Ethanol lobby vows continued fight over EPA emissions policy

(The phrase refers to emissions from, say, forest clearing to create cropland  in other countries to compensate for increasing use of U.S. corn and soybeans for making fuels.)

“We will always be concerned about indirect land use,” Clark, who ran for president in 2004, said in an interview Wednesday.

“Why should American farmers be penalized for the problems in the Brazilian rainforest. That’s the Brazilian government’s issue and maybe the United Nations,” he later added. “It is so far-fetched. I know it comes out of an academic model, but it is just an academic model, and the model is not even based on current facts.”

Growth Energy was launched in late 2008 and is backed by POET, the nation’s largest ethanol producer.

Officials with the group don’t like the precedent of regulators considering indirect land use even though current ethanol production is largely exempt from the EPA emissions requirements. President Obama, while on the campaign trail, also called for a separate policy, a nationwide low-carbon fuels mandate, but the policy was jettisoned from the big House climate and energy bill approved last June.

The final EPA regulations will be issued under a 2007 law that requires use of 36 billion gallons of biofuels in the nation’s fuel mix by 2022.

The White House is rolling out a new interagency strategy Wednesday to boost biofuels. The administration says it’s needed because current production trends are not on track to meet the 2022 target, or even the law’s 2010 target of 100 million gallons of next wave “cellulosic” fuels made from non-food materials like woodchips and crop wastes.

The strategy flows from an interagency biofuels working group that Obama created last year comprised of EPA and the Energy and Agriculture Departments.

The White House strategy calls for designating lead agencies to oversee various supply-chain issues including scientific advances in new fuels, scaling-up new fuels to pilot and commercial scale, workforce development and many other matters.