All of the major ethanol organizations in the country have made statements refuting an article in Science journal this week regarding indirect land use change effects of biofuels.
“Fixing a Critical Climate Accounting Error”, authored by recognized ethanol-detractor Timothy Searchinger, argues that biofuels and other bio-based energies should be accountable for the biogenic tailpipe and “smokestack” CO2 emissions that are absorbed by growing feedstocks and carbon emissions that could result from land clearing. The authors claim that existing and proposed regulations, such as the so-called U.S. cap and trade bill, create an accounting loophole that will lead to increased deforestation.
The Renewable Fuels Association says the authors propose an unnecessary and impossible system that would trace actual flows of carbon. “The real issue is not accounting tactics, but whether biofuels reduce GHG emissions compared to continued petroleum use. There is clear and substantial evidence that they do.” RFA noted in a statement.
Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis says that doing what the article suggests “would give an indirect benefit to oil – they’re saying it’s OK to pump oil out of the ground and use trees to absorb the carbon. But that does nothing to address our country’s dependence on expensive and carbon-intensive fossil fuels like oil, extracted from overseas oil fields or tar sands, where emissions are three to five times the rate of normal crude oil production.”
Brian Jennings, Executive Vice President of the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) notes that “Searchinger is not a scientist, economist, or agronomist who has taken the time necessary to study whether his theories about land use and biofuels are validated by on-the-ground measurements. He’s an attorney who appears to have a political ax to grind against biofuels. New technology makes corn ethanol more efficient and sustainable each and every day, while future sources of oil get less efficient and more harmful to the environment.”