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USDA Analysis Reaffirms Ethanol’s GHG Emissions Reduction Benefits

January 12, 2017


WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture issued new analysis today on the lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions of corn-based ethanol. The analysis, conducted by ICF, found that typical corn-based ethanol achieves a 43 percent greenhouse gas reduction when compared to 2005-era gasoline, and by 2022, corn-based ethanol is projected to increase to a 50 percent greenhouse gas reduction over the life of the Renewable Fuel Standard. Additionally, corn ethanol lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions reductions could potentially reach 76 percent in 2022 if there is more widespread adoption of optimal crop production and biorefinery efficiency, the analysis found. The findings take into account a November 2014 study by researchers at Iowa State University, which found that farmers around the world have responded to higher crop prices by using available land resources more efficiently, rather than expanding the amount of land brought into production. The study was partly funded by RFA. Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Bob Dinneen had the following statement: "We are pleased that USDA's analysis reflects the tremendous efficiency gains our industry has made and continues to make. This is not your grandfather's ethanol industry. Today's farmers and ethanol producers use less energy than ever before, have lowered costs with new value-added markets and technologies, and evolved into the most cost-effective, cleanest-burning source of octane on the planet. Moreover, as this study proves, concerns about land use change were terribly overblown, and U.S.-produced corn ethanol is a stone-cold winner for the environment, providing dramatic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. "The U.S. ethanol industry has proven that economic growth and environmental stewardship are not mutually exclusive. We can provide consumers with another American fuel choice at the pump that both lowers gasoline prices locally and addresses climate change globally. "USDA and Secretary Vilsack have done a tremendous service by releasing this study after such a comprehensive and thorough analysis, using real world data and peer-reviewed assumptions.  This should answer the critics who have repeated Big Oil's polemic that renewable biofuels somehow increase carbon emissions. Clearly, the opposite is true. As many counties across the globe contemplate measures to address climate change, U.S. ethanol producers have a solution." To view a copy of the USDA analysis, click here.