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New Study Calls Ethanol’s Environmental Benefits Into Question

A new study released on February 14 by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences concludes that it is likely that ethanol contributes more toward climate change than gasoline.

Contradicting previous data from the USDA, published in 2019, finding that ethanol’s carbon intensity was 39 percent lower than gasoline due, in part, to carbon sequestration associated with planting new cropland, Dr. Tyler Lark, assistant scientist at University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment, and lead author of the new study, stated that corn ethanol should not be considered a climate-friendly fuel.

This research, which was partially funded by the National Wildlife Federation and the U.S. Department of Energy, stated that ethanol is at least 24 percent more carbon intensive than gasoline because of emissions from land use changes to cultivate corn, along with its processing and combustion.

In response, the Renewable Fuels Association said that the newly released research was “completely fictional and erroneous” adding that the paper’s authors cited “worst-case assumptions and cherry-picked data”.


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