Is Iowa Putting the Cart Before the Horse?

Joanna Schroeder

Is the Iowa Environmental Protection Commission (EPC) putting the cart before the horse in their proposition to add greenhouse gas emission amendments to the Iowa Administrative Code? The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) and Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) think so. The two organizations have joined forces to urge the EPC to delay consideration on decisions that would increase the regulatory burden faced by Iowa’s biofuels producers. The industry has been struggling from an economic slowdown and faces additional uncertainty at the federal level regarding similar GHG regulations.

In addition, the groups say that passing GHG regulations at the state level could put Iowa at odds with federal regulations if and when they are passed.

The two organizations wrote in their comment letter, “In addition to substantially increasing the regulatory burden faced by the state’s biofuel producers, we are concerned that amendments by the EPC may result in Iowa implementing more stringent regulatory requirements than may ultimately be required by the federal regulation with which the state is seeking to harmonize. As such, we are urging the EPC to delay consideration of the proposed amendments until such time that there is more certainty surrounding federal regulatory actions intended to regulate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Alternatively, and at the very least, EPC should add certain provisions to its amendments that would nullify regulatory actions based on federal rules that may ultimately be stayed or deemed invalid by a court.”

More than likely, if the EPC were to pass GHG regulations, they would face a similar fate as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) who is facing a multitude of legal challenges opposing the rules including a motion to stay any further EPA action on this front.

“Given these pending legal challenges, the state of Iowa should not adopt proposed changes to the state law and revision to its Clean Air Act Implementation Plan that could ultimately make its regulations more stringent than federal regulations. This is precisely what would occur should the EPA Tailoring Rule be stayed or ultimately invalidated,” continued the letter.

According to the two groups, another major issue which renders the EPC consideration premature is the EPA’s movement to include biogenic emissions of C02 under the Tailoring Rule. Should EPC adopt this rule, it would put them in violation by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, which acknowledge the carbon neutrality of biogenic emissions from biofuels production.

Ultimately, RFA and IRFA are asking that if EPC continues to move forward with its GHG emission policy, then they should include provisions that would nullify their policies if the federal Tailoring Rule is stayed or deemed invalid. You can read the comments in full here.

Environment, Ethanol, RFA