John Davis, from Delaware County, testified on the importance of the RFS in late 2013.

Renewable fuel proponents speaking up as EPA decision draws near

National Corn Growers Association President Chip Bowling has urged President Obama to reverse the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed cuts in the Renewable Fuel Standard’s volume obligation and adhere to the statute of the law itself.

In a letter sent in mid-November, Bowling noted that the most recent estimates from the U.S. Department of Agriculture has forecast a larger than expected crop at 13.65 billion bushels, and lower projected price for corn — nearly a dollar per-bushel lower than the cost of production.

“Contrary to the erroneous criticism spread by the oil industry, biofuels have not driven up the price of food or fuel,” Bowling wrote. “Your administration’s proposed blending targets will decrease the availability of renewable fuels, further exacerbating already low corn prices, and causing further, significant, harm to the agriculture sector.”

Rural America cannot afford this, Bowling told the president.

“We urge you to reverse the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed reduction in the RVO and adhere to the statute. This action will provide a crucial demand signal to commodity markets, benefit rural economies, and solidify your commitment to a lower carbon future. The EPA’s recommendation is one we cannot afford in America’s heartland.”

The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) received the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) final proposed rule on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). This was the final stage of the review process and is an indication that the Administration was on track to finalize the rule by Nov. 30.

The official public comment period on the EPA Proposed Rule closed on July 27. The initial EPA proposal released in May set biomass-based diesel volumes at 1.63 for 2014, rising by approximately 100 million gallons per year to 1.9 billion gallons in 2017.

While these volumes were a significant increase from the original 2013 EPA proposal of 1.28 billion gallons, the American Soybean Association (ASA) has urged EPA to support more aggressive, but achievable, RFS volume targets for biodiesel. Given the many benefits of biodiesel and the capability for increased production, EPA should, at a minimum, support biomass-based diesel volumes of at least 2 billion gallons for 2016 and 2.3 billion gallons for 2017.

Ethanol supporters also really ramped up efforts and called out their opposition leading up to the EPA decision. The NCGA n expressed deep disappointment in members of Congress from corn-producing states who asked the EPA to reduce the volume of ethanol in the nation’s fuel supply. This includes Jim Jordan (R), Steve Chabot (R), and Bradley Wenstrup (R) from Ohio.

“I’m disappointed to see Members of Congress turn their back on farmers and rural communities,” said Wesley Spurlock, first vice president of the NCGA. “The Renewable Fuel Standard has been one of the most successful energy policies ever enacted. The RFS works. It has reduced our dependence on foreign oil. It has made the rural economy stronger. And it has been better for the environment. It’s puzzling that these Representatives would not want to support it.”

In a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy dated Nov. 4, House members asked the EPA to reduce the Renewable Volume Obligation (RVO), the amount of biofuels blended into the nation’s fuel supply, despite the fact that doing so would violate congressional statute. Electronic document properties have since revealed that the letter was drafted by an oil industry lobbyist, as reported by Bloomberg News.

“This letter has Big Oil’s fingerprints all over it,” Spurlock said. “The letter includes false attacks on ethanol that have been disproven time and again. The blend wall is a false construct. We have known from the beginning that eventually we would need higher blends of ethanol to meet the statutory requirements. That was the point: to replace fossil fuels with renewables. The oil industry doesn’t want to hear that. That’s why they have spent hundreds of millions of dollars trying to repeal the RFS, even to the point of having their lobbyists write this letter.”

Spurlock called on farmers, employees of the renewable fuels industry, and rural community leaders to contact their elected officials and make their voices heard leading up to the EPA decision.

“Ethanol is the backbone of the rural economy, and the elected officials who represent these communities need to hear from us. It’s up to us to tell them this is unacceptable and hold them accountable,” he said. “Corn farmers are doing their part to feed and fuel America. It’s time for Congress to do their part and stand up for energy independence, clean air, and strong rural communities.”

In addition to the Representatives from Ohio, the following members of Congress from corn-producing states signed the letter.

Colorado: Mike Coffman (R), Doug Lamborn (R)

Illinois: Robert Dold (R)

Kansas: Mike Pompeo (R)

Kentucky: Thomas Massie (R), Andy Barr (R)

Maryland: Andy Harris (R)

Michigan: Dan Benishek (R), Mike Bishop (R), Tim Walberg (R)

Missouri: Billy Long (R)

North Carolina: G. K. Butterfield (D), Robert Pittenger (R), David Rouzer (R), George Holding (R), Renee Elmers (R), Walter Jones (R), Virginia Foxx (R), Richard Hudson (R)

New York: John Katko (R), Christopher Gibson (R), Tom Reed (R), Chris Collins (R), Lee Zeldin (R), Richard Hanna (R), Peter King (R)

Pennsylvania: Lou Barletta (R), Glenn Thompson (R), Ryan Costello (R), Joseph Pitts (R), Keith Rothfus (R), Charles Dent (R), Bill Shuster (R), Patrick Meehan (R), Tim Murphy (R), Scott Perry (R), Mike Kelly (R)

Texas: Marc Veasey (D), Henry Cuellar (D), Filemon Vela (D), Gene Green (D), Ruben Hinojosa (D), Joaquin Castro (D), Kevin Brady (R), Will Hurd (R), Randy Weber (R), Kay Granger (R), Randy Neugebauer (R), Roger Williams (R), Jeb Hensarling (R), Pete Session (R), Louie Gohmert (R), Lamar Smith (R), Mike Conaway (R), Sam Johnson (R), Kenny Marchant (R), Michael Burgess (R), John Culberson (R), Ted Poe (R), Blake Farenthold (R), Michael McCaul (R), Brian Babin (R), John Ratcliffe (R), Joe Barton (R), John Carter (R), Pete Olson (R), Mac Thornberry (R), Bill Flores (R)

Virginia: Scott Rigell (R), Robert Wittman (R), Morgan Griffith (R), Robert Hurt (R), Barbara Comstock (R), Dave Brat (R), Bob Goodlatte (R)

Wisconsin: Glenn Grothman (R), James Sensenbrenner (R)



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