Biogenic CO2 Coalition files petition for EPA to propose rule changing status of ag feedstock emissions to carbon neutral.

September 10, 2020

4 Min Read
EPA asked to acknowledge ag crops don’t elevate GHG levels

The Biogenic CO2 Coalition filed a petition for rule-making with the Environmental Protection Agency, providing a detailed explanation of the scientific and legal basis for the agency to propose a rule to recognize that biogenic carbon emissions from agricultural crops do not contribute to elevated greenhouse gas (GHG) levels in the atmosphere. The filing also details the significant economic benefits of the proposal.

Regulatory clarity regarding the de minimis nature of biogenic carbon emissions from agricultural crops promises to spur investments in rural economies, drive the creation of green jobs and enable American farmers and businesses to fairly compete in the international marketplace for renewable products, the coalition said.

“Sound science from around the world makes clear that carbon emissions from fossil fuels and agricultural crops should be treated differently. This petition provides EPA a simple blueprint for revising the regulations to reflect that reality,” John Bode, president and chief executive officer of the Corn Refiners Assn., said. “More importantly, this rule change will help rural economies thrive by stimulating investment, creating green jobs and encouraging growth in renewable products. This fast-growing sector not only supports American farmers; it creates products that are better for our planet.”

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The petition states: "When biogenic feedstocks are processed at stationary sources, carbon dioxide emitted from the feedstocks are offset completely by the carbon dioxide that the feedstocks absorbed during photosynthesis. … There is a broad scientific consensus that, because of photosynthesis, emissions from processing agricultural crops are carbon neutral or de minimis." However, in the Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) and Title V programs, the agency "currently treats biogenic emissions the same as emissions from fossil fuels. The Biogenic CO2 coalition, therefore, respectfully requests that EPA bring its PSD and Title V regulations in line with scientific evidence and the prevailing regulatory treatment of biogenic emissions by exempting carbon dioxide emissions from agricultural crops."

The filing includes scientific evidence to support the regulatory change, including a survey of 108 peer-reviewed journal articles concerning biogenic carbon dioxide emissions from annual agricultural crops, 104 of which show that biogenic carbon dioxide emissions from agricultural crops “are completely balanced by biomass regrowth over a short period of time.” The filing also reviews how other significant jurisdictions and other U.S. regulatory bodies treat biogenic carbon dioxide emissions and discusses the economic benefits of the requested rule change.

Related:Americans willing to change eating habits to mitigate climate change

“As the bioeconomy grows, it will create new and sustainable markets for family farmers – something that is crucially important right now while the agricultural sector recovers from the pandemic, trade wars and low crop prices,” National Farmers Union president Rob Larew said. “Unfortunately, misguided regulatory hurdles are hindering the success of this vital sector. We hope that EPA will remove these hurdles and open the door for additional financial opportunities and jobs in rural communities.”

Hemp Industries Assn. president Rock Trojan said, "Many countries around the world include agricultural crops in their energy bioeconomy. It makes sense. It's time for the EPA to recognize the economic, environmental and energy value of agricultural crops. Now, more than ever, American farmers need access to the bioeconomy to bring more revenue home to the farm."

In alignment with the aforementioned scientific review, a group of 21 leading scientists recently wrote a letter to EPA asserting that is it imperative that the agency act swiftly to adopt a rule that recognizes the de minimis character of emissions from annual crops.

Members of Congress also agree that EPA needs to provide regulatory clarity for annual farm crops. Reps. Rodney Davis (R., Ill.), Collin Peterson (D., Minn.), Dave Loebsack (D., Iowa) and Roger Marshall (R., Kan.) recently sent a letter to EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler requesting regulatory clarity for annual farm crops.

Last year, a bipartisan group of 18 senators also sent a letter pressing EPA for swift action on this issue, while governors from five states similarly have urged the agency to take action on the same issue.

Furthermore, the Biogenic CO2 Coalition recently announced a new video and digital ad campaign urging EPA to unleash the U.S. bioeconomy and rural industries by recognizing the de minimis character of carbon emissions from common agricultural crops.

Read the full petition for rule-making here:

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