Home US ‘Green’ renewable fuel plants are emitting MORE pollution than oil refineries, report says

‘Green’ renewable fuel plants are emitting MORE pollution than oil refineries, report says

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The Environmental Integrity Project collected data published by the Environmental Protection Agency to compare emissions from producers of

So-called “green” fuel refiners have taken advantage of loopholes in federal regulation to become big polluters, according to a new report.

The 275 US biofuel and ethanol manufacturers released 12 million tons of toxic materials into the air in 2022 compared to the 15 million emitted by oil refineries, the report details.

Additionally, these plants released more than four types of toxic chemicals that can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and shortness of breath in the short term, and have been linked to cancer in the long term.

These green fuel companies use products such as corn or vegetable oil to produce fuel instead of oil.

Most biofuel facilities are located in the Midwest, and one in Illinois generated the largest source of hexane, a toxin that can cause nerve damage.

The Environmental Integrity Project compiled data released by the Environmental Protection Agency to compare the emissions of “green fuel” producers with those of traditional oil manufacturers.

fuel plants

“Green” fuel plants pump gases into the air similar to those produced by traditional oil and gas manufacturers.

Courtney Bernhardt, research director at the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP), the group that published the report, said: “Despite its green image, the biofuels industry releases a surprising amount of dangerous air pollution that puts people at risk. local communities, and this problem is exacerbated by lax EPA regulation.’

The PEI is a nonprofit watchdog group focused on environmental law and has been calling for greater federal regulation of the “green” fuel industry.

Their report reviewed 2022 data that the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released since 191 ethanol plants, 71 biodiesel plants and 13 renewable diesel plants.

Not only were the “green” manufacturers’ emissions nearly on par with those of oil and gas, but they also released more particularly potent toxins, including hexane, acetaldehyde, acrolein and formaldehyde, than traditional refiners did. of oil and gas.

Formaldehyde vapors can cause cancer and acetaldehyde is also a suggested carcinogen. When hexane gas is inhaled, it causes dizziness, nausea and headaches, according to the EIP.

Acrolein, also found in cigarettes and building materials, can cause vomiting and difficulty breathing and has been linked to asthma.

On top of that, the process of growing feedstocks and transforming them into biofuels is no better for the environment than traditional oil and gas, according to the report.

Biofuel plants in the United States emitted 33 million tons of greenhouse gases in 2022. That is equivalent to the amount of greenhouse gases coming from 27.5 oil refineries.

Although such reports are increasing, the “green fuels” industry is booming.

This is due in part to increased funding from the Biden administration, which has allocated billions in funds to develop green aviation fuel. Inside Climate News reported.

It is difficult to estimate how much money the administration has funneled into this industry through the different executive branch agencies.

But only President Biden’s most recent announcement Includes 238 million dollars. to expand biofuel production.

Since 2005, the US government has ordered oil manufacturers to blend their product with biofuels such as ethanol.

This is likely to have influenced the rapid expansion of these manufacturers, where the number of plants has increased eight-fold since 2000.

Ethanol is a type of fuel made from corn. About 40 percent of all corn grown in the United States goes to fuel production.

In response, corn production has also expanded, adding about 7 million acres of new corn farms each year following new federal regulations.

These plants are located primarily in rural areas, near the farms that supply the raw materials for their fuel, in states such as Illinois and Iowa.

This has led to the plowing up of land that would have been preserved for its natural plant and animal life, Reuters reported.

One of these biofuel plants, Archer Daniels Midland, located in Illinois, was found to be the nation’s largest source of hexane, a toxin that can cause nerve damage.

This has caused nearby residents to experience dizziness and nausea, said Robert Hirschfeld, Director of Water Policy for Prairie Rivers Network.

In addition to the problems that manufacturing itself has caused, the report writes, increased demand for corn has caused farmers to allocate more farmland to the crop.

This has contributed to deforestation and habitat loss that worsens global warming and potentially endangers animal species, according to research by University of Minnesota.

Ethanol is made from corn. About 40 percent of U.S. corn production goes into fuel manufacturing.

Ethanol is made from corn. About 40 percent of U.S. corn production goes into fuel manufacturing.

Since 2005, the U.S. government has required gas manufacturers to blend their product with ethanol, which is part of the reason production has increased, experts said.

Since 2005, the U.S. government has required gas manufacturers to blend their product with ethanol, which is part of the reason production has increased, experts said.

In addition to providing funding for biofuel initiatives, federal regulators have allowed these companies to avoid oversight, said David Van Gilder, senior director of policy and legal affairs at the Hoosier Environmental Council, who was not involved in the study.

He added that the report “reveals the need to promote energy conservation efforts instead of subsidizing industries that contribute significantly to emissions of dangerous air pollution and greenhouse gases.”

Although using corn to produce fuel is theoretically sustainable, problems have arisen in practice.

“Corn ethanol is not a climate-friendly fuel,” said Professor Tyler Lark, a scientist at the Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who was not involved in the EIP report. he told Reuters in 2022.

From farm to pump, ethanol production released 24 percent more carbon than traditional fuel sources, according to a 2022 report by Professor Lark. Carbon emissions are believed to be one of the biggest drivers of climate change.

Additionally, farms growing corn have so deeply contaminated some agricultural regions that locals are advised not to swim, eat fish, or drink from local freshwater sources.

This is the case in Decatur, Illinois, thanks to corn farms and the Archer Daniels Midland plant, Hirschfeld said.

Groups representing biofuel companies have rejected the EIP report, calling it flawed, Inside Climate News reported.

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