Renewable Fuels Association Challenges Enviro Lawsuit

Groups fighting the expanded Renewable Fuels Standard get push back from the biofuels group.

Published on: May 26, 2010

The Clean Air Task Force, on behalf of the Friends of the Earth, is challenging the expanded Renewable Fuels Standard - called RFS2. In a suit, filed Tuesday, petitions the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency claiming the expanded standard would lead to greater global oil use and pollution because America would be reducing its dependence through the use of ethanol and other biofuels. You read that right.

In a statement, Bob Dineen, CEO, Renewable Fuels Association, says: "To blame American biofuels for increasing global oil use defies simple common sense. By this tortured logic, any effort that environmental activists support to reduce America's reliance on oil would be responsible for lowering U.S. oil demand, reducing global oil prices and inciting increased consumption somewhere else in the world. Increasing mileage standards, deploying electric vehicles, and any other measure designed to reduce U.S. oil demand would be penalized with carbon emissions from increased global oil consumption under this rubric. It simply doesn’t pass the sniff test "

The Clean Air Task Force calls its theory the "Global Rebound Effect" similar in philosophy to indirect land use change, RFA says. However, instead of blaming U.S. biofuels for land use decisions made in other nations, activists are saddling biofuels with global increases in oild demand that would purportedly result from RFS2-induced reductions in U.S. petroleum demand. It's a case of suing for the law of unintended consequences.

"As the leading energy consumer in the world, America was right to take proactive steps to reduce our reliance on petroleum and set an example for the world," said Dinneen. "These environmental groups are implicitly making the case for keeping U.S. oil demand and prices high, rather than displacing imported oil with biofuels. Blocking the use of biofuels will not reduce global oil consumption, but rather increase it as America must look for more sources of oil, which too often comes from environmentally questionable practices like deep water drilling and tar sand conversation."

In addition, the groups claim that sufficient safeguards are not in place to protect land not currently in agricultural production. This is also false, RFA points out. EPA put in place a very rigid system to prevent the conversion of "natural land" to agriculture. In essence, EPA capped the amount of land that can be used for agriculture at 2007 acreage level. If agricultural land exceeds the 2007 level, biofuel producers must prove that their feedstock did not come from newly converted land. If they can't prove that, their fuel will not qualify under the RFS2.