Mixed reaction in biofuels industry to EPA ethanol blending announcement

Source: By O. Kay Henderson, Radio Iowa • Posted: Wednesday, December 8, 2021

The Biden Administration has rejected dozens of oil refinery requests to be exempt from ethanol blending requirements, while proposing to dial back ethanol production targets.

The moves are getting mixed reaction from the biofuels industry. Ron Lamberty of the American Coalition for Ethanol says it appears oil refiners won’t have to make good on ethanol blending goals.

“The numbers for 2021 seem to be lower than what we’re actually selling now, so we could take a hit there,” he says, “and the 2022 numbers look to be what they are supposed to be by law, so you know kind of hard to give anybody a pat on the back for that.”

American Renewable Fuels Association president Geoff Cooper says there’s a lot to digest.

“Obviously we have some significant concerns with some of it,” he says, “but on balance we think this is probably overall a modest step in the right direction toward getting the RFS back on track.”

The Renewable Fuels Standard calls on the EPA to set yearly ethanol blending requirements for the oil industry, but the Trump Administration did not meet last December’s deadline to set a target for this year. The Biden Administration has now set the ethanol production goal for 2022.

Republican elected officials from Iowa are blasting the decisions to retroactively reduce ethanol rules for 2020 and 2021. Governor Kim Reynolds calls the package a “slap in the face to Iowa farmers and renewable fuels producers.” Congresswoman Cindy Axne of West Des Moines, the only Democrat in Iowa’s congressional delegation, says denying oil industry waivers for ethanol blending obligations is the “right path” for the future, but dialing back previous ethanol requirements rewards oil companies that have “failed to follow” the Renewable Fuels Standard.

National Corn Growers Association president Chris Edgington — a farmer from St. Ansgar, Iowa — says denying oil refinery exemptions for 2022 is an important step forward, but the move to change previous ethanol blending requirements should be reversed