December 5, 2013

EPA Should Develop a New Long-Term Roadmap for Biofuels

Statement by Dr. Jeremy Martin, Union of Concerned Scientists

WASHINGTON (Dec. 5, 2013) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should develop a new, long-term plan to reach its biofuels production goals, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) told the agency today during a public hearing on its proposed biofuel volume targets for 2014 under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

The EPA proposal calls for scaling back the overall mandate, including reductions in corn ethanol and advanced biofuels, to account for the slower-than-expected development of cellulosic biofuels and constraints in the fueling infrastructure that make blending more than 10 percent ethanol challenging.

For the past two years, UCS has urged EPA to take this course and take advantage of the RFS’s flexibility to adapt to the changing dynamics of our transportation system. It asks the agency to take on the much-needed task of overhauling the mandates out to 2022 and beyond to provide the policy certainty the cellulosic industry needs to continue expanding.

Full details on the UCS position, including policy analysis and fact sheets, are available online along with the testimony he presented at the hearing. Below is a statement from Dr. Martin, senior scientist in the UCS’ Clean Vehicles Program, who testified at the hearing:

“It is encouraging to see EPA use its authority to ensure we meet our clean fuel goals without compromising food supplies. But the need to alter the mandate so significantly shows that our road map for achieving those goals is seriously out of date.

“Focusing only on 2014 rather than restructuring the mandates for the years to come is like offering turn-by-turn directions to a driver without telling them where they are going. I look forward to working with EPA to help devise a new, updated map to reaching our biofuels goals.

“Prudence in the next few years will ensure the RFS continues to support the growth of cleaner, non-food cellulosic biofuels and reduced oil use over the long term. We have a responsibility to ensure we move towards cleaner fuels that won’t strain food supplies, accelerate agricultural expansion, or drive deforestation. Cellulosic fuels still offer the best bet for replacing large amounts of oil without disrupting our food supplies. The industry is making real progress toward large-scale commercialization. Its steady growth means non-food biofuels will play a meaningful part in cutting our oil use.”

The Union of Concerned Scientists puts rigorous, independent science to work to solve our planet's most pressing problems. Joining with citizens across the country, we combine technical analysis and effective advocacy to create innovative, practical solutions for a healthy, safe, and sustainable future.