Senator Wants Study of RFS Environmental Impact

Cindy Zimmerman

The chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) is asking EPA to complete studies assessing the impact of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) on air, water, and land quality.

Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) sent a letter to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt last week to request that the agency fulfill its obligation under the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007 to provide regular reports to Congress on how the RFS was impacting the environment. The senator notes that under section 204 of EISA, EPA was required to report to Congress on the impacts of the RFS on the environment and resource conservation every three years. To date, EPA has issued only one report, in December 2011. Under section 211(v) of the Clean Air Act, EPA was also required to complete a report on whether the RFS “will adversely impact air quality” by May 19, 2009 but that has never been completed.

Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Bob Dinneen says they also would like to see the study completed. “It may come as a surprise, but we agree with Sen. Barrasso that updated studies and analyses of ethanol’s environmental impacts are needed,” said Dinneen in a comment by email. “We believe EPA should complete the agency’s congressionally-mandated studies on the environmental impacts of the RFS, and believe the results will confirm that biofuels like ethanol offer enormous environmental benefits.”

Dinneen says, “Any objective and science-based analysis would undoubtedly show that ethanol offers clear and significant environmental benefits when compared to the fossil-based fuels it replaces.”

Last year, EPA’s Inspector General issued a report calling on EPA to complete the studies. EPA said it would finish the report under section 204 of EISA by the end of this year and the study under section 211(v) of the Clean Air Act by September 30, 2024.

EPA, Ethanol, Ethanol News, RFA, RFS