Why is it that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) have a blind spot when it comes to assessing indirect land use effects or any kind of indirect effects for oil? And how is it fair to just focus on biofuels and ignore petroleum when the effects of petroleum production and use are so very obvious?
Biofuel producers and the scientific community are very troubled, as others should be as well, by the unproven theory of indirect impacts, and particularly indirect land use change (ILUC). This is the notion that an acre of land used in biofuel production in U.S. must be replaced by an acre of land elsewhere in the world, often assumed to be a previously unused acre. More troubling than the theory is assumption that it only applies to biofuels and not to say, oil. EPA, the state of California, and some environmental activists make the claim that only biofuels result in indirect impacts. As the video below demonstrates, that assumption is just plain wrong.
If EPA insists on counting the angels on the head of a pin, it needs to do so on every pin and that includes the indirect impacts of petroleum production and use. All of our energy choices come with trade-offs, whether we're talking about, oil, coal, natural gas, nuclear, hydro, solar, wind or biofuels. By focusing solely on the impacts of biofuels, however, the EPA has created a shell game only petroleum can win. This is both bad science and bad public policy. Clearly, the EPA is going in the wrong direction and must revisit its proposed rule, make its methodologies and calculations transparent, and redraft a program that is fair and workable for all parties. EPA's current version fails on all counts.
To learn more about the shortcomings in EPA's proposed and to comment before the September 25 deadline, visit Choose Ethanol's website.
Recently, a report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture predicted American farmers would produce record corn yields per acre and possibly a record corn crop - all on fewer acres than just 15 years. Such advancements in productivity not only underscore the fallacy of EPA's assumptions about land use change, but also point to the potential for agriculture in other parts of the world to become more productive.
No credible research can conclude that ethanol production in the U.S. is the driving force behind deforestation and other land use changes in other sovereign nations. American farmers can produce enough food and feed to meet our needs while simultaneously helping end our addiction to oil. EPA, Congress and other regulators need to recognize and help foster this productivity, not stand in its way.