Sensenbrenner presses for RFS environmental review

Source: Marc Heller, E&E reporter • Posted: Monday, September 12, 2016

U.S. EPA is facing new pressure to complete a delayed environmental review of the federal renewable fuel standard.

Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) wrote to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy yesterday, asking what the agency is doing to ensure that the report — required every three years — is ready in the first three months of 2018.

EPA hasn’t completed such a report since 2011, said Sensenbrenner, a senior member of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee and a past chairman of the panel.

Sensenbrenner’s letter follows a report in August from EPA’s Office of Inspector General highlighting the delay, in which EPA acting Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation Janet McCabe said officials would complete the report by the end of next year.

At issue is a triennial report to detail the RFS’s effects on land use and other environmental impacts. Critics of the RFS say they believe the mandate for ethanol and other biofuels is spurring the conversion of land from conservation uses to corn, for instance.

Other House lawmakers critical of ethanol mandates, including Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.), have also pressured EPA to produce the report (Greenwire, Aug. 18).

Sensenbrenner also urged EPA to conduct a review called a backsliding study that would detail the RFS’s effect on air quality.

“Additional and updated research and analysis allows lawmakers to better gauge the strengths and weaknesses of policy we enact, and science-based decisionmaking is vital when evaluating our biofuel mandate,” Sensenbrenner said.