The report, published in the latest issue of Science, investigates two separate studies, which show replacing fossil fuels with corn-based ethanol would double greenhouse gas emissions over the next three decades. Using switchgrass, an alternative to ethanol, is almost as bad, boosting emissions by 50% over the same period.
Most of the extra emissions come from the energy required to fertilize, harvest and refine the fuels as well as clearing the land to grow fuel plants in the first place.
This could all be moot, however, as the U.S. Government has already invested heavily in ethanol production and there are plenty of carmakers that see biofuels as the way to go. Only yesterday GM announced that it would be selling ethanol for just 85 cents per gallon in the Los Angeles area to promote the fuel and that it was predicting the number of E85 flex-fuel vehicle sales to increase by five million units by the end of the decade.