Study: Ethanol Worse for Environment Than Gasoline

AP Photo
University of Michigan’s Energy Institute research professor John DeCicco, Ph.D., believes that rising carbon dioxide emissions cause global warming and, therefore, humans must find a way to reduce its levels in the atmosphere. But ethanol is the wrong solution. According to his just-released study, political support for biofuels, particularly ethanol, exacerbates the problem instead of curing it. DeCicco and his co-authors assert: “Contrary to popular belief, the heat-trapping carbon dioxide gas emitted when biofuels are burned is not fully balanced by the CO2 uptake that occurs as the plants grow.” The presumption that biofuels emit significantly fewer greenhouse gases (GHG) than gasoline does is, according to DeCicco: “misguided.” His research has upended the conventional wisdom and angered the alternative fuel lobbyists. The headline-grabbing claim is that biofuels prove worse for the environment than gasoline. DeCicco has been focused on this topic for nearly a decade. In 2007, when the Energy Independence and Security Act (also known as the expanded ethanol mandate) was in the works, he told me: “I realized that something seemed horribly amiss with a law that established a sweeping mandate which rested on assumptions, not scientific fact, that were unverified and might be quite wrong, even though