A group of 16 advanced and traditional renewable fuels stakeholders joined together Thursday to announce both a new coalition and a new campaign to support the Renewable Fuels Standard.
The coalition, dubbed "Fuels America," has already targeted Colorado, Ohio, Montana and Deleware as key states for the launch of its promotional campaign for the RFS. The initiative comes in the midst of an ongoing debate surrounding the effectiveness of the RFS and its role in current commodity price increases.
At the request of numerous state governors, the Environmental Protection Agency is considering public comment for a waiver of the RFS, which mandates renewable fuels production volumes. The comment period will close Oct. 11.
In a press call Thursday, members of Fuels America said an RFS waiver would have negative consequences for the economy and national security.
"The problem with that request for a waiver is that it would essentially pull out the rug from an existing program," said former Pennsylvania Rep. Jim Greenwood, president and CEO of the Biotechnology Industry Organization. He added that investors have invested in technology and taken risks to advance the industry on the assumption that the Renewable Fuels Standard will be in place for the foreseeable future.
"To [waive the RFS] now would be a disaster. It would create a level of uncertainty within the investment community that we think could be extraordinarily detrimental to our nation's ability to move forward in this very important technology," Greenwood said.
Adam Monroe, president of Novozymes, said he considered the U.S. to have the best market-creating, stable biofuels policy in the world, and it was an easy choice when his company was considering locations for a new enzyme plant.
"The biomass availability in the United States is enormous, and there is enough of this stuff to make and replace one-third of the country's gasoline," Monroe said. "That's almost what we import today."
Monroe said he understood that the drought was a key player in the request for an RFS waiver, but it's not a reason to change long-term policy.
"I know that the drought has been awful, it's hurting everyone, including the farmers and the rural communities that rely on renewable fuels. But talks of waiving the RFS … it just compounds the problem," Monroe said. "Let's don't blink, let's stay the course. Let the policy work."
Debate over the Renewable Fuels Standard began to heat up earlier this summer as drought conditions worsened across the U.S., forcing grain supplies lower and prices higher. More than 150 U.S. Representatives and 25 U.S. Senators signed a letter urging an RFS waiver, and joined cattle, hog and poultry organizations in their call for lower feed prices and less demand.
Those in support of an RFS waiver say it could allow stock producers to regain profitability and create a "level playing field" for producers to compete for feedstuffs.
As debate continues, the EPA will make its final decision based on public comments. A timeline for that decision has not been released.
For now, the new members of Fuels America will continue their campaign for the RFS with a website, www.fuelsamerica.org, and a Twitter handle, @FuelsAmerica. Members of the organization include: 25x25, Abengoa Bioenergy, ACORE, Advanced Ethanol Council, American Coalition for Ethanol, American Security Project, Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), DuPont, Growth Energy, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Corn Growers Association, National Farmers Union, National Sorghum Producers, Novozymes and POET.
Read more about the RFS debate:
RFS Questioned As Livestock, Ethanol Producers Butt Heads