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Published May 27, 2014, 10:01 AM

RFS helps environment

The Renewable Fuel Standard makes perfect sense both environmentally and economically.

By: Bob Dinneen, Agweek

The Renewable Fuel Standard makes perfect sense both environmentally and economically.

The standard has been proven to help, not hurt, the environment. It ensures the conservation of nonagricultural land by placing specific limitations on land-use changes by farmers and landowners. Corn and other feedstock used to produce renewable fuels under the standard may only be sourced from land actively engaged in agricultural production at the time of the standard’s expansion.

Since 2005, no new grassland has been converted to cropland.

Wetland acreage continues to grow; enrollment in the Wetlands Reserve Program hit a record high of 2.65 million acres in 2012. Notably, total cropland continues to shrink in the long term because growers are getting more output per acre, rendering cropland conversion claims moot.

Land used to plant major crops in 2013 was 8 percent smaller than the acreage planted in the mid-1980s.

Under the RFS, ethanol proactively has benefited the environment. A January report from Life Cycle Associates found corn ethanol reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 32 percent compared with average petroleum, and by 37 to 40 percent compared with marginal petroleum sources such as tight oil from fracking and oil sands. The study estimated the reduction in emissions will be 43 to 60 percent compared with petroleum by 2022.

The ability to continually produce historic levels of corn on smaller amounts of land has helped the environment without negatively affecting food prices. In fact, the World Bank recently stated in a report, “Most of the (food) price increases are accounted for by crude oil prices.”

Yes, oil — the very product whose volatility spurred the creation of the RFS in the first place.

The standard benefits consumers and the environment alike. Repeal benefits no one.

Editor’s note: Dinneen is president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association.