Indirect GHGs of Petroleum Worse Than Thought

Joanna Schroeder

Environment Magazine has published new research today that finds that the greenhouse gas emissions derived from military use of oil is worse than previously thought. University of Nebraska professors, Adam Liska and Richard Perrin write in the article, Securing Foreign Oil: A Case for Including Military Operations in the Climate Change Impact of Fuels, “we assert that military activity to protect international oil trade is a direct production component for importing foreign oil—as necessary for imports as are pipelines and supertankers—and therefore the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from that military activity are relevant to U.S. fuel policies related to climate change.”

Other areas that may be considered tied to military production of GHG emissions are the global protection of oil reserves and Middle Eastern wars.

The authors note that as part of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, specific GHG emission reductions must be met by biofuels including direct life cycle emissions as well as indirect emissions; however, in current legislation, only the direct GHG emissions are accounted for when calculating life cycle emissions of gasoline production. Therefore, the authors wanted to understand how military emissions affect the total amount of GHG emissions of gasoline. What they discovered is that direct spending on military activity and military acquisition of oil results in the release of nearly 289,000 tons of carbon dioxide per billion dollars spent.

To get a handle on the billions of dollars spent just on the Iraq War, the U.S. Congressional Research Service report estimated that the average annual cost of the Iraq War has been $93.5 billion.

Ultimately, the authors conclude, “In order to have a balanced assessment of the climate change impacts of substituting biofuels for gasoline, a comparison of all direct and indirect emissions from both types of fuel is required.”

Several ethanol organizations came out in support of the report today including Growth Energy who reiterated the environmental costs associated with our dependence on foreign oil and the Renewable Fuels Association who heralded the study as “groundbreaking”.

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