A new lawsuit filed Monday by the National Wildlife Federation says the Environmental Protection Agency failed to consult with federal wildlife officials before expanding biofuel production under the Renewable Fuel Standard.

In a release, NWF Associate Vice President for Land Stewardship Julie Sibbing said the lawsuit intends to “ensure the EPA follows the law and abides by provisions to protect wildlife, habitat, and our natural resources.

“The Renewable Fuel Standard, as implemented by the EPA, has decimated millions of acres of native grasslands, drained important prairie potholes that nurture waterfowl, and added to the nutrient pollution that fuels the massive dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico,” she said.

NWF — joined in the suit by Gulf Restoration Network and Sierra Club — is asking the court to “ensure the EPA properly considers impacts to at-risk species and waives the increase in volume standard to minimize environmental harm.”

NWF has long contended the RFS leads to expansion of acreage used to grow feedstocks for corn- and soy-based biofuels. But a study from University of Illinois and Auburn University ag economists found “the overall impact of corn ethanol production on increasing total crop acreage was very negligible.”

Madhu Khanna, one of the authors of that study, said “the raw data shows that although corn ethanol production more than doubled between 2007 and 2014, total cropland acres in 2014 were very similar to those in 2007 and the crop price index was lower in 2014 than in 2007.”

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