On the eve of the Indiana Ethanol forum, the EPA released its proposal for the level of ethanol that can be blended into the nation’s fuel supply in 2017. The renewable fuel volume requirement at 14.8BG is 700 million gallons above the 2016 level, but still short of what is called for in the Renewable Fuels Standard. Beth Elliott with the National Corn Growers Association stated, “The level does not match the RFS, so in our minds they are still breaking the law.” NCGA has filed a lawsuit against the EPA over the 2016 levels, and Elliott told HAT they will likely do so over the 2017 numbers as well.
Speaking at the 2016 Indiana Ethanol Forum, Elliott says the EPA stopped short of what the RFS calls for because they don’t believe corn farmers can grow that much corn or that the ethanol industry can produce that much fuel, “There are some pencil pushers at EPA who just can’t reason with themselves that we can produce that much renewable fuel.” She said, with more and more e-15 pumps coming on line each day and corn yields increasing, there is no problem with breaking through the so-called blend wall and producing more renewable fuel.
The proposed rule is now in a comment period. Elliott believes with enough comments from farmers the agency will have to up their proposed level and comply with the law, “They do read the comments, and I think we are so close we can push the agency to meet the 15 billion gallons called for by the RFS.”
Meanwhile, Indiana Senator Joe Donnelly is spearheading legislation that would remove restrictions allowing fuel retailers to sell E-15 gasoline all year long. Elliott says, currently, they can only sell E-15 for 9 months, “This is an exciting piece of legislation, one that is focused on consumer choice.” Since it does not involve the RFS, she is optimistic some lawmakers who oppose the RFS will still support this legislation. Michael Ackerman, a fuel retailer in Jasper, IN, said being able to sell E-15 all year long will make it much easier for other retailers to make the change and start offering E-15 fuel.
Elliott told the Forum there is considerable opposition to ethanol and to corn in Washington and that agriculture faces an uphill fight to get more renewable fuel into the marketplace.