The Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Renewable Fuel volumes came out on Thursday and, while modest, keep the RFS alive and opens new avenues for future expansion. The proposal has its pluses beyond the modest moves in conventional ethanol, starting with bigger increases in cellulosic and advanced biofuels.
Renewable Fuels Association head Geoff Cooper; “It allows sustainable aviation fuel that is made from ethanol, even corn ethanol, to qualify as an advance biofuel if that sustainable aviation fuel meets a 50 percent greenhouse gas reduction.”
But more importantly, Cooper argues the proposal keeps the RFS alive, despite the expiration this year of volume targets set back in 2007. Cooper; “There had been fears and some expectations and conjecture that the volumes could go the other way if EPA has much more discretion to set them and is no longer bound by specific volumes from Congress.”
Cooper credits the administration’s emphasis on reducing carbon pollution and more. “The energy security benefits and the consumer price benefits have also been top of mind. And then, finally, I think this administration has also done a good job of recognizing the importance of the RFS to the farm economy, and the fact that this program has created and maintained new markets for farmers.”
But the National Corn Growers Association says on its website it will make the case to EPA for larger volume increases, while the American Soybean Association says it’s ‘deeply disappointed’ in the volumes proposed outside of biodiesel and cellulosic biofuels.
Soy farmers were initially pleased with EPA’s 2022 volume target, which included the highest-ever number for total renewable fuels and specifically biomass-based diesel since the RFS was created. The new proposal, they say, goes in the other direction.
“This rule slams the breaks on progress being made in biofuel investments and growth,” says American Soybean Association president Brad Doyle. “Instead of continuing to support available low-emission, plant-based fuel sources, EPA has changed course and seems to ignore major investments in and consumer demand for biomass-based diesel and other biofuels that exist right now.”
The multi-year set rule is supposed to provide consistency and encourage investment in the biofuels industry. ASA says these insignificant volume increases for 2023-2025 could not only stifle growth but also jeopardize the existing biofuels industry.