A new study contradicts critics who claim the making and use of ethanol is leading to the destruction of South American rainforests and a buildup of greenhouse gases. Iowa is the United States’ top ethanol producer. Ethanol supporter Todd Sneller says the study shoots down claims Amazon jungles are being clear-cut for farmland to cultivate ethanol ingredients.
Sneller says it’s evident there’s very little deforestation taking place and what little tree-cutting is happening is typically related to the use of grassland and forests for cattle production and to a limited extent, for soybeans. In Brazil, for example, that deforestation is done mostly for human uses of the land, rather than fuels.
The study from the group "Ethanol Across America" says between 2000 and 2005, only one-percent of Amazon deforestation was for large-scale commercial agricultural use. Researchers have found corn ethanol can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 20-percent compared to gasoline. Sneller says the study reinforces that finding.
He says, "The new report is one that reaffirms what we’ve heard from the University of Nebraska and others that ethanol, particularly made in today’s plants with the newest technology, makes a significant contribution to greenhouse gas reductions, particularly relative to refined gasoline products." Supporters say ethanol is becoming more efficient and economical to produce, while oil will become more expensive and continue to do environmental damage.
Sneller says the Amazon is not being hurt as badly as petroleum companies want you to believe. "When one takes a look at the trend that has been consistent over the past seven years in terms of the Amazon specifically, we see there has been a steady decline in deforestation." Sneller is head of the Ethanol Board in Nebraska, the nation’s number-two ethanol producing state — behind Iowa.