RFA Concerned With EPA Candidates for RFS Review

Cindy Zimmerman

At least three of the 20 candidates the Environmental Protection Agency is proposing to review the environmental impacts of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) for Congress have a serious bias against ethanol, according to the Renewable Fuels Association, and should not be considered.

In comments submitted this week, RFA urged EPA to exclude these candidates from consideration to serve on a peer review of the agency’s upcoming triennial report to Congress, since several of theM have “an obvious ideological bias against commercial agriculture and renewable fuels like ethanol.”

“RFA finds the proposed list to include a disproportionate number of candidates representing certain issue areas, and RFA has concerns about the group’s ability to complete a thorough review without complete and balanced representation,” RFS says in the comments.

Under the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act, EPA is required to submit regular reports to Congress on the environmental and resource conservation impacts of the RFS, and as part of the process it recruits external candidates to peer-review the report before it is published. For its third report, following two earlier studies submitted in 2011 and 2018, EPA has proposed a list of 20 candidates from which the agency will select up to nine peer reviewers.

In the latest Ethanol Report podcast, RFA president and CEO Geoff Cooper says the main candidates for the committee they have concerns with have been involved with studies that have been debunked recently and in the past.

“EPA is recommending some candidates for this peer review that we believe are not qualified to conduct an objective or impartial review of an environmental assessment related to the RFS,” said Cooper. “And we just don’t think it’s fair or impartial or objective at all.”

The three candidates that RFA specifically objects to are Tyler J. Lark of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, whose previous work related to biofuels has suffered from known flaws and inaccuracies, which have been repeated by him in subsequent recent works.

Jason D. Hill of the University of Minnesota RFA says has shown “a similar history of bias, unwillingness to respond to legitimate critiques of his work, and unsupported and provocative statements about the RFS and corn ethanol.” A third candidate, Timothy D. Searchinger of Princeton University, has had his work on indirect land-use change thoroughly refuted and rejected by the scientific community. RFA encouraged EPA to remove Searchinger from further consideration, as he “cannot be considered impartial or fair-minded.”

RFA concluded by urging transparency in the triennial review process.,In the past, RFA has found significant issues in the prior two EPA triennial reports to Congress, involving some of the same candidates on the list EPA has proposed for this new review of the RFS.

Click here for an RFA analysis of the preliminary 2011 report, and here for a look at two studies that significantly question some of the key results of the 2018 review.

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