Lack of Input for EPA Biofuels Report Could Impact Future Policy
by Kris Bevill (Ethanol Producer Magazine) The first triennial report on biofuels being drafted for Congress by the U.S. EPA lacks input from industry experts, which could result in negative information being falsely presented as fact to policymakers later this year, according to researchers familiar with the report.
…The EPA released its first draft report in February for reviewing purposes and conducted a peer review meeting in March to evaluate the report, which is to be presented in its final form to Congress mid-year. Prior to the meeting, the EPA said peer review panel members would be scientists specializing in a variety of areas, including renewable fuels, environmental science and biofuel conversion technology, among other disciplines. However, industry experts who offered oral testimony at the hearing were disappointed to see the panel did not include a single member of the biofuels industry or anyone with expertise in areas such as greenhouse gas emissions, which could provide valuable insight into some of the report’s conclusions.
…Bruce Dale, professor of chemical engineering at Michigan State University(said), “The EPA almost always includes representatives of the affected industries in their reviews. The whole point of these environmental analyses is to try to help us choose between alternatives. You don’t do this stuff in a vacuum.” Dale was able to deliver five minutes of testimony at the hearing, which he used to point out the absence of any comparative analysis between biofuels and petroleum in the report. Without that comparison, the report is of no use to policymakers who may be unfamiliar with the comparative negative environmental impacts of fossil fuels and biofuels, he said. “In my point of view, unless society is going to stop using fuels, it doesn’t help us to point whatever warts, real or imagined, that biofuels have, unless they’re going to be compared to petroleum,” he said.
…The concern among industry experts now is that there is not enough time for adequate changes to be made to the report before it is presented to Congress. The report is meant to influence policy related to biofuels and, if delivered in its current form, policymakers who review the report are likely to receive the impression that corn ethanol and soybean-based biodiesel negatively impact the environment, Dale said. “It will reinforce the view that we can go on using and importing petroleum with no bad consequences, but if we implement biofuels horrible things will happen,” he said. READ MORE Download Draft Report