The EPA issued a news release about proposed volume requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) for future years and included glowing language about setting volumes of “ambitious yet responsible growth.” The reaction from the agricultural community in general was that the EPA is being irresponsible in not supporting the U.S. becoming less dependent on “Big Oil.”
The standards for domestic ethanol use have been adjusted lower, but this should not be done according to farm organizations. For ethanol, the numbers are somewhat of a compromise between original congressionally mandated volumes and actual ethanol use that is limited by oil company resistance to using more than 10 percent ethanol in the majority of gasoline.
“Congress was clear in its intent: The United States can and should produce significantly more ethanol for the nation’s cars and trucks than the EPA has proposed. The Renewable Fuel Standard has produced jobs, decreased reliance on imported oil and contributed to cleaner air. For those reasons, we need more ethanol, not less, and living up to congressional mandates is the place to begin. We look forward to commenting on the rule and working with both Congress and the administration to take full advantage of this renewable fuel resource,” said Bob Stallman, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation.
The EPA proposal will be open for comment beginning July 27 with a final rule expected by Nov. 30. The EPA’s new targets for the nation’s RFS, which determines how much ethanol will be blended into the nation’s gasoline supplies, is proposed to be 16.3 billion and 17.4 billion gallons for 2015 and 2016. This is significantly short of the 16.3 billion and 17.4 billion gallons mandated by Congress for 2015 and 2016, respectively, noted the AFBF.
The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) responded similarly to that of the AFBF and also noted the lower RFS—a cut in corn ethanol obligation of 3.75 billion gallons from 2014 to 2016—represents nearly a billion and a half bushels in lost corn demand.
“The only beneficiary of the EPA’s decision is Big Oil, which has continuously sought to undermine the development of clean, renewable fuels,” said Chip Bowling, president of the NCGA.
The American Soybean Association also got into the criticism of the EPA because of volume requirements for biomass-based diesel fuel through 2017 that “do not fully recognize or capitalize on the capacity and further growth potential of U.S. biodiesel.”
The increases in biomass-based diesel fuel are positive, although they could be larger. The EPA proposed volumes are as follows:
2015—1.7 billion gallons of biomass-based diesel, 2.9 billion gallons of advanced biofuels
2016—1.8 billion gallons of biomass-based diesel, 3.4 billion gallons of advance biofuels
2017—1.9 billion gallons of biomass-based diesel.
“We’re hardly done fighting for biodiesel,” said Wade Cowan, ASA president. “As we have in the preceding months and years, ASA will continue to point out the benefits and importance of this critical market for soybean farmers.”