Iowa Reaction to EPA ethanol, biodiesel proposals

Source: By Donnelle Eller, Des Moines Register • Posted: Monday, June 1, 2015

Lincolway Energy Defend the RFS

 Reaction to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal setting how much biodiesel and ethanol should be blended in the nation’s fuel supply is grabbing reaction from leaders and groups across the nation.

Here’s some of what they’re saying:

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa

“It’s Christmas in May for Big Oil. President Obama’s EPA continues to buy into Big Oil’s argument that the infrastructure isn’t in place to handle the fuel volumes required by law. Big Oil’s obstruction and the EPA’s delays and indecision have harmed biofuel producers and delayed infrastructure developments.

“Today’s proposal is just as harmful to biofuels as what the EPA put out in November 2013, and it’s 18 months late. What happened to the president who claimed to support biofuels? He seems to have disappeared, to the detriment of consumers and our country’s fuel needs.” 

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad

“We are disappointed that the EPA failed to follow the renewable volume levels set by Congress. But, we’re encouraged that the agency has provided some stability for producers by releasing a new RFS proposal, and made slight increases from their previous proposal,” said Branstad. “Already, Iowa farmland has dropped by 15 percent , corn and soybean prices have dropped by 40-50 percent since 2012 and farm income is expected to decline 32 percent this year. Maintaining arobust Renewable Fuel Standard is extremely important for Iowans and familiesacross the country.”

Iowa Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds

“We’re encouraged that the EPA recognized the importance of renewable fuels after failing to adopt volume obligation levels in years past. While we believe a more robust Renewable Fuel Standard would be ideal, we welcome the slight increase that will help to continue providing consumers choice at the pump, create jobs, increase incomes and reduce our dependence on foreign oil.”

Grant Kimberley, executive director of the Iowa Biodiesel Board, points out that the proposed goals for biodiesel would grow from a 1.63 billion gallons in 2014 to 1.9 billion gallons in 2017.

“As the top biodiesel-producing state, we are enormously relieved the biodiesel industry’s long limbo is almost over. Although the prolonged uncertainty strained our producers, we seem to be headed back on course for the original intent of the RFS.

“EPA’s proposal marks a significant increase for biodiesel volumes from their original proposal in 2013, which would have held the biodiesel standard flat at 1.28 billion gallons through 2015. Although the proposed volumes in later years are lower than the reasonable increases we had requested, and we look forward to opportunities for greater growth, these volumes still represent advancement.”

U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa

“The new RFS obligations have been a long time coming. While the EPA has taken steps to improve upon its previous proposal, which would have devastated Iowa’s farmers and rural communities, there is room for improvement in their newest proposal. The proposal announced today is still lower than the levels mandated by Congress. It is disappointing that the EPA has sided with Big Oil at the expense of rural families across the nation. The good news is that the proposal is not final and it is time for farmers to again stand up and tell the EPA that they deserve better and need to do what Congress has mandated. 

“The RFS has proven it works, creates jobs, supports our agricultural communities and lessens our dependence on foreign oil, which is why the EPA must make it as strong as possible. I will continue to fight to ensure that the final rule is good for Iowa.”

Jeff Lautt, POET CEO, a company that has ethanol plants across the Midwest, including a cellulosic plant in Emmetsburg. It’s making ethanol from corn cobs, stalks and other crop residue.

“While the EPA is correct in recognizing the intent of Congress to continue growth in biofuels, the targets announced today fall well short of rural America’s potential to produce low-cost, clean-burning ethanol. America’s farmers have answered the call laid out in the Renewable Fuel Standard to help wean our nation off of foreign oil. Agriculture has taken incredible strides in recent years, growing yields through efficient farming practices and technology improvements, and we have all reaped the benefits of that labor through greater availability of high-performance, domestically produced ethanol. Rural America has upheld its end of the deal, and I ask that the EPA uphold Washington’s end.”

Jerry Mohr, a farmer from Eldridge and president of the Iowa Corn Growers Association, said Congress now mandates 14.4 billion gallons of conventional corn-based ethanol be blended in 2014 and 15.0 billion gallons be blended in 2015 and 2016.

The proposal pushes those levels down to 13.25 billion in 2014, 13.4 billion in for 2015, and 14 billion gallons in 2016. It would mean over three years 3.75 billion gallons less of corn-based ethanol would be used, reducing corn demand by 1.3 billion bushels. 

“Now is a critical time for farmers to step up and engage on this issue that will significantly impact our farms since the rule won’t be finalized until this fall. Unfortunately, so far, the EPA continues to fail our farmers and consumers to side with Big Oil.”

“The Iowa Corn Growers Association is extremely concerned about the impacts the proposal will have on the corn industry and rural economies. We have the largest corn carryover stocks since 2005, prices are below the cost of production, and so far, it appears we will grow stocks even larger with the current ideal growing conditions.” 

Bill Northey, Iowa’s secretary of agriculture

“The intent of the law, passed with strong bipartisan support, was to increase the usage of clean, homegrown, renewable fuels. It is critically important the EPA get back on track. We need a strong RFS to encourage retailers to invest in the infrastructure necessary to make renewable fuels available to customers. The release today of the 2016 RVO (renewable volume obligations) is a good first step, but we have lost an opportunity to really encourage access to higher blends the last two years.

“While the RVO numbers released today are an improvement on the initial proposal, they don’t restore the levels required by law and continue to use questionable justifications for not meeting the levels required by law.”