Statement on University of Minnesota’s Recent Study

Today, Growth Energy released the following statement regarding recent findings on the impacts of corn- and cellulosic-based ethanol, in comparison to gasoline, released from the University of Minnesota on January 2, 2009:

“Despite initial negative interpretations by the press and some flawed assumptions by its authors, Growth Energy sees some positive potential from the University of Minnesota’s latest study on ethanol’s potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We were glad to see the authors agree that ethanol is part of the solution to the global climate crisis, recognizing that ‘corn-ethanol emissions will continue to improve’ with technological and agricultural advancements ‘including increased yields on the farm and improved conversion.’

“Despite the positive aspects, the study does fail to take into account that corn farmers have dramatically increased per-acre yields, and ethanol producers continue to utilize new technologies to reduce the industry’s environmental impact. That trend is certain to continue in the years ahead.

“The study also recognizes that ‘cellulosic ethanol holds the promise of yet greater environmental benefits,’ and we at Growth Energy share that enthusiasm. In fact, the ethanol industry has invested billions of dollars in developing next-generation biofuels to establish corn-based ethanol as the foundation for achieving the discussed advancements, which will yield even greater environmental benefits in the near future.

“This recent study should be a reminder that taking the right step towards next-generation biofuels can’t happen if we turn our backs on progress we’re making today. Another recent study shows that ethanol produced from corn in modern plants has less than half the life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions of gasoline.

“We should not lose sight of the fact that corn-based ethanol is America’s only homegrown alternative to oil available today. And as the University of Minnesota study cites, we must remember that ‘additional factors also affect the societal impacts of alternative fuels, including the effects on energy independence and security, economic development and food production.’ So if we truly wanted to calculate the health and human consequences of different types of fuel, we need to address flawed methodology like indirect land use change that is disputed by many scientists, the ramifications of America’s dependence of foreign sources of oil, and the harsh environmental impact of extracting oil from tar sands.”