RFS heads back to court; new study finds environmental harm

decrease font size  Resize text   increase font size       Printer-friendly version of this article Printer-friendly version of this article

Opponents of America’s Renewable Fuels Standard have launched new assaults on the eight-year-old mandate that requires refiners to blend steadily increasing amounts of ethanol and other alternatives – up to 36 billion gallons in 2022 – into the nation’s fuel supply.

Yesterday the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), as part of a coalition of food, farm and oil industry groups, filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court asking that it reverse the DC Circuit Court’s August 2012 decision to dismiss its challenge to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) decision to allow gasoline containing 15 percent ethanol (E15) to be sold for cars manufactured in the 2007 model year or later. 

The original suit objected to the EPA’s decision on the grounds that granting a “partial waiver” of the Clean Air Act allowing E15 to be used only in cars built after model year 2006 is not within the agency’s legal authority. The petitioners argued that under the Clean Air Act the EPA administrator may only grant a waiver for a new fuel additive if it “will not cause or contribute to a failure of any emission control device or system.” 

Last August, the DC Circuit dismissed the case on the grounds that none of the 17 petitioners had standing to challenge the E15 waivers.

Earlier this month, South Dakota State University released results from a satellite imagery-based study that found that from 2006 to 2011, U.S. farmers converted more than 1.3 million acres from grassland to corn and soybean production. The researchers believe the loss of this grassland is having adverse impacts on water quality, soil health and wildlife habitat in a region that includes Iowa, Minnesota and North and South Dakota.

The research was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The Environmental Working Group says the South Dakota State research bolsters the findings of a 2012 EWG report – Plowed Under – that tracked land conversion in all 50 states. They claim both studies compellingly document the accelerating pace of grassland conversion, which is having dire consequences for the environment in the western Corn Belt and beyond.

The South Dakota researchers, Christopher K. Wright and Michael C. Wimberley, focused on grassland conversion in areas close to wetlands in the Prairie Pothole Region – a critical Midwest flyway for migratory birds. They wrote that, “in South Dakota... 80 percent of grassland conversion is occurring within 500 meters of neighboring wetlands.”

Yesterday’s petition filed with the U.S. Supreme Court by the Grocery Manufacturers Association seeks to reverse a decision last August by the DC Circuit that held that none of the 17 petitioners had standing to challenge the E15 waivers.

“The procedural grounds on which the DC Circuit Court based its split decision to dismiss our petition are unfounded,” said GMA Executive Vice President for Government Affairs Louis Finkle. “All the while, the significant issues at the heart of our case continue to go unanswered. In the end, it’s consumers who will pay the heaviest toll for the court’s decision, as it cleared the way for an expansion of misguided food–to-fuel policies at a time when Americans can least afford it.”

Finkle also stated what other opponents of the RFS have been claiming, that implementation of the RFS has had “a profound negative impact on the economy and the structure of markets in energy, agricultural commodities and food manufacturing.  The application of the RFS to allow E15 into the market will only exacerbate a situation that is already having a negative impact on consumers and the economy.

 “The available supply and price of corn and other affected commodities has an enormous impact on the cost inputs to food production,” Finkle said.  “As hard as food and beverage companies work to deliver safe, nutritious food to consumers at affordable prices, the laws of economics dictate that consumers will feel the effects of these higher input costs at the retail level at a time when many families are struggling.

“The original suit filed argued that EPA had exceeded its authority and violated the law when approving the use of E15; but more importantly, it put consumers at risk of food insecurity.  These facts have not changed. We continue to support this position and are now looking to the Supreme Court to overturn the decision of the lower court to ensure that GMA and the coalition’s arguments are heard.”

Groups involved in the lawsuit include: American Meat Institute, National Chicken Council, National Council of Chain Restaurants of the National Retail Federation, North American Meat Association, National Pork Producers Council, National Turkey Federation and the Snack Food Association.

Prev 1 2 Next All

Buyers Guide

Doyle Equipment Manufacturing Co.
Doyle Equipment Manufacturing prides themselves as being “The King of the Rotary’s” with their Direct Drive Rotary Blend Systems. With numerous setup possibilities and sizes, ranging from a  more...
A.J. Sackett Sons & Company
Sackett Blend Towers feature the H.I.M, High Intensity Mixer, the next generation of blending and coating technology which supports Precision Fertilizer Blending®. Its unique design allows  more...
R&R Manufacturing Inc.
The R&R Minuteman Blend System is the original proven performer. Fast, precise blending with a compact foot print. Significantly lower horsepower requirement. Low inload height with large  more...
Junge Control Inc.
Junge Control Inc. creates state-of-the-art product blending and measuring solutions that allow you to totally maximize operating efficiency with amazing accuracy and repeatability, superior  more...
Yargus Manufacturing
The flagship blending system for the Layco product line is the fully automated Layco DW System™. The advanced technology of the Layco DW (Declining Weight) system results in a blending  more...
Yargus Manufacturing
The LAYCOTE™ Automated Coating System provides a new level of coating accuracy for a stand-alone coating system or for coating (impregnating) in an automated blending system. The unique  more...
John Deere
The DN345 Drawn Dry Spreader can carry more than 12 tons of fertilizer and 17.5 tons of lime. Designed to operate at field speeds up to 20 MPH with full loads and the G4 spreader uniformly  more...
Force Unlimited
The Pro-Force is a multi-purpose spreader with a wider apron and steeper sides. Our Pro-Force has the most aggressive 30” spinner on the market, and is capable of spreading higher rates of  more...
BBI Spreaders
MagnaSpread 2 & MagnaSpread 3 — With BBI’s patented multi-bin technology, these spreaders operate multiple hoppers guided by independent, variable-rate technology. These models are built on  more...

Comments (2) Leave a comment 

e-Mail (required)


characters left

Craig A. Moore    
Billings, MT  |  March, 01, 2013 at 09:45 AM

I will believe their big concern for the "many struggling families" as soon as they stop selling the poor struggling families on food stamps all that junk food that makes them to struggle with obesity.

Gerald Vice    
Ky.  |  March, 06, 2013 at 08:45 AM

As someone who has worked in the ag and livestock industry for over 38 years I would definitely agree with the comments in the above article and have seen a lot of the geography these studies were conducted in. The same things are happening in some eastern states and the toll on grasslands, that should have never been converted to crop land, are now showing up in a bad way! Erosion of soil is becoming a big issue and loss of habitat is alarming, especially to someone who loves to hunt, fish and enjoy the outdoors. We are not doing service to our wildlife resources and will pay a heavy toll for this as years progress if we don't do something to stop the plant everything mentality. Reversal of the RFS mandates or at least part of the stipulations it contains needs to be addressed and soon! We have plenty of other natural resources for energy we can use that we don't depend on as a food source. Maybe God is trying to tell us something with the drought conditions prevailing across the country's breadbasket!

Portable Conveyors

Convey-all portable conveyors are designed to handle your crops gently and efficiently. We offer an extensive line of high capacity ... Read More

View all Products in this segment

View All Buyers Guides

Feedback Form
Feedback Form