While Obama’s Fighting Climate Change, EPA Boosts Pollutant Ethanol

Gee, here we were thinking this was all about saving the planet.

115 0
115 0

While President Obama is sticking it to ISIS by fighting climate change in Paris, his Environmental Protection Agency is back home, increasing the amount of ethanol that is blended in with gasoline. After all, ethanol is a biofuel, or a green energy, or something.

The agency said it will require more than 18 billion gallons of renewable fuels in 2016, most of it ethanol. The amount is less than was set in a 2007 renewable fuels law, but is more than was proposed by the EPA in May. The agency said that the demand for gasoline has risen since May, increasing the amount of renewable fuels that can be blended in.

The decision doesn’t necessarily mean a higher percentage of ethanol in an individual driver’s tank, and isn’t likely to have much effect on gas prices. But it does mean there will a higher supply of the home-grown fuel overall.

Janet McCabe, the acting assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, said the renewable fuels industry is “an incredible American success story” and the 2016 targets are a signal that it is growing.

“It’s all about more choice and making those fuels more available” to consumers, she said.

Gee, here we were thinking this was all about saving the planet.

Which, of course, ethanol doesn’t do. In fact, ethanol creates more air pollution than gasoline, according to environmental engineer Mark Jacobson of Stanford University. He did a study, using a computer model, to examine the impact of ethanol use on air pollution if cars remained on regular gasoline until 2020 versus cars using E85, or fuel that is 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline.

According to Scientific American, he found there weren’t really any advantages towards using E85.  He actually found it might be worse than just straight gas.

When just using E85, “levels of the cancer-causing agents benzene and butadiene dropped, whereas those of formaldehyde and acetaldehyde rose: In other words, it was a wash.”

He also reportedly found that burning ethanol added 22 percent more hydrocarbons to the air than gasoline, which would actually create a “two parts per billion increase in tropospheric ozone.”

This surface ozone, which has been linked to inflamed lungs, impaired immune systems and heart disease by prior research, would in turn lead to a 4 percent increase in the number of ground level ozone-related deaths, or roughly 200 extra deaths a year. “Due to its ozone effects, future E85 may be a greater overall public health risk than gasoline,” Jacobson writes in the study published in Environmental Science & Technology. “It can be concluded with confidence only that E85 is unlikely to improve air quality over future gasoline vehicles.”

Don’t want to accept that as fact? Fine.

Would you believe the EPA conducted its own study in 2010? Would you believe they also found ethanol to be a bigger pollutant?

True story.

What does EPA’s analysis say about the environmental impacts of corn ethanol as it’s produced today?

Bottom line, while corn ethanol technically can be produced with lower GHG emissions than gasoline today, what the industry is actually producing today is causing more climate pollution than gasoline.

Also:

At its worst, lifecycle GHG emissions from corn ethanol exceed those from gasoline in all three scenarios. At its best, corn ethanol is not that much better than gasoline on a climate basis, and certainly not good enough to warrant the soil degradation, water resource depletion and water pollution it continues to cause.

This is from the blog of “the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group.”

If they aren’t good enough, Natural News writer Mike Adams called ethanol “a scam,” just something that is “pushed as “green” by corn growers who obviously benefit from the increased demand for their crops.”

Meanwhile, in Paris, President Obama was bragging about all the progress the United States has made towards creating a cleaner world.

“We’ve invested in energy efficiency in every way imaginable. We’ve said no to infrastructure that would pull high-carbon fossil fuels from the ground, and we’ve said yes to the first-ever set of national standards limiting the amount of carbon pollution our power plants can release into the sky,” he reportedly said.

It’s stunning hypocrisy for the president to be in Paris telling the world they need to curb their emissions and turn to “clean energy” when at home his own administration is promoting a fuel substitute that pollutes more than gasoline allegedly does.

Why would he allow this? Is it political? Is he afraid lowering ethanol usage would hurt Democrats in 2016?  Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Photo Credit: Pkdinkar/123rf
In this article

Join the Conversation