EPA maintains renewable fuel standard, draws scorn from farmers and refiners

Violet Powell
December 2, 2017

The Renewable Fuel Association, a biofuels industry group, said it was pleased EPA didn't scale back the levels, but argued the Renewable Fuel Standard needs to be a "forward-looking program" to drive investment in new technologies.

"These flat volumes will harm Americans across several job-creating sectors - be they farmers, grease collectors, crushers, biodiesel producers or truckers - as well as consumers", said Doug Whitehead, chief operating officer for the NBB.

At issue this week was the Renewable Fuel Standard, a program that requires refiners to blend an increasing amount of renewable fuels like corn-based ethanol into traditional fuels like gasoline.

Industry officials say biodiesel demand is greatly affected by the EPA's required levels, and that this new volume will stunt growth.

However, the National Biodiesel Board noted that the EPA recommended only 4.29 billion gallons of advanced biofuels and 2.1 billion gallons of biomass-based diesel, a reduction and a flatline, respectively, from previous year. The volume requirements are 19.29 billion gallons for renewable fuel, up from the 19.28 billion gallons; 2.1 billion gallons for biomass-based diesel, up from 2 billion gallons; and 4.29 billion gallons for cellulosic ethanol, up from 4.28 billion gallons.

"Unfortunately, it appears that EPA did exactly what Senator Grassley demanded, bowing the knee to King Corn", Chet Thompson, AFPM's president and CEO, said, referring to the Republican senior US senator from Iowa. To keep this momentum strong, the EPA must take bold steps toward growth, as outlined by President Trump. "That is disappointing", he said in a statement.

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"Moving forward, we ask EPA to revisit the growth in cellulosic fuel production, particularly as first-generation ethanol producers expand cellulosic gallons made from feedstocks such as corn kernel fiber", Skunes said. "He stood by that, but we still want to see growth in the industry".

Other members of the Iowa congressional delegation expressed similar sentiments; Grassley was among them, but in Wednesday's release he said he's also not surprised.

"While I hoped for higher levels, they aren't unexpected and are unfortunately in line with EPA's original proposal".

While campaigning for president in 2016, Trump promised to support renewable fuels.

Today's announcement of the final 2018 Renewable Volume Obligation under the Renewable Fuel Standard is either pleasing or a missed opportunity, depending on your point of view. The agency noted that the final renewable fuel standards for 2018 and biomass-based diesel volumes for 2019 differ slightly from the limits it proposed earlier this year. She added she would continue to push for higher biodiesel and cellulosic amounts.

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