Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds announced on November 20 they've launched a new website in an effort to counter the federal Environmental Protection Agency's proposal to reduce the amount of renewable fuels required to be blended in the nation's fuel supply. Protect the RFS collects comments from citizens about the proposed changes to the Renewable Fuel Standard and sends them to the EPA.
"The result of this proposed rule change by EPA would mean corn prices would plummet below the cost of production, loss of jobs and increased dependence on foreign oil. Concerned citizens cannot sit on the sidelines and wait for the EPA comment period to open. Now is the time to defend and protect the RFS," Branstad says. "If EPA's ruling to slash the RFS is allowed to stand, it will have a negative ripple effect through the American economy."
New website will give Iowans and other Americans an opportunity to be heard
A spokesman for the governor says the website was built without state funding. "Governor Branstad and Lt. Governor Reynolds wanted to launch this site to give Iowans and Americans the opportunity to be heard," says Jimmy Centers, a member of Branstad's staff. "This ill-advised rule being proposed by EPA is going to hurt the price of corn, put thousands of jobs at risk and increase our dependence on foreign oil. This website is another avenue for Iowans and Americans to let their voices be heard against the EPA."
Under the RFS, which Congress passed and which became law in 2007, the volumes of renewable fuels required for use are set annually by EPA. EPA's proposal for 2014, officially announced by EPA on Nov. 15, lowers the "corn ethanol" requirement from 13.8 billion gallons in 2013 to only 13 billion gallons in 2014. The RFS, as mandated by Congress, requires 14.4 billion gallons of conventional ethanol be blended in 2014.~~~PAGE_BREAK_HERE~~~
EPA officials say their proposed rule is 1.4 billion gallons less than that requirement because the agency claims ethanol use in the U.S. has hit the so-called "blend wall."
EPA's recommendation for 2014 RFS isn't a final rule; it's a proposed rule and has a 60-day public comment period
Once EPA publishes the RFS proposal in the Federal Register, which is expected to occur any day now, the public has 60 days to comment. After the 60 days and after evaluating the comments, EPA will decide on a final rule for the 2014 RFS. "It's important to note that this currently-proposed 13 million gallons for 2014 is not final. It is a proposed rule and it can be changed and we do have an opportunity to influence the outcome," says Branstad.
Though the official comment period hasn't opened yet, Branstad says "It's critically important for Americans to speak up now to push back on the EPA's ruling." The comments submitted to the Protect the RFS website will be sent to EPA prior to closing of the comment period.
Reynolds says she and the governor "are extremely concerned the changes in the Renewable Fuel Standard will disrupt Iowa's positive economy and hinder job growth. Most importantly, this national issue jeopardizes jobs at a time when Americans are seeking stability in their lives. The EPA proposal places more than 44,000 U.S. jobs at risk. That is clearly unacceptable." Iowa leads the nation in biofuels production, with 42 ethanol refineries capable of producing over 3.8 billion gallons annually, with three cellulosic ethanol facilities under construction. In addition, Iowa has 12 biodiesel facilities with the capacity to produce nearly 315 million gallons annually.
Iowa RFS Coalition will hold event to urge Iowans to take action on EPA proposal to lower RFS
"The governor and lieutenant governor are fired up about protecting and defending the RFS," says Centers. On Friday Nov. 22 the governor will appear at a "Defend the RFS" rally at the Lincolnway Energy ethanol plant at Nevada in central Iowa. The event will start at 1 p.m. and end at 2 p.m. The governor will be there, along with Iowa Congressman Steve King and Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey.~~~PAGE_BREAK_HERE~~~
Branstad emphasizes that Iowa consumers, farmers and renewable fuels producers will be harmed if the EPA proposal moves forward. Iowans are being urged to demand that the EPA modify the proposal to uphold the letter and spirit of the bipartisan RFS law.
"Why the Obama administration would side with the big oil companies over Iowa's homegrown renewable fuels is baffling," says Branstad. "The EPA has turned its back on rural America, and our economy and family farms will suffer. Corn prices have already dropped to cost of production, and this EPA reduction in the RFS will likely further squeeze corn producers and negatively impact income growth in rural America. We have more than 50 ethanol and biodiesel plants in Iowa, and these EPA reductions if they become law would negatively impact thousands of Iowa jobs. This debate isn't over. I will lock arms with our agricultural groups, our family farmers, leaders from both parties, and Iowans in fighting for Iowa's homegrown, reliable and safe renewable fuels. I encourage Iowans to officially comment to the EPA."