ALEC Pressures EPA to Designate Palm Oil As Renewable Fuel

04/24/2012
SustainableBusiness.com News

ALEC has moved on from pushing legislation that restricts voting and gun laws (passing those off to another conservative group) to biofuels, and is now pushing the EPA to designate palm oil as a renewable fuel.

ALEC is also pushing for loopholes in chemicals that have to be disclosed in natural gas fracking on behalf of ExxonMobil.

Palm oils have been under attack for years because industrial growers are decimating primary rainforests in Indonesia to plant palm plantations.

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.

"U.S. consumers should not be forced to fill their gas tanks with a fuel that is pushing species like orangutans and Sumatran tigers to the brink of extinction, is one of the world's leading drivers of climate change, and whose production involves child and slave labor," says Glenn Hurowitz, Climate Advisers Director of Campaigns. "Palm oil is so polluting that it somehow manages to make even dirty old oil look like an environmentalist dream."

Last year, the US agreed to provide $600 million in aid to preserve Indonesia's forests and reduce poverty, under a "green prosperity" program. And Indonesia finally signed into law a two-year moratorium on deforestation as part of its $1 billion climate deal with Norway.

EPA is accepting comments until April 26.

Read EPA Underestimates Emissions from Palm Oil Biofuels:

Website: http://www.commondreams.org/newswire/2012/04/26-9