On May 29, 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) renewable volume obligations (RVOs) for 2014, 2015 and 2016. We believe, along with many in the biofuels industry, EPA’s proposal was a step in the wrong direction.

The EPA once again accepted the “blend wall” methodology that incorrectly claims that ethanol has reached its saturation point with E10. Accepting this methodology effectively lowers the volumes that corn ethanol can qualify for under the program.

While the EPA did raise the volumes of renewable fuels from the previous proposal, the renewable and advanced pools are significantly lower than the statute and the corn ethanol allowance is significantly below the 2013 RVO of 13.8 billion gallons—specifically, 13.25 billion gallons for 2014.

The proposal uses a combination of authorities to reduce volumes of both advanced biofuel and total renewable fuel to address two constraints in the Agency’s eyes:

  • Limitations in the volume of ethanol that can be consumed given practical constraints on the supply of higher ethanol blends to the vehicles that can use them
  • Limitations in the ability of the industry to produce sufficient volumes of qualifying renewable fuel, particularly non-ethanol fuels

The biofuels industry still strongly believes that EPA does not have the legal authority to consider infrastructure availability in setting the annual targets. We will vigorously assert that position during the comment period.

Renewable fuels are a huge opportunity for the United States to achieve President Obama’s climate change goals, capture private investment, create jobs and save drivers money. EPAs proposal undermines all of that.

The EPAs aspiration should not be a slow buildup in renewable fuel volumes, it should be an economy driven by clean technologies, supporting thousands of new job and billions in private investment. That all starts with keeping the promises made in the RFS and therefore business certainty and all of the positives that come with it.­

During the comment period, we urge the Administration to rethink its approach and support an existing law that works: the Renewable Fuel Standard. If America does not capitalize on the benefits of home-grown fuel, other countries will. In fact, they already are.

What happens next?

The EPA will hold a public hearing on this proposal on June 25, 2015, in Kansas City, Kansas. The period for public input and comment will be open until July 27—approximately 60 days. The EPA intends to finalize the volume standards in this rule by November 30 of this year.

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Adam Monroe

Adam Monroe became president of Novozymes North America in 2009 and of the Americas Region (US, Canada and Brazil) in 2013. He joined Novozymes as a chemical engineer in 1991 was instrumental establishing its global line of enzymes for the biofuels industry.

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