Ben Block reports from Worldchanging.com.
The Obama administration unveiled its first proposals for how the United States should implement its biofuels policies yesterday, announcing a plan to analyze the direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions related to the renewable fuels.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the government body tasked with determining how to increase total biofuel consumption to 36 billion gallons by 2022, highlighted two timeframes for measuring the emissions caused by “biofuel-induced land use change,” a key variable in ensuring that the fuels reduce emissions in the near future.
The agency acknowledged that shifting U.S. food crops, namely corn, to biofuel production reduces global food supplies and provides an incentive for farmers in other countries to clear their land for agriculture. When tropical forests, peatlands, and other lands that are rich in carbon are converted to cropland, large quantities of greenhouse gases are potentially released.
The EPA argues, however, that greater use of biofuels would ensure that U.S. vehicles burn fewer gallons of petroleum-based fossil fuels over time and reduce the overall impact of transportation on climate change.
Following a 60-day comment period on the proposed analysis method, the agency will determine the appropriate time period for studying emission reductions from the use of biofuels over their full lifecycles, from the growing of the feedstocks to end use in vehicles.