EPA ruling stalled by ethanol debate
An ethanol pump
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Scott Jagow: Until the economy crashed, climate change was the topic du jour. And ethanol was the lightning rod. The EPA was supposed to have rules by today on how much biofuel the US should produce. But there isn't even a draft proposal. Sarah Gardener at our Sustainability Desk explains what happened.
Sarah Gardner: Corn ethanol's already taken heat for higher food prices. Now scientists are questioning whether it actually produces more greenhouse gas emissions than regular gasoline. That's if you take into account indirect impacts, like rainforests being converted to cropland. Jonathan Lewis at the Clean Air Task Force says that's because cutting down rainforests releases carbon dioxide.
Jonathan Lewis: That initial upfront release of soil and plant carbon swamps whatever benefits we get over the long term from using biofuels.
The EPA's initial calculations of biofuel's climate impacts alarmed industry. Biofuel producers have lobbied the administration hard to omit those calculations, calling the science "immature." The new rules are currently stuck in the White House Office of Management and Budget, and will likely end up yet another headache for the Obama administration.
I'm Sarah Gardner for Marketplace.