In Illinois, a proposal by the U.S. EPA to change ethanol blending rules would significantly increase carbon emissions to the equivalent of adding nearly 1 million more passenger vehicles on the road, according to an analysis conducted by the Energy Resources Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
The findings come in the wake of proposed rules by the EPA that call for a reduction of the volume of ethanol blended in gasoline as mandated by the renewable fuel standard (RFS), a program of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 signed into law 10 years ago this month. If the rules are adopted as proposed, a total of 17.5 billion gallons of ethanol would be blended with gasoline by 2016, 3.75 billion fewer gallons than originally mandated by Congress.
The peer-reviewed analysis was conducted using the GREET Model (Greenhouse gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy use in Transportation) developed by Argonne National Laboratory which examines the full life cycle emissions impacts of energy sources. As part of the analysis, carbon emissions related to the planting, growing, harvesting, transportation and production of corn into ethanol were compared to that of oil recovery and production.
Under the EPA’s proposed rules, conventional starch ethanol would likely be reduced to 13.4 billion gallons from 15 billion gallons in 2015. In this scenario, the analysis found that 4,520,000 metric tons of additional CO2 emissions would be incurred in 2015.