Tuesday, October 09, 2007


Hawaii should repeal law requiring ethanol in gasoline

by Larry Geller

It seemed like a good idea at the time. Now, evidence is accumulating that not only aren't biofuels good for the environment, but that they are forcing up the price of food for people who depend on corn as a staple in their diet.

Maybe George Bush doesn't care about that, but we should, here in Hawaii. Since ethanol lowers the efficiency of gasoline as an automobile fuel and possibly harms marine engines, we could just declare the stuff a bad idea in retrospect and repeal the law.

A new study is described in this article from Der Spiegl:

A team of researchers led by Nobel-prize winning chemist Paul Crutzen has found that growing and using biofuels emits up to 70 percent more greenhouse gases than fossil fuels. They are warning that the cure could end up being worse than the disease.

Biofuels, once championed as the great hope for fighting climate change, could end up being more damaging to the environment than oil or gasoline. A new study has found that the growth and use of crops to make biofuels produces more damaging greenhouse gases than previously thought.


The team of American, British and German scientists has found that the process releases twice as much nitrous oxide (N2O) as previously thought. 


Crutzen is widely respected in the field of climate research, having received the Nobel Prize in 1995 for his research into the ozone layer.

The study, published in the scientific journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, finds that the growth and use of biofuels produced from rapeseed and maize can produce 70 percent and 50 percent more greenhouse gases respectively than fossil fuels.

The findings come in the wake of an OECD report earlier this month, which warned against rushing to grow reneweable energy crops because they cause food shortages and damage biodiversity while producing limited benefits. The growth of corn for ethanol in the United States has already overtaken its cultivation for food, while in Europe the main biofuel crop is rapeseed.

 In other words, your car doesn't run as well, we have to import the stuff (burning oil to do that) because we don't grow it here, by using it we are contributing to global warming, and boaters have to buy special fuel without the ethanol because it can dissolve their fuel tanks, among other problems [the link is a State of Hawaii warning to boaters].

So why not repeal the law?


One more drawback. Many lawnmower manufacturers installed plastic gas tanks & lines which ethanol eventually eats through. Mine fell victim. Second hand lawnmower buyers beware!

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