LOWER greenhouse gas emissions from supposedly environmentally friendly E10 petrol have never been verified by official testing in NSW.
A Daily Telegraph investigation has found auditors of government-approved monopoly supplier of ethanol fuel Manildra are hired by the company and simply accept its assurances about E10 emissions.
A “commercial-in-confidence” Manildra audit report also shows “there is no legislative requirement in Australia for biofuel producers to have lower (greenhouse gas) emissions than fossil fuel-derived petrol and diesel”.
The situation has raised concerns in the Department of Fair Trading about the green-friendly claims by Manildra — a major political donor to both the Coalition and ALP — about E10 which is mandated for sale at NSW petrol stations.
In briefings provided in March last year to then Fair Trading Minister Victor Dominello, Manildra said E10 “delivers a 30 percent reduction of greenhouse gases and other harmful exhaust emissions”.
A chain of internal emails show Fair Trading staff — including the director of consumer protection — were concerned auditors “do not do anything to confirm or deny the information given to them by the company concerned”.
“The auditor makes it quite clear that he has issued the certificate based on information supplied by Manildra,” Fair Trading’s director of consumer protection Michael Cooper wrote.
Senior policy officer Sonia Thompson said in an email to Mr Cooper: “My feeling would be that we don’t allow businesses to self-verify compliance where there is an external certification process as part of the standard.”
Manildra is required by law to be certified by the Geneva-based Roundtable On Sustainable Biomaterials. But its greenhouse gas emission standards for ethanol fuel are not enforced by law in Australia.
In a December 2011 audit written for Manildra by NCS International, it states the company is not required to meet the international criteria about ethanol fuels having “on average 50 per cent lower life cycle greenhouse gas emissions relative to the fossil fuel baselines”.
Manildra manufactures ethanol for E10 from wheat chaff and other biomass material at its Nowra plant and has been the monopoly E10 supplier in NSW since 2007.
A Manildra spokeswoman said it “was the first ethanol plant to receive the internationally recognised (RSB) suitability certificate”.
She said the company had maintained certification through “implementation of all of RSB’s environmental, social and economic principles and criteria”.
Extracted from Herald Sun.