Climate & Energy Blog

Federal Biofuels Mandate Remains in Full Force After EPA Review

Posted Feb. 3, 2010 / Posted by: Nick Berning

For Immediate Release

Contact: Nick Berning, 202-222-0748 or Kelly Trout, 202-222-0722


WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Environmental Protection Agency today released its final rule for implementation of the federal Renewable Fuels Standard, which mandates a massive increase in domestic biofuels consumption by 2022.
A key part of the EPA's final rule is a model the agency has built to calculate the total greenhouse gas emissions that are generated over the full course of the biofuels production and consumption life cycle. The EPA decided to include in its model the emissions that are produced due to changes in land use patterns, something that environmentalists have called for and that is required by law. Despite this, EPA analysts predict that in 2022, corn ethanol production is likely to result in fewer greenhouse gas emissions than traditional gasoline.
Friends of the Earth climate and energy campaigner Kate McMahon had the following comment:
"Biofuels production comes with many downsides. Biofuel crops deplete valuable fresh water resources, and the pesticides and fertilizers used to grow these crops pollute groundwater, streams and rivers. The demand for land on which to grow crops for biofuel production also hastens destruction of important plant and animal habitat, while also competing with the need for land for food production.  Because of this, large-scale biofuel consumption is unlikely to be a viable long-term transportation fuel solution. Better approaches include the use of more efficient vehicles, smart zoning and transportation plans that reduce the need for driving, and the eventual use of clean electricity as a vehicle fuel.
"Global warming is another concern. The EPA's prediction that in 2022 most corn ethanol will result in less carbon pollution than regular gasoline is surprising and strikes us as highly optimistic, especially since the EPA acknowledged in its rule finalized today that corn ethanol production is driving the destruction of natural areas around the world, which in turn leads to biodiversity loss and immense carbon emissions. The EPA's greenhouse gas emissions model should be greeted with skepticism. We plan to examine the methodology that the EPA used and to determine how it diverges from the methodology used by leading experts who have found biofuels generate more carbon pollution than regular gasoline.
"Regardless, it is now clear that the federal biofuels mandate, which requires a radical more-than-300-percent increase in biofuels use over little more than a decade, will remain in full effect. This mandate is a huge gift to the biofuels industry. The industry does not need and should not receive other handouts. When the biofuels lobby asks for massive and wasteful tax credits for corn ethanol production later this year, Congress should reject them."


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