The battle to preserve the Renewable Fuels Standard is out of the headlines, but it continues at a series of closed door meetings with high level administration officials in Washington. A few weeks ago, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack met privately with EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to press for higher levels of renewable fuels to be allowed in the US fuel supply. Last week, a coalition of farm groups met with McCarthy to deliver a similar message. 25×25 spokesman Ernie Shea, who moderated the meeting, said the group stressed the benefits of increased use of renewable fuels, “The single most important message we delivered is that the RFS is more than an agricultural issue. We stressed that the RFS is a jobs bill. It’s an environmental bill. It is a climate change solution.”
Shea said pressure must be put on the agency to revoke its proposal to reduce blending targets under the RFS, “The reality is that, up to this point, the EPA has bought into the blend wall argument promoted by the oil companies. They are trying to convince policy makers that, as a nation, we do not have the resources, the infrastructure, the vehicles to use more renewable fuels.” Groups attending the meeting included the American Soybean Association, National Corn Growers, and National Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts. He said the groups stressed to McCarthy that the RFS was put in place to drive a change in US energy production and consumption and that scaling back would keep the industry from growing.
Other topics discussed during the meeting included emerging conversion technologies, which will allow the significant amount of biomass feedstock’s available in the United States to produce as much as 80-100 billion gallons annually. Shea said a scaling back of the RFS would undermine investment in next generation biofuels. The Obama administration talks a lot about climate change, but is still greatly influenced by the big oil industry.