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Biden administration moves to protect Alaska wilderness; opening statements and first witness in NY trial; SCOTUS hears Starbucks case, with implications for unions on the line; rural North Carolina town gets pathway to home ownership.

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The Senate moves forward with a foreign aid package. A North Carolina judge overturns an aged law penalizing released felons. And child protection groups call a Texas immigration policy traumatic for kids.

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Wyoming needs more educators who can teach kids trade skills, a proposal to open 40-thousand acres of an Ohio forest to fracking has environmental advocates alarmed and rural communities lure bicyclists with state-of-the-art bike trail systems.

EPA Report: Renewable Fuels Standard Backfiring for Environment

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Thursday, 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.


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