Recent Press Releases

Thune Introduces Indirect Land Use Bill

-Measure Seeks to Promote Domestic Renewable Fuel Production-

April 30, 2009

Washington, D.C. —  U.S. Senator John Thune introduced a bill today designed to strengthen the Renewable Fuels Standard and prevent the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) attempts to use inaccurate indirect land use models to discredit the positive environmental impacts of ethanol.

"Following California's recent decision to use flawed models to estimate ethanol's environmental impact, I am concerned that the EPA could soon apply similar standards that will handicap renewable fuel relative to regular gasoline," said Thune. "Congress has asked EPA to apply greenhouse gas emission standards that reflect ethanol's proven environmental benefits. However, with the EPA's current decision that is pending at the White House, I am concerned that EPA's action could have a detrimental impact on our renewable fuel industry and efforts to reduce our dependence on foreign oil."

The EPA has yet to issue rules for the new Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS), which was enacted as part of the 2007 Energy Bill. The new RFS requires new corn ethanol plants and new cellulosic ethanol plants to produce a fuel that emits fewer lifecycle greenhouse gasses relative to regular gasoline. However, Congress included a requirement to quantify emissions from indirect land use changes. Since enactment of the legislation, there is growing concern that EPA could unfairly interpret this provision and discredit American made ethanol with indirect land use changes that may or may not occur in other countries around the world.

Thune's bill directs the EPA to focus on direct lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions, which would level the playing field between ethanol and regular gasoline and bring more regulatory certainty to the ethanol industry. Additionally, the bill would require EPA to publicize the model for measuring lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions before taking any regulatory action. The bill would also allow individual ethanol producers with a unique production method to apply to the EPA for a lower carbon score which would provide an incentive for ethanol companies to develop innovative ways to produce ethanol.

"Ethanol is a cleaner burning fuel than gasoline and we must continue to incentivize ways for ethanol companies to work to reduce their impact on the environment and provide even greater environmental benefits."

The bill would also establish a waiver process for the greenhouse gas reduction requirements in the new RFS. This provision would allow ethanol producers to petition the EPA to waive the greenhouse gas reduction requirements of the RFS if the requirements are preventing the industry from meting the RFS requirements, contributing to our dependence on foreign oil, or creating an undue economic burden on the ethanol industry.

"The activist nature of the current EPA may undercut the environmental benefits of ethanol. I will continue to work with my colleagues in Congress to make sure those efforts are unsuccessful and we do everything we can to grow and expand the ethanol industry."