Part I presents background on the ethanol industry and the implementation and development of the RFS. It also gives a brief overview of the non-water-related reasons that have led various sectors of the economy to oppose ethanol. Part II provides an overview of ethanol production (from cornfield to refinery) and the impact each stage of the process has on freshwater resources in the United States. Given the harm that the current RFS has caused by failing to consider the impact of the ethanol production process on our nation's freshwater resources, a policy change needs to happen. Yet there are some benefits that biofuels might still provide, which is why Part III argues for a reform and not a repeal of the RFS. Part IV offers a proposal for reforming the RFS. Instead of mandating that fuels contain a fixed volume of conventional biofuels, the RFS should provide the states with more flexibility to adopt renewable biofuel programs that reduce the localized freshwater impacts. By reforming the RFS to consider ethanol production's effects on water resources, Congress can promote a cooperative relationship between the states and the EPA to avoid the catch-22 between ethanol and water.
Response or Comment
Leah Stiegler, Comment, Avoiding the Catch-22: Reforming the Renewable Fuel Standard to Protect Freshwater Resources and Promote Energy Independence, 48 U. Rich. L. Rev. 1063-1109, (2013-2014).