A "who's who" of the Renewable Fuel Standard debate appeared at an Environmental Protection Agency hearing Thursday to either defend the EPA's proposed 2014 RFS volume decreases or advocate instead for restored mandates.
The hearing comes in response to EPA's November proposal which suggested 2014 mandated production levels that were lower than originally projected. The proposal capped total renewable fuel blending requirements at no more than 15.52 billion gallons, about 1 billion gallons fewer than 2013 totals.
Fuel and ag industry heavyweights like the Renewable Fuels Association, National Corn Growers Association and American Petroleum Institute were among stakeholders offering comments. Those supporting the decrease largely argued the merits of ethanol quality and ethanol's impact on the free market, while opponents suggested the decrease would slow growth in biofuels use and economic development.
Nearly 150 people signed up to voice comments on the proposal before the EPA committee.
Economy, job growth key element of RFS trickle-down
Supporters rallied behind a call to return renewable volume obligations back to levels in line with 2013, citing potential harm to rural economies that depend on jobs and revenue generated at ethanol plants and from the corn used to produce the fuel.
Iowa Republican Gov. Terry Branstad, who issued a plea Wednesday during a Renewable Fuels Association teleconference, delivered a fiery message to EPA's panel centered on the economics of the RFS rollback.
"We don't need to drive the number of people employed down, we need to drive it up," Branstad said, estimating that 45,000 jobs would be lost as a result of the EPA proposal.