EXCLUSIVE: EPA Won’t Come Close To Meeting Federal Ethanol Law

(REUTERS/Mark Blinch)

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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter
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The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) biofuels program will fall far short of its legally mandated targets by about 5 billion gallons this year, according to new research by the right-leaning American Action Forum (AAF)

AAF’s report found EPA’s Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) targets fell almost 5 billion gallons short of what Congress specified in a 2007 law. The amounts produced this year are well below the 22-billion-gallon marker that Congress requested.

“The EPA is setting targets then not meeting them,” Kimberly Vanwyhe, director of energy policy at AAF, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “This sets a horrible precedent for future administrations. The original intent was to reduce reliance on American energy imports, but it’s turned into an environmental program now.”

EPA’s ethanol targets for last year were released more than 2 years late. During that time, EPA’s biofuel mandates were not meeting Congress’ goals.

“They’ve consistently fallen short on targets and deadlines since the Renewable Fuel Standard’s inception.” Vanwyhe told TheDCNF. “They’ve been consistently late since 2005 and they’ve been late by margins of years, not days or months. When you miss a legally mandated target every single time, that’s shouldn’t be acceptable anymore. Policy which can’t be upheld should be changed.”

AFF’s research specifically examined the EPA’s mandates for advanced biofuels, which are often made from woody crops, agricultural residues or waste. This makes them more difficult to extract and refine than other fuels.

A recent Government Accountability Office report found between 2013 and 2015, the federal government invested more than $1.1 billion into research and development of advanced biofuels despite these inherent problems.

Research published in August found biofuels emit more carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions than gasoline. Researchers analyzed real-world crop data from the Department of Agriculture on crop and biofuel production and compared the amount of CO2 generated relative to conventional oil fuel production and vehicle emissions.

Researchers found that rising biofuel use has resulted in increasing CO2 emissions, even though the programs were justified by claiming ethanol would reduce CO2 emissions.

“The demand for this product simply doesn’t exist. ” Vanwyhe continued. “40 percent of corn is going to ethanol right now, when 10 years ago it would have been going to food and similar things.”

Roughly 45 percent of the U.S.’s corn crop is now used to produce biofuels like ethanol, due to enormous levels of taxpayer support.

(Editor’s note: This post has been updated.)

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