Biofuel and farm leaders mark 13th anniversary of the RFS

Source: By Fuels America • Posted: Thursday, August 9, 2018

Thirteen years ago, Aug. 8, the Renewable Fuel Standard was signed into law, sparking a new era of U.S. biofuel leadership that continues to support rural jobs, increase energy security, and deliver clean, affordable options at the fuel pump. The nation’s leading farm and biofuel advocates marked the occasion by calling on Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler at the U.S. EPA to quickly deliver on the president’s pledge to uphold the RFS and expand the market for ethanol blends, including E15.

“For 13 years, the RFS has been a driving force for economic opportunity across the heartland,” said Kevin Skunes, president of National Corn Growers Association and a North Dakota farmer. “Today, biofuels are more important than ever. Farm income has fallen to a 12-year low, and the EPA’s refinery waivers have left more and more families facing an uncertain future. The EPA can address this uncertainty and take action now by approving year-round sales of ethanol blends greater than 10 percent, accounting for exemptions granted to refineries and reallocating exempted volumes to keep the RFS whole.”

In July, the EPA announced proposed biofuel targets for 2019, offering no protection against waivers and loopholes abused by the previous EPA administrator. The plan is available for public comment until Aug. 17, and advocates have launched a web portal at FuelsAmerica.Org/Action-Center, where supporters are invited to make their voices heard. Rural leaders also are calling for action on the president’s pledge to lift outdated summer regulations against selling E15, a lower-cost ethanol blend that President Trump vowed is “very close” to being available year-round.

“The RFS promotes our homegrown renewable fuels produced by hardworking rural Americans, driving real competition at the pump and ensuring a healthier future for generations to come,” said Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor. “By expanding the biofuels market, the administration can deliver on its promise to rural America and provide consumers with cleaner, more affordable fuel options all year long. The EPA must act now on the President’s pledge to farmers, biofuel workers, and consumers.”

“Under the RFS, the biofuel sector has expanded to support hundreds of thousands of jobs at more than 200 plants across the heartland,” said Brent Erickson, executive vice president of the Industrial & Environmental Section at the Biotechnology Innovation Organization. “It has spurred investment and development of new technologies in advanced and cellulosic biofuels and is critical pillar in the foundation of the biobased economy. But EPA waivers have rolled back our progress, cutting biofuel targets to 2013 levels. The EPA must enforce the law, as Congress intended, and restore U.S. leadership in low-carbon biofuels.”
Since its enactment in 2005 and expansion in 2007, the RFS has driven unprecedented growth, while curbing emissions and increasing U.S. energy security. From 3.9 billion gallons in 2005, America’s biofuel sector produced more than 15.8 billion gallons of ethanol in 2017. Over the same period, America’s net oil imports fell from 12.6 to 3.7 thousand barrels per day. American producers have also increased efficiency, delivering an average carbon savings on track to surpass 50 percent by 2022.

“The RFS remains America’s single most successful energy policy,” said Brooke Coleman, executive director of the Advanced Biofuels Business Council. “Every gallon of U.S. ethanol cuts greenhouse gas emissions by 43 percent, according to federal data, and advanced biofuels are doing even more to protect the climate—all while delivering new revenue streams to U.S. farmers. By lifting outdated regulations on higher-ethanol blends, the EPA can unlock investments in cellulosic energy and keep America at the forefront of innovation.”

“President Trump vowed to protect the engine of economic growth that has delivered for 13 years,” said Kyle Gilley, senior vice president of external affairs and communications at POET. “It is time to allow year-round E15 access for America’s drivers. E15 is an affordable, high-octane fuel that will grow our nation’s biofuel use and allow the RFS to continue to deliver for America.”