The Obama administration's vision of a "green" economy took another body blow this week with the release of a study finding ethanol made with corn biomass is worse than gasoline when it comes to carbon pollution.
The peer-reviewed, $500,000 study was paid for by the federal government. It was released Sunday by the scientific journal Nature Climate Change. And the results obviously are not what the Obama administration was counting on when the federal government ponied up for the study.
The study found that ethanol produced with corn byproducts produces 7 percent more "greenhouse gases" (primarily carbon dioxide, which is claimed to cause global warming) than production of conventional gasoline. Consequently, such biofuel won't meet a standard set in 2007 that would qualify it for government subsidies as a "renewable" fuel.
The Obama administration, which has pumped more than $1 billion into the struggling biofuels effort, immediately criticized the study as "flawed" and "too simplistic." Not surprising, given the growing list of administration-backed green energy debacles, such a Solyndra and Fisker Automotive.
As we have noted on this page in the past, the entire concept of "renewables" and more specifically the "cellulosic biofuels" of which the corn waste comprises 50 percent strikes us as scientifically and logically obtuse.
We cited the 2012 example of the hundreds of residents of Blue Lake, California who literally were forced to flee their homes when a cloud of brown smoke from a biofuels plant enveloped the town. The plant involved burned primarily wood waste. It was the recipient of a $5.4 million federal grant for its effort to promote "environmentally preferable alternatives to fossil fuel."
The same plant also paid upwards of $2 million in fines for repeatedly fouling the air. Yet it was deemed "environmentally preferable" because it burned "renewables" - i.e., wood. Ironically, burning wood - and corn waste, as it turns out - releases more carbon more quickly than would occur if the material were allowed to deteriorate naturally. But the warming-wary administration contends that's just fine, because the carbon would eventually reach the atmosphere anyway when the plant debris rots.
So you shut down coal plants because carbon in the atmosphere has to be reduced right now, but you subsidize biofuel plants that belch carbon and other toxins into the air because they use "renewable" and ergo "environmentally friendly" fuels.
It's like something out of a Kurt Vonnegut novel. It makes no sense.
And now comes the discovery that biofuels produced from corn waste have virtually no chance of meeting the standards required of them to receive the $1 a gallon federal subsidy necessary to make them economically viable (to qualify under the administration standard, the biomass process needed to produce 60 percent less carbon than gasoline production, rather than the 7 percent more that was recorded).
It is just the latest example on a long list of debacles the administration has underwritten as a matter of faith in pursuing "green energy." And as with all the other cases, it's the taxpayers who are stuck footing the bill for this folly.