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EPA Proposes Lower RFS Volumes for 2014

EPA says decision is based on 'blend wall' situation, asks for stakeholder input

Published on: Nov 15, 2013

Tom Buis, Growth Energy CEO, and Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., chairwoman of the Senate Ag Committee, pointed to "big oil" as the driver of the decision.

"We are only five years into a 15-year policy that is working and has saved Americans billions of dollars at the pump," Buis argued. "Now is not the time to turn back on the progress we have made and ask Americans to pad big oil's already record profits."

Similarly, Stabenow said the blend wall is a "crisis manufactured by the oil industry" and would pull the rug out from underneath a growing renewables sector.

Some groups similarly suggested the proposal would shrink the market share ethanol and advanced fuel has garnered over the past several years, and would send negative signals to ethanol investors while failing to keep pressure on fuels markets to accept growing levels of biofuels.

Lower investments, along with the potential for less production and therefore fewer jobs, remained a key argument from the National Biodiesel Board.

"This proposal, if it becomes final, would create a shrinking market, eliminate thousands of jobs and likely cause biodiesel plants to close across the country," NBB Vice President of Federal Affairs Anne Steckel said.

However, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack was quick to point out that just because the proposal indicates lower volumes, industry can still provide input to the EPA on the future of biofuels' distribution and goals for expanded consumer use.

"I am pleased that EPA is requesting comments on how we can help the biofuels industry expand the availability of high-ethanol blends, and I hope the industry uses the comment period to provide constructive suggestions," Vilsack commented.

AAA Motorclub, a group that says it supports development of renewable fuels, but not "unreachable" RFS targets, applauded the decision.

"The vast majority of cars on the roads today are not designed to run on gasoline containing more than 10% ethanol," explained Bob Darbelnet, AAA CEO. "While ethanol has the potential to support the economy and reduce the reliance on fossil fuels, it is irresponsible to mandate more ethanol than cars can safely use."

Comments from the American Petroleum Institute were also negative toward the proposal, though the group feels EPA did not go far enough.

"While the agency took a step in the right direction, more must be done to ensure Americans have the choice of ethanol-free gasoline for boats and small engines, and to bring their mandates closer to reality on cellulosic biofuels, which do not exist in commercial quantities," API President and CEO Jack Gerard said.

"For the first time, EPA has acknowledged that the blend wall is a dangerous reality that must be addressed to avoid serious impacts on America’s fuel supply and would be harmful for American consumers," he added.

Comments on the proposal will be open for 60 days following its submission to the Federal Register.

More information on the standards and regulations, click here.