For years, corn-based ethanol was thought to be the fuel of the future and an environmentally conscious alternative to gasoline. It has been mixed with gasoline in large quantities, but according to a recent study, that may be doing much more harm to the environment than we originally thought.
The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published a study that found corn-based ethanol is not an eco-friendly gasoline replacement. The results showed that the carbon emissions that come from using land to grow corn actually eliminate any advantages of using corn ethanol compared to gasoline.
This contradicts the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) study that claimed ethanol’s carbon intensity was 39-43% lower than gasoline. This result may be partly because of the carbon sequestration that comes from planting crops, which captures and stores carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
The lead author of the Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences study, Dr. Tyler Lark, says that the USDA study underestimated the emissions impact on land conservation.
The Biden administration is working to decarbonize the U.S. economy by 2050 and will be reviewing biofuel policies. This study comes at a great time and could be a great start to changing how and what we use as biofuel.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is planning to propose new requirements in May 2023 and hopefully, this study will impact those new requirements.
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