Regulators at the California Air Resources Board (CARB) are poised later this week to declare that biofuel from corn ethanol cannot help the state address climate change. In assessing the true environmental cost of corn ethanol, it was found this biofuel is worse than petroleum when total greenhouse gas emissions are considered. This is because as with all monocultures, corn ethanol for biofuels lead to numerous other indirect land use changes. Increased industrial agriculture results in rising land pressures and the loss of soil and forest carbon sinks elsewhere.
Such a declaration disallowing corn ethanol biofuel from counting as emissions reductions would be a considerable blow to the corn-ethanol industry in the United States and would likely set a national precedent. The regulation is part of California’s low-carbon fuel standard to reduce greenhouse emissions from transportation fuels by an average of 10 percent by 2020. Substantial research has shown converting corn to ethanol leads to more clearing of rainforests and other carbon rich natural habitats, meaning producing corn ethanol as a transportation fuel does little to slow global warming. This would be the first piece of regulation to account for such these "indirect land-use effects" of corn-based ethanol.
So called "next generation" advanced cellulosic ethanol fuels from non-food plants and plant parts, including forest biomass, will not resolve these problems. All industrially produced biofuel crops from biomass, edible or not, still require land, soil, water, fertilizer and other finite inputs. Biofuels based upon further expansion of unsustainable, industrial agriculture policies will intensify deforestation, toxic pollution and dependence upon fossil fuel based fertilizers worldwide. It is clear that industrial biofuels are not "renewable energy" given that soils, water, land and fertilizers are all in limited supply.
Ecological Internet and Rainforest Rescue are concerned with America's growing ethanol industry, and the precedent it sets for massive agricultural industrialization of the world's remaining rainforests and other natural wildlands. Please call upon the CARB to heed the overwhelming evidence that agrofuels worsen climate change through further deforestation and the destruction of other soils and ecosystems, drive food prices up, force more people worldwide into hunger and malnutrition, and decimate biodiversity and ecosystems.
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Massive toxic corn monocultures devastate ecosystems and provide little additional energy
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