Stakeholders Encourage EPA to Increase RFS Targets

Source: By Anna-Lisa Laca, AgWired • Posted: Wednesday, August 2, 2017

In order to continue to provide consumer choice at the pump, strengthen rural economies and reduce dependence on foreign oil, stakeholders told Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials to boost targets outlined in the 2018 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) proposal during its Tuesday RFS hearing.

“While I am thankful that the corn ethanol level was set at the statutorily required 15 billion gallons, I urge the EPA to raise the advanced biofuel, biodiesel and cellulosic volumes,” said Kim Reynolds, Governor of Iowa. “The RFS is a bold policy, and Iowans and the industry as a whole have always risen to the challenge.”

National Corn Growers Association Board member Keith Alverson testified at the hearing expressing concern about the proposed overall volume of renewable fuels which is 40 million gallons lower than 2017.

“Corn farmers recognize the strong link between first- and second-generation biofuels and the role corn fills in producing the next generation of homegrown fuel that increases our energy security and lowers costs for consumers,” Alverson said. “We ask the EPA to maintain the proposed conventional fuel requirement in the final rule… [but] set higher final volumes for cellulosic, advanced and total biofuels in order to draw the continued investment and innovation needed to maintain the expansion of cellulosic and advanced fuel production.”

Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts also testified during the hearing. He stressed the importance of the EPA creating certainty in the market by making timely proposals.

“I believe that the industry can lead the challenge to create more biofuels,” he said adding that one of the reasons the industry was so far behind in 2017 was the delayed proposal. “Meet the deadlines and allow businesses and investors to respond.”

While he’s encouraged by the timeliness of the proposal he encouraged the EPA to increase volume targets to provide more opportunity for the industry. There must be higher targets in order to capitalize on this opportunity.

“For cellulosic ethanol, there is no question that the task for forecasting volumes for the next calendar year is difficult,” said Jan Koninckx, Global Business Director for Advanced Biofuels at DuPont Industrial Biosciences. “However, in 2016 and 2017, EPA did a much better job of forecasting the cellulosic volume than for any of the prior years AND this past Friday, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed upholding EPA’s process and the outcome. Given this result, there should be no question that EPA must revisit the process used in the current proposal for cellulosic ethanol and follow its own guidance and process used for the 2016 and 2017 cellulosic RVOs.”

Chris Bliley, Vice President of Regulatory Affairs at Growth Energy said in order for their members to continue making investments in developing technology they need policy certainty. “If we want energy dominance and innovation, we need to continue to build upon the success of the RFS by maintaining the commitment to 15 billion gallons of conventional biofuel and moving forward – not backward – on cellulosic. Doing so will promote certainty and further investment,” he said.