Say It Ain’t So, Joe

Renewable volume obligations have yet to be reported for 2014 and are now late for 2015. This delay has created uncertainty. McAdams calls on the industry to get involved and raise the alarm to end regulatory uncertainty.
By Michael McAdams | March 04, 2015

Just like the famous quote from Joseph “Shoeless Joe” Jackson of the 1923 World Series, the biofuels industry ought to be asking the Obama administration to “say it ain’t so” that you are not going to get the 2014 renewable volume obligations (RVO) out before the spring of 2015.

Today, the administration is more than 15 months late on the 2014 RVO and two months late with the 2015 RVO—remember the statute calls for next year’s RVO to be published in November of the preceding year. In other words, the RVO for 2015 were due in November 2014 and the 2014 levels was due in November 2013. Unfortunately, this delay, the regulatory uncertainty it creates for the market and obligated parties, the chaos in the pathways process, and the general lack of leadership from the White House is limiting—possibly destroying—the future of the industry.

As an industry, we simply cannot afford for the administration to stall for another year to announce the RVO for 2014, 2015 and 2016. However, as I look at the White House and the recent exodus of staff, I fear no one is paying attention to advancing the industry. The president and the new Congress need a stark reminder that we are key to their “all of the above energy strategy” or “greenhouse gas reduction strategy.” We cannot be left in suspended animation for two years in a row when the price of oil is $46 dollars a barrel. Now more than ever, we should realize that the folks across the ocean, who have lots of oil but are unable to grow biofuels in a desert, do not share our view of the world and would love for us as a nation to abandon our diversified portfolio approach to fuels policy moving forward.

As President Kennedy once said, “the time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.” If the president and Congress are serious about energy diversification, energy security and curbing greenhouse gas emissions, they need to look past the current low oil prices and work to give our industry the certainty and security it needs to grow. Because, while oil prices may be low now, we all know that $100 barrels of oil are not too far in the distant future. And when they return, we will need a diverse array of options available that only our industry can provide.

We all have a stake in the success of the advanced and cellulosic biofuels industry and we must get involved to raise the alarm for our industry. So, get active today. Call your member of Congress, and tell the administration to wake up and make a decision on the RVO now. Ask the tough questions, why can’t they announce 2014 since they already know the numbers? Why can’t they announce the 2015 numbers since they have the 2014 numbers?

As an industry we delivered the goods last year and are being forced to enter 2015 with unnecessary regulatory uncertainty, which is crippling our growth. To add insult to injury, four out of the five biofuels related tax provisions were cut from the administration’s 2016 budget proposal and inexplicably no one has revised the cellulosic waiver credit number despite the difference between the wholesale price of gasoline. Our industry already faces many challenges, regulatory uncertainty should not have to be one. It is time to act.

Author: Michael McAdams
President, Advanced Biofuels Association