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Environmental Groups Petition EPA to Prevent Damage from Renewable Fuel Standard

EarthJustice, the National Wildlife Federation, and other environmental pressure groups have petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency to better police the land use requirements in the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The law explicitly requires qualifying renewable fuels to be made from feedstocks grown on land already in use as farmland when these provisions were added to the Clean Air Act in 2007. 
 
However, there is considerable evidence (including a recent report from EPA itself) that pristine grasslands, especially in the upper Midwest, have been converted to grow corn used to make ethanol. Currently, EPA uses an aggregated method of determining compliance—if the aggregate amount of farmland nationwide does not change, then it is assumed that no illegal land conversions are occurring.
 
The petition asserts that EPA’s method is highly inadequate and ignores clear evidence of new land being plowed under to grow corn. The petition requests that the agency dispense with the aggregate compliance method and instead require that all corn and other feedstocks used to make qualifying biofuels be traceable back to land that has not been recently converted to farmland.