of Minnesota researcher along with his colleagues found, LiveScience.com reports. According to the study, which will be detailed in the April 15 issue of Environmental Science and Technology, found that a gallon of ethanol can require up to more than 2,100 gallons of water from a farm to the fuel pump. Though the water usage varies based on region. For example, midwestern plants use less water than plants in the west, which seems to be the driving home of the study. Here is the University of Minnesota’s release on the study.

U is first to use ‘Build America Bonds’ from stimulus package

The University of Minnesota Board of Regents plan to sell $35 million in taxable bonds authorized under the America Recovery and Reinvestmetn Act, allowing them to get some 35 percent rebate on interest costs over a 20-year perio, according to Reuters. The financial mechanism allows the University to save money when it borrows for capital projects, according to a University of Minnesota press release.