The ethanol and agriculture industry have a few things to celebrate today, one of which is EPA’s acknowledgment that ethanol, including corn-based ethanol, has greenhouse gas emission advantages over conventional gasoline. Today, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its new released regulations for the implementation of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2) which in part outlines the country’s move to 36 billion gallons of biofuels by 2022 while reducing GHG emissions in the fuel.
“We’re pleased the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recognizes that corn ethanol provides a distinct advantage over conventional gasoline when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions, with a reduction of more than 21 percent in some cases,” said National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) President Darrin Ihnen. “This means that all corn ethanol including existing grandfathered capacity and new production will qualify to meet the conventional biofuels targets in the RFS.”
However, like others in the ethanol industry, NCGA is frustrated with EPA’s continued use of indirect land use theory, a piece of “flawed science” say industry supporters. Ihnen stressed that the EPA should reject the unproven theory of international indirect land use change, which assumes that growing more corn means planting corn on a proportionately greater amount of acreage and will impact other crops or natural resources on a global basis. Today’s yield trends show this to be false. 2009’s record corn yield was 165.2 bushels per acre, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, more than 11 bushels higher than 2008 and nearly 15 bushels higher than 2007.
One of the inherent problems with indirect land use is that it is only applied in the case of corn ethanol. “This is the perfect example of bad science being applied unfairly,” said Ihnen. “Removing the impacts from the international indirect land use theory means that corn ethanol actually provides a 52 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, compared to gasoline. The EPA is not considering similar indirect impacts of petroleum-based fuels, so why are they so stringent when it comes to green, renewable corn ethanol?”