The Union of Concerned Scientists recently wrote me about an issue that has been discussed on these pages and at my other blog. Rushing to Expand Corn Ethanol Is Not Smart Bioenergy. I responded as requested. I am of the opinion that using food for energy is not smart regardless of the environmental issues. This just adds another level of concern. Although this to my mind seems obvious, it apparently needs to be addressed to prevent our governments from making a egregious mistake. I shortened both request and response to keep the post a reasonable size.
Contact the EPA today
The use of gasoline alternatives, such as ethanol, could play a key role in reducing pollution from fuels, but scientific findings show that biofuels can also increase pollution when done wrong.
The ethanol industry, however, does not want science to interfere with their expansion plans. Producers want immediate permission to increase the amount of ethanol they can blend into regular gasoline before government tests are complete to determine if this could be a public health risk. The EPA opened a public comment period on this issue through May 16.
Please tell EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to deny the producers' premature request and focus on a comprehensive plan that protects public health while ensuring biofuels contribute to fueling our clean energy future.
National Field Organizer
UCS Clean Vehicles Program
Dear Administrator Jackson,
I urge you to deny the petition allowing blends of 15 percent ethanol (E15) to be permitted for use in traditional gasoline engines.
The The EPA has been coordinating with other agencies to obtain the data required by the Clean Air Act to determine the clean air risks of increased ethanol blending. But the testing will not be competed in time to review it for this request.
It would therefore be premature to approve a waiver for increased ethanol use before a thorough analysis of the public health and environmental impacts of ethanol are completed and brought to the public. With Obama administration committed to a regulatory system informed by science, I urge you to follow these principles and reject this request. I urge the EPA, instead, to focus on a comprehensive plan to protect public health and air quality, while reducing global warming pollution from biofuels.
- The Darker Side of Biofuel
- Good Intentions:Biofuels / Bad Consequences: Worse Than Gasoline And Better As Food?
- European Commission - External Trade - Trade Issues --- Add comment
- Mandelson writes: "The issue is not biofuels or no biofuels, but the right biofuels. Europe's governments have signed a commitment ensuring that 10% of the petrol in Europe's vehicles in 2020 is made from renewable transport fuels, including biofuels. This will make an important contribution to the EU's efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote security of energy supply. But there is an obvious caveat: biofuels must be an environmental policy in pursuit of an environmental outcome - the most sustainable policy is the only right policy".
- This year biofuels will take a third of America's (record) maize harvest. That affects food markets directly: fill up an SUV's fuel tank with ethanol and you have used enough maize to feed a person for a year. And it affects them indirectly, as farmers switch to maize from other crops. The 30m tonnes of extra maize going to ethanol this year amounts to half the fall in the world's overall grain stocks.