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EPA holds hearing on RFS standards

Ag groups speak in support of RFS.

The Environmental Protection Agency held a public hearing on the RFS standards for 2018 and the biomass-based diesel volume for 2019 on Aug. 1 in Washington, D.C.

Among those giving testimony were members of the American Soybean Association and the National Corn Growers Association.

ASA viewpoint

Iowa farmer and American Soybean Association vice president John Heisdorffer called on the Environmental Protection Agency to increase the Renewable Fuel Standard volumes for biomass-based diesel to at least 2.75 billion gallons for 2019 and to increase total Advanced Biofuels volumes to 5.25 billion gallons in 2018.

Heisdorffer said the biodiesel industry has expanded markets for farmers and livestock producers and created new jobs and economic growth, particularly in rural America. Biodiesel production creates a value-added market for the co-product soybean oil generated by the growing global demand for protein meal.

“The biodiesel industry has provided these benefits without any significant disruption or adverse impacts to consumers,” Heisdorffer testified. “Our industry has always advocated for RFS volumes that are modest and achievable and we have met or exceeded the targets each and every year that the program has been in place.”

Heisdorffer also runs a hog operation in his hometown of Keota, and noted that the biodiesel industry presents an added benefit for the livestock industry.

“The market outlet that biodiesel provides for soybean oil also benefits livestock production by improving the margins for soybean processing and lowering the cost of soy meal used for livestock feed,” he stated. “A 2015 analysis … showed that biodiesel resulted in lower feed costs for U.S. livestock producers that ranged from $21 to $42 per ton, totaling $5.9 to $11.8 billion in total value.”

Corn grower viewpoint

Renewable fuels benefit our economy, our energy security, and our environment, and the EPA should set a strong volume for all renewable fuel types, National Corn Growers Association Board member Keith Alverson testified today. 

“My local ethanol plant was constructed one year prior to my college graduation. That plant and the economic opportunity it created is a large part of what enabled me, as well as other young farmers, to return to the farm,” said Alverson, a sixth-generation farmer from Chester, South Dakota. “Because ethanol production is a vital market for corn farmers, we are pleased EPA proposed an implied volume of 15 billion gallons for conventional renewable fuel.”

While praising the EPA’s proposed volume for conventional renewable fuels, Alverson expressed concern that EPA proposed an overall volume of renewable fuels that is 40 million gallons below 2017 figures, and a cellulosic biofuel volume that is 73 million gallons lower.

“We ask the EPA to maintain the proposed conventional fuel requirement in the final rule… [but] set higher final volumes for cellulosic, advanced and total biofuels in order to draw the continued investment and innovation needed to maintain the expansion of cellulosic and advanced fuel production. 

“As EPA noted in the proposed rule, many ethanol producers are investing in new technologies to produce cellulosic ethanol at existing facilities. NCGA urges EPA to work with producers to fully quantify this production and consider all 2017 cellulosic data,” Alverson testified. 

EPA is accepting public comments on the proposed 2018 volumes through Aug. 31.

Growth Energy comments

"The Renewable Fuel Standard has and continues to be one of the most successful energy policies that we have on the books today," said Chris Bliley, vice president of regulatory affairs for Growth Energy.

Bliley said Growth Energy is concerned about the agency's backpedaling on advanced biofuels and cellulosic biofuel.

"By significantly reducing the cellulosic volumes for 2018, the agency is sending the wrong signal regarding further advancement toward meaningful cellulosic production," Bliley said.

Source: ASA, NCGA, Growth Energy

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