The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association on January 28 submitted formal comments to The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, in defense of a strong and growing federal Renewable Fuel Standard. In its comments, the IRFA letter notes, "Simply stated, IRFA urges EPA to finalize volumes of 14.4 billion gallons for conventional renewable fuel and 1.7 billion gallons for biodiesel. In support of this request, IRFA will make the following points citing specific Iowa examples:
(1) There is no E10 blend wall; (2) It is completely unnecessary to reduce 2014 conventional renewable fuel volumes below 14.4 billion gallons; (3) The RFS lowers fuel prices for consumers; (4) Higher RIN prices drive higher E85 sales; (5) U.S. biodiesel producers are fully capable of producing 1.7 billion gallons in 2014; and (6) EPA's rationale for reducing 2014 RFS volumes is illegal, and if finalized, would ensure that RFS volumes are never raised in the future."
IRFA leaders provided data on Iowa's ethanol and biodiesel sales
"These real, personal testimonies show that if consumers are given the opportunity, they will buy enough higher ethanol blends to exceed the RFS volumes. The problem is not that retailers can't sell higher ethanol blends; it's that the petroleum industry refuses to make these blends available," says IRFA executive director Monte Shaw. "It's also worth noting that ethanol is simply cheaper, cleaner and higher octane than gasoline, and that reality is reflected in the price at the pump throughout Iowa. Today, 87-octane E10 sells for a discount of between 23 and 30 cents compared to 87-octane E0."
"Iowa biodiesel producers have set production records in each of the last three years," Shaw added. "Following record U.S. biodiesel production of nearly 1.8 billion gallons in 2013, there is no question that the nation's biodiesel producers can once again produce at least 1.7 billion gallons in 2014."
Shaw urged the EPA, "If you're serious about cleaner fuels, consumer choice, and cutting oil dependence, don't turn your back on us now. Don't mess with the RFS."
Iowa is the leader in renewable fuels production. Iowa has 42 ethanol refineries capable of producing over 3.8 billion gallons annually, with three cellulosic ethanol facilities currently under construction. Also, Iowa has 12 biodiesel facilities with capacity to produce nearly 315 million gallons annually. The IRFA was formed in 2002 to represent the state's liquid renewable fuels industry. The trade group fosters the development and growth of the renewable fuels industry in Iowa through education, promotion, legislation and infrastructure development.
Veterans, U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley deliver over 100,000 petition signatures to EPA
The largest progressive group of military veterans in America, www.votevets.org a few days before January 28 was joined by Iowa Congressman Bruce Braley, D-IA, in delivering over 110,000 petition signatures (including over 1,000 signatures from Iowans) to EPA administrator Gina McCarthy, calling on the agency to protect the Renewable Fuel Standard. The EPA's 60-day public comment period on the issue was coming to a close. The agency is expected to announce a decision this spring on the future of the RFS. The petition was delivered in a meeting with EPA senior staff.
"The 110,000 people who voiced their opinion on the critical importance of the Renewable Fuel Standard deserve to be heard," Braley said. "The RFS improves our economy and contributes to our energy independence; EPA needs to understand that Americans don't support EPA's misguided attempt to alter a law that's working so well."
Protecting a strong and growing RFS lessens U.S. reliance on imported oil
"This issue is clear cut," said Jon Soltz, Iraq War Veteran, and chair of VoteVets.org. "The less dependent on oil we are, the lower the prices become worldwide. Our enemies often benefit from rising prices of oil – even those we do not buy oil from – and they use those dollars against us and our troops. This is an issue of protecting our men and women in uniform, and the EPA must do its part to ensure America's dependence on oil is decreased, not increased. Ethanol is a key part of making that happen. Now is the time for the EPA to stand up to big oil, and stand up for our troops."
Of the 112,812 signatures collected, over 35,000 were from veterans and military family members. More than 1,060 comments were from Iowans, including over 320 Iowa veterans and military family members.
The facts back up those who signed the petition, says Braley. Although the U.S. often does not directly buy oil from hostile nations, like Iran, America's dependence on oil drives up demand, and prices of oil on the world market, which benefits all oil-rich nations. Those oil dollars allowed Iran, for instance, to produce and ship explosively formed penetrators, or EFPs, to Iraqi insurgents, who used them to target our troops.
Additionally, the U.S. Department of Energy estimates for every 1 billion gallons of ethanol produced, 10,000 to 20,000 jobs are added to our domestic economy. The ethanol Industry supports around 55,000 jobs in Iowa, and accounts for $5.4 billion of Iowa's GDP. Gutting the RFS would threaten the development of next generation biofuels, including cellulosic ethanol plants in Iowa scheduled to start operation next year. Rather than using kernels of corn, these advanced plants will make the fuel from the "biomass" of various low-value plant material including cornstalks and wood chips.
Founded in 2006, and backed by over 360,000 supporters, the mission of VoteVets.org is to use public issue campaigns and direct outreach to lawmakers to ensure that troops abroad have what they need to complete their missions, and receive the care they deserve when they get home. VoteVets.org also recognizes veterans as a vital part of the fabric of our country and will work to protect veterans' interests in their day-to-day lives. VoteVets.org is committed to the destruction of terror networks around the world - with force when necessary - to protect America. While non-partisan, the group is the largest progressive organization of veterans in America.