US corn use for ethanol has zero land impact – RFA study

24 February 2009 23:41  [Source: ICIS news]

SAN ANTONIO, Texas (ICIS news)--Expansion of US corn-based ethanol production to 15bn gal/year by 2015/2016 should not result in any new conversion of forest or grassland use, either in the US or abroad, according to a study released by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) on Tuesday.

The study found that the increase in corn use for US ethanol production through 2015 can be met without a decline in exports or a decline in stocks.

The RFA has not yet published full-year production figures for 2008, but data through November show the industry was on pace to produce around 9.5bn gal.

US corn exports would stay constant at between 1.8bn-2.0bn bushels/year, wheat exports would be constant, and soybean exports will and soybean exports increase steadily through 2015, said the study.

"We are assuming in this analysis that land use changes abroad due to increased demand for corn are not attributed to ethanol as long as US exports remain constant or increasing," said the study's authors at consultancy Air Improvement Resource.

The RFA released the study to coincide with the National Ethanol Conference in San Antonio, the US industry's biggest annual event.

Some biofuels opponents have accused the ethanol industry of putting pressure on land use by consuming too much corn.

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates ethanol mills currently consume around one-third of the annual US corn crop.

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By: Stephen Burns
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