People are slowly beginning to realize that not all biofuels are created equal. A group of UC-Berkeley researchers are proposing a five star fuel rating system:

The debate over whether biofuels like ethanol are better for the environment than fossil fuels has left many consumers confused and unsure where to fill their gas tanks.

Tell me about it. My guess is that these researchers use biodiesel and are hoping to put a few Stars on Thars, right next to the biodiesel sticker they already have. But what are the odds that after studying this topic in great detail they find that all crop-based biofuels being produced today are worse for the environment than fossil fuels? Trust me, true or not, that isn’t going to happen.

Sure, corn ethanol propagates the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico, but so does soy biodiesel, which takes five times as much land to produce the same amount of work. Well then, make it from rapeseed. Whoops. This study suggests that might not be such a good idea. But doesn’t rapeseed use three times less land than soy? Confused? You should be. How are these guys proposing to rank the loss of carbon sinks and biodiversity from Cerrado grown sugarcane or Indonesian palm?

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I can just see it. A five star rating means it is five times worse than gasoline or diesel, and a one star means it is no worse. You pull in to a gas station that even has ethanol or biodiesel, “Hmmm. Let’s see here … costs more, is worse for the environment … sigh.”