EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy reiterated her previous statements that the Renewable Fuel Standard 2014 volumes would be released "soon," during a conference call with reporters Tuesday. But this time she may have provided a hint about where EPA is going with the law.
"It has become very clear to me that there's some general concern about volumes and adjustment to volumes," she said. "We're just taking the time we need to make sure the Renewable Fuel Standard takes that into account. It has taken awhile longer. I think they'll (ag, ethanol) be pleased that we're taking the time to get it right."
Earlier this year media reports suggested EPA was leaning toward backing off its initial proposed RFS cuts, after an outpouring of support for the law from rural America during a public comment period last year.
EPA has a history of delay when it comes to the release of biofuels volumes in the RFS, and the much-anticipated release of the 2014 numbers is no different.
The agency had indicated the release could come as soon as the end of June, but that deadline has come and gone, leaving open to a variety of interpretations as to what this delay could mean for the agriculture and ethanol industries.
Perhaps the first impression may be that EPA realizes from public comments issued in the months following the release of the law that proposed across-the-board cuts to biofuels volumes including corn-based ethanol, that maybe the agency overstepped with its proposal and realizes industries such as corn ethanol and biodiesel will have no problem at all in meeting the needed production this year.
We've already heard the biodiesel industry, for example, should easily eclipse the 2-billion-gallon mark this year -- far beyond EPA's proposal for 1.39 billion gallons to come from biomass-based diesel, or biodiesel.
What's more, last week EPA announced the release of a final rule approving additional biofuels pathways in the RFS. That approval includes the use of corn fiber as a cellulosic-ethanol pathway.
That announcement coincided with an announcement by Quad County Corn Processors in Galva, Iowa, that it had commercially produced the first gallons of cellulosic ethanol using corn fiber.
Thus far actual commercial cellulosic ethanol production has not met the demands of the RFS, as the industry has fallen far short of production targets for years.
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