While ethanol industry representatives agree that the EPA final rule for volume obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard is an improvement, most still are disappointed.
American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) Executive Vice President Brian Jennings says the final rule protects the oil industry from meeting the requirements that Congress intended.
“When Congress enacted the Renewable Fuel Standard it voted to side with those of us who said ‘yes we can’ reduce greenhouse gas emissions from motor fuel, ‘yes we can’ allow consumer access to E15 and flex fuels, and ‘yes we can’ spark innovative ways to produce cleaner fuels,” said Jennings. “While we appreciate that the Administration made incremental improvements compared to the proposed RFS rule, unfortunately, today they are choosing to side with those who say ‘no, we can’t’. Regrettably, EPA’s final RFS rule protects the old way of doing business by obstructing consumer access to cleaner fuels, stifling competition in the marketplace, and undermining innovation.”
Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) Executive Director Monte Shaw says the final rule is a blow to farmers and fuel choice for consumers. “Given EPA’s stated rationale for these numbers, one of the most successful energy policies in our nation’s history has been put squarely in the stranglehold of the petroleum industry,” said Shaw. “As a result, consumers will see higher prices at the pump and Iowa farmers will likely continue to see commodity prices below the cost of production.”
Iowa has 43 ethanol refineries capable of producing 3.9 billion gallons annually, including nearly 55 million gallons of annual cellulosic ethanol production capacity.
Nebraska Ethanol Board administrator Todd Sneller, who is also chairman of the Clean Fuels Development Coalition, called the final rule “disappointing but not unexpected” and said it means biofuels must move beyond government imposed limits and establish new value based on performance and environmental benefits. “The RFS was, and remains, a foundation to provide a solid base for biofuels to continue to develop,” Sneller said. “All this means is EPA will limit the amount of biofuels they intend to manage under this particular program. Ethanol’s high octane and cleaner-burning properties make it an extremely valuable fuel and we expect increasing demand for those reasons.”
“Our challenge and wake-up call is to provide a valuable product that does not depend on levels established by the EPA,” said Doug Durante, CFDC executive director. Although the EPA has chosen to limit the amount of fuels like ethanol under the RFS, Durante says the EPA could choose to increase biofuel demand by limiting toxic compounds in gasoline, which the agency is required to do under the Clean Air Act.
Former United States Senator and Americans for Energy Security and Innovation (AESI) Chairman Jim Talent said that this midterm modification to the RFS flies in the face of the intent of Congress when it passed the law, and says the President is saying that if oil companies refuse to comply with the law, then the EPA can waive the obligation.
Talent added, “It is clear that the Obama Administration and Democrats have once again abandoned Rural America by finalizing a new rule that undermines the Renewable Fuel Standard and threatens the 850,000 well-paying American jobs that have been created by this successful law. With billions invested in this industry thus far, the Obama Administration’s new lackluster standards threaten the already frozen $13.7 billion in investments in advanced biofuels and discourage new investments in clean energy.