Mighty Earth Calls Out EPA on Dirty Biofuels Proposal

A proposal released last week by the EPA includes troubling news for tropical forests and other ecosystems threatened by encroaching industrial agriculture. The proposal mandates record production levels for biodiesel and corn ethanol. These biofuels, once thought to be ‘green’, are now known to drive the conversion of forests, grasslands and other native ecosystems into crop production, and to rival if not exceed fossil fuels for climate emissions.

Take action and send a comment to the EPA here.

“Biofuels like corn ethanol and soy biodiesel are a cure worse than the disease,” said Mighty Earth Chairperson Henry Waxman. “Supporting environmentally unfriendly biofuels worsens our climate crisis and drives deforestation and habitat loss at home and abroad.”

Only a small fraction of biodiesel is made from waste or recycled sources, like used cooking oil. Most biodiesel used in the U.S. is produced using soy oil, and much of the biodiesel on the global market is palm oil based.

As the U.S. and other governments ratchet up demand for these types of biofuels, agri-businesses meet production by carving new farms out of virgin forests in places like Brazil, Bolivia and Indonesia, as the New York Times, YaleEnvironment360 and our own reports have documented. The forests of Latin America and Southeast Asia are hotspots of biodiversity and critical habitat for threatened species like the tree kangaroo, orangutan, jaguar and giant anteater.

When land conversion is fully considered, soy and palm biodiesel don’t provide any climate benefits, and those of corn ethanol are negligible. In fact, a recent analysis based on a European Union report found that soy and palm biodiesel are worse for the climate than fossil diesel.

Growing corn for ethanol has similar problems, and its effects are seen here in the U.S. The dramatic increase in corn production and has contributed to the conversion of more than 7 million acres of native ecosystems into agricultural land since 2008, according a National Wildlife Federation report based on a University of Wisconsin analysis.

Under the law that governs production of biofuels, the Renewable Fuel Standard, biodiesel production has skyrocketed, from under 10 million gallons in 2001 to 2.0 billion gallons in 2017. Corn ethanol has also seen enormous growth under this misguided government policy.

Mighty Earth urges the EPA to reconsider its biofuels proposal, and reduce mandated levels of biofuels linked to land conversion and climate emissions.

Take action and send a comment to the EPA here.