National Wildlife Federation to EPA: Fix Renewable Fuel Standard, Reverse Years of Damage to Water, Wildlife Habitat, Climate

Ann Arbor, MI — At a hearing today in Michigan, the National Wildlife Federation urged the U.S. EPA to make urgent reforms to the federal Renewable Fuel Standard to reverse years of damage to the nation’s waters, wildlife habitat, and climate, stemming from the mandate to blend corn- and soy-based fuels into the nation’s gasoline supply.

The hearing in Ypsilanti, Mich., comes on the heels of an EPA report confirming what reams of independent scientists have found over the last several years: The federal Renewable Fuel Standard is having devastating impacts on the environment, wildlife habitat and water resources—including contributing to toxic algal outbreaks that contaminate drinking water, close beaches, and hurt tourism and recreation.

“The Renewable Fuel Standard was created with the best of intentions, yet it has failed to live up to them and has even taken us backward in our environmental stewardship,” said Marc Smith, director of Regional Conservation Partnerships for the National Wildlife Federation, in prepared remarks. “Now that the EPA has admitted as much, it is time for the agency to use its authorities under the law to rectify this situation, starting with the current rulemaking.”

The National Wildlife Federation is urging the EPA to ratchet down biofuels requirements and to enforce provisions in the program that prohibit the conversion of habitat to crop production for biofuel use—immediate steps the agency can take to start implementing a more sustainable vision for domestic transportation fuels to confront climate change as originally intended under the Renewable Fuel Standard.

“[T]he country needs to embrace forward-thinking policies to confront climate change—including the adoption of clean, sustainable transportation fuel as a bridge to electric cars fueled by clean, renewable sources that don’t pollute the air we breathe,” said Simone Lightfoot, director of urban initiatives at the National Wildlife Federation, in her remarks. She added: “These solutions will start to reverse the negative impact that the Renewable Fuel Standard is having on the climate—and help us to move forward on our clean fuel goals the right way—thereby benefiting people in urban and rural communities alike.”

The National Wildlife Federation is urging the EPA to adopt a package of reforms to the Renewable Fuel Standard found in the GREENER Fuels Act, legislation that has been introduced in the U.S. House and Senate. These include:

  • Reducing annual volume of corn ethanol blended into the nation’s fuel supply;
  • Supporting development of advanced biofuels that are better for the environment;
  • Enforcing current protections in the law meant to prevent grasslands, prairie, forest, wetlands and other wildlife habitat from being converted into crops to make biofuels; and, 
  • Identifying funding to address these impacts that have accrued over the last 11 years because of the federal biofuels mandate.

In June, the Trump Administration released a draft rule detailing how it would administer the Renewable Fuel Standard – proposing to double down on the current failed policy, despite overwhelming evidence that it is not working. The National Wildlife Federation will be releasing formal written comments before the close of the public comment period.

Learn more about the House bill.

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