Iowa delegation asks EPA to hold ethanol hearing in state

Source: By Christopher Doering, Des Moines Register • Posted: Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Iowa’s congressional delegation asked the Environmental Protection Agency on Monday to hold a hearing in the state about the agency’s recent proposal lowering how much ethanol must be blended into the gasoline supply through next year.

The letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said “the flawed justification” the agency used to set the levels “raises questions about the agency’s commitment to renewable fuels.”

Iowa produced a record 3.9 billion gallons of ethanol in 2014 — about 27 percent of U.S. production — and 230 million gallons of biodiesel. The state is heavily dependent on the fuels to create jobs, increase commodity prices and boost rural economies.

“The EPA’s long delay in issuing (blending levels) … and its decision to deviate from the levels set by Congress has created uncertainty for the biofuels industry and hampered investment,” the four representatives and two senators said.

“Iowa industry leaders, farmers, retailers and consumers are well-positioned to provide valuable information and substantive feedback on how the proposed (blending levels) will negatively impact the agricultural and biofuels industries, consumer choice at the pump, and future investments in second-generation renewable fuels and infrastructure.”

The EPA proposed requiring refiners to blend 17.4 billion gallons of renewable fuels in 2016, much of it from corn, but 3.4 billion gallons would come from advanced biofuels such as cellulosic ethanol made from grasses and wood chips. The figure was well below the 22.25 billion target set by Congress. EPA officials also proposed 16.30 billion gallons for the current year, less than the 20.50 billion established by Congress.

But agency officials defended the move, noting the 2016 proposal is only 9 percent — or 1.5 billion gallons — more than actual 2014 volumes.