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PNS Daily Newscast - November 15, 2018 


Lawyer Michael Avenatti arrested on a domestic violence charge. Also on the Thursday rundown: More testimony on Ohio's "anti-protest" bill; and we'll take you to the Dakotas to celebrate American Education Week.

Daily Newscasts

Reforming Ethanol Mandate Could be Win for Chesapeake Bay

A provision in the GREENER Fuels Act protects wildlife habitat by enforcing existing land protections to prevent converted land from qualifying as a source of biofuel material. (Pixabay)
A provision in the GREENER Fuels Act protects wildlife habitat by enforcing existing land protections to prevent converted land from qualifying as a source of biofuel material. (Pixabay)
March 13, 2018

ANNAPOLIS, Md. – A bill to reform the biofuels mandate is being hailed by environmental groups as a way to protect wildlife, drinking water and public health, as it could reverse a decade of harm to those critical resources.

The GREENER Fuels Act is expected to gradually reduce climate pollution by lessening the harmful impact of generating biofuels such as corn ethanol in the nation's fuel supply. The bill would stop more land from being converted into biofuel sources, and invest more than $10 billion to restore lost fish and wildlife habitat in the next 10 years.

Collin O'Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation, says more than seven million acres have been plowed to make way for corn and soy since the fuel standard went into effect in 2007, including in Maryland.

"And then as a result, more acres going into production and then leading to more nutrients winding up in tributaries like the Nanticoke or the Choptank then winding up in the Bay," he says. "And, we've also seen impacts upstream in the Bay, up into the Susquehanna up in like Pennsylvania."

The Trump administration has made little change to the current fuel standard, claiming that maintaining current levels ensures stability in the marketplace.

When it comes to Maryland, O'Mara, says while there is a negative impact to the environment from the old biofuel mandate, it is more significant on the economic front.

"Ethanol can wreak havoc on small engines for motor boats, for smaller boats, like folks recreate in the Chesapeake Bay," he explains. "We've seen it distort economic market prices for the chicken industry that depends on different feedstocks, and the corn prices have driven up some of those inputs."

Supporters of the renewable-fuel standard say ethanol also has some environmental benefits that this bill would undermine.

But O'Mara says the bill is far better because it would eliminate a loophole that allows older biofuel plants to bypass climate-pollution standards. It also would incentivize truly renewable biofuels, such as those derived from farm waste and plant cellulose.

Trimmel Gomes, Public News Service - MD