The Des Moines Register is reporting that biodiesel produced using soybeans fails to meet the federal standard for reducing the carbon dioxide emissions thought to contribute to global warming.
Biodiesel is required to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent to 50 percent when compared with conventional diesel to be counted toward meeting the mandate. The Environmental Protection Agency is crediting biodiesel made from soybean oil with only a 22 percent reduction.
Congress set an even lower standard for corn-based ethanol:
There is a target of 20 percent for reducing emissions from corn ethanol, but Congress exempted existing ethanol plants from meeting that requirement and the EPA has the authority to lower the threshold to 10 percent.
Ethanol from standard, gas-fired plants would reduce emissions by 16 percent, according to the EPA. Other facilities would fare better if they lower energy requirements. Ethanol from coal-fired biorefineries would actually increase emissions compared with gasoline, the EPA found.
And let's not forget that the whole biofuels enterprise is built on subsidies:
The biodiesel industry already is reeling from the loss of its European market, because of the imposition of duties, and falling petroleum prices that have made it unprofitable to make biodiesel from vegetable oils.
And as a couple of studies published last year suggest, the EPA's generous allowances for biofuel greenhouse gas abatements may well be too high. As the New Scientist reported:
One analysis looks at land that is switched to biofuel crop production. Carbon will be released when forests are felled or bush cleared, and longer-term emissions created by dead roots decaying.
This creates what Joseph Fargione of The Nature Conservancy and colleagues call a "carbon debt". Emissions savings generated by the biofuels will help pay back this debt, but in some cases this can take centuries, suggests their analysis.
If 10,000 square metres of Brazilian rainforest is cleared to make way for soya beans—which are used to make biodiesel—over 700,000 kilograms of carbon dioxide is released.
The saving generated by the resulting biodiesel will not cancel that out for around 300 years, says Fargione. In the case of peat land rainforest in Indonesia, which is being cleared to grow palm oil, the debt will take over 400 years to repay, he says.
Turning food into fuel is a bad idea for many reasons, but it's minimal effect on the problem of man-made global warming make the biofuels mandates even more idiotic.
Update: According to Reuters, the biofuels vote threats and logrolling in Congress are already in progress:
The Obama administration is unfair to the ethanol industry with its proposals on greenhouse gas reduction, the House Agriculture Committee chairman said on Wednesday, and he will not support any climate change bills.
"You're going to kill off the biofuels industry before it even gets started. You are in bed with the oil industry," Collin Peterson told officials from the Agriculture Department and the Environmental Protection Agency at a hearing on ethanol's impact on land use and greenhouse gases.
"I want this message sent back down the street. I will not support any climate change bill. I don't trust anybody anymore," said the Democrat from Minnesota.
See Reuters article here.