Legislation was introduced today in the U.S. House of Representatives that would remove an outdated provision from the Renewable Fuels Standard that prevents corn ethanol from being categorized as an advanced biofuel. The legislation recognizes the progress made in cutting the carbon intensity of ethanol since the RFS was enacted.
The bill, introduced by Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-Iowa) and original cosponsors Reps. Nikki Budzinski (D-Ill.), Eric Sorensen (D-Ill), Wesley Hunt (R-Texas) and Stephanie Bice (R-Okla.), would also require that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency use the more modern and accurate Argonne GREET model to assess the carbon reductions from biofuels under the RFS.
The National Corn Growers Association supports the legislation.
“We applaud Rep. Miller-Meeks and the original cosponsors for introducing legislation that recognizes the declining carbon intensity of today’s low-carbon ethanol and helps level the playing field,” said NCGA President Tom Haag. “Farmers are proud to contribute to lowering ethanol’s carbon footprint through our production practices, and this bill would ensure EPA uses the most recent science and data to accurately measure the greenhouse gas reduction benefits of biofuels.”
Published analysis from the Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory concludes corn ethanol’s carbon intensity decreased 23 percent from 2005 to 2019 due to increased corn yield, reduced fertilizer intensity and improved ethanol production efficiency, with corn ethanol now between 44 and 52 percent lower in carbon intensity than the gasoline it replaces. Argonne’s analysis is consistent with recent research from Environmental Health and Engineering, with contributors from Harvard and Tufts Universities, that corn ethanol today is 46 percent lower in carbon intensity than gasoline, with the potential for further reductions from additional corn feedstock and production process improvements.
Begun in 2005 and expanded in 2007, the RFS requires transportation fuel sold in the United States contain a minimum volume of renewable fuels. Under the law, advanced biofuels must deliver a 50 percent or more reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to gasoline, a requirement today’s ethanol is capable of meeting.