The constantly shifting body of research surrounding impacts of ethanol on land use worldwide means only one thing, the National Corn Growers Association believes: It’s time to throw out the whole debated theory of indirect land use change.
“In 2010, the U.S. Department of Agriculture predicts our corn farmers will produce more than 300 million more bushels than just three years ago, and do so on nearly 5 million fewer acres,” NCGA President Darrin Ihnen said. “International indirect land use change theory completely ignores or significantly downplays grower ingenuity and modern agronomy. This junk science needs to go the way of the horse-drawn plow.”
A recent study, released by Purdue University, found that that the California Air Resources Board overestimated the greenhouse-gas impact of land use changes related to corn ethanol by a factor of two. The updated research, utilizing the Global Trade Analysis Project model, estimated that average corn ethanol land use emissions were 13.9 grams CO2 equivalent per mega joule - less than half of the land use change value of 30 grams CO2 equivalent per mega joule adopted by CARB in its controversial Low Carbon Fuel Standard.
This change also means that California may find itself more dependent on fuels that are worse for the environment.
The Purdue research also reflects the scientific community’s rejection of the initial paper that brought the land use change theory to the front burner in February 2008, according to the Renewable Fuels Association. Since then, the estimated emissions purportedly occurring from the indirect land use change penalty have fallen by nearly 90 percent.