WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today introduced the Adopt GREET Act, legislation that would require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to update its greenhouse gas (GHG) modeling for ethanol and biodiesel. Specifically, the bill would require EPA to adopt either the Argonne National Lab’s Greenhouse Gas and Regulated Emissions and Energy Use in Transportation (GREET) Model or the 2019 U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) methodology within 90 days of enactment. For biodiesel, EPA would be required adopt the GREET Model. EPA would then be required to update its modeling every five years or report to Congress to affirm its modeling is current or otherwise explain why no updates were made.
“Analysis by USDA has found that greenhouse gas emissions from corn-based ethanol are about 43 percent lower than those from conventional gasoline,” said Thune. “But despite strong bipartisan support for updating its modeling, the EPA still insists on using greenhouse gas reduction data on ethanol from a decade ago, which substantially understates the degree to which current corn-based ethanol reduces emissions. By adopting contemporary greenhouse gas modeling, the EPA would formally recognize the greenhouse gas reductions driven by American biofuels. This would make American biofuels even more attractive to countries implementing clean fuel standards and other programs to lower their emissions. And needless to say, increasing our exports of biofuels would be a shot in the arm to American corn farmers and ethanol producers whose operations are in jeopardy from the pandemic.”
“We know ethanol is a low carbon fuel, and Senator Thune’s legislation to use sound science to update its carbon footprint at EPA is long overdue,” said Lisa Richardson, executive director of South Dakota Corn.
“We’re pleased to see Senator Thune introduce this legislation to require EPA to adopt the GREET Model or USDA’s methodology,” said Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy. “Biofuel plants continue to innovate, and the science on biofuels has dramatically improved. Troves of data show that ethanol significantly reduces greenhouse gases compared to gasoline, and it’s long overdue that EPA modernize its modeling to capture the full air quality benefits of cleaner biofuel blends. Biofuels are a cleaner burning, more affordable fuel designed to help combat pollution and reduce the harmful emissions in the air we breathe. Having updated, accurate modeling that better reflects the real-world benefits of higher ethanol blends paves the way for greater access for American drivers.”
“ACE has long called for adoption of the newest lifecycle science to quantify ethanol’s contributions to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and we have worked collaboratively with Department of Energy scientists to improve the assumptions used in their GREET model, most notably through the white paper we published in 2018, ‘The Case for Properly Valuing the Low Carbon Benefits of Corn Ethanol,’” said Brian Jennings, CEO of the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE). “Current data from the GREET model indicate that corn ethanol’s carbon intensity is approximately 50 percent less than petroleum gasoline providing significantly more greenhouse gas reduction benefits than when the RFS was enacted over a decade ago. Senator Thune’s legislation is another pointed reminder that EPA must do better in its treatment of ethanol’s greenhouse gas benefits compared to gasoline. Updating EPA’s antiquated modeling would be a step in the right direction to underpin the scientific and economic opportunity for ethanol use to increase via low carbon fuel markets.”
“EPA should be using the most recent science and data to accurately show the greenhouse gas emission reduction benefits of ethanol,” said Kevin Ross, president of the National Corn Growers Association. “This bill ensures that will happen. Both the GREET model and USDA analysis clearly show that ethanol results in significantly fewer greenhouse gas emissions than gasoline. Ethanol is a low-carbon solution both at home and in export markets and corn farmers thank Senator Thune for his leadership.”
“We thank Senator Thune for his efforts to ensure future EPA decisions and regulations are based on the best available science and data,” said Geoff Cooper, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association. “The DOE Argonne National Laboratory GREET model has been recognized for decades as the gold standard for analyzing the lifecycle GHG impacts of renewable fuels like ethanol, and the model is regularly updated to reflect efficiency improvements and technological advancements in the ethanol production process. By requiring EPA to throw out its flawed and outdated analysis and replace it with the GREET model, Senator Thune’s bill would help restore scientific integrity and accuracy to EPA regulatory actions on renewable fuels.”
Thune has recently introduced other bills to support the biofuels industry and farmers. On June 11, 2020, Thune introduced the Hand Sanitizer Guidance Extension Act of 2020 (S. 3938), which would extend for two years the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) “Temporary Policy for Preparation of Certain Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitizer Products During the Public Health Emergency.” Extending the FDA’s guidance would grant additional certainty for ethanol operations that have made investments or changes in operations to serve the current and projected need for hand sanitizer, providing a longer timeline to recoup such costs. Importantly, this would support continued production of ethanol for hand sanitizer at a time of high demand and reported shortages to help reduce the transmission of COVID-19.
On June 17, 2020, Thune introduced a bipartisan bill to approve certain advanced biofuel registrations that have languished before EPA, such as fuels derived from corn kernel fiber technology (S. 3986). Finally approving proven fuels would permit ethanol producers to produce a higher-value fuel with even lower lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions, as well as enable them to utilize at scale the technology and facility investments they have already made.
The Adopt GREET Act was cosponsored by Sens. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa).