February 08, 2008

Where Does It All End?

This latest biofuels study suggesting that growing crops for biofuels could be causing increased emissions due to land use changes really has me thinking.

Has anyone stopped to think about how much fire biofuels, and especially ethanol has come under lately? Just look at the list of issues that has been lobbied against ethanol.

Ethanol's energy balance.
Ethanol's water use.
Ethanol's environmental record.
Aspects of corn farming.
Ethanol's fuel mileage.
Food issues.
Subsidy and import tariff issues.
Even the byproduct of ethanol production, distiller grains has come under fire.

And I am sure that if I thought about it a little more I could come up with more issues.

At the risk of sounding like a conspiracy theorist, it almost seems as if there is a concerted effort to tarnish ethanol's image. Just look at the list, ethanol has been attacked, the feedstock (corn) has been attacked, and the byproduct of it's production (distillers grains) has been attacked.

And think about this also, were any of these issues ever discussed when MTBE was being used in the nation's fuel supply? Have you ever seen it asked what the energy balance of MTBE is? Ever see any studies done to see the greenhouse gas emissions of MTBE compared to other additives?

So why is it that if we never heard anything about how MTBE compared on all these issues during the twenty plus years it was in use that there is so much focus on these issues now concerning ethanol?

1 comment:

Dave said...

I definitely agree with you that there seems to be an effort by a few individuals and companies to discredit ethanol. I think the bigger problem might be that people seem to think that there are only two options -- 1) I'm for ethanol, or 2) I'm against ethanol. I think we'd be better off recognizing that corn-based ethanol is a good start and understand that research and inovation will be needed to take care of some of the kinks. All the media attention just confuses my relatives and makes the debate that much more difficult when they don't understand the differance, for example, between corn and cellulosic derived ethanol.

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