Green Activists Continue Ethanol Smear Campaign

Joanna Schroeder

Another anti-biofuels report has been released, this time from the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) who is arguing that an immediate benefit would ensue if current biofuels policies were repealed and replaced with policies that would take the world’s most productive cropland out of production. Maybe more alarming is that while the report attempts to discredit the most promising biofuels technologies, it gives fossil fuels along with other dirty energy sources a get out of jail card. This report has spurred the biofuels industry to respond.

“Most disappointing about the continuous barrage of attacks by environmental activists is that we share many of the same goals,” said Matt Hartwig, Director of Public Affairs at the Renewable Fuels Association. “Ethanol producers remain steadfastly committed to developing new technologies that improve efficiencies and expand the basket of feedstocks from which ethanol is made. Unfortunately, many in the environmental movement choose to rely on disproven theories and partnerships with the oil lobby to mislead and misrepresent what American ethanol production is all about. Simply put, second and third generations of ethanol technology will not exist without a successful first generation.”

RFA notes that the report from the National Wildlife Federation makes a number of policy recommendations that would seem to undermine its stated goals.

  • • NWF argues that the tax incentives for biofuels should be repealed as they are duplicative with the existing Renewable Fuels Standard. However, RFA points out that the tax incentives for biofuels are critical to ensuring the existence of a domestic biofuels industry.
  • • NWF calls for Congress to alter the RFS to replace grain-based biofuel with other biofuels down the road. However, RFA notes that seeking to replace corn-based ethanol and other grain-based biofuels would greatly reduce the impact of the RFS. Instead of building upon the energy security and environmental gains offered by these renewable fuels, such a revision would eliminate these gains and increase reliance on fossil fuels.
  • • NWF wants Congress to remove the ‘grandfather clause’ for ethanol producers in the RFS and also wants to revise the lifecycle analyses included in the RFS to more accurately reflect current ethanol production. However, RFA argues that based on EPA analysis, ethanol production not only achieves but exceeds the required 20% reduction in greenhouse gases called for in the RFS. And, the ethanol industry agrees that EPA needs to revisit its lifecycle analysis with more up-to-date and verifiable information.

Hartwig concluded of the report, “America’s ethanol producers are prepared to move ever-forward, commercializing the very technologies that groups like NWF espouse to support. However, the increasing obstruction by environmental activists, often supported by those in the fossil fuel industry, makes it exceedingly difficult to achieve the kind of energy security, economic opportunity, and environmental improvements we are striving to achieve.”

Environment, Ethanol, Ethanol News, RFA