Based on its analysis, the EPA ruled that biofuels made with palm oil do not meet the greenhouse gas requirements of the US renewable fuels mandate. The 2007 Renewable Fuel Standard requires that biofuels reduce net greenhouse gas emissions at least 20% compared to conventional gasoline and diesel over their lifecycle. Safeguards to protect natural ecosystems from biofuel crop production were also included.
ALEC, along with palm oil producers in Indonesia and Malaysia, are pushing back hard, claiming EPA's conclusion is based on faulty data.
ALEC says: "The Environmental Protection Agency's decision to restrict the trade of tropical palm oil marks an abandonment of free trade principles that have been so beneficial to so many," reports The Hill.
"It is a disturbing development to see a politically motivated group like ALEC join forces with the shadowy palm oil lobby from Malaysia and Indonesia as well as with huge agribusiness companies Cargill and Wilmar to pressure the EPA to overturn what is supposed to be a science-based decision made in the best interests of the American people," says Laurel Sutherlin of the Rainforest Action Network.
The environmental community counters that EPA's conclusion is based on the emissions produced from clear-cutting primary forests, which not only send huge amounts of carbon into the atmosphere but remove them as carbon sinks. That eliminates any benefit they may have at the tailpipe.
"Indonesia and Malaysia, the largest producers of palm oil, have not taken concrete steps to ensure that palm oil expansion stay out of forests or peat swamps, so future predictions should not assume these types of land are avoided," says a comment filed by the Union of Concerned Scientists.
Indonesia is the world's third largest greenhouse gas emitter (after China and US) because of the clearcutting of its vast forests. More carbon is released into the atmosphere each year from logging Indonesia's forests than from all the cars, trucks, planes and ships in the US combined. It is also leading to the extinction of wildlife, including the orangutan and Sumatran tiger.
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