August 10, 2009

EPA throws dust into the fog, further muddying land use theory

It wasn't that long ago that the Environmental Protection Agency official in charge of regulating air emissions within the United States was questioned about her lack of farm and agriculture knowledge. It all came up in a hearing about the Renewable Fuels Standard.

Margo Oge admitted, at least, that she had never been on a farm (see that here). And I'm sure (hoping) she knew the answer but just could wrap her head around it when asked about ethanol and biodiesel production (see that here).

As Corn Commentary points out, though, many people in the room may not have realized that she was wrong. And that's scary. Here's a line from the second link above:

Regardless of whether the international indirect land use change methodology as proposed by EPA is adopted, everyone in the agriculture and biofuels industry should be concerned about the bureaucrats who could potentially regulate them out of business some day. We should be very afraid.

And now EPA went off and hired some folks to do a peer review of its indirect land use change guesstimates for the RFS.

While EPA said it maintained an arm's length from picking the peer reviewers, it did write the requirements of who should be picked and suggested a few names. So the bottom line is, the review was completed by several folks who are anti-ethanol, while excluding anyone from the U.S. Department of Agriculture - the one agency that (mostly) gets farming and agriculture and has actually studied the subject in question. In the real world. As in outside an office.

Brownfield did a good report on this - including comments from a number of groups frustrated with the process.

EPA's review should have helped clear the air. Instead, it threw dust into the fog, further muddying the process. And that's too bad.

Reviewers found that EPA's process "Was scientifically justifiable, especially given existing data and technology constraints." But that's the whole problem...the data and technology constraints are severely lacking, yet EPA is proposing regulations based upon them.

A quick visit to EPA's RFS webpage today had me again asking questions.

As shown in the picture below (click it for a bigger image), the webpage includes a photo of sweet corn, a corn field and an ethanol plant. While I'm sure sweet corn is available at a grocery store inside the Beltway, it doesn't have anything to do with ethanol production or the RFS.

A big deal? Not necessarily, but it's another piece of puzzle that makes up EPA. And adds to the reasons why EPA is questioned in the countryside.

No comments:

Post a Comment