Sunday, October 18, 2015

EPA Launches Probe into Benefits of Biofuels Program

Percentages of global production of fuel ethanol and biodiesel in 2006 (Credit: F.O.Licht Consulting Company) Click to Enlarge.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's in-house investigators have launched a review of the environmental benefits stemming from the country’s decade-old program requiring the use of corn-based ethanol in gasoline.

The investigation, to be conducted by the Inspector General for EPA, will examine whether the agency has complied with reporting requirements and is using recent research on the full environmental impacts of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), according to a letter dated Oct. 15 on the EPA's website.

Both oil industry and environmental groups have questioned whether the EPA properly evaluated the life cycle greenhouse gas emissions of corn ethanol to calculate its global warming potential.  They say land-use change associated with its production outweighs the environmental benefits of replacing gasoline.

The review was self-initiated and "discretionary," said Jeffrey Lagda, a spokesman for the Inspector General's office.  He said it would be "premature" to give a timeline.

The EPA, which is tasked with implementing the program, has faced mounting criticism for years-long delays in releasing of annual targets for biofuels use.  The agency in late May proposed long-awaited requirements for 2014, 2015, and 2016.
"The original intent of RFS was to stimulate fuels other than corn ethanol.  Corn ethanol was supposed to be the bridge.  But it's not happening," said Emily Cassidy of the Environmental Working Group, a critic of the program.

Read more at EPA Launches Probe into Benefits of Biofuels Program

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