Ethanol Producers Group Calls for Congress to Repeal International Indirect Land Use Provision in RFS2
8 August 2009
Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy, responded to the publication of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) peer review study of the proposed international land use change (ILUC) provision in the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2) rule (earlier post) by calling for Congress either to repeal the ILUC provision or to require a review by the National Academy of Sciences.
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.”
Depending upon the assumptions and boundary conditions set in the ILUC evaluation, the result can dramatically increase the calculated GHG footprint of a biofuel—especially corn ethanol—far offsetting the presumed greenhouse gas benefits of its use. (Earlier post.)
Growth Energy is an association of US ethanol producers.
According to Buis, the peer review underscores Growth Energy’s position that there is no universally-accepted scientific model for measuring indirect land use changes.
We need to stop this nonsense. This is the most bizarre concept I have ever seen. EPA’s peer review proves that too much uncertainty about the economic modeling, data and science exists to allow this to ever become regulation. Even the peer review committee could not agree. That’s why we need Congress to act today to pass legislation either repealing this flawed concept, or adopting the provision recently passed by the House of Representatives to require a thorough review by the National Academy of Science [sic].—Tom Buis
The Growth Energy stance reflects an increasingly sharp response by the ethanol industry to the impending incorporation of indirect land use change effects in the lifecycle assessment for biofuels, both in the California Low Carbon Fuel Standard and in the US Renewable Fuel Standard.
Shortly before the EPA’s release of the peer review, the Renewable Fuels Association released a statement calling suggestions by EPA and CARB officials that biofuels are the only type of fuel that cause any noticeable indirect, market-mediated impacts “a laughable assertion”.
In only singling out biofuels in their analyses of indirect effects, both EPA and California have overlooked the enormous secondary impacts of our continued dependence on oil.
“Every single energy decision we make carries with it indirect economic, social, and environmental impacts,” said RFA President Bob Dinneen. “While the indirect, ripple impacts of our dependence on petroleum fuels are often well hidden, to ignore them altogether is irresponsible policy and questionable science.”
Accompanying the statement was a picture of oil wells burning in Iraq in 1991. The RFA followed that up later in the week with a second statement asserting that CARB and EPA failed to evaluate indirect petroleum GHG emissions related to reconstruction of Iraq and protection of the US oil supply. This was accompanied by a picture of convoys entering Iraq from Kuwait.
If we are going to count the angels on the head of a pin when it comes to GHG emissions from biofuels, then we mustn’t ignore the significant outlay of resources to secure and protect our supplies of oil. If only those vehicles were running on Iraq’s abundant solar energy. But, they are all powered by fossil fuels, just like the destroyers and other sea vessels needed to protect the free flow of oil. All that combustion of fossil fuels must certainly come at an environmental price.—Bob Dinneen
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