We’ve all heard the arguments against corn ethanol before, but this is the first study of its kind to look at economic and health costs of not only corn ethanol but also of gasoline and cellulosic ethanol, reports the Minneapolis Star-Tribune and BusinessGreen.com.
The major problem with corn ethanol doesn’t come in its emissions while a car is in motion; it comes from the energy-intensive process used to make it in the first place, and the fertilizer needed to grow corn. The Minnesota study used computer models and came up with these numbers:
- Gasoline costs 71 cents per gallon in environmental and health costs.
- Corn ethanol costs 72 cents to $1.45 in environmental and health costs.
While this is only just one more item on a string of bad news for corn ethanol, it’s also good news for the advancement of cellulosic ethanol (that which is made from plant materials like switchgrass and stalks). The study found that cellulosic ethanol only costs 19 to 32 cents.
The study, while important for the United States, might affect rural Minnesota most, where corn ethanol is a huge industry.
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