Ethanol industry defends RFS with new report

By Sarah Gonzalez

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, Dec. 19, 2013-The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) released a report today defending the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS), which the Obama administration recently proposed to lower from 18.15 billion gallons specified for 2014 to 15.21 billion gallons.

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Claiming that the RFS “is doing everything it's supposed to do and more,” Bob Dinneen, the RFA's chief executive officer, said “We're not even halfway through the revolutionary 15-year energy plan that became law six years ago today.”

The report, “Celebrating Six Years of The Renewable Fuel Standard,” lists a 60 percent increase in ethanol industry jobs since 2007 as well as drop in gasoline imports and a decline in the share of imported crude oil used to meet U.S. demand.

Geoff Cooper, RFA's vice president of research and analysis, said that increased oil and natural gas production had a significant impact in lowering foreign oil dependence, but added that a jump in production of renewable under the RFS “certainly played a role.”

Dinneen said he had not expected the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to propose the reduction of the national requirement for ethanol and biofuel production. “But it's not over yet,” he said. “It's a proposed rule and we will be working hard to make sure the administration restores the integrity of the RFS program.”

Public comments on the proposal close at the end of January 2014. 

Sens. Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and Kay Hagan, D-N.C, introduced a bill last week that would fully repeal corn ethanol requirements built into the RFS. Livestock industry representatives, including National Turkey Federation President Joel Brandenberger, support the bill, saying that current ethanol policy forces competition for corn, a major cost in poultry production.

“The resulting volatility in corn prices hit hard, but then recedes slowly,” Brandenberger said. “Turkeys are being fed off last season's purchase of high-priced corn, and those costs linger well after the lower-priced corn harvest available now."

However, several farm-state lawmakers, including Sens. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, recently met with EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, urging that the current RFS mandates be maintained.

Grassley said that by reducing the mandate, the EPA would be rewarding “Big Oil's obstruction to higher ethanol blends” in gasoline.

 “The Administrator heard a lot about the harm this proposal would do to the environment, our national and energy security, and our rural economies,” Grassley said in a statement after the meeting.

Grassley also said he invited McCarthy to visit Iowa for a field hearing on the RFS. 

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