Environmental Impact of Protecting US Oil Should Be Counted
Most statistics concerning the emission of greenhouse gas from the use of oil refers to emissions taking place within the United States. But what is not included are the emissions from the US military operations set on protecting oil imported from the Middle East.
“Our conservative estimate of emissions from military security alone raises the greenhouse gas intensity of gasoline derived from imported Middle Eastern oil by 8 to 18 percent,” said UNL researcher Adam Liska. “In order to have a balanced assessment of the climate change impacts of substituting biofuels for gasoline, a comparison of all direct and indirect emissions from both types of fuel is required.”
[social_buttons]Liska, UNL assistant professor of biological systems engineering, and coordinator of the Energy Sciences minor, along with Richard Perrin, professor of agricultural economics at UNL, estimate that emissions of greenhouse gasses from military protection of supertankers in the Persian Gulf amount to 34.4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent each year.
On top of that, the war in Iraq – which whether you doubt the original instigation, is partly taking place to ensure America’s future oil security – releases another 43.3 million metric tons of carbon dioxide each year.
The authors believe that these statistics should be included in the comparisons of gasoline and biofuels such as ethanol. According to the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act, biofuels have to meet specific reductions of greenhouse gas emissions – from 20 to 60 percent – under gasoline to qualify for substitution. Without including the Middle East emissions, these statistics will be off.
“Military activity to protect international oil trade is a direct production component for importing foreign oil – as necessary for imports as are pipelines and supertankers,” Liska and Perrin, professor of agricultural economics at UNL, wrote in a recently published article. “Therefore, the greenhouse gas emissions from that military activity are relevant to U.S. fuel policies related to climate change.”
“We hope that environment regulators will assess these military emissions associated with gasoline in greater detail,” Liska said. “Such analysis should also be meaningful now when federal energy policy is being designed.”
Source: University of Nebraska-Lincoln