USDA Analysis: Ethanol Better for the Environment Than Previously Expected

Reuters writer¬†Chris Prentice reported yesterday that, “The U.S. government on Thursday said that ethanol is better for the environment than previously expected in a report boosting the country’s biggest biofuel a week ahead of a new administration that has some in the industry concerned.

“The report, the first of its kind from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to examine the actual impact of ethanol, said the biofuel reduces greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 43 percent relative to gasoline.

“That marks a potential blow to critics who have questioned whether ethanol, the foundation of the country’s biofuels program, is better for the environment than petroleum-based fuels.”

Yesterday’s article noted that, “Greenhouse gas emissions from ethanol are less than some forecasts because less land use was dedicated to it than expected and corn yields have risen, the analysis showed. The analysis compared the biofuel with 2005 gasoline, before regular blending of the fuel with ethanol. Now, most gasoline is blended with about 10 percent ethanol.

“USDA Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement that the ‘report provides evidence that corn ethanol can be a GHG-friendly alternative to fossil fuels, while boosting farm economies.’

“The analysis forecasts the emissions cuts, versus gasoline, to rise to 50 percent by 2022 if trends in corn yields, fuel switching and efficiency continue.”

For more information, see this update yesterday at the USDA blog, “Innovation is Driving Down Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Corn-based Ethanol.”

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