Hundreds of farmers and supporters of renewable Fuels gather in Kansas City on Thursday for a rally and to testify before the EPA in support of the Renewable Fuel Standard. After proposing its final rule on how much ethanol can be blended into our gasoline, the EPA scheduled one public hearing in Kansas City. Despite that fact that many still had crops to plant, farmers by the hundreds gather to testify and to rally outside to press the EPA to revise their rule. Tim Phelps, with the Indiana Ethanol Producers Association, was one of the Hoosiers at the event who presented testimony before the EPA. Phelps said the future of the ethanol industry is vital to all of Indiana, “Indiana has 14 ethanol plants that produce about 1 billion gallons annually. That puts the Hoosier state 4th nationally in production or about 7% of the market.” In addition, the renewable fuels industry generates over $6 billion and generates about 25,000 jobs in Indiana.
Phelps told HAT that the EPA’s decision keep the amount of ethanol that can be blended into gasoline lower is the wrong move, “The amount the EPA wants to reduce ethanol demand by in 2016 is 1 billion gallons — the amount of ethanol Indiana produces annually. Such a move would have a tremendous impact on farmers and motorists.” He said farmers and ethanol producers have made the investment in renewable fuels, but it is the oil industry that is refusing to allow more ethanol into our fuel supply, “The oil industry says there is not enough infrastructure to meet the demands of the RFS, but they were supposed to develop the infrastructure and have failed to do so.”
NCGA President Chip Bowling also testified before the EPA. “We simply cannot afford – and will not tolerate – efforts to cut the demand for corn, and that’s exactly what your proposal will do,” Bowling told the EPA. “We cannot let this stand. We’ve done our part, and our allies in the ethanol industry have done their part. It’s time the EPA sided with those of us supporting a domestic, renewable fuel that’s better for the environment.”
Tom Buis, with Growth Energy, testified that, “EPA’s latest RVO proposal to waive the statutory renewable volume obligations would eviscerate the promise of the RFS. It would cause severe harm to farmers, the biofuels industry, and the nation’s economy. This proposal is already creating great uncertainty for farmers and other industry investors.”
American Soybean Association Kansas Director Bob Henry pointed to the many benefits of renewable biodiesel produced from soybean oil as he called on the agency to maintain its commitment to clean, domestically-produced renewable energy. “The biodiesel and soybean industry has always advocated for RFS volumes that are modest and achievable, and we have met or exceeded the targets each and every year that the program has been in place,” added Henry. “We have done this without any significant disruption or adverse impacts to consumers. And I would reiterate that we’ve done this while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions and providing jobs.” Henry pointed out that ASA is “glad” that EPA’s proposed rule increases volumes for biodiesel in the RFS to 1.9 billion gallons in 2017, but noted that the agency has an opportunity to support more aggressive biodiesel levels in the future.
Renewable Fuels Association’s senior vice president, Geoff Cooper, and its board chairman, Randy Doyal, urged the agency to implement the statute as Congress intended and to abandon its blend wall methodology in setting the 2014–2016 renewable volume obligations. “We continue to believe EPA is overstepping the bounds of its legal authority by proposing to partially waive the RFS based on perceived distribution capacity constraints,” Cooper said in his prepared remarks. “Nothing in the statute allows EPA to set the renewable volume obligations (RVOs) based on the so-called ‘blend wall’ or alleged infrastructure limitations. Congress considered measures that would have allowed waivers based on distribution infrastructure. But they rejected those concepts because they knew allowing such off-ramps would allow oil companies to hold the RFS program hostage.”
Brenda Heffelfinger, business manager, Grain Processing, DuPont Industrial Biosciences, testified, “DuPont believes the proposed 2014 to 2016 Renewable Fuel Standards (RFS) rule is misguided and is a major step backward. Since the RFS was first enacted, the United States has quickly risen to lead the world in biofuels technology and execution. But that leadership is now hanging in the balance, dependent upon the actions of the EPA to correctly administer this policy.”