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Easing the gas shortage with biofuel

Dirck Steimel

Last week’s computer attack and shutdown of a huge U.S. pipeline exposed a lot of vulnerabilities in the nation’s transportation fuel system. And not all of them involved hackers, ransomware and shady foreign actors.

The pipeline shutdown, and the resulting price spike at gas pumps, highlighted the need for a lot more diversity and flexibility in the country’s transportation system. Instead of relying so heavily on petroleum pipelines, the shutdown revealed that employing higher blends of biofuels, such as E15, would provide a range of benefits.

Consumers would benefit from far less concentrated sources for fuel. While there are many diverse sources of biofuels, petroleum refining and transportation is increasingly concentrated.

The environment would certainly benefit because, as many studies have shown, biofuels are getting better and better at protecting the environment. A study earlier this year showed that greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from corn ethanol are 46% lower than those from gasoline and can be more than 60% lower. Using biodiesel also produces fewer air pollutants such as particulates, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and hydrocarbons.

National security would also benefit because the United States would be far less vulnerable to natural disasters and man-made events, like the cyber attack on the Colonial pipeline.

As Geoff Cooper of the Renewable Fuels Association noted, biofuels are “strategic assets” that can and should play a bigger part in fueling and protecting America.


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