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Published November 3, 2008 11:01 AM

Environmental leaders push back against biofuels bullies

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Environmental groups delivered a letter <http://www.foe.org/pdf/Response_to_Johnson_RFSILUC.pdf> to the Environmental Protection Agency today calling on it to meet its responsibility under the law and reject a biofuel industry attempt to weaken global warming standards for ethanol.

In the next few days, the EPA is expected to release calculations of greenhouse gas emissions caused by biofuel use. In an attempt to influence these calculations, the biofuel industry recently sent a letter <http://www.foe.org/pdf/Academ_Letter_to_Johnson.pdf> to the EPA asking it to break the law and ignore congressionally mandated guidelines for how such emissions should be calculated. According to the energy bill enacted last December, indirect emissions such as land use change must be included in estimates of total greenhouse gas emissions.

Research shows that emissions from land use changes such as deforestation can cause greenhouse gas emissions from biofuels to be twice those of gasoline.

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"It's telling that the biofuel industry and its supporters have become so accustomed to government handouts that they took offense when Congress asked for proof that federally subsidized ethanol and biodiesel will reduce greenhouse gas emissions," said Jonathan Lewis, an attorney for the Clean Air Task Force. "But research indicates that biofuel production contributes to global warming, and the United States can no longer support biofuels without regard to their environmental impact."

"The EPA must follow the law and account for all greenhouse gas emissions from biofuels," said Kate McMahon of Friends of the Earth.

"The industry’s attempt to pressure the EPA to disregard legally required standards is preposterous. Biofuels are making global warming worse. The EPA must take this into account."

"We are merely asking the EPA to accurately measure greenhouse gas emissions from every step in biofuel production. In times of tight budgets, taxpayers have the right to know if they are subsidizing fuel that makes the climate crisis worse. EPA should suspend the renewable fuels mandate unless it can clearly demonstrate that biofuels are effective in reducing greenhouse gas emissions," said Sandra Schubert, the director of government affairs at the Environmental Working Group.

The groups’ letter can be viewed here:
http://www.foe.org/pdf/Response_to_Johnson_RFSILUC.pdf

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