Flawed Studies used to Push Low-Carbon Fuel Standards

Published March 20, 2015

Jim Erickson of the Michigan News reports new research shows almost every study cited to promote biofuels as climate-friendly alternatives to fossil fuels are flawed and need to be redone.

John DeCicco, a research professor at the University of Michigan’s Energy Institute, reviewed more than 100 papers published over more than two decades and concluded their methodologies were poor and error prone and thus the results flawed.

According to DeCicco the main problem with existing studies was they failed to recognize, “Almost all of the fields used to produce biofuels were already being used to produce crops for food, so there is no significant increase in the amount of carbon dioxide being removed from the atmosphere. Therefore, there’s no climate benefit.”

DeCicco’s study is in the most recent Energy and Environment.

Once the carbon-dioxide uptake from pre-existing crops is properly accounted according to the DeCicco, “the results will likely show that policies used to promote biofuels—such as the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard and California’s Low-Carbon Fuel Standard—actually make matters worse when it comes to limiting net emissions of climate-warming carbon dioxide gas.”

H. Sterling Burnett ([email protected]) is a research fellow for environment policy at The Heartland Institute.


John M. DeCicco, “The liquid carbon challenge: evolving views on transportation fuels and climate,” WIREs Energy Environ 2015, 4:98–114. https://heartland.org/policy-documents/liquid-carbon-challenge-evolving-views-transportation-fuels-and-climate