Study: Ethanol increases carbon emissions

Study: Ethanol increases carbon emissions
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Replacing traditional gasoline with ethanol results in a net increase in carbon dioxide emissions, a new study concluded.

The research, funded in part by the American Petroleum Institute, adds to ethanol opponents’ position that the fuel, and the federal mandate that requires refiners to use it, is environmentally harmful.

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Researchers led by the University of Michigan’s John DeCicco used crop production data along with vehicle emissions information and related data.

They found that the carbon dioxide that plants like corn consume offsets only 37 percent of the emissions from burning the ethanol that those plants become.

“This is the first study to carefully examine the carbon on farmland when biofuels are grown, instead of just making assumptions about it,” DeCicco said in a statement. “When you look at what's actually happening on the land, you find that not enough carbon is being removed from the atmosphere to balance what’s coming out of the tailpipe.”

DeCicco is a longtime opponent of the federal renewable fuel standard, which requires that ethanol and biodiesel be blended into traditional fossil fuels. Earlier this year, he called for its complete repeal at a House hearing, citing his then-ongoing research about the emissions.

The Renewable Fuels Association took issue with DeCicco and his methodology and funding.

“This is the same study, same flawed methodology, and same fallacious result that Professor DeCicco has churned out multiple times in the past,” said Bob Dinneen, the group’s president.

“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 lifecycle analysis experts,” he said.