The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the much anticipated final volumetric rules today under the Renewable Fuels Standard for 2014, 2015 and 2016. While the RVOs (renewable volume obligations) were an improvement over the proposed rules released in May of this year, the #Ag industry is calling on the EPA to further strengthen the legislation and further increase all four renewable fuels categories.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack responded to the EPA announcement saying the final rules have moved the RFS a step forward and are one piece of the puzzle for the commitment to biofuels and American-grown renewable energy. He cited several USDA biofuel-based programs as other pieces and highlighted biofuel benefits including saving consumers money at the pump, positive environmental impacts, job creation and stabilizing farm prices.
“This unprecedented commitment is part of the reason why, even in recent years when there has been some uncertainty with RFS, we have seen continued growth in biofuels production and consumption,” said Vilsack in a statement.
National Corn Growers Association President Chip Bowling reacted with mixed feelings. “While we are pleased to see the EPA take a step forward and revise its original proposal, the fact remains that any reduction in the statutory amount will have a negative impact on our economy, our energy security, and the environment,” said Bowling.
NCGA and other organizations are evaluating their options to protect farmers and consumers and hold the EPA accountable to meet statutory requirements. National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson sharply criticized the EPA for issuing final volume targets well below their statutory level. “The administration’s decision to issue RFS volume obligations below their statutory requirements exacerbates the serious damage already done to the renewable fuels industry and America’s family farmers,” said Johnson. “Clearly the administration has accepted Big Oil’s talking points and paved the way for a weaker RFS to the detriment of economic prosperity in rural America and the administration’s own climate change goals.”
That sentiment was shared by American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman. “We need more biofuels, not less, and Farm Bureau called on EPA earlier this year to protect the RFS,” said Stallman. “We are disappointed to see the agency move forward with a decision that will stall growth and progress in renewable fuels as well as the broader agricultural economy.”
American Soybean Association President Wade Cowan is pleased with the increase for biodiesel in the rule but noted that the industry still has the capacity to do more. “As an industry we have always advocated for RFS volumes that are modest and achievable and the biodiesel industry has met or exceeded the targets each and every year that the program has been in place,” said Cowan.