EPIC Response To ‘Scam’ Report

The Ethanol Promotion and Information Council (EPIC) is responding to the Time Magazine article, "The Clean Energy Scam."

The following is a letter to the editor of Time Magazine by Toni Nuernberg, executive director of the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council (EPIC), in response to the March 27, 2008 article "The Clean Energy Scam."

In Michael Grunwald’s March 27 article, "The Clean Energy Scam," corn-based ethanol is the scapegoat of the week. Though Grunwald draws attention to the vitally important need for evaluation of global land-use changes, the environmental finger pointing at corn-based ethanol by his sources has come to the point of ridiculous.

The fuel behind this latest fiery round of environmental blame game is two studies posted mid-February in Science Express. The papers, authored by Timothy Searchinger and Joseph Fargione, reach conclusions regarding the greenhouse gas emissions associated with potential global land-use changes caused by increasing biofuels demand — specifically for corn-based ethanol. Their conclusions are considered debatable by others in the scientific community.

Unfortunately, the topic of global climate change and the impact of possible sources of carbon emissions are complicated and multi-factorial issues which require continued and thorough research. Information from the United States EPA found at http://epa.gov/climatechange/index.html illustrates the complexity of the issue.

The existence of life on Earth, and certainly human life, has been impacting Earth’s environment for million’s of years. On the EPA site, you will read, consumption of fossil fuels is the greatest contributor of carbon emissions. In fact, the amount of carbon dioxide dumped into the atmosphere annually by burning fossil fuels is projected to rise worldwide from about 24 billion metric tons in 2002 to 33 billion metric tons in 2015.

Grunwald fails to report this. He also fails to consult experts in the field of biofuels lifecycle analysis, such as Dr. Bruce Dale of Michigan State and Dr. Michael Wang of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory. Both experts agree that the studies by Searchinger and Fargione raise important issues. However, they question many of the assumptions made by Searchinger and Fargione, and term them "highly speculative and uncertain scenarios for what might happen as a result of increased demand for corn grain."

Most notably, they point out the assumptions by Searchinger double the level of corn ethanol that is actually required under the new Renewable Fuels Standards by 2015, an assumption that’s not realistic to U.S. corn ethanol production in the next seven years. Congress established a production cap of 15 billion gallons of corn ethanol by 2015 to help guard against dramatic land use changes. But Searchinger bases his projections on a model in which U.S. corn ethanol production increased from 15 billion gallons a year to 30 billion gallons a year by 2015. Thus, the findings are irrelevant.

Ultimately, environmentally sustainable solutions to our dependence on fossil-based fuels must be found and research must be conducted to identify possible unintentional consequences of these solutions.

We believe corn-based ethanol, while not a biofuels silver bullet, is a viable foundation upon which the next generation of "advanced biofuels" can be built.

The ethanol industry is fueling research into technologies that will improve production of cellulosic ethanol from feedstocks such as switchgrass, crop waste and other renewable biomass. These offer additional environmental benefits because they not only absorb CO2 as the feedstuffs are grown (corn and switchgrass are high users of CO2), the fuel produced is cleaner burning than fossil-based fuels.

In addition, today’s grain-based ethanol industry is providing the auto industry with incentive to manufacture flex-fuel and alternative-fuel vehicles and creating an infrastructure to distribute ethanol produced from any feedstock.

Unlike other alternatives that are years from reaching availability, state-of-the-art technology, ethanol-enriched fuel is available now, and can be used in our current infrastructure.

Perhaps the biofuels detractors should put a halt to the creation of studies to support the "agenda du jour" and more effort put into finding solutions.

Visit http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1725975,00.html to read the Time magazine article
 

Leave a Reply

Latest News
HerbicidesHerbicides 2017: New Cropping Systems Set For Debut
December 7, 2016
Herbicide-resistant weed are inching ever-closer to a potentially frightening saturation point here in the U.S. Heading into 2016, USDA planting Read More
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis Acquires Michigan Ag Retailer
December 7, 2016
Wilbur-Ellis’ Agribusiness, a recognized leader in precision agriculture technology and the distribution and marketing of plant protection, seed and nutritional Read More
Fertilizer storage The Andersons
CropLife 1002016 Fertilizer Report: Another Really Rough Year For A…
December 7, 2016
In many ways, the fertilizer category cannot seem to catch a break. During the early part of the 2010s decade, Read More
R4023 Sprayer, John Deere
CropLife 100Ag Retail Equipment Report: The Green Party Continues
December 7, 2016
In the annual race for sales in the ag retail equipment marketplace, the color schemes for participants are a little Read More
Winter wheat
HerbicidesTalinor Herbicide Approved For Wheat And Barley
December 7, 2016
Talinor herbicide from Syngenta has received federal registration from the U.S. EPA, giving wheat and barley growers a new option Read More
Forage Sorghum
UncategorizedMilestone Achievement Continues For Dow AgroSciences, A…
December 7, 2016
New and innovative forage products are on the horizon driven by continued collaboration between Dow AgroSciences, a wholly owned subsidiary Read More
Palmer pigweed seedhead in cotton
HerbicidesNew WSSA Factsheet Explores Weed Seeds And Their Longev…
December 7, 2016
Did you know some weed seeds can lie dormant in the soil for more than a century and then sprout Read More
Crop InputsARA 2016: 5 Developments Worth Monitoring Into 2017
December 6, 2016
You can pretty much set your watch to it (do people even still wear watches? I know I do…but I’m Read More
Tim McCardle, ARA Chairman
CropLife 100BRANDT COO Named ARA Chairman
December 5, 2016
BRANDT EVP and Chief Operating Officer Tim McArdle has been named chairman of the Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) during a Read More
Crop InputsWilbur-Ellis Receives ResponsibleAg Certification At Mo…
December 5, 2016
Wilbur-Ellis Co., a recognized leader in precision agriculture technology and the distribution of crop protection products, announces the ResponsibleAg certification Read More
Young Corn Closeup
Eric SfiligojThe Read On 2017 For Agricultural Fortunes Is Anybody’s…
December 5, 2016
As I (and others) have written in recent months, the nation has just experienced one of the most offbeat election Read More
Acceleron B-300 seed coating
Crop InputsThe BioAg Alliance Launches New Yield-Boosting Microbia…
December 5, 2016
As part of their commitment to develop and commercialize innovative microbial solutions for farmers through The BioAg Alliance, Monsanto Co. Read More
ManagementCorn and soy planting update; Takeaways from Climate Co…
December 2, 2016
AgriBusiness Global Editor Dave Frabotta Joins Paul Schrimpf for a discussion of global corn and soybean planting trends, and a Read More
Radish cover crop taproot
Crop InputsSoil Health Institute, Datu Research Receive Grant To E…
December 1, 2016
The Soil Health Institute (SHI) and Datu Research have announced a $626,000 grant from the Walton Family Foundation to quantify the Read More
Mike Stern
Precision AgClimate Corp. CEO Talks Retailer Support For Digital Ag
December 1, 2016
CropLife Magazine’s sister publication, AgriBusiness Global, recently sat down with Mike Stern, CEO of The Climate Corp., following the Monsanto subsidiary’s Read More
ManagementAg Industry Comes Together To Address Climate Change
December 1, 2016
Addressing climate change — and more specifically, decreasing greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture — can only be achieved through collective Read More
Young soybean field
HerbicidesLiquid Formulation Valor EZ Herbicide Available For 201…
December 1, 2016
Valent U.S.A. Corp. has released Valor EZ; a liquid formulation of the company’s leading herbicide, Valor. Named Valor EZ Herbicide Read More
Key Cooperative Marcus Construction Steel Building
ManagementThe Value Of Cooperatives In Modern Agriculture
December 1, 2016
Editor’s Note: Jaxon Mullinnix of  Lone Tree, IA, was recently named the Iowa state winner of the 2017 GROWMARK essay Read More