New report highlights potential role of biofuels in America’s clean energy future

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A new report released by US biofuel producers’ association Growth Energy has examined the impact of a growing role for US biofuels in American’s clean energy future.

The report, which was written by research and management firm Ramboll, offers the latest data on US agricultural innovation, provides a detailed review of recent studies, and highlights gaps in the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) understanding of biofuel production in the US.

“The tremendous success of the Renewable Fuel Standard fuelled America’s rise as the world’s top producer of affordable, low-carbon biofuels,” said Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor. “From the lab to the farm, new innovations have allowed us to ramp up production year after year, without expanding our environmental footprint.

“That track record of environmental progress is supported by a wide body of research from public, private, and academic sources. Today’s report will help regulators in Washington wade through misinformation and make decisions about the future growth of biofuels based on sound science.”

RFS and land use

The report, which has been submitted to the EPA, examines factors raised in the agency’s 2018 Second Triennial Report to Congress, literature relied on by the EPA, as well as an updated review of scientific literature.

The authors have identified key flaws in studies that claim to show a causal link between the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and land use conversion, and reject the notion that increased ethanol production can only be achieved at the expense of impact to the environment.

“The key conclusion of this report is that there are no proven adverse impacts to land and water associated with increased corn ethanol production under the RFS,” the report states. “Accordingly, EPA could decide to reset renewable volumes in a manner that would incentivise greater production and consumption of conventional corn ethanol in US transportation fuel without discernible adverse environmental impacts to land and water, to the extent any exist.

“The major factors supporting this conclusion are that continued improvements in agricultural practices and technology indicate that increased demand for corn grown for ethanol in the United States can be met without the need for additional acres of corn planted, while at the same time, reducing potential impacts to water quality or water supplies.”

Additionally, the report addresses recent improvements in agricultural practices, water resource availability, and water quality. The full report can be accessed here.