BIODIESEL MYTHS vs. FACTS
Lately there has been
some negative press concerning "Biofuels". Some say that biofuels
are pushing up the cost of food, and others say they cause more pollution
or expend more energy than they create. These are all untrue for
all Biofuels and especially untrue for Biodiesel.
Biofuel is a broad
term that can mean many different kinds of fuel from many different
sources. When the media says Biofuel,
what they usually mean is ethanol made from corn. Biodiesel
is a specific term that refers to an alternative diesel fuel made from
fats and oils. Biodiesel is not made from corn. In
fact, in the US, most biodiesel is made from either soybean oil, waste
animal fat, used cooking oil or some combination of the three.
When the media says biofuels
are making food more expensive, what they should be saying is that
corn ethanol (one of many biofuels), not Biodiesel, is a minor contributor
to rising food costs. There are many factors associated with rising
food costs in the US, which include: growing demand driven by China
and India, currency valuation differentials, weather conditions, global
consumption habits, cattle farming, and fuel costs to name but a few.
With soy-biodiesel, the food part of the bean is still used for food,
so soy-biodiesel actually encourages more food production, not less.
With waste cooking oil, and animal fat derived biodiesel, we are
actually making fuel out of a waste product, which does not compete
with food at all.
Another myth is that
Biofuels take more energy to make than they create. The truth is that,
according to the EPA and DOE, even corn ethanol, the least efficient
of the biofuels family, creates 1.2 units of energy for every one unit
used. In the case of soy-bean oil biodiesel the fuel creates 4.5
times the amount of energy than was used to make it. In the
case of waste cooking oil based biodiesel, which is what we sell here
at Tri-State Biodiesel, each unit of energy used to create the fuel
yields a life-cycle equivalent of 5.5 units of energy!
A third myth about Biofuels
is that they contribute more to global warming gases than they mitigate,
the rationale being that burning down rainforests to plant crops would
ultimately result in a rise of CO2. However, according to the FAO, in
the 15 years from 1990 to 2005, the time period of the emergence of
the biofuels into the world market, global deforestation has actually
declined by 18%. In fact, in Brazil, which comprises over 50% of the
world's rainforests and is a global leader in biofuel production, rainforest
deforestation rates have dropped sharply in the past four years by 56%
in parallel with a marked 119% boom in the biodiesel and fuel ethanol
industries. In other leading rainforest nations, such as India – a
world leader in biofuel production – reported forest growth is occurring
in tandem with significant development in its fuel ethanol industry.
Globally, rainforest deforestation has decreased
with an increase in biofuel demand and production.
Additionally, a recent
report from National Geographic showed that all biofuels have significantly
lower life-cycle emissions of carbon than fossil fuels.
In the case of corn ethanol, the difference is meager, but in the
case of biodiesel, long-range EPA and NREL studies show a 78% reduction
in overall life-cycle carbon emissions.
In May of 2008, a
group of senators alerted the public that much of the negative press
on biofuels was a result of a corporate smear campaign conducted
by a Washington DC public relations firm. This smear campaign
is using fuzzy math and anonymous studies to slow the US transition
to biofuels, much in the same way that similar campaigns slowed action
on global warming for several years. The most unfortunate aspect
of this campaign is that well-intentioned groups like the Natural Resources
Defense Council and usually reliable news sources like the New York
Times have bought into the myths.
The Impact of the Biofuel Boom on Global Rainforest DeforestationA preliminary report
Click here to read the report.
To learn more and TAKE ACTION, go to www.biodiesel.org.
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