Report Indicates Little Land Use Impact for Ethanol Production

Cindy Zimmerman

RFAThe amount of agricultural land required to produce 15 billion gallons of grain ethanol in the United States by 2015, as required by the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA), is likely to be less than 1 percent of total world cropland, according to a new report released today by the Renewable Fuels Association.

According to the report, “Understanding Land Use Change and U.S. Ethanol Expansion,” gains in agricultural productivity, coupled with the contribution of feed produced as an ethanol co-product, are expected to significantly mitigate the need for conversion of non-agricultural lands to support expanded U.S. biofuels production.

Moreover, there is no empirical evidence demonstrating land conversion abroad is a result of U.S. biofuels production. “Unfortunately, the current state of land use change science is far from conclusive and no consensus exists on how best to analyze the potential indirect land use impacts of expanding biofuels production,” continued the report.

The report analyzes historical cropland and crop utilization trends, explores the complex and multifaceted nature of land use changes, and discusses the uncertainty of current land use change modeling approaches.

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