A group of Midwestern governors, all members of the Governors’ Biofuels Coalition, have sent letters to President Barack Obama expressing their support for the Renewable Fuel Standard. These letters come in response to the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal which would scale back the volume of renewable fuels required under the Renewable Fuel Standard in 2014. In a joint letter to the president, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman, North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple and South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard argue in defense of the ethanol standard. The letter stresses the importance of ethanol as it diversifies America’s energy portfolio, gives consumers choices at the pump, supports economic development in rural communities and reduces harmful emissions across the nation.
Providing evidence of their claims, the governors point to an Iowa State University estimate that says “corn prices alone could drop 19 cents per bushel based on the proposed rule, which could bring corn prices below the cost of production for many farmers. The proposed EPA rule could also cause a ripple effect on agri-business, our communities, and the entire economy.”
The letter sends a direct request from the governors to the Obama administration asking it use its regulatory authority to support the growing renewable fuels industry.
“Specifically, we hope that you will encourage the EPA to increase the biodiesel volume to reflect current production levels, modify the cellulosic target to match production expectations, and reinstate the statutory conventional renewable fuel target since there is clearly no domestic supply shortage.”
In November, the EPA proposed cutting by 3 billion gallons the amount of renewable fuels that would be blended into the U.S. fuel supply next year. It included reducing corn-based ethanol use by about 1.4 billion gallons.
In a separate letter to the president, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn directly requested that the EPA reconsider the proposed rule. Quinn stresses the economic and environmental importance of ethanol while pointing to the role the domestically-produced biofuel plays in providing jobs in rural America.
Quinn points out that the total economic impact of the 14 ethanol plants in Illinois is estimated to be approximately $5.3 billion annually and that these facilities directly provide 4,000 jobs. Displacing more than 35 percent of that state’s petroleum use, he argues that the loss of demand for millions of bushels of corn would negatively impact the entire farm economy.