It is pretty rare for a national news outlet to ever completely retract a story, but on September 26, Reuters withdrew a controversial story released on September 8 regarding carbon emissions at U.S. ethanol plants, a story that was immediately rebuked by the ethanol industry for its faulty conclusions.
Reuters said the story comparing carbon emissions at U.S. ethanol plants and oil refineries has been withdrawn “because of flaws in its interpretation of data that led to inaccurate estimates of pollution at individual ethanol plants.”
According to the retraction:
The errors stemmed in part from a misinterpretation of Environmental Protection Agency data that included emissions from non-fuel products produced by the ethanol plants, such as alcohol for beverages or sanitizer.
Three of the plants named in the story as top industry polluters – owned by Golden Triangle Energy, Central Indiana Ethanol and Green Plains Inc (GPRE.O) – produced mostly non-fuel products, according to the companies. That made the article’s comparison of their emissions to oil refineries inappropriate.
In addition, the emissions estimate for another plant, owned by Marquis Energy, was inflated because Reuters used data on fuel capacity to derive an estimate of plant emissions per gallon of fuel production. The estimate was overstated because the Marquis plant’s actual production was substantially higher than its stated capacity in the data set.
Data on actual production at ethanol plants is not publicly available.
Folks, you just can’t make this stuff up.