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Global Warming Provisions in Biofuels Policy Threatened

Posted Mar. 18, 2009 / Posted by: RConnors

The biofuels lobby is, yet again, urging the EPA to ignore emissions from indirect land use change in EPA's accounting of global warming pollution from biofuels.  And corn-state Senators have sent their own plea to EPA in support of the industry, asking EPA to ignore the law and remove these emissions from their calculations.

Over the past year, scientists and economists have warned that the emission figures from deforestation and habitat destruction that occur as a result of increased biofuel production are significant, potentially causing biofuels to emit twice as much global warming pollution as gasoline.  This occurs as a result from what is called "indirect land use change". 

Indirect land use change occurs when increased biofuels production causes cropland expansion.  Due to increased globalization of agricultural markets, this cropland expansion may not happen within the borders of the US and is actually most likely to occur in countries in the global south.  Most importantly is that cropland expansion most often occurs to native and natural habitats, like forest and grasslands, which also act as important carbon sinks.  By converting these carbon sinks into cropland, the greenhouse gas emissions from biofuels production are increased significantly.

EPA is due to release their calculations of what these emissions would be any day now, and they are expected to show a significant increase in global warming pollution from most biofuels, particularly from corn ethanol.  It is absolutely vital that EPA include these emissions in their overall calculation of how much global warming pollution comes from biofuels.  Ignoring these emissions now could have a drastic impact on future climate legislation and our ability to meaningfully reduce global warming pollution.

Environmental Organization's Letter to EPA | Environmental CEO's Letter to EPA

 

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