Battling Al Gore

Published on: 15:13PM Nov 24, 2009
Put ‘em up, Al Gore. You may have invented the Internet, but the ethanol industry is not going to let you talk nasty about the corn-based fuel.
Renewable Fuels Association president Bob Dineen recently sent a letter to former vice-president Al Gore, challenging the treatment of ethanol in his new book Our Choice. Many of the characterizations of today’s ethanol industry in the book are out of date or simply wrong, according to Dineen.
For example, Gore writes in Our Choice: “largely because modern agriculture is so petroleum intensive, net greenhouse gas emissions from corn-based ethanol turn out to be almost equal to the emissions from gasoline.”
Dinneen contends that since corn ethanol production is not “petroleum intensive”, greenhouse gas emissions from ethanol are lower than gasoline. He points to U.C. Berkeley analysis and others that find ethanol requires far less petroleum than is required to produce gasoline.
“Net greenhouse gas emissions from corn ethanol are significantly lower than gasoline,” Dineen says. Most recent analyses suggest corn ethanol reduces lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions 40-60% compared to gasoline.
Dineen points out many more of Gore’s inaccuracies in his letter, and he offers many, many more responses to Gore’s treatment of ethanol. For ethanol supporters, it’s an enjoyable tit-for-tat. Possibly a more enjoyable read than Gore’s new book.
But that could be an inconvenient truth.