Growth Energy Releases Policy Briefing on California’s Dangerous Gamble with Indirect Land Use Cha

SACRAMENTO – Growth Energy released a policy briefing today examining the rules being developed by California’s Air Resources Board (ARB) to govern the Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS). The briefing shows why the adoption of indirect land use change (ILUC) models for determining the carbon intensity of biofuels is flawed empirically and for making policy. Growth Energy also provides a series of alternative policies that ARB could pursue that would be much more effective in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Read the policy brief here.


“I applaud California’s efforts to reduce carbon emissions, but there are internationally recognized standards for carbon accounting that should be adhered to. The current indirect land use change models do not meet those standards and have very little support in the scientific community,” said General Wesley Clark, co-chairman of Growth Energy. “With so much of our future environmental policy dependent on accurate and verifiable carbon accounting, I hope California’s Air Resources Board carefully considers the dangerous ramifications that could take place by adopting such a speculative policy.”


According to ILUC theory, corn used for ethanol displaces other crops, like soybeans, causing farmers in Brazil cut down rainforest to grow soybeans and fill the demand. Growth Energy’s policy paper debunks two main concepts that serve as the foundation for current ILUC theory. First, the facts show that using corn for ethanol will not lead to sharp decreases in grain exports. According to USDA projections, exports for corn and soybeans are likely to remain steady or grow slightly through 2015. Second, ILUC theory claims that producing ethanol from corn drives deforestation in the Amazon. However, data from Brazil’s National Institute of Space Research shows that even while U.S. ethanol production has dramatically increased, deforestation in the Amazon has significantly decreased.


The paper uses actual examples, rather than hypotheses, to demonstrate why current ILUC theory is flawed and also discusses the negative impacts that relying on this flawed theory could have in California’s overall effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Finally, it addresses the inconsistent standards that California would adopt since, at this time the ARB is considering the application of ILUC penalties only on biofuels and no other transportation fuel.


The effort to include ILUC models for carbon intensity stems from the establishment of the LCFS. In January 2007, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed an Executive Order establishing the LCFS. The goal of the LCFS is to lower the carbon intensity of California’s transportation fuels by 10 percent by 2020. Governor Schwarzenegger charged the California Air Resources Board (ARB) with developing the regulations that would govern the LCFS and the agency is now in the final stages of releasing a draft rule for public comment with the final rule to be voted on by the ARB on April 23 or 24.


About Growth Energy


Growth Energy is a group committed to the promise of agriculture and growing America’s economy through cleaner, greener energy. Growth Energy members recognize America needs a new ethanol approach. Through smart policy reform and a proactive grassroots campaign, Growth Energy promotes reducing greenhouse gas emissions, expanding the use of ethanol in gasoline, decreasing our dependence on foreign oil, and creating American jobs at home. More information can be found at