EPA Dithers While Ethanol Kills

by Adam Sandberg on March 14, 2013

Back in 2007, EPA issued a regulation known as the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), requiring billions of gallons of corn ethanol to be blended into the U.S. gasoline supply. This mandate is a continuation of the U.S. biofuel policy, and has been celebrated by environmentalists and GW alarmists as a way of reducing greenhouse gases and lowering our dependence on supposedly dangerous foreign oil.

In October of 2011, the Competitive Enterprise Institute and ActionAid USA petitioned EPA to review its position on the impact of its RFS mandates on world hunger. Since a large portion of available farmland is being used to grow corn for ethanol instead of for food, this lowers the food supplies drastically and in turn drives up prices. Our petition was based on the Data Quality Act, which enables anyone to seek correction of data that has been disseminated by a federal agency. The request argued that the information in EPA’s regulatory analysis and on the agency’s website incorrectly downplayed the impacts of the U.S. mandates on world hunger. To support this claim, CEI and ActionAid cited several studies showing that higher food prices from biofuel mandates have caused malnutrition in developing countries, resulting in nearly 192,000 excess deaths annually.

Not being in much of a hurry to examine if whether it might be partly responsible for such carnage, EPA exceeded its 90-day response deadline-three times. Fourteen months would pass before they finally, in December of 2012, denied the petition.

This delay is particularly ironic since the Obama administration and EPA frequently have complained about the slow pace of Congress, issuing executive orders and fuel economy regulations with the slogan “We Can’t Wait.” Apparently, when it comes to assessing whether their policies are killing people, they can.

EPA claimed that assessing deaths due to biofuel programs was beyond the scope of its analysis, which apparently only focused on the incremental effects of the U.S. biofuel mandate. CEI and ActionAid USA filed a request for reconsideration on March 11, providing new evidence of the policy’s devastating effects on food prices and global hunger. A copy of the request is appended to the end of this post. Given EPA’s alleged “global leadership” role and the fact that people in developing countries spend up to 80 percent of their income on food, the new request shows that the U.S. mandate alone has far-reaching negative implications that EPA should address.

The request was fittingly filed during the Government in the Sunshine Week, a national initiative to promote the importance of open government. However, given EPA’s notorious lack of transparency on other matters, we wonder what effect our request will have on the agency whose motto is “protecting people and the environment.” We have an in-house joke that EPA ought to take that slogan and insert the phrase “but not in that order” to the end of it.

CEI and Action Aid – March 2013 Data Quality Reconsideration Request by Competitive Enterprise Institute

Ed Cerny3 March 16, 2013 at 1:32 pm

Put ethanol in martinis, not gas tanks.

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