AP study: “Advanced” corn ethanol might actually be environmentally worse than gasoline

posted at 5:21 pm on April 21, 2014 by Erika Johnsen

Last November, the Associated Press released their own study that confirmed more or less everything we already knew about the damaging unintended consequences created by the Renewable Fuel Standard: That the artificially jacked-up demand for corn incentivizes American farmers to bring marginal lands into agricultural production, effectively obliterating millions of acres of conservation land in favor of putting more strain on the water supply, pumping more fertilizer into the environment, and churning up more soil (subsequently releasing the carbon trapped within) than they otherwise would. The champions of the Big Ethanol lobby, shameless rent-seekers that they are, denounced the AP’s study as obviously biased hogwash, and demanded that the U.S. Environmental Protection ignore the abundant evidence against ethanol’s supposed environmental benefits by upholding the ever-increasing volumetric blending requirements of the RFS.

If Big Ethanol didn’t like what the AP reported last fall, however, I think they’re likely to have an even bigger tantrum over what the AP is reporting on today — this time, a study funded by the feds that undercuts ethanol’s counterfeit environmentalism even further:

Biofuels made from the leftovers of harvested corn plants are worse than gasoline for global warming in the short term, a study shows, challenging the Obama administration’s conclusions that they are a much cleaner oil alternative and will help combat climate change.

A $500,000 study paid for by the federal government and released Sunday in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Climate Change concludes that biofuels made with corn residue release 7 percent more greenhouse gases in the early years compared with conventional gasoline.

While biofuels are better in the long run, the study says they won’t meet a standard set in a 2007 energy law to qualify as renewable fuel.

The conclusions deal a blow to what are known as cellulosic biofuels, which have received more than a billion dollars in federal support but have struggled to meet volume targets mandated by law. About half of the initial market in cellulosics is expected to be derived from corn residue.

And seeing as how these “advanced” cellulosic biofuels derived from biomass other than corn starch (i.e., in this case, the stalks, cobs, leaves) are technically supposed to release 50 to 60 percent fewer carbon emissions on net evaluation than gasoline, that’s something of a problem. I might also add that “a billion dollars in federal support” is a vast understatement, what with that whole Renewable Fuel Standard injecting a bunch of fake signals into the market by forcing Americans to purchase a product that they obviously wouldn’t without the presence of a federal mandate (despite the repeated failure of the well-subsidized biofuels market to actually provide the requisite amount of biofuels in commercially available quantities, yeesh).


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Science!!!

Skywise on April 21, 2014 at 5:27 PM

See remark on Bull Hockey Puck on previous thread dealing with science.

Cindy Munford on April 21, 2014 at 5:27 PM

Of course it’s worse than gasoline.

And pipelines are safer and more efficient than other forms of moving fuel.

Fracking for gas has less impact than mining coal.

But “environmentalists” fight against the better option in all cases.

forest on April 21, 2014 at 5:30 PM

Don’t want no corn squeezin’s in my truck…

OmahaConservative on April 21, 2014 at 5:32 PM

that biofuels made with corn residue release 7 percent more greenhouse gases in the early years compared with conventional gasoline.

This should be end of it all but ethanol is like freddy krueger.

jmtham156 on April 21, 2014 at 5:33 PM

Switch to teosinte.

Murphy9 on April 21, 2014 at 5:34 PM

Get your gas at BP, it’s corn free. Ethanol will eat your engine.

Bishop on April 21, 2014 at 5:38 PM

But if they stop making ethanol from corn,
► then corn prices will drop and
► tortillas will be cheaper in Mexico and then Mexicans can afford to eat and will no longer have to illegally cross the border to the USA in order to get American welfare and food stamps which will mean….

►….fewer Democratic party voters!!!

The Democrats can’t stop corn ethanol or their voter numbers will collapse.

albill on April 21, 2014 at 5:38 PM

The science is settled, the debate is over, the checks are in the mail, the law is the law, and there is no turning back the clock. It can never be repealed.

Joseph OHenry on April 21, 2014 at 5:40 PM

I thought the science was settled. Were they wrong?

/

WitchDoctor on April 21, 2014 at 5:42 PM

How about we just stop using our food for fuel?

dentarthurdent on April 21, 2014 at 5:44 PM

AP study: “Advanced” corn ethanol might actually be environmentally worse than gasoline

The anti-science and anti-eco leftists don’t care!

RJL on April 21, 2014 at 5:45 PM

Bishop on April 21, 2014 at 5:38 PM

Really? I’ll have to check into that. A local outfit here has a special tank of ethanol free and it is pricey. The Husband has run it in the GT a couple of times.

Cindy Munford on April 21, 2014 at 5:48 PM

No Jobs For Oil!

/The left

Key West Reader on April 21, 2014 at 5:48 PM

I thought the science was settled. Were they wrong?

/

WitchDoctor on April 21, 2014 at 5:42 PM

Racist. Mysogonist. War on Women Big Bird Man. Anti children. Anti Washing criminal feets.

/shame shame

Key West Reader on April 21, 2014 at 5:50 PM

Really? I’ll have to check into that. A local outfit here has a special tank of ethanol free and it is pricey. The Husband has run it in the GT a couple of times.

Cindy Munford on April 21, 2014 at 5:48 PM

It ruins your rubber and plastic seals and parts…

OmahaConservative on April 21, 2014 at 5:51 PM

Cindy Munford on April 21, 2014 at 5:48 PM

http://www.buyrealgas.com

Provides a state breakdown of where you can get ethanol-free gasoline, MN has a crapload of stations and BP also offers a 95 octane breed.

Bishop on April 21, 2014 at 5:59 PM

How about we just stop using our food for fuel?

dentarthurdent on April 21, 2014 at 5:44 PM

Your statement has so much logic its illogical.

jmtham156 on April 21, 2014 at 6:03 PM

How about we just stop using our food for fuel?

dentarthurdent on April 21, 2014 at 5:44 PM

I know a few Iowa corn farmers who would be displeased at that suggestion. They’ve been making real good money on corn for fuel.

hawkeye54 on April 21, 2014 at 6:07 PM

It ruins your rubber and plastic seals and parts…

OmahaConservative on April 21, 2014 at 5:51 PM

That’s perfectly fine. Once your car has been permanently ruined, you can evolve into using alternate forms of transportation. Its just governments way to eventually pry you out of your evil carbon-based fuel private vehicle.

hawkeye54 on April 21, 2014 at 6:10 PM

It ruins your rubber and plastic seals and parts…

OmahaConservative on April 21, 2014 at 5:51 PM

refer to SAE-J30 for more information

DanMan on April 21, 2014 at 6:10 PM

Provides a state breakdown of where you can get ethanol-free gasoline, MN has a crapload of stations and BP also offers a 95 octane breed.

Bishop on April 21, 2014 at 5:59 PM

Yeah, but they destroyed the Gulf of Mexico.

BigWyo on April 21, 2014 at 6:56 PM

This isn’t exactly new information. Slow learners.

bopbottle on April 21, 2014 at 6:56 PM

Could we just declare ADM a terrorist organization?
And then round-up all those IA farmers who’ve milked this program.

Another Drew on April 21, 2014 at 7:03 PM

Cindy Munford on April 21, 2014 at 5:48 PM

http://www.buyrealgas.com

Provides a state breakdown of where you can get ethanol-free gasoline, MN has a crapload of stations and BP also offers a 95 octane breed.

Bishop on April 21, 2014 at 5:59 PM

http://www.pure-gas.org works well too.

slickwillie2001 on April 21, 2014 at 7:04 PM

Unforeseen consequences but it’s government so it’s ok. Private sector companies would be hung out dry and sued out of existence

jaywemm on April 21, 2014 at 7:19 PM

The advanced corn ethanol is inefficient because it takes so much energy to distill the low alcohol content product from cellulose into concentrated alcohol.

If the goal was to reduce greenhouse gases (rather than creating a new industry by government fiat) instead of going through all the extra steps between corn residues and ethanol they should just feed the corn residues into the boilers used to distill the regular corn ethanol.

Or they could just burn all the corn normally used to produce ethanol in electricity generating plants, it would be more efficient, and more honest.

agmartin on April 21, 2014 at 7:33 PM

Several years ago an Engineer did a back of the envelope calculation of the water demand of the ethanol plants that were on line, under construction and planned for the State of Illinois. When everything was online, there would be no water for human consumption in the entire state.

Quartermaster on April 21, 2014 at 7:44 PM

I think the democrats try to befuddle us with science which is something they don’t understand in the first place. I guess they think we are as ignorant as they are.

crankyoldlady on April 21, 2014 at 7:45 PM

Several years ago an Engineer did a back of the envelope calculation of the water demand of the ethanol plants that were on line, under construction and planned for the State of Illinois. When everything was online, there would be no water for human consumption in the entire state.

Quartermaster on April 21, 2014 at 7:44 PM

Given the anti-human principle that guides the econuts, that was part of the GOAL.

Murphy9 on April 21, 2014 at 7:46 PM

…corn ethanol might actually be environmentally worse…

That may or may not be debatable. However, the report is about “climate change”, not the environment. The two are separate issues.

William Teach on April 21, 2014 at 7:52 PM

…corn ethanol might actually be environmentally worse…

That may or may not be debatable. However, the report is about “climate change”, not the environment. The two are separate issues.

William Teach on April 21, 2014 at 7:52 PM

.
Come again ? !

listens2glenn on April 21, 2014 at 8:36 PM

It is always predictable what big oil’s sycophants will use to attack ethanol, corn does work to produce a net energy gain, while corn stover does not. No surprise there. I always like commits like we should not grow corn for energy, but to eat. I guess we should not grow cotton either, since it replaces food production as well. Flowers and lawns do not contribute to food production either, so get rid of those too. Trust big oil, after all, they were the companies that put lead into fuel and told people that the high lead levels in the atmosphere, soil and water was natural. Which was another big lie.

Highplains on April 22, 2014 at 1:42 AM

It is always predictable what big oil’s sycophants will use to attack ethanol, corn does work to produce a net energy gain, while corn stover does not. No surprise there. I always like commits like we should not grow corn for energy, but to eat. I guess we should not grow cotton either, since it replaces food production as well. Flowers and lawns do not contribute to food production either, so get rid of those too. Trust big oil, after all, they were the companies that put lead into fuel and told people that the high lead levels in the atmosphere, soil and water was natural. Which was another big lie.

Highplains on April 22, 2014 at 1:42 AM

How high are those plains?

Murphy9 on April 22, 2014 at 1:54 AM

Get your gas at BP, it’s corn free. Ethanol will eat your engine.

Bishop on April 21, 2014 at 5:38 PM

Not here in Minnesota. Currently by law we are at minimum 10% . We can thank Governor Pawlenty for that.

jpmn on April 22, 2014 at 9:03 AM

All I can say is DUH! This was known at the start. Gas prices increased, car damage increased, and many people are starving because of raising corn for this idiotic move.

Roselle on April 22, 2014 at 11:24 AM