Study Links Ethanol Production to Habitat Destruction

by Tim Morrissey

MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin is among the top ten states for ethanol production, with nine plants pumping out more than 500 million gallons of ethanol each year. But a new study shows a strong tie between ethanol production and the destruction of wildlife habitat.

Environmental Protection Agency rules say wildlife habitat should not be converted to crop production. But study coauthor Ben Larson, senior manager of forestry and bioenergy at the National Wildlife Federation, said the EPA has been taking shortcuts and not enforcing that rule. He said wildlife habitat near ethanol plants is being turned into land for crop production.

“Rather than actually requiring that ethanol plants check where their feedstocks were coming from, EPA said they would just look at a national level, and assume that none of the feedstocks were coming from recently converted land,” Larson said.

The study shows this assumption is faulty, and shows a clear connection between corn ethanol production and habitat destruction.

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