A new report by the National Academy of Sciences has found that corn ethanol production increases greenhouse gas emissions and damages soil, air, water and wildlife habitat. The report also says advanced biofuels such as cellulosic ethanol are unlikely to prove practical substitutes for either corn ethanol or fossil fuels.

The report from the National Research Council, a branch of the NAS, concludes that achieving the renewable fuel standard mandate is likely to increase federal spending while further damaging the economy and environment, particularly soil and water.

The report, requested by Congress, concludes that ethanol increases greenhouse gas emissions, pollutes water and uses more water in its production than gasoline. It says that cellulosic ethanol is very unlikely to meet its Renewable Fuel Standard mandates by 2022. Indirect land use changes due to biofuels production will zero out any potential benefits of lower greenhouse gas emissions from biofuels and may actually increase them in both the short- and long-term.

To date taxpayers have spent $23 billion between 2005 and 2010, or $6 billion a year, subsidizing corn-based ethanol without significantly reducing reduction in America’s use of fossil fuels. The report is yet another reminder that significant reforms to the renewable fuel standard are critical, including the addition of strict and enforceable environmental safeguards.

American farmers have diverted 40 percent of corn production from food and feed to fuel. Land once used for soybean production has been converted to corn to meet the demand for biofuels set out in the RFS. The new report provides more evidence that corn ethanol production continues to raise food prices around the world and harms the planet by releasing more greenhouse gases than regular gasoline.

Read the report.

Source: Environmental Working Group