Growth Energy Responds to Flawed Corn Stover Study

Flawed methodology in study produces results that are inconsistent with reality.

WASHINGTON, D.C.In response to a recent study published in Nature Climate Change that asserts that biofuels from corn residue (stover) may be worse for the climate than gasoline, Tom Buis CEO of Growth Energy released the following statement:

“The conclusions reached in this study are flawed and are in no way representative of the methods that are applied in this field. For starters, the authors assume that all 10 Corn Belt states would be harvesting 75 percent of corn stover, which is completely unrealistic and far beyond what any cellulosic ethanol producers are actually considering. Furthermore, the farmers providing cellulose to ethanol plants understand that smart and responsible farming is the key to success year after year. To conduct a study that assumes farmers would blatantly disregard sound farming practices is useless and is not worth the paper it is printed on.

“Our member plants that are developing commercially viable cellulosic ethanol are committed to responsible residue removal and sustainable farming to help fuel America and feed the world. They understand the effect that removing too much stover would have on soil quality and crop yield. There has been extensive research done, including hundreds of years’ worth of site data that demonstrate that responsible biomass harvesting, which is what we see today, is a valuable part of good farm management. Most of the agronomic and academic community is aligned in the understanding that biomass can be removed within reason. This is one study among many, and it flies in the face of research by most agronomic experts.

“The USDA and the EPA have both refuted this study, calling out the authors’ unrealistic assumptions and concluding that the study ‘does not provide useful information relevant to the life cycle greenhouse gas emissions from corn stover ethanol.’

“When it comes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, what is needed is a long-term, comprehensive approach that successfully partners first and next generation fuels, not a short-sighted, unrealistic and misleading study such as this one.”