Recent grassland losses are concentrated around U.S. ethanol refineries

Although the United States has pursued rapid development of corn ethanol as a matter of national biofuel policy, relatively little is known about this policy's widespread impacts on agricultural land conversion surrounding ethanol refineries. This knowledge gap impedes policy makers' ability to identify and mitigate potentially negative environmental impacts of ethanol production. We assessed changes to the landscape during initial implementation of the Renewable Fuel Standard v2 (RFS2) from 2008 to 2012 and found nearly 4.2 million acres of arable non-cropland converted to crops within 100 miles of refinery locations, including 3.6 million acres of converted grassland.

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