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Obama Administration Ethanol Proposal A “Missed Opportunity” for Climate

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For Immediate Release: 
Monday, November 30, 2015

WASHINGTON – The Obama Administration’s unprecedented decision today lowering the amount of corn ethanol that refiners must add to gasoline misses an opportunity to go even further and pave the way for second-generation biofuels, EWG said.

In its decision finalizing the Renewable Fuel Standard for 2014, 2015, and 2016, the government set the corn ethanol mandate for 2016 at 14.5 billion gallons, half a billion gallons less than the previous standard that required increasing amounts year after year.

“Clearly the Administration realizes that corn ethanol does not reduce carbon pollution, which is why the Renewable Fuel Standard was purposefully snubbed by President Obama at the climate talks in Paris,” said Emily Cassidy, EWG research analyst. “But this small reduction of corn ethanol doesn’t go far enough to allow room in the market for cellulosic ethanol that could actually reduce carbon emissions.”

A recent EWG report found that cellulosic ethanol made from switchgrass or corn stalks could significantly reduce carbon pollution compared to gasoline and corn ethanol. In contrast, corn ethanol has been shown time and time again to be worse for the climate than straight gasoline.

“Mandating more corn ethanol into our gas tanks has been a climate disaster,” Cassidy added. “The rule set today was a missed opportunity to overhaul the Renewable Fuel Standard so as to stimulate production of lower-carbon cellulosic fuels.” 

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