The ethanol industry argues there's no legal requirement for the Environmental Protection Agency to count greenhouse gas emissions from foreign crops in its proposed renewable fuels rule. Renewable Fuels Association spokesman Matt Hartwig says the 2007 energy act is clear on what EPA must look at in measuring climate change emissions from making biofuels.
"It did not specifically say international land use change and look at factors that occur outside the borders of the United States," Hartwig said. "That is something that EPA read into the intent of Congress when they passed the law."
Hartwig points out that Congress also has the power to change EPA's final rule if it doesn't pass muster. However EPA's Air Quality Chief Margo Oge insisted before a House Agriculture Subcommittee last week that ignoring large foreign greenhouse gas emissions would make any analysis scientifically less credible. Hartwig disagrees.
"Perhaps the number one reason for clearing of the forest is hardwood floors and the construction of big mansions we've seen sprout up all over suburbia," Hartwig said. "We lose 2 million acres of farmland in the United States to subdivisions and shopping malls every year."
Also Hartwig says proposed schemes just to measure emissions from corn and soybeans here will lead to nightmarish scenarios that will only harm U.S. biofuels development.