Washington, D.C. – A bipartisan group of 12 U.S. senators has asked the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) not to propose regulations that assume greater use of biofuels would increase carbon dioxide emissions. The senators argued that data and methods for calculating such “indirect land use changes” such as from forest or grassland to crops are not adequately developed, and thus should not be used in ways that would make it harder for ethanol and biodiesel to meet lower carbon emissions under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).
“This Renewable Fuel Standard is essential to breaking our over-dependence on oil,” said senator Tom Harkin. “To do that, we need new domestic fuels as well as new vehicle technologies. With the RFS, we put ourselves on a clear path of producing and using steadily increasing levels of a variety of biofuels over the next 15 years, and we included these emissions’ limits to ensure thaqt these new fuels would also be good for our environment and climate. However, for this to work, we simply must have valid data and methods for calculating the emissions. Otherwise, we’ll exclude some good biofuels and stifle the investment that is so essential to our national renewable fuels strategy.”
The law requires biofuels to meet certain life-cycle greenhouse gas emission caps in order to qualify for the RFS, and specifies that these emissions are to include the effects of indirect land use changes. In their letter, the senators recommend that the EPA refrain from including calculations of the effects of indirect land use changes in their rulemaking at this time.