The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) sent a letter to Growth Energy in response to our call for DOE to address the inaccurate and misleading study by Tyler Lark and others that claims to have been partially funded by the department.
“Failing to address this research’s inconsistencies and departure from mainstream science could have negative consequences in our nation’s quest to decarbonize the transportation sector—both on the ground and in the air. According to recent research by the Rhodium Group, our industry’s contributions in reaching net-zero emissions targets and decarbonizing the transportation sector will be necessary,” wrote Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor in her letter to U.S. Energy Secretary Granholm.
In response, DOE shared its concerns over the credibility of the findings of the Lark study.
We appreciate the concerns you have raised regarding the study released by Tyler Lark, et al., from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. We share many of your concerns about the methods and assumptions used in the study and are taking steps to ensure that more widely accepted science is shared in the public domain.
DOE shared its support for the use of biofuels, including corn ethanol, as a “readily available energy solution that deserves full consideration when strategizing our energy and environmental agenda.”
The most recent DOE study in 2021 found that U.S. corn ethanol has 44-52% lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions than petroleum gasoline. Other credible studies have found similar results. A recent study from researchers at Harvard and other institutions find that conventional ethanol reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 46% relative to gasoline.
DOE’s letter follows comments from environmental scientists and experts from across the country associated with the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Argonne National Laboratory submitted earlier this year that directly debunked Lark’s study.
The scientists, including Steffen Mueller of University of Illinois-Chicago and Michael Wang of Argonne National Laboratory, who also published an initial response in March 2022, revisited many of the claims and found Lark’s modeling approach to be “too limited to effectively consider the drivers of ethanol industry.” They also found the Lark study to include “outdated and inaccurate projections for future crop prices”, “double counted” and incorrect emissions results, and “magnificent changes” in land use that are “overestimated”.
The report criticized “various major deficiencies and problematic assessments” from the Lark report, including a failure to account for yield improvements and overestimated land use impacts of corn ethanol.
“We recently reviewed the article published by Lark et al. (2022) in PNAS, detected various problematic assumptions, approaches, data, and results in that study,” wrote the scientists. “Based on our findings, we concluded that these authors overestimated GHG emissions of corn ethanol consumption due to the RFS.”
[email protected] and @AndrewDEast are going green with @GetBiofuel! The Green American Road Trip will follow the East Family on three cleaner cross-country adventures—and provide American drivers everything they need to do the same. Follow along at https://t.co/iz7GmXouOM. https://t.co/GaCsbrBiaL
“The funds awarded today by the @ENERGY will undoubtedly accelerate the innovations taking place at U.S. #ethanol plants, opening new opportunities for low-cost, low-carbon energy,” says @GrowthEnergy's Emily Skor. https://t.co/Em0ya2ITJ8