NFU extremely disappointed with low RFS volume targets
WASHINGTON – On May 29, National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson said he was extremely disappointed at the decision by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reduce its volume targets for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) to levels below those mandated by federal law, and reminded the agency that family farmers are both struggling financially and are already feeling the effects of climate change.
“EPA’s delays in announcing the RFS have done a lot of damage to family farmers and to the fragile renewable fuel sector already, and the targets announced today are yet another setback,” said Johnson. “Family farmers are on the front line in climate change, and today’s decision will do little to help them,” he added.
The RFS targets announced by EPA are an 11.27 billion gallon shortfall over the 3 years for total biofuels, well below the targets called for by Congress in the law. “The unwillingness of EPA to adhere to the targets set forth in the law will continue to cause capital investment to turn away from the U.S. renewable fuel sector in favor of foreign investments, leaving this nation without a robust renewable fuel sector,” he said.
Johnson noted that he is perplexed that an administration that has taken admirable steps forward to address climate change is not backing a policy that reduces gas consumption and replaces it with cleaner, greener ethanol. “They refuse to utilize this low-hanging fruit by implementing existing law and isolating rural America from engaging in climate mitigation,” said Johnson.
EPA does not have the authority to set the targets so low. The agency cited the fictitious “blend wall” as the reason to invoke its authority to waive the volume targets set by Congress. The statutes enacting the RFS were intended to force oil companies to build the infrastructure needed to accommodate the mandated biofuels volume. “With regard to the intent of Congress, there’s no such thing as the blend wall,” Johnson said.
Johnson pointed out that both cellulosic ethanol and advanced biofuels have now reached commercial status and offer the greatest potential for environmental benefits, but delays in issuing volume targets have caused an estimated $13.7 billion gap in capital investment needed to comply with the volume targets set in the statutes that enacted the RFS, according to the Biotechnology Industry Organization. “The cuts to cellulosic and advanced biofuels – the fuel types with the best environmental potential – will hit industries poised for potentially explosive growth,” said Johnson. “These cuts are particularly punishing.”
Johnson noted that the RFS has benefitted both farmers and consumers alike. He urged EPA to strongly consider getting its volume targets back on track with federal guidelines. “Home grown ethanol saves consumers $.50-$1.50 per gallon of gas and has added more than $1.7 billion to the U.S. economy,” he said. “This homegrown fuel supply has helped mitigate this nation’s dependence on foreign sources of petroleum while driving much needed investment in rural communities,” he said.
Also announced this morning was $100 million in grants by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to states to build biofuels delivery infrastructure. “USDA’s announcement of funding up to $100 million in a Biofuels Infrastructure Partnership is helpful and appreciated. A properly implemented RFS is the most efficient route to opening the transportation fuels market to the domestic biofuels industry,” said Johnson.