Average corn ethanol reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 32 percent compared to average petroleum in 2012, according to a study commissioned by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) and conducted by Life Cycle Associates.
This estimate includes prospective emissions from indirect land use change (ILUC) for corn ethanol. When compared to marginal petroleum sources like tight oil from fracking and oil sands, average corn ethanol reduces GHG emissions by 37 percent to 40 percent.
By 2022, average corn ethanol reduces GHG emissions by 43 percent to 60 percent compared to petroleum, the study found.
The study also says the GHG analysis conducted by the EPA for the expanded Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2) regulations has “several fundamental flaws.” Corn ethanol was already reducing GHG emissions by 21 percent compared to gasoline in 2005, according to RFA’s analysis; the EPA’s analysis for the RFS2 assumes corn ethanol GHG reductions won’t reach 21 percent until 2022.
The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) has warned the EPA that its proposal to slash mandated corn ethanol production by 1.4 billion gallons this year will hurt the biofuels industry. At the EPA’s hearing last month for the 2014 RFS, BIO testified that that commercial development of advanced and cellulosic biofuels, as well as other biotechnology applications, could come to a halt if the EPA’s proposal becomes policy.