Iowa lawmakers want RFS hearing in their state 

Source: Amanda Peterka, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Iowa’s congressional delegation yesterday called on U.S. EPA to hold a hearing on its recently proposed renewable fuel mandates in the Hawkeye State in the heart of ethanol country.Led by Rep. David Young (R), the lawmakers said the agency’s proposal, which would set three years’ worth of refiners’ renewable fuel targets, “falls short” of what’s needed to grow the domestic biofuels industry.

Iowa farmers and refiners are “well-positioned to provide valuable information and substantive feedback,” they said. The state is No. 1 in the nation in producing ethanol and biodiesel.

“We strongly encourage you to add a public hearing in Iowa that would enable EPA officials to hear from Iowans who work in and contribute to the biofuels industry,” the bipartisan group of six lawmakers wrote.

EPA’s proposal released late last month set refiners’ blending targets for conventional ethanol and advanced biofuels for 2014, 2015 and 2016.

The proposal would set 2014 targets at actual production levels. By 2016, refiners would be required to blend 17.4 billion gallons of renewable fuels into petroleum gasoline and diesel or they would have to buy fuel credits known as renewable identification numbers. Of that 2016 total, 14 billion gallons would be corn ethanol (Greenwire, May 29).

While EPA’s proposal calls for more biofuel use than a proposal the agency scrapped last year, it would require refiners use less biofuel than what Congress wrote into the renewable fuel standard when it created the program in 2007.

Iowa lawmakers last year asked EPA for a similar hearing on its previous proposal, but the agency declined the invitation. Led by Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R), officials held their own hearing in Iowa on the agency’s proposed targets (E&ENews PM, Jan. 13, 2014).

EPA is already scheduled to hold a public hearing on its new proposed rule in Kansas City, Kan., on June 25. The agency is working toward a Nov. 30 deadline to finalize the rule, which would also set the 2017 biodiesel target. A public comment period on the proposal opened last week.

While Iowa lawmakers pressed EPA for a hearing, nearly 120 biodiesel producers from Iowa and other states plan to visit Capitol Hill offices this week to ask lawmakers to push EPA for a robust final rule. The National Biodiesel Board is hosting the fly-in.

“We want to show Congress that the RFS is working and that thousands of jobs are at stake in this pending EPA rule,” Anne Steckel, National Biodiesel Board vice president of federal affairs, said in a statement. “We want lawmakers to see first-hand how these issues are playing out in their states and districts.”

Biodiesel producers have welcomed EPA’s proposal as a step in the right direction — it calls for year-by-year increases in the biodiesel targets — but say they’d like to see a higher mandate for both biodiesel and advanced biofuels written into the final rule (Greenwire, June 1).