Senator John ThuneIn recent years, the biofuels industry has made strides in breaking our nation's addiction to foreign oil. The production of ethanol has also generated strong demand for our crops and created many jobs in rural states such as South Dakota. Congress gave ethanol a strong vote of confidence in the 2007 Energy Bill by including a Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS), and South Dakota farmers and refiners are eager to meet the goals it sets for renewable fuel production. Unfortunately, at this critical moment, environmental activists are now threatening the future of ethanol.
Although the RFS was intended to greatly expand the biofuels industry, environmental regulators are now undermining the intentions of this legislation. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must certify that biofuels like ethanol reduce carbon outputs relative to conventional fuels for those biofuels to satisfy the RFS requirements. Unfortunately, politics, bad science, and environmental extremism are warping the EPA's calculations of those outputs.
The EPA recently announced that in calculating ethanol's carbon output, it would measure the carbon created as a result of "indirect land use" in other countries. In other words, EPA is speculating that American ethanol alters every land use decision around the world, and carbon resulting from those decisions will count against ethanol's score.
As a result of one set of these calculations, the EPA has reached the conclusion that corn ethanol actually has a worse carbon score than gasoline and therefore would not qualify for the RFS. By using these same measurements, the EPA has calculated that biodiesel plants, which are currently gaining ground in South Dakota, would also not qualify for the RFS.
In short, under the rules announced by the EPA, future corn ethanol and biodiesel plants in South Dakota will not qualify for the RFS even though the RFS is a piece of legislation which was purposely designed to promote ethanol and biodiesel. Because of pressure from environmentalists, the Energy Bill has bill has now been transformed from a vehicle for promoting ethanol and biodiesel into a mechanism which stalls their development.
Reversing this EPA rule has become one of my highest legislative priorities. I have introduced a bill, S. 943, which will terminate the EPA rule and reinstate the original intent of the 2007 Energy Bill. I am proud to report that Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana have signed on to my bill. I plan to search out other supporters in coming days and hope, once again, to get the biofuels industry moving forward.