Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Surprising Research Results

Last month, researchers at the University of Minnesota released a study which looked at the environmental and health costs of three different fuels – gasoline, corn-based ethanol and cellulosic ethanol. They calculated the combined environmental and health costs associated with the production and combustion of 1 billion gallons of each of these fuels. Here is what they found:

Combined Environmental & Health Costs
Gasoline - $469 million (71 cents per gallon)
Corn-based Ethanol - $472 - $ 952 million (72 to about $1.45 per gallon)
Cellulosic Ethanol - $123 - $208 million (19 to 32 cents per gallon)

Based on past statements about the benefits of certain types of renewable fuels and even bolder promises about what these fuels hold for the future, most people would be surprised that corn-based ethanol had the highest combined cost of the three fuels that were studied.

This is just one study. Subsequent research may substantiate or refute these results. But as the policy debate over how we should go about diversifying our fuel supply continues, this study is a reminder that we need to embrace valid scientific developments and develop sound public policy that is well founded both scientifically and economically.

A link to the study is here:

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