Corn Growers Spotlight Indirect Land Use Issues

Cindy Zimmerman

Corn growers want regulators to know that trying to measure unintended consequences of biofuels production could result in more unintended consequences.

NCGA Land UseThe National Corn Growers Association held a conference this week in St. Louis to focus on the issue of land use and carbon impacts of corn ethanol and how the future can be predicted with models to determine lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions. The problem, according to NCGA CEO Rick Tolman, is the language that was put in the 2007 energy bill’s Renewable Fuels Standard. “We had some arcane language put in there that said we’ll take a look at indirect land change and its implications as an unintended consequence,” Tolman said. “What we think is there’s an unintended consequence of the unintended consequence, which may be that we may in fact start using more imported oil because of this language we have regulation that exceeds our ability to measure.”

Tolman says California’s low carbon fuel standard is an example of how using unproven models that fail to use updated information or accurate future predictions of new technology and higher yields is going to have the opposite effect of what was intended – that is, using less imported fossil fuels. “After 2010, you won’t be able to sell ethanol in California,” said Tolman. “And it is really the only viable low carbon fuel that’s available in California, so that means more oil.”

The corn growers are hoping regulators will take a closer look at what they are trying to do and consider the impact that it will have down the road.

Listen to or download an interview with Rick Tolman here:

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