ActionAid USA, CEI Target Ethanol Fuel Programs in EPA Filing

Washington, DC, October 13, 2011 – In anticipation of World Food Day, October 16, the Competitive Enterprise Institute and ActionAid USA today filed a formal complaint with the Environmental Protection Agency asking the agency to honestly assess the significant impact of its ethanol fuel programs on global food supplies.  The organizations’ filing, under the federal Data Quality Act, finds that EPA disseminated inaccurate information that downplays the extent to which hunger in developing countries has increased due to the diversion of grain stocks into ethanol fuel production.

When imposing ethanol and other biofuel mandates, “EPA analyzed the impact that increased biofuel use might have on food availability and prices [but] EPA’s analyses contain several major errors and omissions regarding this impact,” the filing points out.  “These analyses incorrectly minimize the food price impact of expanded biofuels, and make absolutely no mention of the resulting risks of hunger and death.”  According to one recent study, ethanol diversion to fuel has caused nearly 200,000 excess deaths annually.

Marie Brill, Senior Policy Analyst at ActionAid USA, stated:   “High and volatile prices are already causing misery. The real price of a typical global food basket is up nearly 50% over the last year. With poor people in developing countries spending between 50-80% of their income on food, it is no surprise that 44 million people fell into extreme poverty from June 2010-February 2011 because of high food prices.  The big surprise is that the EPA still fails to acknowledge the human impact of the Renewable Fuel Standard and still refuses to cite the plethora of reports that reveal the significant role of biofuels in global food price volatility.”

According to Sam Kazman, CEI general counsel: “EPA’s refusal to address this issue has gone on long enough, and there isn’t a more appropriate time for the agency to change its approach than in the wake of World Food Day.”

In 2007, congressional enactment of the Energy Independence and Security Act (“EISA”) required EPA to increase the use of biofuels, leading to a series of new regulations that mandated the greatly increased use of ethanol as an additive to gasoline.

The groups argue that EPA’s downplaying of the resulting increase in global food prices has obscured the real impact of its program, especially in developing countries.  Yet EPA’s own Data Quality guidelines require the agency to correct any published information that does not meet “basic standards of quality, including objectivity, utility, and integrity.”

View the October 13 filing with EPA