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OPINION

Corn ethanol is now a climate-change scandal

Robert Bryce

The corn ethanol scam is now a climate-change scandal.

The decade-old boondoggle that was aided and abetted from the get-go by big environmental groups has been exposed as being worse for climate change than conventional gasoline.

A new study by John DeCicco and several of his colleagues at the University of Michigan Energy Institute has determined that the amount of carbon dioxide consumed by crops only offset 37 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions from biofuel combustion.

The study, published in the journal Climatic Change, didn’t rely on models. Instead, it looked a real-world data on crop production, biofuel use, fossil fuel use and vehicle emissions.

“When it comes to the emissions that cause global warming, it turns out that biofuels are worse than gasoline,” DeCicco said. “So the underpinnings of policies used to promote biofuels for reasons of climate have now been proven to be scientifically incorrect.”

DeCicco’s paper is an indictment of the green groups who formed an alliance with Big Corn to persuade Congress to pass an energy bill in 2005 (which was revised and expanded in 2007) that requires American motorists to buy ethanol-blended gasoline. Their co-conspirator: the Environmental Protection Agency, whose own data has shown that corn ethanol makes air quality worse.

In 2010, the agency determined that using more ethanol-blended fuel will cause carbon-dioxide emissions to increase for at least a decade. Last year, the Environmental Working Group issued a report that found that the carbon intensity of corn ethanol is 20 percent higher than standard gasoline. In 2014, the group determined that corn ethanol consumption “resulted in 27 million tons more carbon emissions than if Americans had used straight gasoline in their vehicles.”

Despite these facts, the EPA has repeatedly raised the amount of ethanol that must be blended into domestic gasoline supplies. It has ignored federal law that requires it to study the climate-change effects of corn-ethanol consumption. Last month, the agency’s inspector general rebuked the EPA for its failure to comply with the law. In its response to the IG’s report, the EPA said it was busy and that it wouldn’t be able to fully comply with its reporting requirements until 2024.

Let’s be clear: Americans don’t like the oil and gas industry. Groups like the EPA continually demonize oil, natural gas, and the process of hydraulic fracturing. But by hyping the ethanol scam, those groups have helped promote a fuel that’s worse for the climate than conventional gasoline.

Robert Bryce, author of “Smaller Faster Lighter Denser Cheaper: How Innovation Keeps Proving the Catastrophists Wrong,” is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. This has been adapted from InsideSources.