Report debunks claims regarding RFS impact on endangered species

By Growth Energy | December 04, 2019

Growth Energy, the nation’s largest association of biofuel producers, released a new report demonstrating how claims on the Renewable Fuel Standard’s alleged impact on endangered species “relies on unsupported assumptions and speculation.” The report was authored by Ramboll, a global research and management firm specializing in sustainable development, at the request of Growth Energy. It responds directly to unsubstantiated claims regarding habitats of species protected by the Endangered Species Act made in a recent D.C. Circuit Court case (American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers v. EPA, No. 17-1258).

“Public, private, and academic science all show that affordable, low-carbon biofuels are beneficial to our health and our climate,” said Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor. “Every passing year yields new innovations in agriculture, allowing us to displace more fossil fuels and create higher yields, all without expanding our environmental footprint. We will not let that progress be held back by unsupported claims about the impact of the RFS on endangered species.”

The newest report serves as an addition to a related Ramboll report released in September, which found that the EPA could “incentivize greater production and consumption of conventional corn ethanol in U.S. transportation fuel without discernible adverse environmental impacts.”

In the newest report, Ramboll researchers illustrate how biofuel critics rely on false assumptions in an attempt to link biofuel production to factors impacting endangered species. Specifically, the authors note that the “alleged impacts are poorly researched and the examples used to support many assertions instead actually refute the assertions.”

“In the absence of a causal link between the RFS and land use change―and in particular land conversion from grassland, wetland, or forest to corn and soy―there can be no causal link between the RFS and impacts to terrestrial species due to loss or degradation of habitat,” write Ramboll authors.

The report also debunks specific claims related to specific species, like the Arkansas shiner and Whooping Crane.

“Acres planted in corn across the United States has remained close to or below the total acres planted in the early 1930s despite increases in demand for corn as human food, animal feed, and biofuels over this nearly 90-year period. The increase in demand has largely been met by an approximately 7-fold increase in yield (bushels per acre). The lack of causal relationship between demand for corn and acres planted in corn calls into question the causal relationship between increased demand for corn for ethanol and land conversion, and, in turn, potential impacts of land conversion on endangered species,” added Ramboll authors.

Read the full report here.