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Another Argument Against Ethanol

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Another Argument Against Ethanol

Wired, Chuck Squatriglia

The ethanol industry is pushing the Environmental Protection Agency to increase from 10 percent to 15 percent the amount of ethanol that is blended into gasoline, saying it will boost demand, create jobs and foster development of cellulosic fuels. BusinessWeek argues otherwise in a column by Ed Wallace, who calls ethanol a scam that should be abandoned. He argues the ethanol industry is “quickly failing” and says, “Don’t let anybody mislead you: The new push to get a 15 percent ethanol mandate out of Washington is simply to restore profitability to a failed industry.” The Renewable Fuels Association has said the success of corn-based ethanol will hasten the development of cellulosic ethanol. “In order to have a second generation of ethanol fuel,” it argues, “you have to have a first-generation.” Wallace flatly accuses the ethanol industry of lying to make its case and lays out a laundry list of reasons why ethanol is a dead-end that Washington must stop traveling. Growth Energy, an ethanol industry trade group, takes issue with every point. “In his column, Mr. Wallace fails in his journalistic duty to provide readers with the facts,” the organization writes.

“He relies on anecdotal evidence in support of his erroneous claims while completely ignoring the large body of scientific literature that supports the use of higher blends of ethanol in vehicles.” It offers the following rebuttal: * Evidence suggests increased use of ethanol brought a 5 percent decrease in ground-level ozone between 2001 and 2007. * Every gallon of ethanol produced delivers one-third or more energy than is used to produce it. * “Study after study” has shown ethanol has minimal impact on food prices, and rising food prices are the result of rising energy costs. As for the issue of global warming emissions, Growth Energy says a study in the Journal of Industrial Ecology states “the ethanol industry currently is producing a fuel that is as much as 59 percent lower in direct-effect lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions than gasoline.” * The push to increase the amount of ethanol blended with gasoline is needed because the industry is producing more ethanol than can be used under current government regulations. The current limit is “arbitrary” and “threatnes to block research and development into cellulosic and future generations of biofuels.” The Environmental Working Group, a health and environmental research and policy organization, just sent us an email challenging Growth Energy’s claims. In a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, the organization makes many of the same claims Wallace does and says Growth Energy makes “numerous fundamental errors of fact and interpretation, both in its arguments advocating for ethanol increases and in its supporting data.” Read the whole Wired story here: http://www.wired.com/autopia/2009/05/another-argument-against-ethanol/

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