7 August 2020

Agriculture Leaders Urge EPA To Allow Public Comment on CO2 Emissions from Annual Crops

Biogenic CO2 Coalition Urges EPA to Consider Public Comments on Removing Roadblock to Rural Economy

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is being pressed by the Biogenic CO2 Coalition to invite public comments on clearing a major roadblock to the bioeconomy, a driver of rural economic growth. The Biogenic CO2 Coalition, composed of leading food and agriculture trade associations, today wrote to EPA Administrator Wheeler urging him to solicit public comment on regulation of biogenic CO2 emissions from annual crops when the Agency proposes an overdue rule on regulation of carbon emissions from woody biomass.  

As Inside EPA and other media outlets have reported in recent weeks, the EPA is soon expected to advance a rule addressing biogenic carbon emissions from woody biomass. A recent letter to Congress from 20 leading scientists asserted that it is imperative that EPA act swiftly to adopt a rule that recognizes the de minimis character of biogenic carbon emissions from the processing of annual agricultural crops.

In recent testimony before the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee, EPA Administrator Wheeler said that the agency plans to wait another year or more to clarify the de minimis character of biogenic carbon emissions from the processing of annual agricultural crops.  This, despite the fact that for over a decade this regulatory glitch has been hurting farmers and agribusinesses, severely limiting advancements in the bioeconomy.

In a new letter to the EPA, the Coalition urged the EPA to reconsider, writing, “The science is clear that, like woody biomass, annual agricultural crops are not a net source of carbon emissions…The Department of Agriculture, the IPCC, and various researchers have each recognized that the carbon sequestered by growing agricultural crops cancels out or even outweighs the carbon emitted when those crops are processed.  And EPA has recognized the same in other regulatory programs that rely on the GREET model.”

“In light of that scientific consensus, the Biogenic CO2 Coalition respectfully urges EPA to request comment in the preamble to its pending proposed rule on whether to find that biogenic emissions from processing annual agricultural crops at stationary sources are carbon neutral or a de minimis source of carbon.  We also urge EPA to request comment on whether facilities that process annual agricultural crops should therefore be exempt from implementing BACT and other requirements of the PSD and Title V programs for the greenhouse gasses emitted from the processing of annual crops,” the Coalition continued.

In a separate statement today commenting on the Coalition’s letter, John Bode, President & CEO of the Corn Refiners Association (CRA) said, “President Trump should be commended for his commitment to deregulatory actions to spur investment and create jobs.  Requesting public comments on this policy is an immediate step that EPA could take to respond to the President’s directive.  American agriculture and related industries are in terrible pain.  Removing this regulatory roadblock would unleash millions in investment in new technology, rural development, and infrastructure.  The time to start this process is now.”

As the Coalition noted in a recently released digital video ad, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) observed at this same hearing that the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in countless “jobs lost and lives upended across Iowa and throughout rural America.”  Senator Ernst was among 16 Senators from both parties who sent a bipartisan letter to the EPA last year calling on the agency to provide clarity on the regulatory treatment of biogenic carbon emissions produced from feedstocks such as corn and soybeans. This letter echoed earlier calls by five Governors who wrote their own letter to the EPA urging action on this issue.

Source: Biogenic Co2 Coalition, press release, 2020-07-11.

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