Growth Energy Says AP Failed to Check Facts
(NAFB)--Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis says the investigative report released by the Associated Press reads more like an opinion piece. He says the report is littered with misinformation and inaccuracies - attempting to discredit the renewable fuels industry. According to Buis - the authors of the piece need to get a fact checker. He says even the simplest of facts were misconstrued. Buis says this was clearly an agenda piece and the truth was irrelevant to what the author was fixated on writing. He says the fact is that the renewable fuels industry is reducing our dependence on foreign oil, creating good paying jobs at home that can’t be outsourced, driving growth and innovation in rural America - all while improving the environment and providing consumers a choice and savings at the pump.
Here is a look at Growth Energy’s comprehensive fact check - which corrects the false claims and inaccurate information found within the AP story:
* Claim: Ethanol production has caused five-million acres of land to be removed from the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) since Obama took office.
Fact: The 2008 Farm Bill removed funding for roughly seven-million acres of CRP land. Based on this law - the number of enrolled acres has decreased to fit within the programs new, smaller budget. It is legally impossible to get back to pre-2008 levels of CRP enrollment. This has nothing to do with ethanol. Since the cap was lowered - acres have been near (92%-98%) the new cap each year.
* Claim: Landowners have been filling in wetlands because of ethanol production and have been plowing pristine prairies.
Fact: Acreage enrolled in the Wetlands Reserve Program hit a record high of 2.65-million acres in 2012. The land that is enrolled in the program stays for a minimum of 30 years - meaning landowners are not allowed to fill in wetlands as they please. USDA predicts that enrollment in this program will continue to rise.
Moreover - according to EPA’s latest Greenhouse Gas Inventory - no new grassland has been converted to cropland since 2005 and grassland sequestered 14-percent more carbon in 2011 (latest data available) than 1990.
* Claim: Tom Daschle was a Senator from Iowa and is on the board of Growth Energy.
Fact: Tom Daschle was a Senator from South Dakota and is not on the board of Growth Energy. The AP clearly didn’t bother to check even the most basic facts.
* Claim: Corn prices have spent most of the year at about $7 per bushel.
Fact: Corn prices have been below $7 per bushel for most of 2013. The day the AP article was first published - corn futures were trading at the lowest price since 2010: $4.26 per bushel.
* Claim: Farmers planted 15-million more acres of corn the year before the ethanol boom.
Fact: Farmers increased corn acreage in 2012 and 2013 in response to drought ravaged corn supplies - not because of ethanol. In fact - less corn was and will be used for ethanol in 2012 and 2013 than in 2011. Moreover - the increase in corn acres has been achieved through crop switching - not through the cultivation of new lands, as the story alleges.
* Claim: Corn demands fertilizer, which is made using natural gas - and ethanol facilities burn coal or gas, both of which release carbon dioxide and that makes ethanol a climate disaster.
Fact: According to Argonne National Laboratory in a peer-reviewed study - when you tally emissions related to fertilizer and chemical production, diesel use on the farm, transportation of the corn, energy used by the ethanol plant, transportation of ethanol to the market and land use change emission - corn ethanol on average reduces GHG emissions by 34-percent compared to gasoline.
* Claim: Historically - the majority of corn in the U.S. has been turned into livestock feed. In and since 2010 - fuel has been the top use of corn in America.
Fact: The story ignores that for each bushel of corn that goes into an ethanol facility - 17 pounds of animal feed is produced and returned into the market. When this major source of livestock feed is not omitted from the calculation - livestock feed remains by far the number one use of corn. In 2012 - ethanol consumed 17.5-percent of the corn crop - while livestock feed accounted for 50-percent.
* Claim: Forty-four percent of last year’s corn crop was used for fuel.
Fact: According to USDA - 4.67-billion bushels were used for ethanol and feed co-product production out of a total of 11.93-billion bushels produced. This represents 39-percent - not 44-percent. But since much of that 39-percent was used to make animal feed - only 17.5-percent of the crop turned into fuel.
* Claim: Corn farmers have increased their use of nitrogen fertilizer from 2005 to 2010.
Fact: If you look take a starting point of 2007 - when the RFS was enacted - nitrogen use fell by 2010. Furthermore - the nitrogen required to produce a bushel of corn has fallen steadily over time. It has dropped 43-percent per bushel since 1980.
Growth Energy says the story did get a few things correct (these are direct excerpts):
* “Ethanol still looks good compared to the oil industry, which increasingly relies on environmentally risky tactics like hydraulic fracturing or pulls from carbon-heavy tar sands.”
* “It’s impossible to precisely calculate how much ethanol is responsible for the spike in corn prices and how much those prices led to the land changes in the Midwest.”
* “The environmental consequences of drilling for oil and natural gas are well documented and severe.”