Harkin Acquiesces to EPA, Pulls ILUC Amendment

Acting on blind faith in an agency that deserves to be viewed only with suspicion, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) has withdrawn his amendment to the annual Interior spending bill that would have barred the Environmental Protection Agency from considering indirect land use overseas when implementing the Renewable Fuels Standard.

Harkin received a letter Wednesday from EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson in which she acknowledged the uncertainty in calculating the indirect effects on land use change from greater biofuels production. She agreed to quantify and consider these uncertainties surrounding lifecycle greenhouse gases for biofuels in the agency’s formulation of regulations for the renewable fuel standard.

Relying on a highly compromised peer review of draft RFS rules, Jackson said that “that it is important to take into account indirect emissions from biofuels when looking at the lifecycle emissions as required by EISA…it is also clear that there are significant uncertainties associated with these estimates,” and that the agency will be conducting an “uncertainty analysis” of the calculation.

“This analysis will allow us to quantify the impact of uncertainty on the lifecycle emissions,” Jackson wrote. “We will present these estimates in the final rule, and I plan to incorporate those estimates of uncertainty in my regulatory decisions.”

AFBF and other groups maintain that the EPA indirect land use formula on cropland converted to ethanol production overseas has little or no connection between U.S. production of crops for biofuels. The indirect land use mandate looks at carbon released if U.S. biofuels production prompts deforestation in other countries to compensate for U.S. cropland devoted to fuels.


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