EPA’s Proposed Biofuels Mandates are Unworkable

Washington, D.C. - The Environmental Protection Agency’s latest proposal to pump even more corn ethanol into the gasoline supply this year signals the need for a major overhaul of U.S. biofuels policy.

Under the proposal published today (Feb. 7), EPA would increase the amounts of biofuel that must be blended into vehicle fuels under the federal program known as the Renewable Fuel Standard, or RFS. The RFS mandates the blending of both conventional biofuels – corn ethanol – and advanced biofuels, including soy biodiesel and fuel made from plant materials, sugar and even municipal waste. In 2013, blenders would be required to use nearly 14 billion gallons of corn ethanol, which amounts to more than 80 percent of the overall biofuels mandate.

With U.S. demand for gasoline shrinking and advanced biofuels still commercially unavailable, the requirement will divert more food and animal feed to make biofuels, Faber said, harming consumers and forcing farmers and livestock producers out of business. Flooding the market with corn ethanol also risks damaging engines that can’t run on higher ethanol blends while worsening the impact of corn production on the environment, he added.

EPA’s proposed requirements come on the heels of a recent decision by a U.S. Court of Appeals that overturned the 2012 mandate to blend more than 8 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol. The court said that mandate was based on unrealistic production forecasts. No cellulosic ethanol is currently being produced in the U.S. on a commercial scale. Despite the ruling, EPA has proposed an increase of the cellulosic mandate for 2013 to 14 million gallons, citing an expected uptick in production from new facilities in the Midwest.

“Enough is enough,” said EWG’s Faber. “Pumping more corn ethanol into an already saturated market hasn’t helped address our energy needs, nor has it spurred development of advanced biofuels; in fact, the opposite is true. The corn ethanol mandate hurts families struggling to pay their grocery bills, stifles competition and wreaks havoc on our rivers, lakes and streams. It’s a raw deal for consumers, motorists and taxpayers, but a boon to a handful of special interests. Until the Renewable Fuel Standard is reformed, Americans will continue to suffer the consequences of this misguided policy.”

EPA’s proposal is open for public comment until March 25, 2013. It can be found here:


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