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EPA IG Report Shows Better Reporting of RFS Impacts Needed

Washington, DC – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Inspector General has released a report finding that the agency has failed to adequately report on the environmental impacts of the federal Renewable Fuel Standard.

Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation, issued the following statement in response:

“We applaud EPA’s Inspector General for finding that the agency has been woefully negligent in tracking and reporting on the environmental impacts associated with the corn ethanol mandate. While we are sympathetic to the vast work EPA has to do despite severe budget cuts, the agency has failed to comply with the law by gathering even the most basic data about the air pollution, wildlife habitat losses, and waterway degradation resulting from this well-intentioned but devastating policy. Every day that passes sees the potential for more precious acres of wildlife habitat to be lost under the plow, more of our disappearing native prairies and grasslands to vanish, more polluted runoff fouling our lakes and streams, and more lost opportunity to make meaningful progress on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“It is unacceptable that Congress and the American people are being asked to wait another year and a half to receive information that will allow them to understand the magnitude of the wildlife habitat loss and water degradation – which they cannot do unless EPA tracks and reports on these devastating impacts.

“While we appreciate the Inspector General’s report, it does miss a major point by failing to assess the effectiveness of EPA’s enforcement of the law’s prohibition of clearing new land to meet the fuel mandate. The agency has taken an approach that has tacitly abetted the conversion of millions of acres of grassland and other wildlife habitat into cropland. This approach is long overdue for an overhaul, and we urge EPA to revisit it.”

O’Mara testified before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on June 29 highlighting the impacts of increased corn production, driven by the ethanol mandate (RFS), on wildlife habitat and water quality around the country. His testimony also highlighted the need for EPA to complete its required, overdue triennial report, to enforce existing legal requirement intended to prevent the conversion of lands not in production prior to 2007, and to revise the volumetric requirements downward if there are severe economic or environmental impacts.

Learn more about the federal corn ethanol mandate’s impact on wildlife and visit the National Wildlife Federation Media Center at NWF.org/News.

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