National, North Carolina groups warn EPA that dirty electricity isn’t renewable fuel

Possible RFS e-RIN pathways test Regan’s commitment to Environmental Justice

Washington, D.C. — Over 75 climate and social justice groups sent a letter today to the EPA, calling on Administrator Regan to prevent electricity from wood biomass, factory farm gas, and landfill gas from qualifying under the Renewable Fuel Standard. The signers include numerous grassroots organizations from North Carolina, where now Administrator Regan served as head of the state Department of Environmental Quality from 2017 to 2021.

The letter comes following renewed lobbying pressure from factory farm gas and wood biomass interests to allow electricity from these sources to generate compliance credits, or e-RINs, under the cellulosic mandate of the Renewable Fuel Standard. The groups argue that incentivizing these dirty industries through the Renewable Fuel Standard is incompatible with President Biden’s commitment to center Environmental Justice in climate policy.

“Impacted frontline communities already bear the disproportionate brunt of harm from the processing and burning of woody biomass, factory farm gas, and landfill gas,” the letter reads.

“Our renewable energy future cannot be built on the back of more environmental injustice,” said Donna Chavis, senior fossil fuels campaigner. “There is no reason to count on factory farms and deforestation to electrify our economy. EPA Administrator Regan must do the right thing here.”

“The cumulative impact of decades of leaving animal waste lagoons unlined has left eastern North Carolina in a troubling situation. The largely BIPOC and poor white communities that have been relegated to living in these compromised areas have had to endure a nauseous living environment,” said Bobby Jones, Founder, Down East Coal Ash Environmental and Social Justice Coalition. “They have longed for justice  and for a community where they could live and thrive.   The last thing these communities, this state and our nation need is for the EPA to do anything that supports the false notion that factory farm gas can be considered renewable.”

“Our greatest safeguard against climate change is to incentivize and reward a rapid transition to genuinely clean and renewable sources of energy,” said Gayle Goldsmith, Board Chair of the NC Climate Solutions Coalition. “Our nation must halt all subsidies and other financial support for costly and dirty methods of energy production. Providing the major reductions in emissions we need to protect our climate and our communities from further harm.”

“We need a Just Transition for workers and communities on the frontlines of our fossil fuel economy and a phaseout of fossil fuels–including in the transportation sector,” said Naeema Muhammad, Organizing Co-Director, NC Environmental Justice Network. “However, a new future for electric vehicles must not come at the expense of vulnerable communities already overburdened with pollution and suffering ill-health from all of the toxic exposures. This plan would exacerbate the already-existing climate impacts on the communities living in North Carolina’s floodplains.”

Expert contact: Lukas Ross, [email protected]
Communications contact: Aisha Dukule, 202-893-3502, [email protected]

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