Save the Rainforest: Tell the EPA to Say No to Deforestation-Linked Biofuels

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt

The EPA’s proposal to maintain record production of soy biodiesel and corn ethanol threatens the world’s last, great forests as well as native ecosystems here at home. U.S. biofuel policy drives demand for increased agricultural production both here and abroad, and agri-businesses respond by carving new farms out of virgin forests and prairie for soy, palm, and corn plantations (New York Times, YaleEnvironment360).

Internationally, deforestation threatens species like the tree kangaroo, orangutan, jaguar and giant anteater. And, after forests are bulldozed and sometimes burned to make way for giant plantations, any carbon benefits that soy and palm biodiesel might have at the tailpipe are far outweighed by the carbon released during forest loss. In the U.S., an area the size of Delaware has been mowed down and converted to corn ethanol for biofuels (NWF).

Join us in asking the EPA to lower biodiesel and ethanol production, and to protect some of the world’s last, great forests and other native ecosystems. Sign our petition and send a comment to the EPA now!

Petition by
Mighty Earth
Washington, DC, Texas

To: EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt
From: [Your Name]

Dear Administrator Pruitt,

I am writing to ask you to lower mandated production levels for soy and palm biodiesel and corn ethanol under the Renewable Fuel Standard. Increasing agricultural production for soy and palm biodiesel drives the deforestation of sensitive and valuable forest ecosystems around the world, and corn ethanol threatens native landscapes in the U.S.

Forests in Brazil, Bolivia, Indonesia and throughout Latin America and Southeast Asia are known for their beautiful, ecologically important habitats. These places are home to many threatened and endangered species, including the tree kangaroo, orangutan, jaguar and giant anteater.

Furthermore, by taking up and storing carbon dioxide, these forests provide an important bulwark against climate change.

Unfortunately, to meet growing demand for soy and palm oils, agri-businesses continue to carve out new farms from virgin forest. In the Brazilian Amazon, areas planted with soy have more than tripled in the last 10 years to approximately 3.6 million hectares. Bolivia expects to clear 14 million additional acres for farmland by 2025. In Indonesia, a single company, Korindo, has a target of deforesting 200,000 hectares for oil palm plantations by 2020.

When forest clearance is fully considered, biodiesel has no carbon reduction benefits. In fact, a recent analysis based on European Union research found that biodiesel made from soy and palm oil have significantly higher climate emissions than fossil diesel.

Growing corn for ethanol has similar problems, and its effects are seen here in the U.S. The dramatic increase in corn production and has contributed to more the conversion of more than 7 million acres of native ecosystems into agricultural land since 2007.

Promoting soy and palm biodiesel and corn ethanol threatens critical habitats at and abroad and makes it harder to deliver on our climate benchmarks. Because of this, I encourage your agency to lower biodiesel and corn ethanol production.

Bellantonio M., Hurowitz, G., Leifsdatter Grønlund A., Yousefi A., RFN, Mighty Earth, February 2017, The Ultimate Mystery Meat.

Tabuchi H., Rigby C., White J., February 2017, Amazon Deforestation, Once
Tamed, Comes Roaring Back, New York Times.

Bellantonio, M., Stoltz, A., Lapidus, D., Maitar, B., Hurowitz, G., 1 September 2016, Burning Paradise.