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Multiple sources say Deutsche Bank has begun turning over President Trump's financial documents to New York's A.G. Also on our Thursday rundown: A report on a Catholic hospital that offered contraception for decades, until the Bishop found out. Plus, an oil company loses a round in efforts to frack off the California coast.

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Conservationists: EPA Ethanol "Loophole" Threatening Wildlife Lands

Conservationists say the EPA's new biofuel rules could lead to more croplands encroaching on wildlife habitats. (Sgarton/
Conservationists say the EPA's new biofuel rules could lead to more croplands encroaching on wildlife habitats. (Sgarton/
December 14, 2015

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Some new federal renewable fuel guidelines could be putting some wildlife habitats at risk, especially in the Midwest.

The Environmental Protection Agency's recently finalized Renewable Fuel Standards (RFS) include incentives for producing more corn ethanol.

David DeGennaro, an agriculture policy specialist with the National Wildlife Federation, says that could lead to more natural grasslands, which are home to many native species, being converted into corn crops.

"The western side of Minnesota is part of a hotspot for crop expansion that we've seen over the last seven years,” he states. “Total crop expansion has been about 7 million acres, and Minnesota's right at the forefront of that."

The upper west area of the state is part of the Prairie Pothole region, which DeGennaro says is the most important breeding ground for certain types of ducks.

At issue is a 2007 agreement between the EPA and Congress that says new ethanol production should not come at the expense wildlife habitats.

DeGennaro says the agency has never enforced the part of the renewable fuel law that's supposed to protect those lands. And he maintains the agency's relying on what he calls a faulty standard that looks at national cropland totals, instead of regional numbers, to determine whether or not too much land has been converted.

"We do think that there's time to re-look at the Renewable Fuel Standard and make some changes to it, recognizing that it hasn't worked out the way that it was intended," he stresses.

With Minnesota already on track to have a record breaking year for corn production, DeGennaro says there's no reason the EPA can't help balance the country's corn production while maintaining these fragile wildlife areas.

Brandon Campbell, Public News Service - MN