LANSING, Mich. (Michigan News Source) – Some U.S. Corn Growers are criticizing the Environmental Protection Agency’s stance on the uses of ethanol, as well as its environmental benefits according to the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA).

In a letter from the NCGA CEO, Neil Caskey, he explains to the U.S. EPA Administrator Michael Regan, his position and disagreement with EPA concerns regarding ethanol’s ability to reduce emissions. 

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“Given corn growers’ significant contributions in the biofuel sector, I was concerned when I read your scientific advisory board’s recent draft commentary on the Volume Requirements for 2023 and Beyond under the Renewable Fuel Standard Program, which raises doubts about the ability of ethanol to significantly lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and asserts that the use of ethanol leads to increased land use,” Caskey wrote in a letter. 

He later included several studies finding that there are numerous environmental benefits of corn ethanol. 

“The Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory, for example, has conducted extensive research on the matter and concluded that corn ethanol has reduced GHG emissions in the U.S. by 544 million metric tons from 2005- 2019 and that the feedstock’s carbon intensity is 44 percent lower than that of petroleum gasoline,” Caskey wrote. 

After pointing some of the studies into the benefits, Caskey added how these products are in line with the Biden Administration’s climate goals. 

“It is important to note that any decision that hampers the use of these environmentally friendly products would complicate President Biden’s ambitious climate goals, which will almost certainly require the use of biofuels, such as corn ethanol, to be successful,” he wrote, “U.S. corn farmers believe so strongly in the case for higher blends of ethanol, because of corn ethanol’s ability to improve engine performance and reduce environmental impacts, all at a lower cost to consumers. Plus, corn ethanol contributes to rural economies across the country.” 

A full copy of Caskey’s letter can be found here

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A report from the EPA during the spring contends that in order to increase ethanol and other biofuel options as alternative fuel options to gasoline, a risk would be increased land use and therefore emissions. 

“Biofuel feedstocks include many crops that would otherwise be used for human consumption directly, or indirectly as animal feed. Diverting these crops to biofuels may lead to more land area devoted to agriculture, increased use of polluting inputs, and higher food prices. Cellulosic feedstocks can also compete for resources (land, water, fertilizer, etc.) that could otherwise be devoted to food production,” EPA Officials said in a statement. 

The EPA also added concerns regarding the amount of greenhouse gas (GHG) released in the production of Biofuels. 

“Biofuel production and processing practices can also release GHGs. Fertilizer application releases nitrous oxide, a potent greenhouse gas,” EPA Officials said in a statement, “Most biorefineries operate using fossil fuels. Some research suggests that GHG emissions resulting from biofuel production and use, including those from indirect land use change, may be higher than those generated by fossil fuels, depending on the time horizon of the analysis (Melillo et al. 2009, Mosnier et al. 2013).” 

Michigan is one of several states pushing for more alternative fuel options including Electric Vehicles, and has legislation in committee that would ban many other non-gasoline alternatives including biofuels. 

HB 4759 in particular would redefine “renewable energy source” to exclude “petroleum, nuclear fuel, natural gas, coal, hydrogen, solid waste, biofuel,” and only accept renewable energy resources that come from the “sun or from thermal inertia of the earth and minimizes the output of toxic material in the conversion of the energy.” The bill removes biomass as an option but allows for “solar and solar thermal energy, wind energy, kinetic energy of moving water.” 

This legislation and other energy related legislation are in the Committee on Energy, Communications, and Technology for consideration.