EPA renewable fuels data garners criticism | TSLN.com

EPA renewable fuels data garners criticism

Data on renewable fuels released by the Environmental Protection Agency Thursday garnered criticism of EPA’s inability to make decisions on the Renewable Fuel Standard in 2014 from both the National Biodiesel Board and the Renewable Fuel Association

The National Biodiesel Board said the data showed that “the U.S. biodiesel market shrunk in 2014 amid policy uncertainty in Washington that destabilized the industry and caused many biodiesel plants to shut down or reduce production.”

The NBB noted that the EPA data showed that total U.S. biodiesel consumption fell to 1.75 billion gallons for the year, down slightly from nearly 1.8 billion gallons in 2013.

“The downturn came as the Obama administration failed to finalize biodiesel volumes under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and Congress allowed the biodiesel tax incentive to lapse at the beginning of 2014,” NBB said.

“These numbers reflect the consequences of policy inaction,” said NBB CEO Joe Jobe.

“The drop in production represents lost jobs and economic activity. It represents a lost opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants. And it represents another year in which we fail to tackle our dangerous dependence on oil in the fuels sector.”

“The numbers would have been even lower had the EPA not signaled throughout the year that it will strengthen the RFS proposal and finalize it promptly,” Jobe said.

“But companies can operate on faith for only so long. We have already seen many producers close their doors, and many others are struggling to stay open as we enter a new year with continued uncertainty.”

“The most frustrating aspect is that this is completely unnecessary,” Jobe added. “This is an industry that should be growing, and that has proven it can expand with smart policies in place. Yet we have this paralysis in Washington. Biodiesel companies simply can’t plan for growth or hire new people with the kind of uncertainty we have now.”

Jobe also noted that Congress allowed the $1-per-gallon biodiesel tax incentive to expire on January 1 for the fourth time in six years. Congress reinstated the incentive late last year, covering 2014 but not 2015.

“We are calling on the Obama administration to get things back on track immediately by finalizing biodiesel RFS volumes that pave the way for stable growth in the coming years,” Jobe said.

“Additionally, we are urging Congress to reinstate the biodiesel tax incentive now instead of procrastinating until the final days of the session.”

RFA said the Renewable Identification Number (RIN) data showed that “the statutory 2014 Renewable Fuel Standard requirements established by Congress in 2007 could have easily been met, and that the RFS waiver proposed — and later rescinded — by EPA was totally unnecessary.”

RFA said the EPA data showing that 14.34 billion “renewable fuel” RINs were generated in 2014 was “almost perfectly in line with the statutory requirement of 14.40 billion.”

“When combined with surplus RINs carried over from previous years, total renewable fuel RIN stocks are estimated to be well over 16 billion,” RFA said.

“While some small portion of the 2014 RINs generated will be retired for exported volumes, the data clearly show that compliance with statutory volumes could have easily been achieved.”

“Today’s data says quite clearly that all of the angst and political theater created by EPA’s 2014 RVO proposal was completely unnecessary,” said RFS President and CEO Bob Dinneen.

“Had the agency just implemented the statute as written, there would have been no drama.”

Dinneen added, “As EPA and the White House finalize the 2014 rule and turn their attention to 2015 and 2016, this data sends a strong message that the U.S. ethanol industry is up to the task. We can and will deliver the volumes established in the statute, provided that EPA enforces the law as written.”

RFA also noted that “RIN generation for cellulosic biofuel — long labeled by oil companies as ‘phantom fuels’ — was nearly double the volume proposed by EPA in November 2013. The agency proposed a cellulosic biofuel requirement of 17 million gallons, yet RIN generation finished the year at nearly 33 million.”

–The Hagstom Report

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