Following release of the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Renewable Fuel Standard levels on May 29, the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association urged the Obama Administration to follow the law, use real-world data, and do away with Big Oil’s fictitious “blend wall” when setting final RFS levels.
“Today’s RFS proposal from EPA gives in to Big Oil lies and turns its back on consumers, fuel choice and the environment,” said IRFA executive director Monte Shaw. “The Obama Administration has no legal authority to reduce the ethanol numbers. For conventional biofuels, this is a path to nowhere. The proposed ethanol level for 2016 is less than what we already produced in 2014. This proposal will not crack the petroleum monopoly and will not allow consumers to benefit from the choice of lower-cost E15 and E85. As we’ve done over the past year, we’ll continue to work with all parties to fix this proposal.”
Consumers take back seat to “Big Oil” in EPA’s RFS proposal
In addition to proposing ethanol volume requirements under the RFS for 2014, 2015 and 2016, EPA also released proposals for the biomass-based diesel portion of the RFS for 2014 through 2017.
“It’s a positive that the proposal does allow for some growth in biodiesel,” says Shaw. “However, EPA inexplicably fast-tracked Argentinian biodiesel imports earlier this year, and today’s proposed RFS rule fails to take those imports into account. As this could actually lead to lower U.S. biodiesel production, we’ll be focused on working to improve the biodiesel targets for 2016 and 2017 during the 60-day public comment period.”
Shaw concluded: “Last year Iowans swamped the EPA with negative comments on the previous RFS proposal. While this new proposal is better, it’s a far cry from good enough. We need Iowans to once again step up and tell the EPA to follow the law and to let the RFS crack the oil monopoly as Congress intended.”
EPA administrator defends her agency’s proposed RFS levels
In releasing her agency’s proposals for the Renewable Fuel Standard on May 29, Gina McCarthy, administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, said the changes establish a path for ambitious yet responsible growth in biofuels. However, Iowa ag leaders and others say the changes fail to meet levels mandated by Congress in 2007.
McCarthy and other Obama administration officials responded to that by saying Congress gave EPA authority to adjust the target volumes downward in certain situations. McCarthy says the standards set forth in EPA’s May 29 announcement will provide the certainty that the marketplace develops lower carbon fuels in coming years.
Others are disappointed in EPA’s blending proposals for RFS
The renewable fuels advocacy group 25 x 25 expressed disappointment with EPA’s RFS blending proposals. The group called on President Obama to ensure that the Renewable Fuel Standard is maintained to the “letter of the law.”
“EPA's proposed biofuel blending requirements under the RFS for the years 2014, 2015 and 2016, as issued on May 29, are for the most part a major disappointment and could, if not revised, make the attainment of the President's energy efficiency and climate goals much more difficult, if not impossible, to achieve,” says Ernie Shea, who heads the 25 x 25 organization.
According to EPA, the transportation sector is responsible for 27% of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. “You would expect therefore EPA would take any and all actions that encourage development and use of lower carbon alternative fuels like ethanol, biodiesel and other advanced biofuels called for in the RFS. Unfortunately EPA is not doing that,” says Shea.
Biofuels definitely better for the environment than petroleum fuels
The latest government analyses estimate that corn ethanol life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions are lower by 19% to 48% (the mean is 34%) when compared to conventional gasoline. And cellulosic ethanol is forecast in recent studies to achieve at least a 60% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, as compared to average U.S. petroleum, by the year 2022. “Thanks to advances in technology, biofuels have significantly reduced the carbon intensity of liquid transportation fuels, a fact often overlooked in the ongoing debate over the makeup of our nation's transportation fuel future,” says Shea.
Reducing the Congressionally established biofuel blending requirements, as called for in the EPA proposals released May 29, would reverse course on the path the Obama administration has long taken in its promotion of cleaner forms of energy and its efforts to curb global climate change. “The President can help cement his energy and climate legacy by ensuring that the RFS -- as adopted by a wide, broadly bipartisan Congress in 2007 -- is maintained and followed to the letter of the law,” says Shea.
POET responds to EPA’s Renewable Volume Obligation proposal
EPA’s proposal for the 2014, 2015 and 2016 Renewable Volume Obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard “puts the oil industry’s agenda ahead of farmers and rural America,” says Jeff Lautt, CEO of POET, one of the world’s largest ethanol producers.
“While EPA is correct in recognizing the intent of Congress to continue growth in biofuels, the targets announced today fall well short of rural America’s potential to produce low-cost, clean-burning ethanol,” says Lautt. “America’s farmers have answered the call laid out in the RFS to help wean our nation off of foreign oil. Agriculture has taken incredible strides in recent years, growing yields through efficient farming practices and technology improvements, and we have all reaped the benefits of that labor through greater availability of high-performance, domestically produced ethanol. Rural America has upheld its end of the deal, and I ask that EPA uphold Washington’s end.
“Some in Washington do understand what’s at stake and are still committed to rural America. The announcement by Sec. Vilsack today that USDA would provide funds for putting more blender pumps at fuel stations aims to increase consumer access to clean, high-performance fuel produced here at home. It’s an effort obligated parties should have been driving since the RFS became law. We hope Sec. Vilsack’s commitment to clean fuels and rural America rubs off on some of his colleagues in the administration.”
Lautt sums up: “For the sake of consumer choice, rural jobs and strong markets for farmers, I hope EPA fixes its mistakes in the proposed rule and recognizes our nation’s capability to power itself with clean, renewable fuel.”
For more information visit the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association website IowaRFA.org.