Urban Air Actively Leading Charge on Ethanol’s Carbon Benefits

Source: By Kim Trinchet, Urban Air Initiative • Posted: Thursday, October 19, 2017

Despite reports that reducing the carbon content of fuels is a much lower priority with Congress and the Administration than in past years,  there remains great interest in this subject at the state level and globally.
The Urban Air Initiative (UAI) has activley led the charge in recent years to get the US Environmental Protection Agency to update its lifecycle assessment to recognize the carbon sequestration value of corn. This would be a critical factor in how the petroleum industry and automakers go about meeting greenhouse gas reduction requirements as required under the fuel economy laws.
However,  perhaps of more importance is the low carbon fuel standard in California that influences federal policy as well as other states. UAI recently helped sponsor a workshop in California exploring soil carbon effects and made a strong argument to senior officials from the California Air Resources Board (CARB) that corn ethanol is being severely shortchanged in its modeling.
UAI consultant Dave Hallberg and Ron Alverson of the South Dakota Corn Growers Association made compelling arguments to CARB officials and dozens of soil scientists over the course of the three day workshop.  Not only is corn a much more effective carbon sink than previously thought but ethanol replaces the highly carbon intensive components of gasoline used to increase octane.
If properly incorporated in to the models used in California, this would show the carbon intensity (CI) of higher ethanol blends like E30 as dramatically lower than what’s calculated today.
The other tool  used in these CI assessments is the Argonne National Laboratory GREET (greenhouse gas, regulated emissions, and energy use in transportation) model which has a more positive baseline but also needs to be more reflective of these values and has indicated a willingness to
do so.
This is a crucial time to be having these discussions as the California Low Carbon Fuel Standard (CLCFS) is a state requirement and will begin to ratchet up next year, with more demands on fuel. As we are seeing nationally, assumption of reductions gained from electric vehicles and other technologies have not been realized and this is an excellent opportunity for corn ethanol to help California achieve the reductions needed.
Click here to review the information by Alversonand Hallberg.