Renewable fuels group addresses EPA over proposed standards |

Renewable fuels group addresses EPA over proposed standards

In his annual address to the industry today, Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Bob Dinneen urged the Environmental Protection Agency not to reduce the Renewable Fuel Standard, as the agency has proposed.

Noting that Congress established the RFS in a 2007 energy bill, Dinneen told the industry gathering in Orlando, “All we ask of Washington is one thing — Keep. Your. Word. Keep your word. It’s that simple.”

Reacting to all the negative developments in the industry in the past year, Dinneen predicted that 2014 will be the year the “blend wall comes crashing down,” “the cellulose wall is cracked,” “the trade wall erected by Europe will be breached,” and “the octane wall crumbles.”

Dinneen noted that the RFS was established to reduce U.S. dependency on foreign oil, and that U.S. oil imports have declined from 60 percent in 2005 to 35 percent in 2013.

“Improved fuel efficiency, fewer miles driven, and increased domestic production have certainly all contributed. But increased ethanol production has most certainly done its part as well,” he said.

In addition to ethanol’s role in reducing energy imports and creating jobs, Dinneen said “the value-added benefits of ethanol have contributed to a revitalization across all of agriculture … washed out federal farm payments,” and produced a near-record 35.5 million metric tons of animal feed.

And although the cellulosic ethanol industry has been slow to develop, he declared “Cellulose is here!”

“Ineos in Florida is already producing from agricultural waste,” Dinneen said. “Abengoa Bioenergy in Kansas is producing power today and will soon begin production of cellulosic ethanol from wheat straw. POET/DSM is slated to begin production using corn cobs and stover at their Iowa facility in a few months. DuPont’s Nevada, Iowa, plant is going up quickly and they’re looking at commercial scale production soon. And Quad County Corn Processors is just one of many corn ethanol plants investing in technology to process the cellulosic fiber in the corn kernels into a second-generation fuel and will be producing soon as well.”

Dinneen called EPA’s proposed rule to reduce the 2014 conventional blending requirements from 14.4 billion gallons to 13.01 billion gallons “an inexplicable step backwards to what has been an overwhelming successful program.”

The agency has noted that declining gasoline consumption would make it impossible to increase ethanol usage without using controversial, higher level blends that the oil industry and some consumer groups oppose.

CBO estimated that the change would save the federal government $8.6 billion over 10 years. But if the states increase the LIHEAP payments triggering continued higher benefits the savings would be reduced. F

–the Hagstrom Report