Sen. Barrasso calls for EPA studies on environmental impact of Renewable Fuel Standard

The leader of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee called on the EPA on Friday to conduct “overdue” studies on the impact that the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) has had on air, water, and land quality.

John Barrasso

In a letter to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, U.S. Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), chairman of the Senate EPW Committee, noted that EPA is required to assess the environmental impacts of the RFS under the Clean Air Act and the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA).

The Senate EPW Committee has heard “increasing concerns” about the environmental impacts of the RFS in recent years, Barrasso wrote. Jonathan Lewis of the Clean Air Task Force testified that EPA data indicates the incremental addition of corn ethanol produced in response to the RFS has “higher lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions than gasoline.”

“A growing body of independent academic research has also documented the RFS’ impacts on air, water and land quality, wildlife habitat and other sensitive ecosystems,” the letter stated.

Barrasso also noted that the EPA Inspector General called for completion of the studies in a 2016 report. In response, the EPA committed to completing the EISA study by December 2017, and the Clean Air Act study by 2024.

“While I ask that (Pruitt) adhere to the agency’s timeframe for the former, EPA’s completion date for the latter is unacceptable,” Barrasso wrote. “EPA cannot ignore the will of Congress and the requirements of the Clean Air Act for 17 years. I ask that you complete this study no later than Sept. 30, 2018.”