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Rapundalo: DiCecco's Poor Science Makes Claim Wrong: U-M Researcher Calls For End To Current Biofuel

Friday, February 3, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Stephen Rapundalo
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In response to the article: 

Issues of the Environment: U-M Researcher Calls For End To Current Biofuel Policy In The U.S.

Source via WEMU


UM Professor John DeCicco misrepresents his research and fails to disclose that it was funded by the American Petroleum Institute, during his Issues of the Environment interview with David Fair. Further, his prescription for continued reliance on oil and an end to biofuel policy support runs counter to two incontrovertible facts: from an environmental and energy efficiency standpoint, biofuel production continues to improve while oil production only grows worse.


DeCicco’s study is based on modeling – his own Annual Basis Carbon analysis – to the same extent as the studies of USDA and Argonne National Labs that he disparages during the interview. But DeCicco’s work suffers from a fatal flaw: it relies on the singularly inappropriate assumption that forest trees and food crops are planted to absorb carbon emissions from the petroleum industry. Aside from the plain fact that the oil industry does not pay for this carbon storage service, it is mathematically impossible to balance petroleum’s increasing carbon emissions by planting more trees. Over the past decade, America has come to rely on oil from fracking and from Canada’s oil sands – sources with environmental consequences that grow worse every year and that include destruction of forests.


By contrast, the LifeCycle Analysis employed by USDA and the U.S. Department of Transportation recognizes that biofuel crops are planted to meet the specific needs of the biofuel industry. The market provides a direct incentive to farmers to replant those crops each year, recycling carbon from the atmosphere. And USDA’s most recent study measures the real-world experience of farmers and biofuel producers – as well as auto emissions – over the past decade under the Renewable Fuel Standard. The calculations show that biofuels reduce carbon emissions by large margin compared to gasoline – even without counting the increasing emissions of gasoline from oil sands.


The RFS has been successful in encouraging development of advanced biofuels and measurably reducing U.S. carbon emissions from transportation. America should not, as DeCicco advocates, continue to rely solely on oil and hope for the best.

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