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Letter: UCS offers objective data on emissions from fuels

UCS offers objective data on emissions from fuels

In the Another Voice, “Ethanol is worse for climate change than gasoline,” Robert Bryce falsely accuses the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) and its board members of ignoring facts and defending corn ethanol. This is a gross misrepresentation.

Our research and advocacy have been clear on the many problems with corn ethanol, from farming, to water pollution, to land use change. We devoted a chapter of a recent report to explaining ethanol’s problems and their solutions.

Bryce’s myopic focus overlooks larger problems associated with petroleum-based fuels, which account for the vast majority of transportation emissions, are getting more polluting over time as the oil industry pursues unconventional sources and are subject to much less scrutiny than biofuels or electricity.

Cutting transportation emissions requires cutting emissions from all fuels, starting with oil, the largest polluter, but also including biofuels and electricity.

Bryce’s argument relies on an American Petroleum Institute-funded study of corn ethanol emissions, by John DeCicco and co-authors, claiming to show corn ethanol is more polluting than gasoline. This study departs from the well-known approach called life-cycle analysis, which is practiced by thousands of experts and relied upon by governments and companies around the world, to propose an entirely new methodology. It remains to be seen what, if anything, this new approach can contribute to the field.

People seeking objective information on emissions from fuels can rely on the UCS (which, unlike Bryce and DeCicco, is not funded by the oil or ethanol industries) to research and promote practical solutions to clean up transportation and address other important problems.

Jeremy Martin, Ph.D.

Senior Scientist

Clean Vehicles Program

Union of Concerned Scientists

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