Biofuels supporters criticize zero-emissions vehicles bill
A zero-emissions vehicles bill introduced in Congress is drawing criticism from Iowa biofuels groups and Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley.
The Zero-Emissions Vehicles Act of 2020 would end sales of new vehicles with internal combustion engines by 2035 and boost the market for electric vehicles.
Monte Shaw with the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association says, as written, the bill would be a “hammer blow” to ethanol and biodiesel producers and would crush a vital market for farmers.
“Not only would this just eviscerate the market for farmers—and probably spark another farm crisis—it’s actually bad carbon policy, too,” Shaw says.
“Right now, today, if I’m driving my Chevy Tahoe down the road on E85, I have a lower carbon footprint than somebody in Minnesota driving an electric vehicle—because up there, it’s all powered by coal.
“I’m not saying it’s always better. But there are places right now where biofuels are lower carbon than electricity because of how the electricity is generated” Shaw says. “That’s why calling this ‘zero-emission vehicles’ is really a misnomer.”
Iowa Senator Grassley, speaking on the Senate floor, called it “a radical scheme”.
“Currently, renewable fuels can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 43 percent, but they would be totally eliminated under this extreme bill,” Grassley said. “By adding more ethanol and biodiesel to our energy mix, we can reduce emissions while still keeping transportation costs low for working families.”
Shaw says biofuels are continually reducing their carbon footprint because of improved processing technologies and more efficient farming practices.
“EV’s are coming and I think they’re going to play an important role. But we need to have an honest, open debate about them—and we need to have a fair market where other low carbon options have a chance to compete.”
Shaw also sees opportunities to pair EV and biofuel technologies–hybrid EV-FFVs, for example–that could produce “superior performance and environmental results for consumers”.
During Thursday night’s presidential debate, Democratic candidate Joe Biden said he plans to transition away from the oil industry “over time” and replace it with renewable energy. Biden’s climate plans call for zeroing out emissions in the power sector by 2035 and achieving net-zero emissions economywide by 2050.