LINCOLN, Neb. (DTN) -- With the EPA content to host one, maybe two, virtual public hearings on the agency's latest multiyear Renewable Fuel Standard proposal, the head of an ethanol interest group on Monday asked the agency to hit the road for an in-person hearing in the Midwest.
On Dec. 1, EPA proposed growing the total volume of biofuels blended with petroleum products by more than 2 billion gallons between 2023 and 2025. That includes growing corn-based ethanol from 15 billion gallons in 2023 to 15.25 billion in 2024 and 2025. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, 95% of all ethanol was produced in the Midwest in 2021.
In a letter to EPA Administrator Michael Regan on Monday, Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor said that because the proposal largely affects companies in the Midwest, the agency should conduct in-person hearings.
"We write to request that you restore the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's long-standing tradition of holding public, in-person hearings to gather local input from the farmers, workers and rural communities fueling the success of the Renewable Fuel Standard," she said in the letter.
"Given the profound implications of this year's 'set' rulemaking, there has never been a more important time for EPA officials to hear directly from stakeholders in the Midwest who will be most directly impacted by the agency's decisions."
According to Growth Energy, the most recent in-person RFS hearing was last held in Michigan on July 31, 2019.
Upon announcing the RFS proposal, the agency scheduled a Jan. 10, 2023, virtual hearing to possibly be followed up with a second virtual hearing on Jan. 11.
"We hope you will agree that the time has come to restore a prized opportunity for rural communities to share their views," Skor said in the letter.
"The teleconference now scheduled for Jan. 10, 2023, is an expedient option, but we cannot allow a temporary alterative to become a permanent habit. Simply put, there is no substitute for the perspective EPA can gain from visiting with local innovators in communities where renewable energy goes from farm field to fuel tank every day."
Skor said Growth Energy was ready to help facilitate such a meeting.
EPA's latest proposal was required under a consent agreement with Growth Energy and is to be finalized by June 14, 2023. This is the agency's first attempt at setting RFS volumes beyond the 2022 statutory deadline for the law.
EPA would set overall renewable fuels volumes at 20.63 billion gallons in 2022, but that would be bumped to 20.88 billion gallons with a 250-million-gallon supplemental added in for the agency illegally waiving gallons in 2016.
Overall, the EPA would set advanced biofuels volumes at 5.82 billion gallons in 2023, 6.62 billion gallons in 2024, and 7.43 billion gallons in 2025.
When it comes to biomass-based diesel, EPA proposes an increase from 2.76 billion gallons in 2022 to 2.82 billion gallons in 2023, 2.89 billion gallons in 2024 and 2.95 billion gallons by 2025, according to the proposal.
In addition, for the first time, EPA offered a proposal that would allow carmakers the ability to generate credits known as E-Renewable Identification Numbers, or E-RINs, by using biofuels to charge electric vehicles. The agency estimates an additional 1.4 billion new credits would be generated by 2025, according to Reuters. That would include generating electricity to power electric vehicles through biogas.
Read more on DTN:
"EPA's RFS Proposal Bullish on Biofuels," https://www.dtnpf.com/…
"Biodiesel Says EPA Sells Industry Short," https://www.dtnpf.com/…
Todd Neeley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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