Climate & Energy Blog

Joint advocacy efforts on biofuels policy

Posted Mar. 18, 2012 / Posted by: Michal Rosenoer

Friends of the Earth works to bring together diverse interests opposed to ethanol subsidies.  We work with other environmental advocates, organizations that advocate against hunger and poverty,  industries whose economic profitability is hurt by increased corn prices (such as the livestock industry or food producers), taxpayer advocates, free-marketeers, and dozens of other types of groups opposed to ethanol subsidies. 

Below is a compilation of our joint advocacy efforts over the past few years, divided by topic. We will continue to update this list as our advocacy against ethanol subsidies continues.

Advocacy on the Renewable Fuel Standard:

The Renewable Fuel Standard mandates an increasingly large amount of biofuels be consumed each year, with 36 billion gallons of biofuels mandated annually by the year 2022.  Of the 36 billion gallon mandate, at least 15 billion gallons is expected to be filled by corn ethanol. The RFS is a major driver of biofuels production in the U.S. and abroad. Despite the inclusion of some environmental standards, Friends of the Earth opposes the RFS due to the inadequacy of those standards and it's negative effects on the environment and food prices.

Comments and Letters to the EPA on RFS Biofuels Pathways:

Advocacy on 2012 State RFS Waiver Petitions:

In 2012, amid the worst U.S. drought in 50 years, eight states petitioned EPA to waive the corn ethanol mandate to reduce the pressure on food prices. Friends of the Earth supported this call to waive the mandate based on the severe economic and environmental harm the policy and biofuels are causing worldwide.

Advocacy on Texas Governor’s 2008 RFS Waiver Petition:

In 2008, amid high food prices, the Governor of Texas Rick Perry petitioned EPA requesting that the RFS mandate be reduced in order to reduce the pressure it was causing on food prices.  Friends of the Earth supported this call to reduce the mandate based on its impacts on the environment.

Pre-Enactment Environmental Concerns on the RFS:

Friends of the Earth was skeptical of the environmental benefit of the 2007 RFS due to the large size of the mandate and its potential impact on the environment.

Comments on EPA’s Draft Rule of the RFS:

Post-Rule Making Actions and Lawsuit:

EPA Studies on RFS Impact:

Defending Indirect Land Use Change:

The indirect land use changes of biofuels production, or ILUC, refers to the negative unintended environmental consequences of growing biofuel feedstocks. As global demand for biofuels increases, farmers are displacing food crops to grow biofuel feedstocks, and new farms are being built to grow that displaced food. When new farms are started, new land needs to be cleared from grasslands, forests, wilderness, etc. Soils and biomass such as trees and grass store massive amounts of carbon and when they are cleared to start a farm, huge amounts of that carbon is released into the atmosphere. This indirect land use change increases global warming as a result of biofuel production. ILUC should be accounted for when assessing the environmental sustainability of any given biofuel.

Letters to Congress Defending ILUC:

Pre-Rule Making Letters to EPA Supporting ILUC:

Defending Biomass Sourcing Safeguards in the RFS:

Letters to support biomass sourcing safeguards and opposing attempts to strip ecosystem protections:

Advocacy work to end to the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit:

The VEETC was a $6 billion/year subsidy for corn ethanol that went primarily to the oil industry for blending ethanol into gasoline, as mandated by the Renewable Fuel Standard. After years of joint advocacy, Congress allowed VEETC to expire on December 31st, 2011.

Letters on VEETC:

Press Statements about VEETC:

Advocacy on halting federal funding for ethanol infrastructure:

Corn ethanol is more corrosive and explosive than regular gasoline, and thus requires it’s own infrastructure, including storage tanks, pipelines, and blender pumps at gas stations, for its dissemination. Taxpayers shouldn’t be forced to foot the bill for corn ethanol’s polluting fuel or it’s expensive, wasteful infrastructure.

Advocacy against increased amounts of ethanol in gasoline (the blend wall):

The EPA has to register each individual blend of ethanol and gasoline as a separate transportation fuel. Currently, the most widely-used ethanol/gasoline blend is E10, a blend of 10 percent ethanol and 90 percent gasoline. Friends of the Earth wants to keep the blend wall (or rather, the percentage of ethanol in each gallon of gasoline) as low as possible, to limit the market for dirty corn ethanol and thus limit its negative environmental and social consequences.

Letters on the blend wall:

Press Statements on the blend wall:

Comments on industry waiver petition:

Biomass Emissions Accounting and Sourcing Safeguards:

Biomass Principles:

Letters and Comments on Biomass:

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