EPA releases proposed renewable fuel requirements
May 29, 2015
The Environmental Protection Agency today released the long-awaited proposed volumetric requirements for the Renewable Fuel Standard.
The rule will be finalized by November 30. There will be a public hearing in Kansas City, Kansas, on June 25 and the agency will accept comments through July 27.
An EPA official said the proposal would "drive growth at an ambitious but responsible rate," while the ethanol industry said the volumetric requirements were an improvement on EPA's earlier proposal, but not as big as they wanted.
"Today's proposals are better than EPA's initial proposed rule for 2014, but they still need significant improvement," said Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis.
"We have sincere concerns that these proposed numbers are not moving forward to the degree that Congress had intended for the RFS."
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"It is unfortunate that EPA chose to side with the obligated parties who have deliberately refused to live up to their obligation to provide consumers with a choice of fossil fuels or lower cost, higher performing, homegrown renewable energy at the pump," Buis said.
"Everyone in Congress, as well as all parties in the renewables and oil industry, knew when this legislation was debated and passed into law that the only way the RFS goals could be met was by introducing higher blends into the market moving forward," he said. "Now the obligated parties, controlled primarily by Big Oil, have refused to live up to their obligation and the initial read on EPA's proposal is they have simply acquiesced to the demands of Big Oil. "
"One thing that everyone should keep in mind is that this is a proposed rule," Buis said. "We will continue to analyze and review these proposals for 2014, 2015 and 2016."
"Furthermore, Growth Energy will file exhaustive comments with EPA. Just as we successfully commented on the original 2014 RVO proposal by EPA, which ultimately forced EPA to reconsider their initial flawed rule, we are confident that our forthcoming comments will highlight the changes that are necessary to meet the goals of the RFS."
"EPA has to be given some credit for attempting to get the RFS back on track by increasing the renewable volume obligations (RVOs) over time," said Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Bob Dinneen.
"But the frustrating fact is the agency continues to misunderstand the clear intent of the statute — to drive innovation in both ethanol production and ethanol marketing," Dinneen said.
"The agency has eviscerated the program's ability to incentivize investments in infrastructure that would break through the blend wall and encourage the commercialization of new technologies," he said.
"By adopting the oil company narrative regarding the ability of the market to effectively distribute increasing volumes of renewable fuels, rather than putting the RFS back on track, the agency has created its own slower, more costly, and ultimately diminished track for renewable fuels in this country."
"Today's announcement represents a step backward for the RFA," Dinneen added.
"EPA successfully enforced a 13.8 billion gallon RVO in 2013. The industry produced 14.3 billion gallons of ethanol last year. There is no reason to promulgate an RVO rule that takes us backward. All it will do is result in an ever-increasing supply of renewable fuel credits (RINs) that will further discourage private sector investment in infrastructure and technology. This doesn't make sense."
"The EPA plan fundamentally places the potential growth in renewable fuels in the hands of the oil companies — empowering the incumbent industry to continue to thwart consumer choice at the pump with no fear of consequence for their bad behavior. That is not what the statute intended. And that is not what's in the best interests of consumers — who will be denied greater access to the lowest cost liquid transportation fuel and octane source on the planet."
The Biotechnology Industry Organization said, "Today's overdue re-proposal doesn't do enough to get the RFS program back on track. The RFS was designed to provide a market floor for biofuels. Instead, EPA has once again proposed to help the oil industry build a regulatory wall to keep advanced biofuels out of the U.S. market."
"Once again, the EPA has chosen to ignore the law by cutting the corn ethanol obligation 3.75 billion gallons from 2014 to 2016," said Chip Bowling, president of the National Corn Growers Association and a Maryland corn farmer.
"This represents nearly a billion and a half bushels in lost corn demand," Bowling said. "The only beneficiary of the EPA's decision is Big Oil, which has continuously sought to undermine the development of clean, renewable fuels. Unfortunately, the EPA's gift to Big Oil comes at the expense of family farmers, American consumers and the air we breathe.
"The Renewable Fuel Standard was working as intended, with no need to change. It has reduced greenhouse gas emissions, decreased our reliance on foreign oil, lowered gasoline prices for consumers, increased economic stability in rural America and spurred innovation in advanced and cellulosic biofuels.
"We are evaluating our legal options for defending the law and protecting the rights of farmers and consumers. We will fight to protect and build profitable demand for corn, which is of fundamental interest to NCGA and our farmers."
The National Chain Restaurant Association said the volumetric requirements are still too high.
"Clearly the EPA is either incapable or unwilling to make the needed changes to the failed RFS," the association said in a news release. "The agency continues to bow to political pressure from special interests and ignore the unrelenting upward pressure the corn ethanol mandate has caused on food commodity prices.
"It is time for Congress to recognize that the ethanol mandate is failed public policy that desperately needs to be addressed.
"Only Congress has the authority to pass legislation to repeal the corn ethanol mandate and end the litany of problems it has created. Consumers, restaurant owners and everyone who eats or sells food can no longer continue to pay the price for the administration's ambivalence and Congress' inaction." F
–The Hagstrom Report