Annapolis, MD: ? A bill to reform the biofuels mandate is being hailed by environmental groups as a way to protect wildlife, drinking water, and public health as it could reverse a decade of harm to those critical resources. The GREENER Fuels Act is expected to gradually reduce climate pollution by lessening the harmful impact of generating biofuels such as corn ethanol in the nation's fuel supply. The bill would stop more land from being converted into biofuel sources, and invest more than 10 billion dollars to restore lost fish and wildlife habitat in the next 10 years. Collin O'Mara, president and C-E-O of the National Wildlife Federation, says more than seven million acres have been plowed to make way for corn and soy since the fuel standard went into effect in 2007, including in Maryland.
"And then as a result, more acres going into production and then leading to more nutrients winding up in tributaries like the Nanticoke or the Choptank then winding up in the Bay (:10). And we've also seen impacts upstream in the Bay, up into the Susquehanna up in, like, Pennsylvania,"
The Trump administration has made little change to the current fuel standard, claiming that maintaining current levels ensures stability in the marketplace.
When it comes to Maryland, O'Mara, says while there is a negative impact to the environment from the old biofuel mandate, it is more significant on the economic front. O'Mara says, "Ethanol can wreak havoc on small engines for like motor boats, for smaller boats, like folks recreate in the Chesapeakee Bay. We've seen it distort economic market prices for the chicken industry that depends on different feed stocks and the corn prices have driven up some of those inputs. "
Supporters of the renewable-fuel standard say ethanol also has some environmental benefits that this bill would undermine. But O'Mara says the bill is far better because it would eliminate a loophole that allows older biofuel plants to bypass climate-pollution standards. It also would incentivize truly renewable biofuels, such as those derived from farm waste and plant cellulose.