Does the Renewable Fuel Standard really fight carbon emissions?

WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Midwestern lawmakers say the federal government should continue to force oil companies to blend corn-based biofuel into their product, but environmentalists say it could actually be counterproductive.

The debate comes as the Biden administration prepares to make changes to the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Renewable Fuels Standard, which was created more than a decade ago with the goal of reducing emissions of carbon. Right now it says oil companies have to blend a certain amount of corn-based ethanol into their gasoline.

“The current system is not working,” said David DeGennaro, climate scientist at the National Wildlife Federation. “Because of the land use change associated with growing more crops for ethanol… corn ethanol is actually probably 24% more carbon intensive than gasoline.”

He said the Biden administration should shift to fuels with lower carbon footprints.

“We need to get back to science,” he said.

Midwestern lawmakers, whose voters include farmers who grow corn for ethanol, say the blending standard should stay.

“Biofuels are the key pathway to decarbonizing the transportation sector,” said Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa. “The RFS is the policy engine that makes this possible.”

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, RW.Va., argued that the standard is too expensive for oil refineries and costly for drivers.

“I’m concerned that this volume requirement will increase costs at a time when gasoline is high in itself,” she said.

“No one is really happy with the way things are going right now, so this is a great opportunity,” DeGennaro said.

He said he hopes the Biden administration will continue to promote electric vehicles as part of its commitment to halve carbon emissions by 2030.


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