EPA IG to Review RFS

NEW YORK (DTN) -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Inspector General, which conducts internal auditing, plans to start "preliminary research on lifecycle impacts of the EPA's Renewable Fuel Standard."

The move has the potential to upend the RFS, a key federal law that requires an increasing amount of biofuels, mostly ethanol, to be blended into the nation's transportation fuel pool.

Details of the plan are contained in a memorandum from Patrick Gilbride, director of the IG's science, research and management integrity evaluations office.

The IG wants to ensure public health and the environment are protected by verifying the EPA is complying with reporting requirements and is considering statutorily mandated studies when promulgating the RFS.

"Our objectives are to determine whether the EPA complied with the reporting requirements of laws authorizing the RFS and updated the lifecycle analysis supporting the RFS with findings from the statutorily mandated National Academy of Sciences 2011 study on biofuels, the EPA's 2011 Report to Congress on the Environmental Impacts of Biofuels, as well as any subsequent reports or relevant research on lifecycle impacts of biofuels," the memo said

Some environmental groups have questioned whether corn-based ethanol is as less polluting as the EPA has determined when its lifecycle and land use impacts are fully accounted for. The oil industry and other groups have also made know their displeasure about RFS.

George Orwel can be reached at george.orwel@dtn.com