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Ethanol groups dispute environmental report

UNDATED (WSAU-Wheeler News)  Ethanol groups dispute a detailed Associated Press report that the environment has been badly hurt by the federal requirement to include ethanol in gasoline. Former President Bush signed the "ethanol mandate" in 2007. And during the last five years of the Obama presidency, the A-P found that five-million acres that were set aside for conservation had vanished due to higher production of the corn used in ethanol. In Wisconsin, the A-P said farmers planted 700,000 more acres of corn last year than in 2006, just before the ethanol mandate was passed. As a result, almost a quarter-million acres of conservation land were lost.

Bob Dinneen of the Renewable Fuels Association disputes the theory. He says it's true actively-managed pasture lands have been converted to crops -- but Dinneen says there's no evidence that pristine prairies have been plowed into. He says most nature grasslands are protected by the U-S-D-A in the Farm Bill's Sod-buster and Swamp-buster provisions.

The A-P story also cited figures that question whether ethanol is cutting down on greenhouse gas emissions, when compared to pure gasoline. Geoff Cooper of the Renewable Fuels Association says there's plenty of independent research showing significant cuts in greenhouse emissions from ethanol fuel. Dinneen tells the Brownfield Ag News Service that the A-P report is another attack on ethanol which he says ignores the facts.

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