International indirect land use change theory completely ignores or significantly downplays grower ingenuity and modern agronomy. This junk science needs to go the way of the horse-drawn plow.
St. Louis, MO (Vocus) May 18, 2010
The constantly shifting body of research surrounding impacts of ethanol on land use worldwide means only one thing, the National Corn Growers Association believes: It’s time to throw out the whole debated theory of indirect land use change.
“In 2010, the U.S. Department of Agriculture predicts our corn farmers will produce more than 300 million more bushels than just three years ago, and do so on nearly 5 million fewer acres,” NCGA President Darrin Ihnen said. “International indirect land use change theory completely ignores or significantly downplays grower ingenuity and modern agronomy. This junk science needs to go the way of the horse-drawn plow.”
A recent study, released by Purdue University, found that the California Air Resources Board overestimated the greenhouse-gas impact of land use changes related to corn ethanol by a factor of two. The updated research, utilizing the Global Trade Analysis Project model, estimated that average corn ethanol land use emissions were 13.9 grams CO2 equivalent per mega joule - less than half of the land use change value of 30 grams CO2 equivalent per mega joule adopted by CARB in its controversial Low Carbon Fuel Standard.
This change also means that California may find itself more dependent on fuels that are worse for the environment.
“The inclusion of model results in policy before the science has been fully established is not just a problem of rushing to judgment; in this case, it goes against the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” Ihnen said. “By saddling corn-based ethanol with incorrect emissions, the California standard may actually increase its reliance on petroleum or foreign sources of ethanol, therefore worsening the environment and our national economy.”
Ihnen added that what we are now seeing in the Gulf of Mexico shows the need for a broad portfolio of domestic energy sources.
“We need to remember that our petroleum resources are finite and our continued reliance has direct and indirect costs,” Ihnen said. “This incident can serve as a reminder that we must redouble our efforts to broaden our energy portfolio to include renewable alternatives that are more environmentally friendly.”
The Purdue research also reflects the scientific community’s rejection of the initial paper that brought the land use change theory to the front burner in February 2008, according to the Renewable Fuels Association. Since then, the estimated emissions purportedly occurring from the indirect land use change penalty have fallen by nearly 90 percent.
Corn ethanol means lower greenhouse gas emissions compared to petroleum-based gasoline, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has stated. The U.S. EPA recognizes that corn ethanol provides a greenhouse-gas reduction between 21 percent and 52 percent. In addition, according to researchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the energy balance of corn-based ethanol is 2-3 times more favorable than earlier estimates, and expected to keep improving.
“There are lots of reasons to support corn ethanol,” Ihnen said. “It’s a renewable domestic alternative to foreign oil that also provides significant greenhouse gas reduction compared to gasoline and creates and supports jobs in rural America. Looking at today’s headlines, it’s time is now.”
Founded in 1957, the National Corn Growers Association represents 35,000 dues-paying corn farmers nationwide. NCGA and its 48 affiliated state organizations work together to create and increase opportunities for their members and their industry.