Environmentalists Sue The EPA Over Pollution From Biofuels

Tim Pearce | Energy Reporter

Two environmental groups sued the Trump administration Friday over the threat that the 2018 renewable fuel volume standards pose to endangered species.

The Sierra Club and the Gulf Restoration Network are targeting the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for not consulting wildlife agencies before finalizing the latest Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The green groups claim that “dramatic land conversion” is replacing wilderness and wildlife habitat with farms because the new, higher RFS increases demand for biofuel, according to a Sierra Club press release.

Biofuels, such as ethanol, are mixed with fossil fuel to lessen the carbon footprint of burning it. The RFS mandates that a certain amount of biofuel must replace petroleum-based fuel in order to cut carbon emissions and grow the renewables industry by securing demand, according to the EPA.

“It is unlawful for the EPA to so blatantly disregard its own rules and mandates when it comes to protecting our communities and environment,” Sierra Club Staff Attorney Devorah Ancel said in a statement. “The EPA has the authority to limit renewable fuel volume requirements when their production does more harm to the environment than good.”

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The groups also claim that using fertilizer to grow crops on more acreage will increase the “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico. Nitrogen and phosphorous from the fertilizer is washed off the farms into rivers that carry it into the Gulf. The concentrated levels of those elements have killed aquatic life in an area in the Gulf about the size of New Jersey.

For 2018, the EPA kept the RFS at the same level of 15 billion gallons, not satisfying either the oil and gas industry, which pushed for a lower standard, nor corn-state Republican lawmakers such as Sen. Charles Grassley, who lobbied for a higher goal, The Washington Post reports.

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