Renewable fuel experts say study refuting biofuels is faulty - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Renewable fuel experts say study refuting biofuels is faulty


SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KTIV) - Biofuels have been the hope of many when it comes to developing renewable energy that doesn't hurt the environment.

But a new study says that biofuels may be even worse for the environment than traditional gasoline.

The study results do show that biofuels cause 7% more carbon emissions in the short term, but many on the state and national level are saying that the study is flawed in many ways.

Nature Climate Change, a journal collecting research on climate change, published the study done by researchers at the University of Nebraska Lincoln that shows a specific type of biofuel may be worse for the environment than gasoline.

But renewable fuel experts disagree.

"It's one data point, and it's a data point on the chart that's not very useful. It was a study done of one field. So think of how many different farm conditions there are, different soil types, different slopes, different situations there are, and they studied one field," Monte Shaw, Executive Director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association said.

Cellulosic ethanol, made from the inedible leftovers of plants, was the study's focus; specifically the ethanol made from corn stover, or the leftover stalks and leaves in soil.

The study estimates that 6 metric tons of stover will be removed to make the fuel, but renewable fuel experts say farmers would never remove that much stover, and even if they did, ethanol plants would have nowhere to store it.

The $500,000 study was paid for by the federal government, but now the Environmental Protection Agency is even refuting the results.

The EPA released a statement, saying: "This paper is based on a hypothetical assumption that 100% of corn stover in a field is harvested; an extremely unlikely scenario that is inconsistent with recommended agricultural practices."

Some folks say people are blowing the inaccurate study out of proportion to try and slow the renewable fuel industry.

"They basically set up a bad model, and then it's a very limited model. Then, of course, you'll have the opponents of renewable fuel saying, 'oh look, this proves something.' It doesn't prove anything," Shaw said.

Adam Liska, the professor at UNL who led the research, said he "knew the research would be contentious."

Liska said he was surprised the research hadn't come out more solidly before this point.

The study came at a time of significant political implications, because the federal government has released a controversial proposal to lower the renewable fuel standard, meaning they're calling for less biofuel production this year than in previous years.

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