Petition urges EPA to acknowledge biofuel incentives’ link to global hunger

Source: Amanda Peterka, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, March 15, 2013

U.S. EPA has underestimated the impact of its biofuel policies on global food prices and hunger, a conservative think tank and an anti-hunger group argue in a petition filed with the agency this week.

ActionAid and the Competitive Enterprise Institute are asking EPA to acknowledge that U.S. policies advancing ethanol are hurting developing countries. The petition is based on a 2011 study published in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons that found biofuel policies that encourage the diversion of grains to fuel production annually contributed to 192,000 deaths related to malnutrition.

EPA has 90 days to respond to the petition. In December, the agency denied a similar joint petition from the groups, arguing that the study by Interior Department science and technology policy analyst Indur Goklany wasn’t relevant because it focused on global biofuel policies rather than U.S.-specific ones.

“Assessing effects on global poverty levels and resulting morbidity and mortality was appropriately beyond the scope of our analysis,” EPA wrote in its response.

The petition filed Monday asks the agency to reconsider its denial, which came 14 months after the original petition was filed.

The groups accuse EPA of not considering the repercussions of its policies in a global context and how they might build on other countries’ incentives for biofuels.

“EPA’s narrow focus — which took into account only the ‘incremental’ effects of EPA’s own policies, ignoring the ramifications of such policies being followed on a global scale — is contrary to EPA’s own asserted global leadership role, longstanding agency practice and federal court rulings,” the groups wrote.