EPA admits never studying effects of ethanol as required by law

When Congress passed the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 it introduced the current levels of controversial and problematic mandates for ethanol fuel blending which we’ve been wrestling with ever since. But it also provided a mechanism to monitor the effects of the ethanol mandate on the environment and the economy which would be reported to Congress every three years. After being repeatedly poked on the subject by the Associate Press, the Inspector General for the EPA admitted this week that the agency has simply ignored those instructions and the studies were never conducted. (AT&T Live)

The Obama administration has failed to study as legally required the impact of requiring ethanol in gasoline and ensuring that new regulations intended to address one problem do not actually make other problems worse, the Environmental Protection Agency inspector general said Thursday.

The conclusion in the new audit confirmed findings of an Associated Press investigation in November 2013. The AP said the administration never conducted studies to determine whether air and water quality benefits from adding corn-based ethanol to gasoline. Such reports to Congress were required every three years under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.

Given the ongoing debates on the subject, up to and including arguments between the presidential candidates all through the primary battles of both parties for two straight election cycles it’s rather amazing that the EPA could simply blow this off. The topic has made it into the platform committee discussions for both parties and it engulfs a variety of questions ranging from environmental impact to government mandates. There have been hearings held on the hill and endless scholarly papers penned on both sides of the debate.

Ethanol is hardly without controversy. On the production side it’s been repeatedly shown that it uses up to 300% more water than anyone expected. Vast amounts of land were converted to corn fields in the rush to cash in on the government mandate, causing all manner of environmental havoc. And the resulting fuel has been problematic at best. Consumer Reports has been warning for years that ethanol blends can destroy small engines and boat motors. In fact, this mandate has spawned an entire new industry which produces additives specifically designed to remove the ethanol which the government insists must be added to our gasoline. (There’s an unexpected government stimulus program for you.)

With this much controversy surrounding the subject, not to mention a legal requirement, how did the EPA manage to simply ignore the law and refuse to conduct these studies? They’re saying that it was too expensive and that a three year window wasn’t long enough to produce meaningful results. But if that’s the case, shouldn’t they have gone before Congress and asked to have the law modified to make the results fiscally practical to obtain and reliable in their results? Instead they chose to simply ignore a law they found inconvenient, which is all too typical of this administration.

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