Biofuels Put on Defensive Again

Cindy Zimmerman

Biofuels were put on the defensive once again as the journal Science published new studies that claim biofuels are worse for global warming than fossil fuels.

Renewable Fuels Association President Bob Dinneen issued a statement which said the studies took a simplistic view of land use.

RFA“Understanding the land use changes occurring around the globe is important to developing strategies to combat the advance of climate change. However, like previous studies, those published in Science today fail to put the issue in context. Assigning the blame for rainforest deforestation and grassland conversion to agriculture production solely to the renewable fuels industry ignores key factors that play a greater role. The continued growth of the global population, surging global demand for food from expanding middle classes in China and India, and continued expansion of development and urban sprawl are all factors contributing to the increased demand for arable acres.”

The Washington Post quotes Brent Erickson, executive vice president of the Biotechnology Industry Organization’s industrial and environmental section.

“It makes no sense to continue burning fossil carbon, which is essentially carbon that has already been sequestered for millions of years in the Earth’s crust, and which when burned releases carbon dioxide and also creates a carbon debt that can never be paid back,” he said. “It is much more logical to produce biofuels that recycle carbon, even if a short-term carbon debt is created. Even if it’s 167 years, you’re still better off than burning oil that can never be paid off.”

The studies are making the claim that even alternative feedstocks like switchgrass would lead to increased global warming because more land would be cleared to grow more crops.

BIO, Biodiesel, Ethanol, News, RFA