DuPont letter blasts Sen. Toomey’s RFS stance

Source: Amanda Reilly, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Executives at DuPont today chastised Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) for his position on the renewable fuel standard.

In a letter, the DuPont executives said they “absolutely oppose” the senator’s efforts to eliminate the corn ethanol portion of the RFS. DuPont, which is aiming to open an advanced biofuel facility in Iowa at the end of the month, argued that eliminating ethanol mandates would hurt the nascent advanced biofuels industry.

“We implore you to reconsider your stance on the RFS and work with us to create the right incentives for the biofuels industry to move beyond current technologies,” the letter dated today says.

DuPont Executive Vice President James Collins, Industrial Biosciences President William Feehery and Biorefineries Global Business Director Jan Koninckx led the letter. Nearly 40 other DuPont employees are included as signatories.

Congress enacted the most recent version of the RFS in 2007 to require that refiners blend increasing amounts of ethanol and advanced biofuel into petroleum gasoline and diesel.

Toomey has long opposed the corn ethanol portion of the mandate, arguing that it hurts small refiners in his state. The senator earlier this year introduced bipartisan legislation with California Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) to strike corn ethanol from the RFS.

“Under government mandates, refiners — such as ours in Trainer, Pa. — are forced to make a choice: increase the ethanol content in their fuel blends or pay a penalty by purchasing credits from energy traders,” Toomey said earlier this year. “Once again, this is the government using corporate welfare to shower money on a favored industry and then send the bill to the general public.”

Toomey was recently unsuccessful at adding the language to a Senate bill to overturn the 40-year-old ban on crude oil exports (Greenwire, Oct. 1).

Biofuel producers have strongly objected to the proposed legislation, arguing that it would not only hurt the ethanol industry but also the advanced biofuel industry, which has struggled to stand on solid feet despite the RFS requirements.

“Proposals to modify the RFS will undercut the existing U.S. biofuels industry, preventing all new opportunities for investments in cellulosic ethanol and advanced biofuels,” the DuPont officials said in their letter.

DuPont has planned an Oct. 30 grand opening for its new biorefinery in Nevada, Iowa, after being delayed for about a year.

The facility is expected to produce 30 million gallons a year of cellulosic ethanol out of corn crop residues collected from local farmers. Cellulosic ethanol refers to ethanol made from plant materials such as agricultural residue, woody biomass and perennial grass.

Along with warning that repealing the ethanol mandate would undercut investment in advanced biofuels, the DuPont letter also said that Toomey’s legislation could adversely affect Pennsylvania. The letter credited the renewable fuels industry with driving $3.6 billion in economic output in the Keystone state.

“Repealing the corn ethanol portion of the RFS would have significantly negative economic impacts for Pennsylvania and the U.S.,” DuPont wrote, “and prevent additional growth in biofuels.”