RFA Rebuts Reuters Ethanol Plant Emissions Article

Source: By Cindy Zimmerman, Energy AgWired • Posted: Sunday, September 11, 2022

The Renewable Fuels Association responded to a Reuters article published Thursday entitled “How U.S. regulators allow ethanol plants to pollute more than oil refineries.”

The article states that “ethanol plants produce more than double the climate-damaging pollution, per gallon of fuel production capacity, than the nation’s oil refineries, according to a Reuters analysis of federal data” because the majority of U.S. biorefineries are exempt from an EPA requirement that plants use certain emissions-control processes.

RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper sent the reporter the following statement when contacted for comment regarding the article. “To truly understand the climate impacts of transportation fuels, you have to look at the emissions associated with every step in the production process. Narrowly focusing on just one piece of the carbon lifecycle is inappropriate, misleading, and misses the forest for the trees. When all of the energy inputs and emissions related to producing corn ethanol are properly considered from beginning to end, it is clear that the fuel has a lifecycle carbon intensity that is 40-50% lower than gasoline. The science is clear that ethanol offers a significant and immediate carbon savings compared to petroleum.”

RFA added, “If one took the same analytical approach to electricity that the reporter is taking with ethanol and petroleum refining, the emissions related to electricity generation across most of the United States would be 14 to 35 times worse than the estimate for ethanol (per gasoline-gallon equivalent) and 27 to 66 times worse than the estimate for refined petroleum products (the low end is natural gas; high end is coal).”

Cooper concluded, “The fact is, ethanol and other biofuels offer significant carbon emissions reductions today, and there is a clear and workable pathway toward net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 or sooner.”

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