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EPA Stands Firm with Decreased Biofuel Mandate

corn-ethanolAfter years of research and deliberation leading up to November 2013, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) agreed to drop their scheduled increases on biofuel production for the following year. The original figure from the 2007 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) required production of 18.15 billion gallons of alternative fuels in 2014, of which 14.4 billion gallons would be from corn ethanol. The newly proposed standard would take a substantial bite out of those figures, requiring 15.21 billion gallons total and 13.0 billion gallons derived from corn ethanol next year. Approximately 13.8 billion gallons of corn ethanol was generated in 2013.

Not surprisingly, the news did not resonate well with proponents of ethanol production. A crowd of nearly 300 people filled an assembly room in Washington D.C. on December 5 to discuss the proposed changes with the EPA. Around half of them testified at the hearing, which is ten times the amount at a similar meeting a year ago, according to an EPA official as reported by Reuters.

As a result, the session became an all-day event. Representatives on both sides of the issue deliberated over the new proposal. Few were as adamant as Iowa Governor Terry Branstad (R). Backed by five Iowa farmers and ethanol producers donning ‘Don’t Mess with the RFS’ buttons, Branstad strongly opposed the lower standards saying, “The RFS has worked well and helped revitalize rural America…[the proposed rule] will drive up the price of gas for consumers as it drives down profitability for agriculture and cost us a lot of jobs.” Branstad added that he believes “… the EPA is now caving in to the demands of big oil, who has always resisted renewable fuels from the very beginning.”

Although the December 5 meeting has come and gone, the EPA will continue to accept public comments on RFS reductions until January 28.

For more information about the EPA’s justification to reduce the federal ethanol mandate, check out my article on the ‘blend wall’ from earlier this week.

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