Environmental Benefits of Ethanol Remain Uncertain, Study Finds

The real benefits from ethanol will come when it can be produced economically from switch grass, trees and other woody plants.

Published: 26-Jan-2006

A new study claims to settle a decades-long dispute over the use of ethanol as a motor fuel, saying it can reduce dependence on foreign oil but does not yet provide significant environmental benefits.

The study, by UC Berkeley researchers and published today in the journal Science, says earlier studies were wrong to claim ethanol is an ineffective fuel because it takes too much petroleum to produce.

But it also said that ethanol made from corn -- as is nearly all ethanol available today -- would reduce greenhouse gas emissions only marginally.

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