Group urges Senate leaders to ignore letter requesting RFS hearing

Source: Jason Plautz • E&E  • Posted: Tuesday, December 6, 2011


A biofuels association is urging key senators to ignore some claims made last week by green, agriculture and conservative spending groups pressing for a hearing on the renewable fuel standard.
In a letter to Environment and Public Works Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and ranking member James Inhofe (R-Okla.), the Renewable Fuels Association says the groups “grossly misrepresented and distorted” a pair of studies and misled the legislators in an attempt to get an RFS hearing.Last week, the coalition of groups sent a letter to Boxer and Inhofe requesting a hearing on the RFS, which requires that 36 billion gallons of fuel come from alternative sources by 2022. The groups said the standard will have a negative impact on food and fuel prices with possible harmful environmental effects (E&E Daily, Dec. 1).However, RFA President Bob Dinneen says the letter improperly cites two studies: one from the National Academy of Sciences published in October and another from the United Nations Committee on Food Security.RFA said the NAS study did not offer “definitive conclusions” about the environmental impact of biofuels and that its authors admit to a high degree of uncertainty. The report found that the United States was unlikely to meet its RFS goal and concluded that the greater share of ethanol and biofuels could have a negative environmental and economic impact under some scenarios (Greenwire, Oct. 4).

The other study, RFA said, was not relevant and only found that more study needed to be done on the impact of biofuels on food supply.

“We urge you to ignore the November 30th letter’s blatant misrepresentations of these recent studies,” Dinneen wrote. “The groups clearly twisted the findings of these studies in an attempt to support their request for hearings on the RFS.”

But the groups defended their arguments.

“RFA is obviously scared of losing the RFS; it’s our government’s job to protect taxpayers and the environment, not lobbyists,” said Michal Rosenoer of Friends of the Earth, one of the groups on the original letter. “RFA admits in their letter that the environmental effects of the RFS are up in the air. We need our representatives to hold hearings on the RFS to determine its true impacts.”

The RFA letter also asks for more biofuels industry involvement in any future hearing. Industry groups have complained in the past of being shut out of congressional hearings.

Click here to read the letter.