The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) has developed a comparison of the environmental impacts of ethanol and petroleum as transportation fuels. Using scientific data, the side-by-side comparison examines a wide array of environmental factors. Most know today that petroleum, made from oil, is not “renewable”. Created over millions of years, it will takes thousands of years for more oil to be developed. However, ethanol made from corn is renewable, with each new crop, a new crop of ethanol can be produced.
Here are some other key highlights of NCGA’s comparison:
- Ethanol is a tiny single substance that is non-toxic. Petroleum is a mixture of hundreds of different molecules and is toxic to biological organisms.
- Corn used for ethanol in the United States is grown on approximately five percent of our nation’s cropland. For perspective, ethanol production uses less than three percent of all grain crops grown over the entire world. Petroleum is mined across the entire globe and must be extracted from deep underground. In order to collect petroleum, landscape fragmentation and the generation of toxic, hazardous and potentially radioactive waste streams often occurs.
- Most corn-to-ethanol production facilities are located within 15 miles of the farms where the crop was produced. Since petroleum extraction happens across the globe wherever deposits can be found, it must be shipped to a facility where it can be refined.
- Based on the results of scientific testing, the EPA considers corn starch ethanol as producing 23 percent less greenhouse gas emissions compared to making and burning gasoline from petroleum. Recent evidence shows multiple ways of producing ethanol with 50 percent or less GHG compared to gasoline production.
- The U.S. oil and gas industry generates more solid and liquid waste than municipal, agricultural, mining and other sources combined.
NCGA says that looking at how the production of these fuels compares side-by-side, it becomes evident that ethanol is truly renewable and produced in a greener manner than its fossil fuel counterparts. Where petroleum creates reliance upon a fuel pulled from the ground and imported from abroad, ethanol improves our environment while increasing our national and energy security. Click here for the full comparison.