Two-thirds of EPA hearing speakers in favor of RFS

By Anna Simet | December 05, 2013

Hundreds of attendees were present at the U.S. EPA’s public hearing on the renewable fuel standard (RFS) renewable volume obligation proposal, which began Dec. 5 at 9 a.m. in Crystal City, Va.

Out of 144 speakers were signed up to give testimony throughout the day, more than 100 speakers were in support of the RFS, according to Renewable Fuels Association President Bob Dinneen. “The RFS was not passed to accommodate ExxonMobil,” Dinneen said at the hearing. “It was passed to drive investment in biofuels production and innovation in biofuels marketing.  The whole point of a 36 billion gallon RFS was to move biofuels like ethanol beyond being just a blend component in gasoline, to encourage E85 and mid-level blends like E15. Congress never intended the RFS to be limited by a blendwall created by oil company intransigence.  But the vision of the RFS will not be realized if EPA undermines the effectiveness of the credit program by devaluing RINs to the point that they will not serve as a motivator for marketplace change. “

Growth Energy’s Director of Regulatory Affairs Chris Bliley testified, highlighting the resounding success RFS and also outline why the EPA’s 2014 proposal to reduce the statutory renewable volume obligations would eviscerate the RFS, thereby causing severe harm to farmers, the biofuels industry and the nation’s economy.  “The oil industry has used its considerable power to delay, litigate, and undercut the RFS,” Bliley said. He added that the proposed volume cuts fundamentally ignore the Congressional intent of the RFS as well. “The program was designed to spur investment in renewable fuels, not to punish those who have invested while rewarding those who have impeded development.”

BIO Executive Vice President Brent Erickson said the RFS was designed by Congress to provide a supportive environment for private companies to develop new technologies, new production infrastructure, and new energy crop supply chains. “Our companies have acted on this, investing billions of dollars in private capital in conjunction with federal and state grants to launch this new industry.  This proposed rule, signaling the market for biofuels will be frozen at a small percentage of transportation fuels, will strand existing investments in advanced biofuels, significantly curtails any further investment and development of future facilities, and put hundreds of thousands of existing and future jobs at risk.  It will undercut the commercialization of other biotechnology research and development, such as the burgeoning renewable chemicals industry, that are following on to the growth of biorefinery platforms encouraged by the RFS.”

 Brooke Coleman, Executive Director of the Advanced Ethanol Council pointed out that the clear congressional intent with regard to the RFS was more renewable fuel use to drive new fuels into a petroleum dominated marketplace. “EPA's proposal turns this congressional directive on its head,” he said. “It proposes to reward oil industry refusal to comply with the law and strands investment in advanced biofuels. We fully expect the Obama Administration to come to its senses and reverse course in the final rule.”

Mark Borer, general manager at POET Biorefining, said if the administration moves forward with the proposal, every American and every Ohio driver will feel more pain at the pump. “The intent of the RFS is to give consumers more choice at the gas pump and to put renewable fuels on a level-playing field with the oil industry. Any movement away from this intent is not what consumers are looking for and it will prevent the next round of advanced biofuels, including cellulosic ethanol, from coming to states like Ohio…This change of direction will have a direct and immediate impact on the industry and will put at risk approximately $1 billion in capital investment made in Ohio since 2007 to meet established and legislated RFS obligations. Ultimately, the EPA’s renewable fuels commitment reversal risks all of Ohio’s 300-plus direct employees and more than 1500 indirect jobs.”

Advanced Biofuel Association President Michael McAdams also testified at the hearing. Find his comments here.