Corn, Biofuel Groups Testify to EPA on RFS

Corn and biofuel groups Tuesday made comments to the Environmental Protection Agency regarding its Renewable Fuel Standard proposal. EPA proposes Renewable Volume Obligations that Growth Energy says would undercut blending requirements for biofuel in 2021, and retroactively waive 2.96 billion gallons from 2020 RVOs finalized almost two years ago. Under the proposal, 2022 volumes return to statutory levels, and the administration pledges to deny all improper small refinery exemption applications. Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor welcomed some of the changes but says the proposal “sets an extremely troubling precedent of revising finalized volumes for 2020 and back-setting volumes for 2021 rather than driving growth in renewable fuels.” National Corn Growers Association President Chris Edgington says corn farmers produce low-carbon ethanol that offers immediate emissions reductions allowing agriculture to help address climate change. Edgington adds, “our success helping you meet these commitments depends on EPA sending a clear and firm message that volume requirements will be enforced.”

Other Quotes from the Hearing Below:

Quote from Chris Edgington, Iowa farmer and President of the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA):
“Corn farmers produce low-carbon feedstock for low-carbon ethanol, offering immediate and affordable emissions reductions and a vital pathway for agriculture to help address climate change. But our success helping you meet these commitments depends on EPA sending a clear and firm message that volume requirements will be enforced. … As EPA finalizes and enforces the delayed 2022 RFS volumes and puts the RFS on track, we ask you to work with us to achieve greater emission reductions and cleaner air through use of more renewable, sustainable, affordable ethanol.”  (Link to NCGA news release)

Quote from Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy:
“During the previous administration, the small refinery exemption program undercut the goals of the RFS, preventing EPA from ensuring the RVO was met each year. We appreciate the agency’s work to end this abuse and return to a true implied conventional volume of 15 billion gallons in 2022, along with promoting strong growth in advanced biofuels. We are also pleased that the agency has finally proposed to restore the first 250 million gallons illegally waived in the 2016 RVO with a commitment on the second 250 million gallons for 2023. EPA’s proposal, however, has some serious flaws that need to be addressed. It sets an extremely troubling precedent of revising finalized volumes for 2020 and back-setting volumes for 2021 rather than driving growth in renewable fuels. The proposed retroactive cuts to 2020 exceed EPA’s legal authority, and negatively impact the entire agriculture and fuel supply chains.” (Link to Growth Energy news release)

Quote from Geoff Cooper, President and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA):
“RFA supports the proposed volumes for 2022 for all categories of renewable fuel, and we specifically commend EPA for proposing to set the implied requirement for conventional renewable fuels at the statutory level of 15 billion gallons. We also support EPA’s proposal to account for projected exempt volumes from small refineries when setting RVO percentages. And, RFA agrees with EPA that, ‘in the interest of transparency,’ the Agency should release basic information about entities seeking exemptions from RFS compliance. … As for the 2021 RVO and the proposed revision to the 2020 RVO, we have serious concerns about EPA’s questionable use of its ‘reset’ authority. While we understand EPA has a statutory obligation to consider resetting future RFS volumes when certain thresholds are met, it does not appear that Congress intended for EPA to use its reset authority for the purpose of retroactively addressing unforeseen market anomalies like COVID or weather-related disasters.”  (Link to RFA news release)

Quote from David Cobb, Director of Federal Affairs at the National Biodiesel Board (NBB):
“Today’s proposal — while positive for future years’ growth — continues to undermine the industry and bow to the pressures of the refiners. The fact that this proposed rule opens another comment period for SREs just adds additional delays in finalizing a rule that is already late.” (Link to NBB news release w/ additional quotes)

Quote from Brooke Coleman, Executive Director of the Advanced Biofuels Business Council (ABBC):

“Many of my colleagues have and will talk about the issues associated with opening up 2020. But I want to talk about one aspect of that – retroactivity and its effect on innovation. RFS enforcement history has created an RFS believability problem that percolates and cycles through the whole supply chain. Failing to enforce the law, waiving it for dozens of oil refiners, retroactively opening old rules – it’s all retroactive compliance alleviation that undercuts innovation investment.” (Link to ABBC)

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