Food and Technology Blog

A broken policy? Coalition calls for hearings on the renewable fuel standard

Posted Dec. 1, 2011 / Posted by: Michal Rosenoer

Yesterday a diverse coalition of hunger and development organizations, agriculture groups, budget hawks, free marketers and environmental groups called on the Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works to hold hearings on the impacts of the Renewable Fuel Standard. A number of studies have recently been released criticizing the Renewable Fuel Standard for damaging the environment and increasing food price volatility, while a scandal involving fake credits has brought the Renewable Fuel Standard's compliance system into question by the EPA and industry alike.

The Renewable Fuel Standard, the U.S.'s federal mandate for biofuels consumption, is supposed to help support the development of truly sustainable, environmentally beneficial transportation fuels that could help wean American off oil. However, a recent study by the National Academy of Sciences noted that the Renewable Fuel Standard is unlikely to spur the development of any biofuel besides corn ethanol through 2022 when the mandate is set to end. The study also found that the production of corn ethanol is likely increasing air pollution, increasing global warming, causing soil erosion, degrading water sources, and decreasing biodiversity. Thus, as it stands, the Renewable Fuel Standard is likely causing more environmental harm than good.

Likewise, a number of recent peer-reviewed studies have found that the Renewable Fuel Standard is contributing to food price volatility, thereby increasing hunger worldwide. To learn more about biofuels and food insecurity, see our recent fact sheet on the issue.

Moreover, the Environmental Protection Agency recently identified $9 million worth of fraudulent renewable energy credits that were being used by over a dozen companies to comply with the Renewable Fuel Standard, highlighting some of the potential problems with the Renewable Fuel System's compliance system.

Due to these critiques, it's imperative that Congress look at the Renewable Fuel Standard to ensure that the American taxpayers are only subsidizing truly renewable energy sources.

Letter to Senator Barbara Boxer and Senator James Inhofe (Letter)

Request for hearings on the Renewable Fuel Standard by the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works

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