Ethanol’s future with EPA now calling the shots

Source: By Dustin Hoffmann, Iowa Agribusiness Network • Posted: Monday, October 3, 2022

Cellulosic ethanol plant in Nevada, Iowa. Photo courtesy of DuPont.

As per the terms of the legislative Acts which created and extended the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS), Congress no longer has the power to set the Renewable Volume Obligations (RVOs) that dictate how many gallons of biofuels need to be blended each year. That number has been set at fifteen billion gallons. The power to set those requirements has been given to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

RVOs have caused a lot of rancor in the halls of congress, especially between the representation of midwestern states and the oil states. Oil companies don’t want to be required to blend anything and spare no expense in attacking biofuels wherever and however they can. Midwestern representatives usually support biofuels because they are supporting agriculture and the producers of corn & soybeans.

Some biofuel supporters feel a bit constrained as they look ahead to EPA setting the RVOs. Their voices used to ring out across Washington, D.C. in support of biofuels. Now, they are somewhat hamstrung by whatever the EPA decides. Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa is one of those voices. She talked with IARN about what she knows about what the EPA has planned, and the work she is doing to keep the Biden administration informed on biofuels and their benefits.

Ernst says that this is going to be a mixed bag when it comes to the EPA calling the shots on RVOs. While she doesn’t say that it is a feeling of helplessness over not having the voice they once did, Ernst really lays out the difficulties that will be faced by members of congress who support biofuels.

Iowa farmers will continue to keep producing the crops needed to produce biofuels. As the top state for ethanol production, Iowa won’t stop because of uncertainty. As farmers begin to harvest those acres of corn & soybeans used to produce biofuels, Senator Ernst has a message for them and those around the equipment.

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