Ethanol Lowers Emissions, Better for Environment

A new report by the Clean Fuels Development Coalition shows that ethanol is far better for the environment than gasoline and that corn ethanol can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 20 percent.

The report, Environmental Impacts of Ethanol Production, cites a U.S. Department of Energy study that found significant gains in efficiency in ethanol production. Between 2001 and 2006, ethanol production reduced its water consumption by 26.6 percent, reduced electricity demand by 15.7 percent and reduced total energy use by 21.8 percent.

While the ethanol industry has been in place for about 35 years, more than half of the ethanol plants that exist today are less than four years old, which makes them more efficient and better for the environment than petroleum refineries. According to the report, as the world’s oil reserves are tapped, oil becomes not only harder to find, but its extraction and processing come with a higher environmental and economic cost.

Some critics funded by the food and oil industries have said ethanol increases GHG emissions by indirectly causing deforestation in other parts of the world. But one study cited in the report found that from 2000-2005, only 1 percent of deforestation in the Amazon was caused by large-scale commercial agriculture. Other studies note that deforestation has been significantly and steadily reduced during the past seven years even as U.S. ethanol production has increased.

Todd Sneller, administrator of the Nebraska Ethanol Board, said the environmental benefits of ethanol make it a superior alternative to gasoline.

“Ethanol is getting more efficient, more economical and more environmentally friendly to produce,” Sneller said. “Oil will continue to become more expensive and wreak more environmental damage while taking an economic toll on the U.S.”

A full copy of the report is available at the Nebraska Ethanol Board website. Request a hard copy of the report by contacting the Nebraska Ethanol Board.

As Gas Prices Creep Up, Ethanol Saves Drivers Money

Nationally, gas prices have risen nearly every day for the past 42 days. Some analysts expect that a return to $100 oil and $4 gas isn’t far behind. But Nebraska drivers are already saving money by filling up with E10.

“Nebraska drivers have already saved more than $4.5 million in 2009 by buying E10,” said Todd Sneller, administrator of the Nebraska Ethanol Board. “If all the fuel sold in Nebraska in the past five years was E85, Nebraskans would have saved $2.6 billion.”

Some economists have expressed concern that higher oil prices could even prolong the recession. The oil industry is desperately trying to inflate the price of oil with OPEC production quotas and oil refinery shutdowns, even as oil and gas demand drops. Worldwide oil demand is 2.6 million barrels per day lower than it was a year ago, according to the International Energy Agency.

“Nebraskans can save money, support their local economies and send Big Oil a message that we’re tired of outrageous prices while they rake in billions” said Ethanol Board Chairman Mike Thede. “Buying ethanol made right here in Nebraska keeps money in your pocket.”

Ethanol continues to play an increasingly important role in meeting U.S. transportation fuel demand. According to an analysis by the Clean Fuels Development Coalition, ethanol is the third largest source of transportation fuel in the U.S., behind oil imports from Canada and Saudi Arabia. In terms of energy contribution, domestic ethanol equals about 30 percent of oil imports to the US.

Ethanol provides a cleaner, cheaper alternative to gasoline, and lets Nebraskans take control of their energy future.

“We can invest in alternative, renewable, inexpensive fuels like ethanol, or we can continue the billion-dollar giveaway to Big Oil,” Thede said.

New Report Shows Ethanol Reduces Emissions

A new research report from the International Energy Agency concludes that ethanol will play a critical role in reducing global greenhouse gas emissions.

The report found that ethanol production is significantly more efficient and environmentally friendly than before, and that by 2015, ethanol GHG reductions will be twice the level of 1995. Ethanol reduces GHG emissions by 39 percent, and is projected to reduce GHG emissions by 55% percent by 2015.

The IEA’s findings support similar conclusions reported by Dr. Ken Cassman of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Cassman is one of a team of researchers developing a GHG emissions model that estimates greenhouse gas emissions at each stage of ethanol production and use, including emissions resulting from crop production. Cassman’s research indicates the greenhouse gas reducing capability of ethanol may be somewhat better than results reported in the IEA analysis.

“Our model shows Nebraska ethanol plants create 48-60 percent reductions in greenhouse gas emissions compared to gasoline,” Cassman said.

Nebraska Ethanol Board Chair Mike Thede said Nebraska’s Ethanol plants benefit the state both economically and environmentally.

“Ethanol creates new jobs, supports our agricultural industry, provides a cheaper alternative to oil, and reduces the trade deficit,” Thede said. “But biofuels like corn ethanol also significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, compared to gasoline.”

Ethanol policy and the environment are just some of the issues to be discussed this week at the Ethanol 2009: Emerging Issues Forum, set for April 2-3 at the Magnolia Hotel in Omaha. For more on the forum visit www.ethanol.nebraska.gov/forum2009

Emissions Modeling Researcher to Speak at Ethanol Board Meeting

A recent study found that corn ethanol reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 51 percent compared to gasoline. Dr. Ken Cassman of UN-L, a co-author of that study, will speak about the emissions reduction of ethanol and emissions modeling in a special presentation at the Nebraska Ethanol Board meeting March 6.

The study, published in the Journal of Industrial Ecology, found that the emissions created during the production and use of ethanol “lifecycle emissions”are lower than the lifecycle emissions of gasoline. Cassman said that this was partly because ethanol production has recently become more efficient than ever before, while previous studies had relied on outdated data.

“Increased efficiency in ethanol production combined with better agricultural practices mean that ethanol production yields a higher net energy gain and lower emissions than we previously thought,” Cassman said.

Cassman will summarize his research and the process of developing an emissions modeling system during his presentation at the Nebraska Ethanol Board meeting on Friday, March 6 at 8:30 am. The meeting will be held at Hampton Inn South, 5922 Vandervoort Drive, in Lincoln. Download the meeting agenda from the Ethanol Board website at ethanol.nebraska.gov.

Ethanol Board Applauds GBC on Letter to President Obama

The Nebraska Ethanol Board expressed its support today for a recent letter from the Governors’ Biofuels Coalition to President Obama. The letter asked the president to continue his support of biofuels and includes several specific proposals designed to increase the production and use of biofuels over the next decade.

“We commend the Governors’ Biofuels Coalition for reaching out to the president,” said Todd Sneller, administrator of the Nebraska Ethanol Board. “Biofuels like ethanol are a key component in moving forward with renewable energy, the economy and a healthier environment.”

The letter, written by GBC Chair and North Dakota governor John Hoeven, and Iowa Governor and GBC Vice Chair Chet Culver, emphasizes the role of biofuels like ethanol in increasing energy independence.

“We believe that biofuels can help reduce our dependency on foreign oil. Our vision for the next decade includes steps that would eliminate our dependency on high-carbon imported oil. We respectfully ask you to act quickly to address the issues below and help to achieve this vision,” the letter states.

The GBC letter also proposes the following to promote biofuels development, including:

  • Establish an interagency task force to sort fact from fiction regarding the lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions and transportation fuels.
  • Initiate immediate action to overcome regulatory impediments to increased ethanol use.
  • Create new policy options that continue to increase the sustainability of biofuels feedstock production.
  • Implement the nation’s first comprehensive biofuel market development program.

The Advancement of Ethanol in Nebraska