New Ethanol Mandate Rule a Disaster for Wildlife and Sportsmen

EPA Issued Its Final Rule Establishing The Volumes Of Ethanol And Other Renewable Fuels

Washington, D.C. – Today the Environmental Protection Agency issued its final rule establishing the volumes of ethanol and other renewable fuels to be blended in next year’s gasoline in order to meet the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Despite overwhelming evidence of the environmental harms from the ethanol mandate, the White House and the Environmental Protection Agency further increased the required amounts of corn-based ethanol and soy-based biodiesel over current levels, continuing to increase demand for these crops and the pressure for farmers to keep ecologically sensitive lands in production and plow up new land to meet government-mandated demand.

“The corn ethanol mandate is responsible for the destruction of millions of acres of wildlife habitat and degradation of water quality,” said Collin O’Mara, president and chief executive officer of the National Wildlife Federation. “For the Obama Administration to once again double down on this disastrous policy simply defies science and logic—and should be immediately be reversed by the Trump Administration. Sportsmen and wildlife—ducks, pheasants, song birds, honey bees, and monarch butterflies—should not have to lose out because of a market-distorting government mandate. It’s time for leaders from both parties in Congress to step in and stop the madness by reducing the corn ethanol mandate and partnering with farmers to restore America’s native grassland prairies that have borne the brunt of the adverse impacts of this policy.”  

During the comment period on the proposed rule, the National Wildlife Federation submitted comments asking EPA to lower the amount of corn ethanol and biodiesel required under the mandate in order to reduce the pressure on the millions of acres that have been converted from wildlife habitat to grow these crops. The comments also urged EPA to implement meaningful enforcement of the law’s prohibition on production of fuels from crops grown on land converted after 2007, which it has failed to do to date. More than 22,000 of NWF’s supporters submitted their own comments echoing these requests to the agency.

The EPA’s ongoing failure to enforce the land clearing prohibition in the RFS will result in the loss of millions of acres of vital wildlife habitat, more carbon being released from virgin soils, and exacerbating the water quality crisis in our nation. Studies have shown that more than 7 million acres were converted to cropland in the five years following passage of the RFS, and last week the World Wildlife Fund released its Plowprint report detailing the millions more acres of grassland that continue to be lost each year. The intensification of row crop agriculture on the landscape and the loss of grass and wetland buffers not only reduces terrestrial habitat, but also degrades water quality and has contributed to the rise of massive algal blooms in places like the Gulf of Mexico and Lake Erie. This is a tragedy for fish and wildlife and a loss for the millions of hunters, anglers, birders, and other wildlife enthusiasts across this nation.

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