Oil prices have begun to rise, which means motorists are paying more at the pump. But EPA is missing an opportunity to help mitigate the increase by increasing the proposed volumes for biodiesel in its proposed rule for the Renewable Fuel Standard or RFS.
That’s what farmers representing some of the nation’s major farm organization said at a Public Hearing for Standards for 2017 and Biomass-based Diesel Volume for 2018 Under the Renewable Fuel Standard Program in Kansas City, Mo., today (June 9).
“We think EPA should enthusiastically support more aggressive, but easily achievable, volume targets for biodiesel,” said Ray Gaesser, an Iowa farmer and former chairman of the American Soybean Association. “We see no reason why EPA should not, at a minimum, support biomass-based diesel volumes of 2.5 billion gallons for 2018.”
By not increasing biomass-based diesel levels, Gaesser said, “EPA and the administration are missing an easy opportunity to help the ag and rural economy while at the same time achieving greater greenhouse gas emission reductions – a high priority for EPA and this administration.”
Another Iowa farmer, Randy Caviness, said he and other growers are working to benefit the environment. Caviness has been farming no-till for 10 years and has lead initiatives to install eight commercial-scale wind turbines in his home county of Adair, which is located in central Iowa.
Disappointing for agriculture
“EPA’s decision to not follow the intent of Congress in the 2007 RFS is highly disappointing to all of agriculture,” said Caviness, who spoke on behalf of the American Farm Bureau Federation. “This decision strikes a blow to conventional ethanol production and dampens the prospects for the further development of advanced biofuels.”
In 2015, he said, the U.S. produced 14.8 billion gallons of ethanol and 2.1 billion gallons of biodiesel, adding Iowa with its 43 ethanol refineries produced 4 billion gallons of ethanol. Iowa also has 12 biodiesel facilities, which produced 242 million gallons of biodiesel in 2015.
“Our nation’s farmers can grow more bushels of corn and soybeans on fewer acres to feed and fuel the world,” said Caviness. “At a time when commodity prices are below the cost of production, it is vitally important to follow the RFS law and volume requirements passed by Congress.”
Biodiesel is a domestically-produced, renewable fuel that is proven to achieve emissions reductions ranging from 50 to 86 percent better than petroleum diesel, according to Gaesser’s statement. “Accounting for approximately half of the feedstock used, soybean oil remains the largest source of oil for biodiesel production.
“ASA believes the Proposed Rule should implement a more aggressive biomass diesel program, especially considering the existing production capacity, feedstock availability and price, and the growing volumes of imports,” he said. “Given the economic and environmental benefits for biodiesel, we believe that the soybean industry and the EPA should be allies on RFS issues.”
‘Should do more’
He acknowledged EPA’s Proposed Rule does move forward with biomass-based diesel volumes, increasing them from 2 billion to 2.1 billion gallons from 2017 to 2018.
“But we can – and should – do more. Our differences with EPA’s proposed volumes are relatively small, but they are important,” he noted, adding an increase to 2.5 billion gallons of biodiesel in 2018 is “achievable and warranted.”
In a related development, the Renewable Fuels Association and Growth Energy, an organization representing ethanol producers and supporters, said they were pleased with a decision by a European court to annul the European Union’s countrywide 9.5 percent antidumping duty on all ethanol imported from the United States.
The EU General Court ruled the five-year antidumping duty of $83.03 per metric ton was invalid because the European Commission was required by EU law to give each sampled U.S. company its own antidumping rate. Instead, the EC based its countrywide rate on all parties, even though the majority of them were never properly sampled, in direct violation of both the European Commission’s own rules and longstanding WTO precedent.
In May 2013, RFA and Growth Energy filed a joint complaint, outlining violations by the European Commission in its antidumping investigation. The antidumping duty had effectively shut out U.S. ethanol producers from accessing the European market, which before the penalty was imposed had represented a 300-million gallon market.
'Never been assessed'
“The antidumping duty should have never been assessed,” said Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Bob Dinneen. “We feel vindicated and thank the EU General Court for its commonsense ruling.”
“From the beginning, we believed the implementation of an EU duty on imported ethanol violated EU law,” said Emily Skor, Growth Energy CEO. “We would like to thank the EU General Court for its fair and logical ruling, and are pleased with their decision.”
The antidumping duty will remain in place, pending a possible appeal by the EU. The EU has approximately two months to file an appeal.
To learn more on the Proposed Rule for RFS, click on ASA Statement for EPA Public Hearing on RFS Proprosed rule June 2016.
To read more about the EU decision, visit http://www.ethanolrfa.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/6_09_2016-Judgment-of-the-General-Court.pdf