EPA's new RFS proposal is 'another missed opportunity'

EPA's new RFS proposal is 'another missed opportunity'

Iowa biofuel leaders are disappointed with EPA's new Renewable Fuel Standard numbers.

Following the May 18 release of proposed blending levels under the federal Renewable Fuel Standard by the Environmental Protection Agency, the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association  called the proposal “another missed opportunity.”

HIGHER NUMBERS NEEDED: “Increased driving by consumers, record supplies of biofuels and wider availability should direct EPA to raise its proposed levels in the final rule for the RFS,” says Monte Shaw of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association.

“Today’s proposal represents yet another missed opportunity for consumers, energy security and rural America,” says IRFA executive director Monte Shaw. “While we’re pleased with the timing of the announcement, getting the RFS back on track should mean more than meeting calendar deadlines with numbers that simply memorialize what is already happening in the fuel market. It should mean getting the RFS back to pushing against the entrenched petroleum monopoly and increasing consumer access to cleaner-burning, homegrown renewable fuels.”

EPA is proposing to cap the corn-based ethanol portion
On May 18 the EPA proposed capping the corn-based ethanol portion of the rule at 14.8 billion gallons, below levels prescribed by Congress under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. The total Renewable Volume Obligation (RVO) for the 2017 RFS is proposed at 18.8 billion gallons.

“The proposed corn-based ethanol level for 2017 is just below what was already produced in 2015, and it doesn’t match the current reality of the nation’s fuel sector. Low fuel prices have spurred increased driving habits, the USDA is projecting a historic excess supply of corn, and the number of stations offering fuel blends above E10 will dramatically increase this year through the USDA’s Biofuels Infrastructure Partnership,” says Shaw. “All of these signs direct the EPA to stick to 15 billion gallons for corn-based ethanol, as prescribed by Congress.”

A bit more certainty for biodiesel, but it needs higher numbers
The EPA proposed a total of 4 billion gallons for the advanced biofuel portion in 2017, including 312 million gallons for cellulosic ethanol (proposed today) and 2.0 billion gallons for biomass-based diesel (finalized in last year’s rule). Also included today was biomass-based diesel levels for 2018, proposed at 2.1 billion gallons.

“EPA’s new proposal did provide some much-needed certainty for the biodiesel industry looking forward, but the proposed levels for 2018 are roughly equal to what we’ll use this year, and they still did not account for the slew of foreign imports we’re currently seeing.  The EPA’s proposal should be a formula for growth in advanced biofuels, not an enshrinement of the status quo,” says Shaw.

Public comment period will be held on RFS proposal
“We are looking forward to the upcoming public comment period on this proposal so we can ensure Iowans’ voices are heard and work with the EPA to boost the RFS to levels that will not only strengthen consumer choice, energy security and a cleaner-environment, but will also cut into the petroleum monopoly,” says Shaw.

Following the official publishing of the proposal in the Federal Register, the EPA will open up a 60-day public comment period. As of May 17, the rule has not yet been published. To view the EPA’s full proposal, please click here.

According to a recent IRFA study, Iowa’s renewable fuels industry accounts for more than $4.6 billion of Iowa GDP, generates $2.3 billion in income for Iowa households and supports more than 43,000 jobs throughout all sectors of the Iowa economy.

Renewable fuels are very important to Iowa’s economy
Iowa is the nation’s leader in renewable fuels production. Iowa has 43 ethanol refineries capable of producing 4 billion gallons annually, including nearly 55 million gallons of annual cellulosic ethanol production capacity. In addition, Iowa has 12 biodiesel facilities with the capacity to produce nearly 315 million gallons annually.

The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association 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. For more information, visit IowaRFA.org.

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey issued the following statement on the EPA’s release of the proposed 2017 Renewable Volume Obligations (RVOs): “While the RVO numbers released May 18 allow for some growth in the renewable fuels levels included in our nation’s fuel supply, unfortunately they don’t meet the levels passed with bipartisan support in Congress and continue to use questionable justifications for not meeting those required levels. The EPA’s proposal starts another comment period, so it is important that Iowans take advantage of that opportunity and voice their support for the renewable fuels industry that is so important to our state.”

Branstad and Reynolds also disappointed in EPA numbers
Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds released statements upon learning of the EPA’s Renewable Fuel Standard volume levels proposal for 2017, and the Biodiesel Volumes for 2018. In response, Gov. Branstad and Lt. Gov. Reynolds issued the following statements:

“Once again, we are disappointed to learn that EPA has called for setting renewable fuel volumes below the levels Congress and President Bush set under the Renewable Fuel Standard. While we’re encouraged that EPA made slight increases with the volume levels, their proposal falls far short,” says Branstad. “Maintaining a robust Renewable Fuel Standard is extremely important for Iowans and families across the country and we will not relent in our efforts to get the EPA and other federal leaders to adopt robust levels in the future that we know Iowa farmers can both produce and sustain.”

EPA has again created uncertainty, hurting farm economy
“The newest Renewable Volume Obligations have again created uncertainty that has contributed to declining farmland values, farm income and commodity prices,” says Reynolds. “We believe a more robust RFS is warranted. We will continue to pressure federal leaders to recognize the potential growth Iowa farmers can contribute to in the renewable fuel industry. While federal leaders missed a great opportunity to clearly show their commitment to growth in rural America, we welcome the slight increase that will modestly improve consumers’ choice at the pump, create jobs, increase incomes, and reduce our dependence on foreign oil.”

The proposed summary can be found here

The Renewable Fuel Volumes Requirements are:

EPA’s new RFS proposal is 'another missed opportunity'

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