Green is a cutthroat business. Just ask the ethanol industry.
As part of its proposed low-carbon fuel standard, the California Air Resources Board has proposed that so-called “indirect land use change” impacts be included in the calculation of the lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions for biofuels, like corn-based ethanol. The proposal states,
Carbon intensities are calculated under the LCFS on a full lifecycle basis. This means that the carbon intensity value assigned to each fuel reflects the GHG emissions associated with that fuel’s production, transport, storage, and use. In addition to these direct GHG emissions, some fuels create emissions due to indirect land use change effects. An indirect land use change impact is initially triggered when an increase in the demand for a crop-based biofuel begins to drive up prices for the necessary feedstock crop. This price increase causes farmers to devote a larger proportion of their cultivated acreage to that feedstock crop. Supplies of the displaced food and feed commodities subsequently decline, leading to higher prices for those commodities. The lowest-cost way for many farmers to take advantage of these higher commodity prices is to bring non-agricultural lands into production. These land use conversions release the carbon sequestered in soils and vegetation. The resulting carbon emissions constitute the “indirect” land use change impact of increased biofuel production.
According a report in today’s Carbon Control News, environmentalists support this proposal, which would:
- Make it more difficult for corn-based ethanol to be classified as a low-carbon fuel in California — and perhaps elsewhere as the green-bug that bites California often spreads to other states; and
- Discourage increased agricultural production of food intended to make-up for crop acreage lost to ethanol production.
The point here is not to cry for the rather unsympathetic ethanol industry — a group that tried to ride the green wave to the detriment of our country’s energy and food supply.
The point is that when you (the biofuels industry and everyone else) lie down with dogs (greens) you get up with fleas. No disrespect to dogs intended.