A new USDA study finds that corn-based ethanol is 39 percent lower in greenhouse gas emissions on average than conventional gasoline, and emissions are 43 percent lower than gasoline when ethanol is produced at plants fired by natural gas. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said the findings provide further evidence that biofuels "reduce greenhouse gases even more than we thought," and that farmers and ethanol plants continue to become more efficient and effective. An EPA analysis released in 2010 found that emissions from ethanol produced at a new plant would be 21 percent lower than gasoline. The new study, conducted by Jan Lewandrowski of USDA's Office of the Chief Economist, attributed the lower emission estimate to improvements at ethanol plants as well as the adoption of conservation practices on farms. Another factor: Corn farmers were found to only “modestly” increase corn acreage when prices rise. Previous estimates assumed that farmers would expand acreage more significantly. Ethanol's emissions could be reduced to as much as 70 percent below gasoline by 2022 with additional improvements, the study said. “Higher ethanol blends provide not only tremendous health and environmental benefits, but economic benefits as well for rural America and our farmers," Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor said.
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