New Biofuels Bill Aims to Protect Water, Wildlife and Climate
Tuesday, March 13, 2018
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Conservation groups are speaking out in favor of a new bill in Congress on biofuels, to reform the nation's renewable fuels standard and steer it away from ethanol and biodiesel.
The GREENER Fuels Act would wind down the ethanol mandate and invest billions to reclaim farmland lost to corn and soybean production as wildlife habitat.
Rose Garr is the campaign director for Mighty Earth, a non-government organization that works to break the link between agricultural production and deforestation. She explains that when farmers create fields from virgin soil, it not only displaces native species but the soil releases stored carbon. She says this makes the resulting biofuel almost as bad for the environment as burning gasoline.
"We've actually seen about 7 million acres of native prairie come under production in the Dakotas and the upper Midwest," Garr says. "And when you convert it into industrial agriculture, you actually release a lot of carbon into the air in the meantime."
According to Garr, the current standards have led to massive deforestation in other countries, as farmers clear trees to raise biofuel crops - trees that used to absorb excess greenhouse gases. Any change in the biofuel mandate will be closely watched by oil companies and the corn ethanol industry.
Collin O'Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation, says the massive stretches of corn and soybean fields have reduced biodiversity and led to water pollution from pesticides. He supports a move toward more sustainable biofuels, made from other materials - such as corn stalks or used cooking oil - that previously would have been thrown out.
"It minimizes the impacts on the landscape and actually invests in the restoration of America's grasslands and other habitat that's been impacted, while at the same time moving us toward cleaner, more sustainable fuels - which then reduce emissions and help fight climate change," he explains.
The legislation would reduce the amount of ethanol in fuel and limit the amount of non-waste vegetable oil that can be turned into biodiesel.
get more stories like this via email
ARLINGTON, Va. -- As a Northern Virginia school system transitions away from using police officers in schools, a new report suggests COVID stimulus …
DES MOINES, Iowa -- In five weeks, voters in many Iowa cities will cast their ballots for local elections, and the Secretary of State's office is …
AURORA, Colo. -- School districts across Colorado had to get creative to ensure families could access critical meals during pandemic-related closures…
SUPERIOR, Wis. -- Legal proceedings continue involving a proposed natural-gas plant for northwestern Wisconsin. The plans have been approved by state …
PORTLAND, Ore. -- Draft rules are out for a program designed to confront climate change in Oregon, but organizations say it does not go far enough to …
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said lawmakers are slated to vote on the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill Thursday…
Health and Wellness
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- A veterinary drug doctors call unsafe for treating COVID-19 has caused the deaths of two people in New Mexico, according to the …
RALEIGH, N.C. -- North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper signed sweeping criminal-justice reform into law this month that is meant to hold police more …