Biofuels industry highlights innovation, responds to anti-RFS campaign

By Aarian Marshall

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



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WASHINGTON, Jan. 18, 2013 - Prominent members of the biofuels industry repeated their case for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) in a teleconference yesterday, two days after the American Petroleum Institute (API) introduced a new advertising campaign to promote the nation's refining industry. 

“RFS is working as Congress intended it to work,” said Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) Executive Vice President Brett Erickson. “The accomplishments of the biotech industry cannot be overstated. For any industry to move from the drawing board…to commercial sale in the space of a decade is tremendous.” 

“There have been billions of dollars in private investment in the industry,” said Christopher Standlee, executive vice president of Abengoa Bioenergy. “We're extremely proud to be part of this effort.”

BIO and Abengoa Bioenergy are both members of Fuels America, a coalition of organizations committed to protecting the RFS.

Proponents highlighted biofuels' abilities to create new jobs, allow consumers choice in fuels, reduce dependence on foreign energy sources and ease the nation's reliance on greenhouse gas-emitting fossil fuels.

The Fuels America representatives devoted much of their time to promoting a number of cellulosic fuel projects just about to come online. The success of these projects is a direct rebuttal to anti-RFS arguments, many of which rest on the premise that the RFS is too ambitious given the current state of biofuels technology.

Project LIBERTY is a Poet-DSM joint venture will be the first commercial-scale, cellulosic ethanol plant when it opens in late 2013. The plant, which will be attached to an already existing Poet ethanol complex in Emmetsburg, Iowa, is “on schedule,” according to Wade Robey, a board member of POET-DSM. The company projects the plant will produce 25 million gallons per year.

Abengoa Bioenergy expects to open its own cellulosic ethanol and biomass energy plant in Hugtoton, Kan., by June 2013. The company says their plant will also produce 25 million gallons per year.

The EPA's final rule on the renewable fuel standard (RFS2) requires the country to produce 36 billion gallons (136.3 billion liters) of renewable fuel by 2022.

Robey argued that the RFS' high bar has created unprecedented innovation. “That optimism (of RFS2) has spurred all those projects coming online soon across the US,” he said.

Last year, EPA denied a waiver of the RFS, even in light of 2012's devastating drought. “The Agency recognizes that this year's drought has created significant hardships in many sectors of the economy,” it said. “However, the agency's extensive analysis makes clear that Congressional requirements for a waiver have not been met and that waiving the RFS would have little, if any, impact on ethanol demand over the time period analyzed.”

 

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