E&E; News reports that Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO) will offer an amendment to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) appropriations bill on Thursday “that would bar the agency from considering the effects of ‘indirect’ land-use changes when calculating the carbon footprint of biofuels.” Emerson’s plan to outlaw climate science for agribusiness is no surprise — she has received $952,084 from the sector, far more than any other, and has attacked the regulation of greenhouse gases before. However, Rep. Norm Dicks (D-WA), the powerful chair of the Appropriations Interior and Environment subcommittee, is merely “leaning against” the amendment:
We think that they ought to at least be able to evaluate indirect land use, but I’m still thinking about this one,” he said, noting he had just learned about it.
This is the same biofuel-industry loophole for which Agriculture Committee chair Collin Peterson (D-MN) has been holding up comprehensive climate and clean energy legislation. By replacing petroleum, biofuels have the potential to dramatically reduce global warming pollution. But scientists have found biofuels can also worsen global warming by encouraging farmers to cut down the diversity-rich tropical forests that soak up carbon dioxide. It is critical that the federal government’s mandate for billions of gallons of ethanol production be coupled with regulations that take into account the science of indirect land use change.
Dicks, an environmental champion, should know this.