The Des Moines Register reported the other day that Iowa’s ethanol plants contribute 15 Percent ó 7.6 million metric tons out of a total of 52 million metric tons ó of greenhouse-gas emissions found in the state’s new inventory of major manufacturers, businesses and power plants.
Iowa’s Department of Natural Resources found that the largest portion of the state’s overall emissions came from fermenting grain at the plants and not from burning natural gas or coal. In addition, burning biomass such as switchgrass at various industrial plants added another 0.13 million metric tons.
The emissions generated by ethanol production are one reason why some environmentalists downplay the benefit of renewable fuels, while others insist they are far more beneficial than burning fossil fuels
It’s hard to say how this would compare to an equivalent amount of gasoline production, but it does point to the fact that biofuels aren’t magically free of pollutants. (Assuming, of course, that global warming is even caused by greenhouse gases.)