Recent Press Releases

Obama Administration Sets Bad Precedent for Biofuels Industry

Indirect Land Use Penalties Unfair and Misguided

February 3, 2010

Washington, D.C. —  Senators Chuck Grassley, John Thune, and Mike Johanns today reacted to the Obama administration’s approval of the final rule issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to implement the new Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) following Congressional passage of the 2007 energy bill. Sadly, the final rule includes flawed indirect land use models in an attempt to discredit the positive environmental impacts of domestically produced corn-based ethanol.

“This action will provide much needed certainty for today’s ethanol and biodiesel producers, as well as for those developing next-generation and advanced biofuels, but it’s irresponsible for the EPA to ignore the intent of Congress concerning the inclusion of ‘international’ land use changes in calculating the indirect greenhouse gas emissions from biofuels,” said Grassley. “By using this unproven and murky theory, the EPA has done a disservice to America’s renewable fuel producers by diminishing their benefit to the environment. It’s especially disheartening that the EPA is using this modeling because it’s contrary to President Obama’s numerous pledges to base all decisions on sound science.”

“EPA is penalizing domestic ethanol production by insisting on quantifying international indirect land use changes that may be associated with ethanol production,” said Thune. “Congress wrote the RFS with the intention of elevating the importance of biofuels, but punishing domestic fuels for land use decisions in other countries based on erroneous models is a step back for our country’s effort to reduce its reliance on oil imports. South Dakota is in a unique position to help meet our nation’s energy needs while creating jobs with homegrown fuels, but the EPA regulators are putting the brakes on necessary development. I am committed to working with my colleagues to ensure that domestic biofuels are treated fairly relative to imported oil under the new RFS rules, and that the biofuels industry continues to be an economic pillar of rural America.”

Johanns said, "I am deeply disappointed that the Administration remains fixated on their flimsy, untested, and unreliable theory that holds our farmers and ethanol producers responsible for land use decisions made half way around the world. I am additionally disappointed that with all of today’s announcements, there was no mention of E-15. Increasing the percentage of ethanol in gasoline to as much as 15 percent is the next logical step in the expansion of this nation’s ethanol production capacity. It would not only benefit the economy, but also our nation’s energy security."

The RFS in the 2007 Energy Bill mandates the use of 36 billion gallons of biofuels by 2020. To qualify for the RFS, fuels must meet various goals for greenhouse gas reduction.

The EPA’s indirect land use rules count the emissions of greenhouse gasses resulting from land use decisions in other countries against domestic biofuels. With international indirect land use factored into ethanol’s greenhouse gas score, it dramatically reduces the overall environmental benefit of domestic ethanol production.