NEW YORK Jan 12 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
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
The analysis puts the emissions benefits at the high end of
those outlined by the U.S. Department of Energy and comes just a
week ahead of the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump.
Trump voiced support for ethanol on the campaign trail,
especially in Iowa, but at least two of the major players in the
incoming administration are critics of the country's biofuels
program and environmental regulations.
The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) was signed into law by
George W. Bush in 2005 and sets annual requirements for used of
biofuels including ethanol. It has become a battleground for
entrenched oil and corn interests in Washington.
Uncertainty over the future of the program grew after
Trump's nomination of Oklahoma Attorney General and regulation
critic Scott Pruitt, Trump's nominee to head the Environmental
Protection Agency, the agency that oversees the RFS program.
Trump has also appointed billionaire and RFS critic Carl Icahn
as a special advisor.
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
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.
"This should answer the critics who have repeated Big Oil's
polemic that renewable biofuels somehow increase carbon
emissions," said Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO
(Reporting by Chris Prentice; Editing by David Gregorio)