Governors, CEOs speak up in support of maintaining RFS

By Holly Jessen | October 12, 2012

Lisa Jackson, administrator of the U.S. EPA, isn’t just hearing from those that want to waive the renewable fuel standard (RFS). She’s also receiving letters of support for maintaining the RFS, including letters from five state governors and one letter signed by 22 CEOs and senior executives.

As is required, the waiver request was kicked off by a governor. The first ones in line were North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue and Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe, who filed the first official waiver petitions in August. Governors in states such as Georgia and New Mexico followed up with either petitions or letters supporting the waiver.

There are, however, five Governors that feel differently and have said so publically. The two letters sent most recently are from South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard and Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber, whose letters are dated Oct. 9 and Oct. 10. Other letters came from Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton and Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad.

Daugaard pointed out that South Dakota has 15 ethanol plants that produce more than a billion gallons of ethanol yearly. “Agriculture is South Dakota’s No. 1 industry, and I recognize and appreciate the concern many livestock producers have over rising feed costs, particularly in corn and soybeans,” he said. “However, waiving the RFS would cause irreparable harm to the biofuels industry while providing little relief for livestock producers impacted by this year’s drought.”

The Governor of Oregon pointed to the opportunities to create jobs, reduce carbon emissions and stabilize gas prices by producing biofuels. The state is on track to be one of the first to have an operating commercial facility producing advanced biofuels, he pointed out, with construction on ZeaChem’s 25 MMgy poplar-to-cellulosic ethanol facility expected to begin by the end of the year. The RFS should be protected because it’s the key to helping the corn-based and advanced biofuel industry to reduce the amount of oil imported from Saudi Arabia or Iraq, he said.

In addition, the Renewable Fuels Association announced a letter from 22 CEOs and other high level executives had been sent to Jackson on Oct. 11. “The RFS has played a pivotal role in reducing oil imports to the lowest levels since 1996, while lowering gas prices, improving air quality, and strengthening the economic health of rural America,” the letter said. “Without question, the RFS is providing meaningful benefits to the American public each and every day, and is among the most successful energy policies this nation has ever adopted.” Some of the companies represented include: Novozymes, Fagen Inc., U.S. Water Services Inc., Eco-Energy Inc. and INTL FCStone.

The comment period on the RFS waiver ended Oct. 11.