The ethanol industry and corn farmers are pleased, but biodiesel producers and soybean growers are not so much with new proposed levels for biofuels under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) released by the Environmental Protection Agency.
The 2018 RFS level for conventional biofuels, including corn ethanol, was maintained at 15 billion gallons, the maximum under current law, which Renewable Fuels Association president and CEO Bob Dinneen says will benefit both producers and consumers. “By maintaining the 15 billion gallon level for corn ethanol, the rule will also help to drive more investment in infrastructure to accommodate higher ethanol blends,” said Dinneen.
He is concerned, however, with the reduction in the cellulosic biofuel requirement to 238 million gallons but he understands that EPA has to base the numbers on actual production. “Unfortunately, last year and the year before cellulose did not meet their required volumes,” said Dinneen.
On the biodiesel side, the EPA proposal would maintain the minimum required biomass-based diesel volumes at 2.1 billion gallons for 2019, far below the industry request of 2.75 billion gallons. The EPA also proposed to set the 2018 RFS for advanced biofuels based on a minimum applicable volume of 4.24 billion gallons, a decrease from 4.28 billion gallons for 2017.
“This proposal continues to underestimate the ability of the biomass-based diesel industry to meet the volumes of the RFS program,” said Anne Steckel, vice president of federal affairs at the National Biodiesel Board. “The EPA should be committed to diversifying the diesel fuel market and prioritizing advanced biofuels. Targets like this ignore reality and the law, inhibiting growth in the industry.”
Steckel says it is important that the administration keep the RFS separate from trade issues such as low cost imports of biodiesel from Argentina. “The way that can be handled is through our anti-dumping and countervailing duty cases that are pending,” she said.
Learn more in this interview: Interview with Anne Steckel, NBB