Growth Energy CEO Responds to New Yorker Article Dismissing Ethanol’s Role in SAF

Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) is the next frontier for American-made biofuels like bioethanol.

On Dec. 9, 2023, The New Yorker ran an article about Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) but downplayed the environmental benefits of ethanol. Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor submitted the following letter to the editor in response:

Elizabeth Kolbert’s recent article on sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) cherry-picks information to retell a long-debunked narrative that misrepresents the state of the research on crop-based biofuels.

No less than the Argonne National Laboratory and U.S. Department of Agriculture have concluded that corn ethanol reduces greenhouse gas emissions. With the implementation of climate-smart farming practices the Department of Energy found that the GHG emissions of SAF made from ethanol could be 153% lower than standard petroleum jet fuel. Additional research has demonstrated, contrary to Kolbert’s breezy claim otherwise, that corn ethanol has not increased food prices or crop acreage—in fact, corn acreage has been largely unchanged since the 1930s. And yet, in that time we’ve been able to feed more people and fuel more vehicles using the same amount of land due to enormous increases in crop yield.

Yes, SAF is still in its infancy. Ensuring its success will require a great deal of investment and support from policymakers, but when it comes to corn ethanol and SAF there are reasons for optimism. We should fairly assess all our options; otherwise, we risk steering ourselves toward a future filled with even more fossil fuels—something no one wants.