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Compromise Amendment to Waxman-Markey Bill Prohibits EPA From Using Indirect Land Use Change Metrics on Biofuels for 5 Years While National Academies Research the Issue

26 June 2009

A compromise between House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson and House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman on the Waxman-Markey energy and cap-and-trade bill (H.R. 2454) (earlier post) due for a vote in the House this week prohibits the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from imposing indirect land use change (ILUC) metrics on biofuels in the new Renewable Fuels Standard (earlier post) for 5 years while research is conducted by the National Academies of Science on the issue. The compromise is expressed in an amendment offered by Peterson to the bill.

After that period, the Secretaries of Agriculture and Energy as well as the EPA Administrator must jointly decide to accept or reject the findings. Additionally, Congress will have one year following that decision to act, if it so chooses.

The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS-2) defined within the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 requires biofuels to meet specified life-cycle greenhouse gas emission reduction targets to qualify. The law specifies that life-cycle GHG emissions are to include “direct emissions and significant indirect emissions such as significant emissions from land use changes, as determined by the Administrator.” The provision for indirect land use metrics only applies to biofuels.

Depending upon the assumptions and boundary conditions set in the ILUC evaluation, the result can dramatically increase the calculated GHG footprint of a biofuel, far offsetting the presumed greenhouse gas benefits of its use. (Earlier post.)

The challenge is that the ability to calculate future indirect land use changes resulting from production of biofuels is limited by the lack of both proven and accepted land use models and sufficient information about input data. For example, future land use policies may well be major factors in determining future land use changes, and yet adequate information and approaches for calculating the effects of such as-yet-unknown policies aren’t available. (Earlier post.)

The Peterson amendment requires the National Academies to evaluate and report on whether there are economic and environmental models and methodologies that individually, or as a system, can project with reliability, predictability, and confidence:

  1. Indirect land use changes that are related to the production of renewable fuels and that may occur outside the country in which the feedstocks are grown, and the impacts of these changes on greenhouse gas emissions; and
  2. indirect effects, both domestic and international, related to the production and importation of non-renewable transportation fuels that have significant greenhouse gas emissions, and the impact of these effects on greenhouse gas emissions.

The report is to include a review and assessment of all pertinent scientific studies, methodologies and data; evaluate potential methodologies for calculating such emissions (including an evaluation of methods for annualizing emissions associated with forest degradation or land conversion); and make appropriate recommendations.

The report, which is to be completed within three years of enactment of the legislation, will be made publicly available and is to “include sufficient information and data such that economists and other scientists with relevant expertise that are not on the National Academies of Science panel can fully evaluate the conclusions of the report.

Other compromises as represented by the Peterson amendment include:

  • The definition of renewable biomass was harmonized with the 2008 Farm Bill language for private lands. Environmental safeguards for public lands were preserved.

  • Biodiesel facilities built before implementation of the 2007 energy bill while be grandfathered into the law in the same fashion as ethanol facilities of the same vintage.

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June 26, 2009 in Lifecycle analysis | Permalink | Comments (11) | TrackBack (0)

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Cap and Tax is the worst way to fix the problem. Propping up non-competitive companies at the expense of profitable companies is a sure fire way to double digit inflation.

I would prefer a carbon tax that goes directly to renewable fuels. Less chance of gaming they system that way.

@SJC
Me too but, as a Canadian, I can tell you a carbon tax would never get passed. It's just too easy for the side that doesn't want it to lie about it. Our last federal election was proof of that.

I don't like the 5-year moratorium on land-use criteria. I think it smacks of trying to run out the clock until a less environment-friendly congress is in place. Also, I have this suspicioun that a lot of crops with dubious EROIE can get subsidies in the mean time.

The biggest land use change in history happened in the latter half of the 19th century when millions of acres of grasslands in North America, South America and Russia were converted to cropland. However, climate change data appearing during the time frame of this conversion process is almost entirely a function of increased use of coal burning. If there is a signal there resulting from land use change, I haven't been able to find it. I think the lab data overestimates climate effects of land conversion.

However, there is one area of land use change where human activity is causing major measurable climate change effects, and that is logging of boreal forests, especially on anoxic, water-laden soils. Logging opens the soil to sunlight and scarifies the soils, allowing more oxygen entry and biological activity, breaking down sequestered carbon.

I can think of no method to delay the Electrification of Ground Transport, more than this proposed tax measure.

As a true thinking environmentalist and a scientist who reads the scientific literature, I cannot accept any of this Cap & Tax Horse manure. It is a tax bill pure and simple, that has failed twice in the EU. It is the most profoundly anti- environmental bill in my memory.

Raising everyone's monthly electricity bills by $100-150 dollars a month, will close the benefit of cheaper electricity in comparison to the price of gasoline. This action will delay the acceptance of electric cars. Adopting electric vehicles, and not burning fossil nor bio-fuels, will do much to eliminate and cap CO2, as any reasonable and thoughtful person will agree.

Finding a way to raise taxes without getting blamed for it, or having an excuse to do so, is every politician's dream. They are using this Cap & Tax horse manure as away to so. The support for this by the so-called Green organizations only proves that they have been corrupted and taken over by the Statist left, as leftists have always done. Patrick Moore, founder of Green Peace, and others like myself, who has complained of the takeover of the Union of Concerned Scientists, have warned that this is happening.

Any so-called "Green" organization that seeks to delay the coming of electric cars as a substitute for burning either fossil or bio-fuels, both of which emit CO2, is governed by no true environmentalists. They are dominated by only a Watermelon-like chameleons; Green on the outside, covering up the Red inside.

And of course even the EPA's own scientists know that the reasoning for Cap N' Trade has NOTHING to do with global warming. It is a tax to finance programs. An honest Administration would acknowledge this and argue the real merits of their programs - rather than the phony alarm of global warming.

http://www.nytimes.com/gwire/2009/06/26/26greenwire-two-epa-staffers-question-science-behind-clima-89720.html

http://www.cbsnews.com/blogs/2009/06/26/politics/politicalhotsheet/entry5117890.shtml

Here's the so called controversial based thing from the EPA

http://cei.org/cei_files/fm/active/0/DOC062509-004.pdf

as noted, it contains such biased evidence interpreted by sites like wattsup and icecap. It also contains wrong assumptions which experts in the field, which he is not, dispute.

This is hardly what you would call peer reviewed. This guy, Alan Carlin is in his 60's considering his RAND papers. It will probably be circulated around especially in the denier blogs and I'm sure he will be paid and paraded around.

Are there people who don't believe in AGW in the EPA? Yes but so what? I can name at least one racist nobel prize winning physicist who believed in eugenics. Doesn't mean they are right. There were lots of assumptions and errors in that report that he wrote and that the deniers are taking as a sign of conspiracy.

It was a very slanted so called story, especially if one reads the source of the controversy and realize what an undistiguished work it really was.

The reaction of the authors of this paper. Sour grapes for not bowing to their beliefs. Too bad. The science is leaving them behind. That's what retirement is about.

Hmmm... getting a bit lazy aym?

Yes, but then so what. It's basically my response to the same story that is being passed around. And I do mean the same story. A little inuendo, a couple of links and Reels easily done his damage, why should I have to reinvent an entire response to the same thing over and over in different ways.

Anyway an overview link from poster scatter

http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/06/bubkes/langswitch_lang/sp

thanx to scatter.

Stan Petersen: If it is the case that

"Adopting electric vehicles, and not burning fossil nor bio-fuels, will do much to eliminate and cap CO2",

then EVs must have smaller CO2 footprints than fossil fuel vehicles (per mile traveled). That being the case, a price on CO2 emissions will have MORE effect on fossil fuel prices (as measured in miles traveled) than they will on electricity prices. This means that this bill will INCREASE the cost differential, encouraging the adoption of EVs. Right?

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