A new study by Illinois researchers estimates that reduced federal gasoline blending standards would produce the same impact on carbon emissions as nearly one million additional passenger vehicles.
The report from the University of Illinois-Chicago's Energy Resources Center said that the Environmental Protection Agency's proposed standards would reduce the amount of ethanol blended into gasoline by 3.75 billion gallons by 2016 compared to the original goals of the 2005 renewable fuel standard.
The study then compared the carbon emissions from corn and ethanol production to the emissions from petroleum processing.
“The RFS has been one of the most successful federal policies enacted in the United States because it achieved exactly what it was intended to do: spur research and investment, lower greenhouse gas emissions and reduce dependence on foreign oil," said UIC economist Steffen Mueller.
The EPA issued revised standards earlier this year that would reduce the renewable fuel requirement in gasoline by 4 billion gallons this year and 3 billion gallons in 2016.
Although the amount of ethanol in gasoline would continue to climb, the agency argued that the original goals were unrealistic because non-ethanol sources did not develop as quickly as originally anticipated.
Farm groups, however, decried the changes. The Illinois Corn Growers Association — which jointly issued a statement with the ERC on the study — accused the EPA of shirking its responsibilities and abandoning its mission.
“We are disappointed that the same federal agency charged to protect human health and the environment is proposing a rule change that would directly lead to greater greenhouse gas emissions,” said ICGA President Ken Hartman.
The EPA will issue final revised standards by the end of November.