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In the last few months, you’ve kept pressure on our legislators, federal agencies, and presidential candidates. You've pushed for strong national climate legislation, helped us achieve clean energy victories in states throughout the country, and demanded a serious reassessment of U.S. nuclear weapons policy.

But we've got more to do. This summer, we will work together to ensure our fuel economy victory in the 2007 Energy Bill stands strong. We'll be looking to you to continue advancing strong climate legislation and demanding modern food production alternatives that can produce the quantity of food we need, while protecting the foundations of our food supply—like healthy soil and fresh water.

hank you for continuing to take action for a healthy environment and a safer world.

Global Warming

The Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act (S. 2191)—a bill with a strong framework for reducing global warming pollution—is swiftly approaching a vote by the full Senate this summer. In anticipation, UCS activists have sent their senators more than 23,000 letters and made nearly 2,000 phone calls over the past few months. In fact, one day a Senate aide remarked, “UCS activists topped our mail count.” Your engagement has helped ensure that strong action on global warming remains a top priority for Congress. More . . .

Clean Energy

In addition to urging Congress to extend critical tax credits for energy efficiency and renewable energy, UCS activists helped support renewable energy standards in several states, requiring utilities to provide a growing percentage of power from renewable sources like the sun and wind. Our supporters also helped promote the nation’s first-of-its-kind offshore wind farm and sent a message to the Kansas legislature that coal is not the answer. More . . .

Clean Vehicles

Despite persistent industry and political pressure, UCS activists continue to push for strong fuel economy and low carbon fuel standards, as well as tougher vehicle pollution regulations. Last year’s fuel economy success recently came under threat when the Bush administration attempted to undermine the effectiveness of the new law. The administration also backed automaker allies as Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Stephen Johnson blocked state authority to regulate global warming pollution from cars. More . . .

Food and Environment

In April, UCS issued a landmark report—CAFOs Uncovered: the Untold Costs of Confined Animal Feeding Operations—examining the economic, health, and environmental costs we are paying as a society for these huge crowded facilities. The report demonstrates that smaller, less damaging operations often can be as cost effective as CAFOs. It also outlines important policy changes needed to protect our food, health, environment, and communities, and to support smarter alternatives for food production. UCS has also weighed in on a proposed new label on meat from “naturally raised” animals and continues to push for legislation to end the overuse of antibiotics in animal feed. More . . .

Scientific Integrity

This spring, thanks in part to the help of UCS activists like you, Congress passed major legislation that will help federal government scientists protect the U.S. public from unsafe toys and other products. A new report exposing pervasive political interference at the Environmental Protection Agency leads the charge for agency reform, while a new call-to-action lays the groundwork for restoring integrity to government science under a new administration. Next week, we'll testify twice on Capitol Hill about political interference in science. And, get your pens ready! It’s time for this year's editorial cartoon contest! More . . .

Global Security

More than 23,500 UCS activists have submitted comments to the Department of Energy (DOE) opposing Complex Transformation, a plan to recreate a Cold War-like infrastructure for designing, developing, and producing new nuclear weapons. Your efforts represent nearly a fourth of all the comments the DOE received nationwide. In addition, all of the 2008 presidential candidates are now discussing the future of U.S. nuclear weapons policy. Meanwhile, the Bush administration's controversial plan to reprocess spent fuel from nuclear reactors has been slowed considerably. More . . .

Invasive Species

In April, UCS activists urged their representatives to protect our nation’s waters from aquatic invasive species by voting in favor of the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2008. With your help—even when faced with a veto threat from the president—the bill passed the House in a landslide victory, 395 to 7! “Title V” of the bill will help prevent ships from inadvertently transporting potentially damaging plants and animals from one port to another. Stay tuned in the weeks ahead for your chance to help repeat our victory in the Senate. More . . .

Where is the Truth in Ethanol Advertising?  
Smart Bioenergy

Where is the Truth in Ethanol Advertising?

Dear William,

Increasing the fuel economy of our nation’s vehicles is vital to addressing rising gas prices and the health and environmental risks of unchecked global warming. But for transportation to truly become a climate solution, we must also reduce the heat-trapping emissions created by the fuels our vehicles burn.

Unfortunately, this desire for cleaner alternatives to gasoline has led to serious misrepresentations around today’s ethanol—a biofuel derived primarily from corn in the United States. If pursued wisely, biofuels such as ethanol have the potential to play a pivotal role in a clean transportation future. But when issues such as fertilizer use, energy for processing, and land use are taken into account, gallon for gallon, current production methods for corn ethanol could actually create more global warming pollution than today’s gasoline.

Despite these facts, today’s corn ethanol is still being marketed by many producers and automakers as an environmental solution.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) created Green Guides in 1992 to protect consumers from misrepresentations in environmental advertising, but the guide doesn’t currently cover fuel advertising. For the first time in a decade, the FTC is reviewing these guides. Please urge FTC Chairman William Kovacic to take this opportunity to address the issue of misrepresentations in today’s ethanol advertising.


Scott Nathanson
National Field Organizer
UCS Clean Vehicles Program


Subject: Green Guides should address ethanol advertising

Dear Chairman Kovacic,

As the Federal Trade Commission reviews its "Green Guides" for environmental marketing and advertising, I urge you to review the marketing of today's corn-based ethanol and so called "Flex Fuel" ethanol or gasoline powered vehicles (FFVs).

Environmental advertisements for ethanol as a green alternative to gasoline have exploded recently. These green-marketing techniques, such as General Motors' "Live Green, Go Yellow" campaign, are not based on sound science. Indeed, when issues like fertilizer use, energy for processing, and land use are taken into account, current corn ethanol production could actually represent an increase in the production of global warming pollution over today's gasoline.

Given that transportation accounts for nearly 40 percent of the total global warming pollution produced by the United States, ensuring that consumers are getting the appropriate information to make sound choices is crucial. For this reason, the FTC should conduct its next public meeting on the environmental marketing of today's ethanol, and make adjustments to the "Green Guides" based on the best available science.


William Stewart

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What's At Stake:
The Union of Concerned Scientists began its Smart Bioenergy Initiative—a guide to sustainable development of bio-based energy and fuels—with its report, Biofuels: An Important Part of a Low Carbon Diet. This report notes that while biofuels such as ethanol and biodiesel could play a part in a low-carbon transportation fuels future, issues such as land use, crop type, and production, can actually cause some forms of bioenergy to end up producing more carbon than conventional gasoline.

In order to ensure a lower carbon path for biofuels, the report advocates for the government to conduct rigorous lifecycle carbon tracking of biofuels as part of a Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) that would seek to reduce global warming pollution from all fuels used in transportation. While a LCFS has yet to pass at the federal level, a revised version of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) passed as part of the 2007 Energy Bill. By setting global warming pollution standards for renewable fuels and including a full lifecycle carbon tracking system, the RFS has the potential to lower global warming pollution from cars and light trucks by as much as 6 percent in 2022, while displacing about 15 percent of U.S. projected gasoline consumption.

However, the RFS does not regulate global warming pollution from existing biofuel producers. And the way current corn-ethanol is produced in the United States simply does not make it a low-carbon fuel. Indeed, in 2022 the low carbon fuels in the RFS should reduce global warming pollution by 6 percent, but according to one recent analysis, including indirect land use changes, the extra emissions from the unregulated corn ethanol could increase overall pollution by 5 percent, wiping out most of the benefits of the regulated renewable fuels. More . . .

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