Biofuel's Hidden Hot Air

By Wedekind, Jennifer | Multinational Monitor, January-February 2009 | Go to article overview

Biofuel's Hidden Hot Air


Wedekind, Jennifer, Multinational Monitor


FACED WITH THE PROSPECT of data showing biofuels aren't as carbon-friendly as they claim, the biotechnology industry is moving to stifle the release of an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) analysis, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). The biotech industry says there is concern about the EPA's methodology; the UCS says the industry is just impeding scientific integrity.

The 2007 Energy, Bill required the EPA to measure global warming emissions from renewable fuels based on their entire lifecycle, which includes cultivation, fuel production, vehicle exhaust and, most controversially, indirect land use change--carbon emissions from the clearing of forests to plant crops for biofuel production.

"There is no doubt that greenhouse gas emissions caused by land use change are substantial, and that those associated with renewable fuel production can easily make the difference between reducing or increasing greenhouse gas emissions relative to gasoline," states a November letter to the EPA from a coalition of environmental groups and UCS.

An October letter to the EPA from the Biotechnology, Industry Organization (BIO) urged that "a published estimate of potential indirect emissions from EPA at this time would be premature and ill-advised" and may lead to less investment in biofuels. …

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