Lawsuit: Ethanol Production Threatens America's Vanishing Grasslands

NWF sues EPA for failure to protect an endangered American ecosystem

04-27-2011 // PNS
grassy knoll with buffalo

DENVER, CO - The search for ethanol is devastating one of America's vanishing ecosystems. That's the claim in a new lawsuit filed by the National Wildlife Federation (NWF). It accuses the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of failing to enforce federal laws that protect diminishing habitat. It also alleges that farmers are being encouraged to plow under grasslands in order to plant corn for ethanol production.

Julie Sibbing is director of agriculture programs for the NWF. She says the EPA should follow the Renewable Fuel Standard set by Congress, which would limit biofuel production to current agriculture lands and protect undeveloped grasslands.

"We think that trying to take the last five percent of our native grasslands, which are the most endangered ecosystem in the United States, it's like burning the Mona Lisa for firewood."

The NWF legal filing is available at

Sibbing says even the corn ethanol industry doesn't think the undeveloped acres are needed - because of more efficient yield increases.

"Let's hold them to that. Let's produce corn on the best acreage out there, which is what's already in production - and let's leave the rest for nature."

Related Resources
  • Corn Ethanol and Wildlife (pdf)

    How increases in corn plantings are affecting habitat and wildlife in the Prairie Pothole Region