The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) unveiled a draft of the Renewable Fuel Standard program on Tuesday in which corn ethanol, despite protests, is still in line with efforts to replace fossil fuels with renewable fuels and cut greenhouse gas emissions.
Corn-based ethanol is a bridge to the next generation of biofuels but there are ways for it to be more sustainable, Lisa Jackson, an EPA administrator said in a conference call with reporters today.
The corn ethanol industry has been criticized for driving up food prices. Environmentalist groups have also said greenhouse emissions are released indirectly during its production since farmers have to burn forests to make farmland to grow the crop.
The EPA's rule -which will be open to public discussion for several days - set the target of blending 36 billion of gallons per year of biofuels into gasoline by 2022, as established by the 2007 Renewable Fuels Standard.
The standard requires 15 billion gallons of traditional ethanol blending per year by 2015 and 16 billion gallons of cellulosic ethanol (fuel not made from food crops).
As for biodiesel, Jackson said there were various pathways to enable biodiesel to meet the standard.
Jackson was followed by Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, and Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture who announced the creation of the Biofuels Interagency Working Group, a financial mechanism that will help accelerate investments in and production of biofuels.
The interagency, ordered by President Barack Obama, will begin to make funds available during the next 30 days, Vilsack said today.