The Biogenic CO2 Coalition, a working group of leading trade associations that support American agriculture, today commended a bipartisan group of U.S. House lawmakers who are pressing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to address a regulatory barrier that is hurting the U.S. agriculture industry and hampering job growth in the broader bioeconomy.
In a letter sent to EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, Members of Congress including U.S. Reps. Rodney Davis (R-IL), Collin Peterson (D-MN), Dave Loebsack (D-IA), and Roger Marshall (R-KS) urged the EPA to “expeditiously provide regulatory clarity on the de minimis nature of biogenic carbon emission generated from the processing of agricultural feedstocks such as corn, soybeans, oilseeds and farm residues before the end of 2020.”
As Inside EPA and other media outlets have reported in recent weeks, the EPA is soon expected to advance a rule addressing biogenic CO2 from woody biomass, but not from annual crops. This decision comes despite bipartisan support both in Congress and from the scientific community, including a recent letter signed by more than 20 top scientists, confirming that it does not contribute to excess greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
Notably, the letter also calls on EPA to include language in the upcoming woody biomass rulemaking which would solicit public comment on potential rulemaking to clarify the de minimis nature of biogenic emissions from agricultural crops. Such a solicitation of would create a critical window of opportunity for the agency to act swiftly to provide this much-needed regulatory relief for agricultural stakeholders.
“It’s great to see such strong support from Congress on this important issue. We need the EPA to address this regulatory barrier to help unleash jobs and investment in rural America,” said Zippy Duvall, President of the American Farm Bureau Federation. “Farmers need certainty that the growing and processing of crops won’t be regulated the same as fossil fuels. We hope to see more members of Congress come forward to support this commonsense rulemaking.
“America’s agriculture industry greatly appreciates the strong, bipartisan support this critical issue continues to receive from Members of Congress and we encourage even more of them to make their voices heard,” said John Bode, President & CEO of the Corn Refiners Association (CRA). “American farmers, processors, and manufacturers are poised to make significant investments into new technology, rural development, and infrastructure. This will mean more jobs in America’s heartland, but we must be able to compete fairly against foreign competitors and this unfair regulatory barrier is preventing that from happening. We hope the EPA will listen to the bipartisan voices of our elected leaders in Congress, as well as those in the scientific community who have also called for action.”
“This is an important issue for our country, as we don’t want our policies to put American farmers and rural communities at a disadvantage,” said Rick Trojan, President of the Hemp Industries Association. “Without access for agricultural crops into the bioeconomy, we are denying additional economic stimulus to American farmers. We stand with our Biogenic CO2 coalition partners in asking the EPA to allow American farmers access to this market”
In the letter to Administrator Wheeler, the bipartisan group of lawmakers noted that the U.S. bioeconomy currently supports 4.6 million jobs and is poised to support even more once this issue is addressed. “It is critical that rural America has the ability to access new opportunities for growth when prospects in traditional markets are uncertain or declining. Farmers, processors and manufacturers are ready and able to use our food and agriculture strengths to provide high-quality, competitive crop derived consumer products and materials here and abroad,” the letter states.
This letter is yet another example of the growing support for regulatory clarity on biogenic emissions from annual crops from lawmakers at all levels of government. Last year, a bipartisan group of Senators sent a similar letter to EPA, which echoed earlier calls by five Governors who wrote their own letter to the EPA urging action on this issue.