In November 2013, the Environmental Protection Agency announced plans to reduce the Renewable Volume Obligation for the Renewable Fuels Standard. A 60-day comment period on the proposal ends January 28, and reports indicated EPA does not plan to extend the deadline.
Every November, the EPA is required to provide the RVOs that refineries use to blend biofuels into the market. While the EPA has the authority to reduce the RVOs, it never has before.
EPA released a proposal that would set the RVO for biomass-based diesel at 1.28 billion gallons for 2014 and 2015. The proposal would also reduce the total Advanced Biofuel requirements to 2.2 billion gallons in 2014.
EPA proposed a 1.4 billion gallon reduction in how much corn ethanol will be required under the RFS. The changes reduce the overall requirement from 18.15 billion gallons to 15.21 billion gallons, citing the “blend wall” or the maximum amount of renewable fuel that can be blended at 10% with estimated gasoline consumption in the future.
In recent weeks several different Congressional delegations have met with EPA administrator Gina McCarthy.
Last week Rep. Kristi Noem (R., S.D.) and Rep. Cheri Bustos (D., Ill.) led a bipartisan group of 30 members of Congress in expressing concern over EPA's proposal to RVOs under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). This is the first time the EPA has proposed a reduction in the amount of ethanol to be blended in our nation’s gasoline supply.
In a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, the members said that reducing the amount of renewable fuels in gasoline could hurt rural economies, jeopardize American jobs, raise prices at the pump and deter investment in biofuels and biofuel infrastructure.
On the Senate side a bipartisan group of 31 senators led by Senators Dick Durbin (D., Ill.), Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa), Al Franken (D., Minn.), and John Thune (R-S.D.) also voiced concerns in a letter to the EPA that it’s proposed rule will discourage investment and hurt job growth and rural communities across the country.
Livestock groups including the National Pork Producers Council, National Turkey Federation and National Chicken Council have all lobbied for changes to the RFS and voiced support for the lower RVO levels when they were released.
Comments may be submitted at www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=EPA-HQ-OAR-2013-0479-0037.
The National Corn Growers Assn. set up a portal to assist in making comments here. The American Soybean Assn. has a similar site available here.