Black News for Not-So-Green Biofuels

Producing crops for fuel releases more greenhouse gas than it saves: studies
By Laurel Jorgensen,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 8, 2008 3:54 AM CST
A dump wagon adds freshly gathered corn cobs to a pile on a farm near Hurley, S.D., Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2007. Poet is testing various cob gathering methods as part of the company's effort to make cellulosic...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Producing crops for biofuel releases more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than is saved by using the alternative energy, according to the findings of two surprising new studies. Converting US farmland from producing food to ethanol necessitates food production elsewhere, vastly increasing greenhouse gas emissions as forests and grasslands are destroyed to make fields. The findings prompted 10 scientists to write to President Bush and lawmakers, urging new policy "that ensures biofuels are not produced on productive" forests, grassland or cropland.

 “It’s a little frightening to think that something this well-intentioned might be very damaging,” said an author of one of the studies, which were both published in Science. "We're rushing into biofuels, and we need to be very careful." One of the studies found that a US cornfield that produces ethanol would achieve a net reduction in emissions only after 167 years.