Thursday, January 10, 2008

Ethanol OK According to EPA

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a study on tracking emissions data and fuel use from 1995 to 2005 across the United States. The goal was to monitor US gasoline while ethanol phased out MTBE. In conjunction with this phase-out, the report also monitored the effect of mandatory reductions of sulfur in reformulated gasoline (RFG). The conclusions of the report is that as ethanol was phased into a 10% blend in gasoline between 1995 and 2005, tailpipe toxic emissions dropped 4.7% and harmful, smog forming nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions decreased 5.7%. This is encouraging because previous calculations on ethanol use pointed towards a drop in GHG emissions but a wash on the amount of NOx emissions compared to regular gasoline. This is not due to a component of the ethanol in the gas tank, but rather a reflection on the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) released at the ethanol plant when drying the dried distillers grains (DDGS). So the net NOx emissions from growing the corn, refining the sugars into ethanol, and then emitting them from the car is approximately the same as gasoline. However, what the EPA's study shows is that although scientists must continue to study ways of reducing or capturing VOCs at the ethanol plant (which is going on right now), the use of ethanol has significantly reduced air pollutants and smog in populated areas. The study also found that MTBE replacement by ethanol has had a profound effect on ground water contamination. This study is encouraging since one of the most important things in developing a new industry, such as ethanol, is to make sure that the costs don't outweigh the benefits. This isn't just in relation to energy, or gasoline usage, but we also must take care not to have harmful environmental outcomes that would make ethanol less beneficial than gasoline. With this EPA study, it looks like ethanol is on the right track and further development at the ethanol plant level, will make this product even better to the air and water we depend on.

To view the report in its entirety, please follow the link:!OpenDocument

1 comment:

John and Debi said...

Dave said...
Do you think it is possible to raise individual savings without hurting the current growth of the economy? It seems every time people get wise enough to save a little money, wallstreet freaks out about the lose of consumption.
December 28, 2007 11:19 AM

John says:
Yes! Possible and necessary...In terms of Wall Street short-term thinking you may be right Dave. In terms of long-term sustainability and viability of the economy there is no alternative to raising individual savings rate. Otherwise our nation's fiscal goose is cooked.

See and