Yesterday, Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts joined Iowa Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds, employees of Novozymes and other advocates for ethanol, many donning shirts that read, "I'm a Nebraskan. Don't mess with the RFS," and "I’m an Iowan. Don't mess with the RFS", at Novozymes' facility in Blair, Nebraska to address the potential impact from EPA's proposed target for the Renewable Fuel Standard.
The new requirements for 2015 and 2016, 16.3 billion and 17.4 billion gallons, while an increase over 2014's requirement of 15.93 billion, fall short of the standard mandated by Congress – 20.5 billion gallons for 2015 and 22.25 billion for 2016. The announcement was met with disappointment from farmers and ethanol producers in Nebraska, Iowa, and across the Midwest. The proposal is open to public comment through Monday, July 27, and a final rule is expected by November 30.
Gov. Ricketts' said the impact of the RFS is not "something that's theoretical." "It's something that means jobs right here in Nebraska," he said.
Ricketts noted agriculture is the number one industry in both Iowa and Nebraska, which are the number one and number two ethanol-producing states, respectively.
Iowa Lt. Gov. Reynolds added the renewable fuels industry hasn't just been beneficial for Nebraska and Iowa, but for all of the U.S. According to a 2015 economic analysis by Fuels America, a coalition of organizations committed to supporting the RFS and promoting renewable fuel, the RFS accounts for $184 billion in economic activity and over 850,000 jobs in the U.S. The local impact for Nebraska is $11.1 billion and nearly 40,000 jobs. The impact for Iowa is $19.3 billion and 73,000 jobs.
"There are many benefits that flow from the RFS and the use of biofuels, including diversifying our nation's energy portfolio, decreasing our dependence on foreign oil, reducing fuel emissions, giving consumers a choice at the pump, and really helping incomes in rural America," Reynolds said.
However, with the proposed RFS targets, Reynolds and Ricketts said job growth would be constrained. "What the EPA is now considering doing is pulling the rug out from underneath our ethanol industry, companies that depend on the ethanol industry, and our farmers here in Nebraska by slashing millions of gallons from the Renewable Fuel Standard," Ricketts said. "The worst thing for business is uncertainty. Now the EPA is changing the rules of the game and creating uncertainty. That means businesses will be hesitant to invest and create those jobs like the folks you see around you here today."
Novozymes' Blair facility, which employs 118 people, including Nebraskans and Iowans, is dedicated to producing enzymes to be used for biofuels production. Ricketts recent trade mission to the European Union included a stop at Novozymes corporate headquarters in Denmark, where he met with Novozymes President and CEO Peder Nielsen.
"Novozymes had been considering expansion here in the United States and of course we were hoping to convince them the best place for that expansion was right here in Blair," Ricketts said. However, Ricketts said Nielsen indicated Novozymes was hesitant to expand with the proposed targets for the RFS. "The EPA's action is having a direct response here in the United States by creating that uncertainty. Novozymes is reconsidering their expansion plans. That means the EPA is hampering our ability right here in Nebraska to create those great-paying jobs."
Share your comments
Ricketts and Reynolds encouraged ethanol advocates to go to www.regulations.gov, search for the Renewable Fuel Standard, and click, "Comment Now." "Tell them they've made a mistake, they got it wrong, that we can meet that Renewable Fuel Standard," Ricketts said. "(The RFS) is important to protect the environment, it's important for being less reliant on foreign fuels, and it's important for creating great-paying jobs, all across the United States, particularly here in Nebraska and Iowa."
"We're calling on you, on Iowans and on Nebraskans, and those who feel adamant about having a strong renewable energy sector by creating choice for consumers at the pump and continuing the revitalization that this industry is bringing to rural America," Reynolds added. "Now it's time to share your comments in support of a strong RFS before Monday's deadline."