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PNS Daily Newscast - August 15, 2018 


Closing arguments today in the trial of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort. Also on the Wednesday rundown: Primary Election results; climate change is making summer fun harder to find across the U.S.; and how parents can win the battle between kids' outdoor play and screen time.

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EPA Report: Renewable Fuels Standard Backfiring for Environment

The Renewable Fuel Standard has led to an all-time high demand for corn, but also water shortages and pollution. (Bob Nichols/U.S. Department of Agriculture)
The Renewable Fuel Standard has led to an all-time high demand for corn, but also water shortages and pollution. (Bob Nichols/U.S. Department of Agriculture)
August 2, 2018

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The U.S. government has acknowledged that the Renewable Fuel Standard is harming the environment.

In a recent report, the Environmental Protection Agency recognized for the first time that federal mandates for fuels based on corn and soybeans have consequences on wildlife habitat and water resources.

The standard was put in place in 2007 to reduce the country's dependence on fossil fuels.

But Kent Hoekman, research professor emeritus with the Desert Research Institute in Nevada, says it's now clear the environmental consequences of ethanol far outweigh its benefits.

"The disbenefits include potential water pollution, water shortages, soil degradation, loss of biodiversity, increased air pollution, greater food insecurity and diminished sustainability," he states.

The standard has meant all-time high demands for corn. Supporters of the standard say along with decreased dependence on fossil fuels, it also has boosted rural economic development.

David DeGennaro, an agriculture policy specialist, National Wildlife Federation, says runoff from farmland contributes to harmful algae blooms and water contamination. And demand for land to grow corn has cut into important habitats for butterflies, bees and migratory birds.

"The report is a red flag, warning us that we need to reconsider the mandate's scope and its focus on first-generation fuels made from food crops," he stresses.

The EPA is currently taking comments on its proposed plans for next year's fuel mandates.

The National Wildlife Federation and other conservation groups are calling on Congress to pass the GREENER Fuels Act, which would wind down the ethanol mandate and invest billions of dollars to reclaim farmland lost to corn and soybean production as wildlife habitat.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - CA