Biofuels Worse for Climate Change than Gasoline, U-M Study Says
by Keith Matheny (Detroit Free Press) The multi-billion-dollar U.S. biofuels industry — promoted and expanded for over a decade by the federal government — may be built on a false assumption, according to a new University of Michigan study published today that is sure to stir all sides in the contentious debate over the industry.
Despite their purported advantages, biofuels — created from crops such as corn or soybeans — cause more emissions of climate change-causing carbon dioxide than gasoline, according to the study from U-M Energy Institute research professor John DeCicco.
But, DeCicco’s study is receiving energetic opposition from farming and renewable fuels advocates, who question his methodology and note that the research was funded by the American Petroleum Institute, which has a vested interest in seeing biofuels fail.
DeCicco’s research challenges a premise at the foundation of the federal Renewable Fuel Standard: an assumption that biofuels are inherently carbon-neutral; that is, that the amount of carbon released into the atmosphere when biofuel is burned and an engine releases its exhaust is offset by the amount of carbon the corn or soybeans removed from the atmosphere during its growth cycle.
That notion is getting serious push-back from the Renewable Fuels Association, the leading trade organization for the ethanol industry.
“This is the same study, same flawed methodology, and same fallacious result that Professor DeCicco has churned out multiple times in the past,” said association senior vice president Geoff Cooper. “He has been making these arguments for years, and for years they have been rejected by climate scientists, regulatory bodies and governments around the world, and reputable life-cycle analysis experts.
“Just like Professor DeCicco’s last study, this work was funded by the American Petroleum Institute, which obviously has a vested interest in obscuring and confusing accepted bioenergy carbon accounting practices. It’s flattering that API has taken such an interest in the climate benefits of biofuels; but the public would be better served if API spent its time and money examining and owning up to the very real — and very negative — climate impacts of petroleum.”
Jim Zook, executive director of the Corn Marketing Program of Michigan and Michigan Corn Growers Association, stands by other research showing biofuel use significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions when compared to gasoline. And biofuel production has other benefits, he said — it leaves a byproduct that can be converted into a high-protein livestock feed.
“We are actually getting more products by going through the ethanol process, and being better stewards of our resources by doing that,” he said.
Producing transportation fuels domestically also reduces the need to import petroleum from areas of the world that are often hostile to the U.S. and its interests, Zook added. READ MORE and MORE (Renewable Fuels Association) and MORE / MORE (Michigan Live) and MORE (The Hill) and MORE (Road Show) and MORE (Telegraph) and MORE (AutoBlog) and MORE (Phys.Org) and MORE (MichBio) and MORE (National Biodiesel Board) and MORE (Biofuels Journal) and MORE (AZO Cleantech) MORE (Renewable Fuels Association) and MORE / MORE (Michigan Live) and MORE (The Hill) and MORE (Road Show) and MORE (Telegraph) and MORE (AutoBlog) and MORE (Phys.Org) and MORE (Biofuels Journal) and MORE (International Business Times) and MORE (Climate Central) and MORE (The Global Warming Policy Forum) and MORE (National Biodiesel Board) and MORE (Christian Science Monitor) Abstract (Climate Change) and MORE (Energy.AgWired.com) Abstract (Climate Change)