The recent unveiling by the Environmental Protection Agency of a new U.S. renewable-fuel standard has revived opposition to a controversial method used by the agency to determine just how "green" corn-based ethanol and other biofuels are.
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson told reporters that previous "indirect land use" calculations –– for example, judging whether forests are cut down in other countries to make up for farmland used in the United States to produce soybeans and corn for biodiesel and ethanol –– weren't accurate.
Newer indirect-land-use calculations by EPA, she said, showed ethanol and biodiesel production have less of an effect on foreign farming practices than the agency had earlier determined.
Still, the industry maintains that it's uncomfortable with the indirect-land-use principle. Also, Growth Energy spokesman Chris Thorne said, the shift in how EPA viewed ethanol and biodiesel only underscores a lack of reliability in the calculations.
Many U.S. lawmakers also oppose the calculations, even though the newer ones appear more favorable to U.S. ethanol and biodiesel producers.
Thorne said Growth Energy continues to work with lawmakers to abolish the indirect-land-use calculation as well as other obstacles to the expansion of ethanol production.
In related news, the Pacific Legal Foundation has filed an administrative petition asking that EPA reopen the regulatory process behind its finding that greenhouse gas emissions endanger public health and the environment.
The series of e-mails allegedly hacked from the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit in the United Kingdom call into question the reliability of much of the scientific data on which EPA based its findings, the legal watchdog for limited government said in announcing the filing.
The foundation wants EPA to reopen the public comment period on the endangerment finding and to have its Scientific Advisory Board review new information to determine if reconsideration is warranted.
The leaked e-mail exchanges were between climate scientists involved in the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports that appeared to dismiss research that did not support their conclusions that global temperatures are rising.
PLF's petition is among several legal and legislative efforts under way to overturn the Dec. 7, 2009 endangerment finding, which paves the way for EPA to begin regulating greenhouse gas emissions from cars and light trucks, and later from other mobile and stationary sources.