Home Energy New Study Shows Carbon Footprint of Corn Ethanol Shrinking

New Study Shows Carbon Footprint of Corn Ethanol Shrinking


Bob Dinneen 13According to a new study conducted by Life Cycle Associates and commissioned by the Renewable Fuels Association – the carbon footprint of corn ethanol continues to shrink – while the carbon impacts associated with crude oil production continue to worsen as more marginal sources are introduced to the fuel supply. The study found that average corn ethanol reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 32-percent compared to average petroleum in 2012. This estimate includes prospective emissions from indirect land use change for corn ethanol. When compared to marginal petroleum sources like tight oil from fracking and oil sands – average corn ethanol reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 37 to 40-percent. By 2022 – the study found average corn ethanol reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 43 to 60-percent compared to petroleum.

The study also reveals fundamental flaws with the GHG analysis conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency for the expanded Renewable Fuel Standard regulations. The analysis shows corn ethanol was already reducing GHG emissions by 21-percent compared to gasoline in 2005. The EPA analysis assumes corn ethanol GHG reductions won’t reach that point until 2022. In addition – EPA’s analysis implicitly assumes the carbon intensity of crude oil will be the same in 2022 as it was in 2005 – a presumption already disproven. According to the authors of the study – as unconventional sources of crude oil have grown in recent years – the carbon intensity of petroleum fuels has increased above the levels initially identified in the RFS.

Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Bob Dinneen says biofuel critics and some regulatory agencies are stuck in the past when it comes to the carbon footprint of ethanol. He says we don’t have to wait until 2022 for corn ethanol to deliver on its promise to reduce GHG emissions. Using the latest data and modeling tools – Dinneen says this study shows corn ethanol has significantly reduced greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector since enactment of the original RFS in 2005. Further – he notes the report shows ethanol’s GHG performance will continue to improve and diverge with crude oil sources that only get dirtier as time goes on. When ethanol is appropriately compared to the unconventional petroleum sources it is replacing at the margin – Dinneen says the GHG benefits are even more obvious. RFA is urging EPA officials to closely examine this new information and make good on the commitment to ensure the RFS regulations are based on the latest data and best available science.

Source: NAFB News Service