While falling oil and gas prices may have stolen the show lately, there's been a feast of alternative fuel news as well. Before we cover some domestic developments, let's first look at how a few Asian nations have diverged in their approach to biofuels.

India, the second-biggest sugarcane producer after Brazil, would seem a natural place to develop a sugar ethanol industry. However, food-supply and price-inflation concerns appear to render this a political impossibility. Even non-food energy crops are facing scrutiny.

India's national biodiesel "mission," which would have appropriated millions of acres for jatropha plantations, was scrapped last week. Concerns appear to hinge on both the crowding out of arable land, and a land grab by foreign energy majors like BP (NYSE:BP).

Meanwhile, over in Indonesia and Malaysia, folks are flipping out about plummeting palm oil prices. The key cash crop has cratered by about 40% since early March. Both countries are now talking about setting up biofuel mandates to combat crushing oil import costs and support local farmers. Last week, Indonesia said it's likely to propose transportation-fuel-blending minimums of 1% and 3% for biodiesel and ethanol, respectively.

The Southeast Asian situation closely parallels our own. Congress implemented a renewable fuels standard (RFS) back in December that has poultry producers like Tyson Foods (NYSE:TSN) and Pilgrim's Pride (NYSE:PPC) crying fowl, er, foul. Those companies argue that the corn demanded by ethanol refiners like VeraSun Energy (NYSE:VSE) and Archer Daniels Midland (NYSE:ADM) jacks up the price of chicken feed. The biggest challenge to the RFS was Texas's plea for a statewide waiver, which the EPA rejected on Thursday.

While I'm not enthusiastic about corn-based ethanol, the RFS also provides support for next-generation biofuels. Its success in the EPA ruling is important to cellulosic ethanol developers like Verenium (NASDAQ:VRNM), which happened to announce a major partnership with BP just a day prior to the EPA's decision.

Like hockey great Wayne Gretzky, companies like ADM, BP, and DuPont (NYSE:DD) seem to be acting in anticipation of the market's future movements, with or without political support. Still, fuel mandates must add a little extra conviction to these companies' early-stage investments.

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Fool contributor Toby Shute is active in CAPS under the name TMFSmashy, but doesn't have a position in any company mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.