Analysis of EPA’s Proposed Rulemaking for 2020, 2021, and 2022 RVOs

This memorandum provides Net Gain’s comments and observations regarding selected technical issues associated with EPA’s Proposed Rule for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) Program Rules for 2020, 2021, and 2022 Renewable Volume Obligations (RVOs) (the Proposed Rule; EPA 2021a) and the associated Draft Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA; EPA 2021b). The Proposed Rule and the RIA rely heavily on EPA’s Second Triennial Report (EPA 2018). Therefore, this memo updates and builds upon previous findings and conclusions presented in the following reports2 attached as exhibits:

• Ramboll. August 18, 2019. The RFS and ethanol production: Lack of proven impacts to land and water. Prepared for Growth Energy. Ramboll, Seattle, WA. (Exhibit 1).
• Ramboll. November 29, 2019. Memorandum: Supplemental analysis regarding allegations of potential impacts of the RFS on species listed under the Endangered Species Act. Prepared for Growth Energy. Ramboll, Seattle WA. (Exhibit 2).

These prior analyses addressed the absence of a demonstrated causal nexus between the RFS and land use change (LUC); adverse impacts to wetlands, ecosystems, and wildlife habitat; and adverse impacts to water resource availability and water quality. Our analyses refuted claims by other investigators that the RFS causes quantifiable adverse impacts to environmental media. We have
evaluated more recent scientific literature on this topic and continue to find that there is no evidence the RFS program causes these adverse environmental impacts. Based on this finding, there is no evidence that the Proposed Rule will result in land conversion or cause adverse impacts to wetlands, ecosystems, wildlife habitat, water availability and water quality. We encourage EPA to update its
analysis in the RIA to address these findings and correct its potentially misleading discussion of environmental impacts of the program.

The RIA presents only a generalized discussion of the drivers for and nature of potential impacts of biofuel feedstock production and biofuel refining on LUC; wetlands, ecosystems, and wildlife habitat; and water availability and water quality. It fails to recognize the complex causal links between drivers of impacts and the potential impacts described to land and water, which in turn creates the misleading impression that there is a causal relationship between the RFS and impacts to land and water, where no such relationship has been established.