Some very respected researchers today have lobbed a real bombshell into the energy public policy world: they have concluded that ethanol produced both by corn and switchgrass could worsen global warming.
In other words, Congress really blew it last year when it mandated a massive increase in biofuels (an action coated with green language but really an effort by both political parties to cater to farm states). This is also a slap at President Bush’s effort to paint himself as something other than an oil man.
The new findings, led by separate teams from Princeton University and the University of Minnesota conclude that the land use-based greenhouse gas emissions would overwhelm possible emission reductions.
In other words, these studies really challenges orthodox thinking and prior assumptions about the impact of biofuels on greenhouse gas production.
These studies are unique in that they take a comprehensive look at the emissions effects of the huge amount of land that is being converted to cropland globally to support biofuels development.
"When you take this into account, most of the biofuel that people are using or planning to use would probably increase greenhouse gasses substantially," said Timothy Searchinger, the lead author of one of the studies and a researcher in environment and economics at Princeton University explained to the International Herald Tribune.
"Previously, there’s been an accounting error: land use change has been left out of prior analysis." Searchinger added.