Ethanol: Hazard to the Environment?
The damaging effects of ethanol on outboard motors and other combustion engines has been well-documented, and now a scientific report from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says it is also terrible for the environment.
As recently reported by Public News Service and Investor’s Business Daily, the findings of a long-awaited EPA study show that the addition of ethanol to gasoline is making our air dirtier. The nitrous oxide, a major pollutant, released into the atmosphere during production of the biofuel makes ethanol worse from a greenhouse-gas emissions perspective than petroleum-based fuels.
While many researchers and economists have known this for a long time, the EPA is finally recognizing it for the first time. By law, the EPA is supposed to produce a report on biofuels every three years, but this EPA report was delayed by four years. It’s easy to understand why, because ethanol is politically popular.
Many politicians, especially members of Congress representing constituents from the Corn Belt, support the so-called E10 standard (10 percent ethanol content), part of the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program put in place in 2005 and later expanded in 2007. And while the production of ethanol has steadily increased from roughly 10 billion gallons in 2008 to 16.6 billion barrels by 2016, proponents have been lobbying for an E15 standard (15 percent ethanol content) mandate.
But the arguments that ethanol is more environmentally friendly and cost-effective have been repeatedly disproven. For instance, a Yale report last year summarized: “Higher-ethanol blends will produce significant levels of air pollution, reduce fuel efficiency, and potentially damage engines, which is why the National Marine Manufacturers Association is staunchly opposed to it.”
President Trump has repeatedly shown his favor for the fossil fuel industry since he first hit the campaign trail; nevertheless, he is said to be considering keeping the ethanol program going, and perhaps also mandating an E15 standard.
TOXIC FUMES: Ethanol production releases nitrus oxide, polluting the atmosphere.