Skepticism While Waiting for EPA Renewable Targets

Source: By Andy Eubank, Hoosier Ag Today • Posted: Thursday, May 5, 2016

The Ethanol industry awaits the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed 2017 renewable fuels volume targets this month with a healthy dose of skepticism.

Renewable Fuels Association Chief Bob Dinneen says he will not soon forget EPA rolling three years of missed renewable fuels targets into one, last November, and still coming up short of statutory levels.

Now, EPA says it’s going to get the program “back on track” with a proposed 2017 rule this month, and a final rule in November, but Dinneen says, “That’s just what the law requires and I’m not terribly impressed by any of that. I hope that getting the rule back on track means returning to the statute, actually putting out the volumes that Congress has specified for this program and not abusing its waiver authority which drove us to court last November.”

Senate Democrats and Republicans are urging EPA to follow the congressional intent and increase RFS blending targets for 2017. Dinneen says production and infrastructure advances have already overtaken EPA’s 2015 reduction rationale.

“Many of the concerns that EPA cited when they reduced the volumes a year ago are no longer relevant at all. We believe they could have implemented the statutory levels last year and we would have met the requirements, but there’s just no question this year that the 15 billion gallons can easily be met”

Dinneen says no one finds fault with the EPA for reducing targets for cellulosic and advanced biofuels, based on a lack of supply. But, he argues, one week before EPA’s proposal last year, corn ethanol production hit an annual record of 15.3 billion gallons.