"The US government’s own scientists on Thursday questioned whether corn-based ethanol is better for the environment than traditional petroleum-based fuels, nearly two decades after Congress first mandated its use.
The EPA’s Science Advisory Board — a panel with dozens of experts that reviews how the agency uses research and technical information — agreed to advance a report questioning ethanol’s carbon intensity and urging more study.
“According to the best available science, it appears there is a reasonable chance there are minimal or no climate benefits from substituting corn ethanol for gasoline or diesel,” the board proclaimed in its drafted report. The Environmental Protection Agency should do “more extensive research” on the issue and consider it in setting future biofuel-blending quotas, the draft said.
The board voted to adopt the draft, subject to minor revisions and approval from its chair, setting up its final release in coming weeks. While some panel scientists emphasized the group was not prejudging the results of more research, its decision is a blow to ethanol advocates championing a greater role for the alcohol as a cleaner option for fueling cars, trucks and planes. The action comes just as the US Treasury Department develops guidance that will help dictate what products qualify for a tax credit meant to drive more sustainable aviation fuel."