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RFA Calls on EPA to Reject Searchinger, Five Other Candidates From RFS Report Review

Todd Neeley
By  Todd Neeley , DTN Staff Reporter
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The Renewable Fuels Association called on the EPA to reject six candidates for a peer review of the agency's Renewable Fuel Standard report to Congress. (EPA logo courtesy of EPA)

LINCOLN, Neb. (DTN) -- The EPA has put forward a list of 20 possible candidates to peer review the agency's upcoming triennial report to Congress on the Renewable Fuel Standard, and the Renewable Fuels Association objected to six of the candidates to fill nine positions.

In comments submitted to the EPA on Tuesday, the RFA urged the agency to reject Timothy D. Searchinger, a Princeton University lawyer who developed the theory of indirect land-use change and raised the hackles of ethanol industry officials for years; Tyler J. Lark of the University of Wisconsin-Madison; and Jason D. Hill of the University of Minnesota.

RFA said Searchinger's ILUC work was "thoroughly refuted and rejected by the scientific community." The RFA encouraged EPA to remove Searchinger from further consideration, saying he "cannot be considered impartial or fair-minded."

When it comes to Lark, RFA said in a news release he should be excluded because EPA cited his work in the agency's second triennial report and that "it would be inappropriate for Lark to serve as a peer reviewer for this report. RFA also noted that Lark's previous work related to biofuels has suffered from known flaws and inaccuracies, which have been willfully repeated by him in subsequent works."

When it comes to Hill, RFA said he has shown "a similar history of bias, unwillingness to respond to legitimate critiques of his work, and unsupported and provocative statements about the RFS and corn ethanol."

RFA also raised concerns about Aaron Smith, University of California, Davis; Steven T. Berry, Yale University; and Chris Malins, Cerulogy Consulting, UK.

As part of the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act, EPA is required to submit regular reports to Congress related to the environmental and resource conservation effects of the RFS. The EPA recruits external candidates to peer review the report before it is published.

"Some of these candidates have long-standing histories of ideologically biased statements and positions, dubious scientific work, and conflicts in sources of funding that may lead to sponsorship bias," RFA said in the comments.

"RFA finds the proposed list to include a disproportionate number of candidates representing certain issue areas, and RFA has concerns about the group's ability to complete a thorough review without complete and balanced representation."

RFA told EPA it was important to have transparency about the review process.

"Given that the list of peer review panel candidates is generally lacking experts with knowledge in contemporary agricultural feedstock and biofuel production methods, we strongly encourage EPA to ensure that representatives of the existing biofuels industry are allowed to provide their perspective and feedback on both the triennial report and the peer-review process," RFA said.

"We believe biofuel producer groups, farmers and other members of the public should be allowed to observe the peer-review process as it occurs, including any virtual or in-person meetings or conferences, as well as access to written correspondence between the peer reviewers and EPA."

RFA said in a news release that it had found "significant issues in the prior two EPA triennial reports to Congress, involving some of the same candidates on the list EPA has proposed for this new review of the RFS."

See the list of proposed list of candidates here,…

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