Clean Air Task Force Sues EPA Over RFS2

Joanna Schroeder

Earlier this year Big Oil sued the EPA over the biodiesel requirement in the RFS2. Today, the Clean Air Task Force, on behalf of environmental groups including Friends of the Earth, filed suit against the EPA claiming that RFS2 encourages the world to use more oil, which will cause more pollution, because America would be reducing its dependence through the use of ethanol and other biofuels.

I don’t know about you but I’m a bit confused about this logic as are others including the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA).

“To blame American biofuels for increasing global oil use defies simple common sense,” said RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen. “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 suit is based on the theory “Global Rebound Effect” which is explained above. Many also consider this theory, when relating to biofuels, to be as ridiculous as penalizing American farmers for environmental decisions made in other parts of the world, also known as “Indirect Land Use.” In this instance, environmentalists are laying blame on biofuels for the worldwide increase in oil use at the same time they are acknowledging the energy security benefits biofuels offer as America curbs it’s petroleum use. We should consider naming this the “Less for us, more for you” theory.

Dinneen supports America’s decision to move towards energy independence and said, “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. 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.”

Since April 20, 2010, America has been experiencing first hand the environmental catastrophe of deep water drilling when one of BP’s oil rigs exploded and began spilling millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. As of today, the spill has yet to be contained.

Another issue the Clean Air Task Force calls out in its suit is the call to action to protect land not currently in agricultural production. Yet, what they failed to acknowledge is that the EPA put an intensive system in place to prevent “natural” land from being converted to agricultural land with the acreage set in 2007. Should that amount be exceeded, a biofuel producer must prove that his feedstock did not come form newly converted land. Without proof, the fuel will not quality under RFS2.

While Dinneen agrees that RFS2 has its flaws, his organization disputes the Clean Air Task Force’s claim that it didn’t go far enough. They will continue to fight to end indirect land use in policy decisions because it negates the positive carbon benefits of using domestically produced biofuels.

Biodiesel, biofuels, Ethanol, Ethanol Report, RFA