Biological Systems Engineering


Date of this Version



Presented at U.S. Department of Energy, Biomass 2010 Conference, March 30, 2010,
Arlington, VA. Copyright 2010 Adam Liska.


Current EPA life cycle analysis (LCA) of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from corn-ethanol will be the foundation for regulations for advanced biofuels. It appears regulatory policies that include emissions from indirect land use change (and other indirect emissions) in the biofuel life cycle are moving faster than the underlying science; there is no comparable scientific study that approaches the complexity in methods currently used by the EPA. There is substantial uncertainty in quantifying direct and indirect emissions from fuels, as evidenced by conflicting results from state and federal regulators and from within the scientific community. If indirect emissions from land use change are quantified in regulations, then all major indirect emissions for both biofuels and gasoline must to be quantified. Unfortunately, such an approach (as taken by the EPA) is excessively complicated, not completely transparent, and likely to lead to even greater uncertainty. Until these regulations more closely approach scientific consensus, and while some regulations show certain biofuels to not comply with GHG emissions standards, continued development of the biofuel industry may be weakened.