WASHINGTON, May 6, 2015 – EPA’s delays in rulemaking for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) over the past two years have resulted in an estimated $13.7 billion shortfall in investment in advanced and cellulosic biofuels, according to the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) analysis released Monday.
BIO has tracked the advanced biofuel industry’s development and construction of biorefineries since 2009. To date, the industry has invested more than $5 billion in first-of-a-kind demonstration and commercial-scale biorefineries around the world. The analysis finds that as of April 2015, there are five commercial cellulosic biorefineries with a combined capacity of more than 50 million gallons within the United States and registered to meet the goals of the RFS, along with several pilot and demonstration plants. Additional commercial biorefineries are under construction. These advanced biorefineries employ 5,125 scientists, engineers and operations personnel. Construction of these facilities has created an additional 8,600 fulltime positions over the past five years.
“Cellulosic and advanced biofuel producers have now reached commercial status, enabling them to build additional biorefineries based on proven technology with lower risk and reduced costs. But just as the industry reached this stage of commercialization, EPA rulemaking delays generated instability in the RFS program and intolerable investment uncertainty,” noted Brent Erickson, executive vice president of BIO’s Industrial & Environmental Section. The report is available here.
The report was released just prior to a letter from biofuels leaders to President Obama, asking for a meeting before the proposed rules are released next month. The letter, which highlights uncertainty in the industry, was signed by the Renewable Fuels Association, National Corn, POET, DSM, Novozymes, Growth Energy, BIO, AEM, AEC, and Abengoa.
“But 18 months ago, your Administration unilaterally and unwisely disrupted years of policy stability, replacing certainty with uncertainty. This was enormously disruptive and has largely frozen investment in the advanced biofuel industry. Indeed, not a single additional commercial scale cellulosic ethanol plant has selected a site in the United States since the EPA’s November 2013 announcement,” the authors explained.
“The problem with the EPA’s flawed proposal wasn’t just that it called for less renewable fuel and thus more foreign oil. The bigger problem was that it was a fundamental shift in the EPA’s approach, which undermined the confidence of investors in the future of advanced biofuels, and in your administration’s willingness to take on oil companies.”
The letter to President Obama closes by saying: “The EPA’s proposal in 2013 was an enormous disservice to you and your legacy, Mr. President. Prior to the release of that proposal, we had asked to meet with the EPA, but were rebuffed. We would like to work with you to ensure that the mistake is not repeated.”
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