Ethanol Blog

Opening the Inbox on the Renewable Fuel Standard

Todd Neeley
By  Todd Neeley , DTN Staff Reporter
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As is always the case when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency makes Renewable Fuel Standard announcements, the inbox floods with press statements from groups on both sides of the issue.

It seems every year one particular category of RFS volumes takes center stage. This time around there were concerns the agency would cut volumes for biomass-based diesel, although the industry insisted in the months leading up to the final volumes that it would produce volumes above and beyond the RFS.

Once it all shook out, the EPA made only minor changes to some RFS volumes.

Here's a sample of additional responses we received following the breaking news on Thursday:

-Grant Kimberley, executive director of the Iowa Biodiesel Board- "We have always pushed for steady biodiesel growth under the Renewable Fuel Standard, fulfilling both the potential of the industry and the intent of the law. We have consistently met and exceeded the volumes set by EPA. We believe we will exceed expectations again, but these flat volumes send a weak signal to the market at a time when our plants could significantly increase production and expand capacity."

-Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds- "I want to thank the EPA for setting the volume for conventional ethanol at the maximum of 15 billion gallons. That's so important for our farmers and our economy. I'm also pleased to see that the EPA has raised the cellulosic and advanced biofuel volumes from what it proposed in July. The EPA is recognizing that we need to look forward, not backward, when it comes to cellulosic ethanol. That's important to encourage investment and innovation. But I'm disappointed that the EPA has chosen not to raise the biodiesel volume. By not raising the RFS levels, the EPA is discouraging investment and discouraging growth."

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-House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden, R-Oregon, and Environment Subcommittee Chairman John Shimkus, R-Illinois- "We applaud EPA for finalizing its 2018 numbers on time as it provides both biofuel refiners and producers more time to meet the requirements of the law and do so in a manner that minimizes costs for America's drivers. We will continue to monitor the long-term challenges and opportunities with RFS implementation, as well as the program's interaction with other federal policies affecting cars and trucks."

-American Soybean Association President Ron Moore- "It's fair to say that we're very frustrated yet again by the lack of growth in these volumes by EPA. We can do more, and we've shown that year after year. The flat nature of the biomass-based diesel and advanced biodiesel volumes continues to be a missed opportunity to capitalize on a valuable market for soybean oil. It has always been our hope that the administration does what it can to provide farmers and related businesses opportunities to succeed."

-Renewable Energy Group, Inc., Interim President and Chief Executive Officer Randy- "The administration heard us when we said the advanced biofuel RVO should grow in 2018, not be cut as EPA originally proposed. While we would have liked to see a larger increase, we consider this a crucial win signaling a policy of continued RVO growth under the Trump administration. It would have been even better if EPA continued that policy of growth with the 2019 biomass-based diesel RVO as we advocated. We feel the administration missed an opportunity in not continuing a sensible and consistent growth trajectory for biomass-based diesel."

-National Wildlife Federation President and Chief Executive Officer Collin O'Mara- "The Trump administration's business-as-usual approach signals that leadership in improving the Renewable Fuel Standard will not come from the EPA, and Congress must step up and reform the law before it does any more damage to wildlife habitat, water quality, and our changing climate. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt brought with him high hopes that he could help change course on the agency's implementation of the flawed ethanol mandate, yet this rule is the latest example of his putting certain vested interests ahead of the American people, at the expense of the environment, public health, wildlife, and the economy."

-National Taxpayers Union Federal Affairs Manager Nan Swift- "Today's decision by the Environmental Protection Agency to perpetuate the failed approach of the Obama administration toward the Renewable Fuel Standard, and the ever-increasing volumes of ethanol it requires to be injected into our fuel supply, is a major disappointment to taxpayers hoping for a new direction. Technological advances, changing consumer habits, and the many costly harms imposed on consumers and environment by increased blends of ethanol, all reflect the need for our regulatory approach to the RFS to be responsive to new realities."

-National Marine Manufacturers Association President Thom Dammrich- "We are incredibly disappointed in the EPA's decision to maintain higher levels of ethanol in our nation's fuel supply, signaling a 'business-as-usual approach to a fuel that's known to damage millions of recreational boats in the U.S. What we need instead is fresh thinking and a new strategy that ensures our country's 142 million boaters have access to a safe biofuel such as biobutanol."

American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers President and Chief Executive Officer Chet Thompson- "Unfortunately, it appears that EPA did exactly what Senator Grassley demanded, bowing the knee to king corn. We think this action is bad for U.S. manufacturing and American consumers and encourage Congress to finally fix the RFS."

-National Retail Federation Executive Director David French- "The EPA continues to bow to pressure from the ethanol industry and its advocates in Congress, so today's action is no surprise. Instead of sticking with the arbitrary 15 billion gallons of corn ethanol Congress set a decade ago when the outlook for fuel usage was very different, EPA should have exercised its waiver authority to lower the ethanol mandate to more rational and sustainable levels."

-Clean Air Task Force Senior Counsel Jonathan Lewis- "Congress overhauled the Renewable Fuel Standard in 2007, so we now have a full decade of evidence that the mandate is not an effective tool for spurring the development of low-carbon biofuels. Corn ethanol continues to dominate the RFS and crowd out more environmentally beneficial biofuels. Cellulosic biofuel technologies continue to wither on the vine. Congress needs to overhaul the RFS again, this time to ensure the program delivers clean, modern fuels."

Todd Neeley can be reached at todd.neeley@dtn.com

Follow me on Twitter @toddneeleyDTN

(TN)

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