No one seems to be pleased with the Environmental Protection Agency’s RFS announcement including ethanol producers, corn farmers, oil and gas industries. After a year delay, the EPA announced its proposed Renewable Volume Obligations for biofuels under the Renewable Fuel Standard.
EPA’s proposed total RFS levels are 15.93 billion gallons of ethanol-equivalent fuels (cellulosic, biomass diesel, advanced biofuel and corn-based ethanol) in 2014; 16.3 billion gallons in 2015; and 17.4 billion gallons in 2016. For corn-based ethanol, the EPA set the levels at 13.4 billion gallons for this year and 14 billion gallons for 2016. This is below the 15 billion gallons that Congress established. The EPA’s acting assistant administrator for Office of Air, Janet McCabe, said, “This proposal marks an important step forward in making sure the Renewable Fuel Standard program delivers on the Congressional intent to increase biofuel use, lower greenhouse gas emissions and improve energy security. We believe these proposed volume requirements will provide a strong incentive for continued investment and growth in biofuels.”
The EPA’s view was not shared by corn growers, the renewable fuels industry and the oil industry. The National Corn Growers Association said it was looking at options including legal. The NCGA said, “Once again, the EPA has chosen to ignore the law by cutting the corn ethanol obligation 3.75 billion gallons from 2014 to 2016. This represents nearly a billion and a half bushels in lost corn demand. The only beneficiary of the EPA’s decision is Big Oil, which has continuously sought to undermine the development of clean, renewable fuels. Unfortunately, the EPA’s gift to Big Oil comes at the expense of family farmers, American consumers and the air we breathe.”
The Renewable Fuels Association said, “Today' announcement represents a step backward for the RFS. The EPA successfully enforced a 13.8 billion gallon RVO in 2013. The industry produced 14.3 billion gallons of ethanol last year. There is no reason to promulgate an RVO rule that takes us backward. All it will do is result in an ever-increasing supply of renewable fuel credits that will further discourage private sector investment in infrastructure and technology. This doesn't make sense.” The American Petroleum Institute called on Congress to address the RFS. The API said, “Today’s announcement makes abundantly clear that the only solution is for Congress to repeal or significant reform the RFS.”
At the same time of the EPA’s announcement, the USDA announced that it was investing $100 million into the “Biofuels Infrastructure Partnership” program with a goal of doubling the number of fuel pumps that would be capable of using higher ethanol blends such as E15 and E85.