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Thirst for Corn

What 2007 Plantings Could Mean for the Environment

Now that legislation in the U.S. has jump-started the ethanol industry, priority should be directed less at the expansion of the industry and more at an evolution that offers the most benefits for the environment and energy security.

Key Findings

Executive Summary

Thanks in large part to the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS)---a legislative mandate for increased renewable fuels use that passed as part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005---the corn ethanol industry is expanding at an unprecedented rate in the United States. In its spring planting projections, the USDA projected that corn acreage in the U.S. would increase by 12 million acres, or 15%, during the 2007 planting season alone to meet demands for ethanol and other uses.

This study explores the potential environmental impacts of this surge in corn production, and suggests some policy measures to help make agriculture in general more robust to increased demands for energy production.

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