Source: American Soybean Association

This week the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) filed a federal lawsuit challenging what it considers to be inadequate grassland protections being applied by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in their administration of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Specifically, NWF contends that EPA is not protecting grasslands from being converted to cropland to grow feedstock for biofuels, particularly corn ethanol.

EPA previously declined to consider NWF's petition that the agency reconsider the way it tracks land use under the RFS to ensure that biofuel feedstock cultivation and harvest is limited to existing agricultural lands. The Energy Independence and Security Act, which established the expanded RFS, requires that eligible biofuels be produced from feedstock derived from existing agricultural land. EPA adopted an "aggregate" compliance approach, which deems all U.S. feedstock as eligible as long as total U.S. agricultural land annually does not exceed the 2007 baseline, which was set at 402 million acres. EPA will monitor total agricultural land annually to determine if national acreage goes above 402 million acres. If the 402 million-acre threshold is exceeded, EPA would undergo a more intensive process to verify feedstock eligibility.

The American Soybean Association supported an aggregate approach for feedstock eligibility as a more efficient and less burdensome way of deeming U.S. soybeans as eligible renewable biomass for purposes of the RFS.