EPA must support biofuels, uphold intent of RFS
WASHINGTON, D.C. – On behalf of its nearly 200,000 family farmer and rancher members, National Farmers Union (NFU) submitted public comments on Aug. 30 to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), urging the agency to adjust their proposed Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) volume obligations for 2020.
Though the proposal would maintain the current volume of conventional biofuels at 15 billion gallons, it would also significantly reduce the statutory volume for advanced biofuels and, consequently, the total renewable fuel volume. Furthermore, the proposal does not compensate for the 4 billion gallons of demand for biofuels that was eliminated by the ongoing misappropriation of RFS small refinery exemptions (SREs) to multinational corporations. In response to dwindling demand, at least 15 ethanol plants and several biodiesel plants have closed, and many others have reduced production, resulting in the loss of thousands of rural jobs.
Upon the initial release of EPA’s proposed volume obligations, National Farmers Union (NFU) expressed frustration that the agency neither increased biofuel use nor accounted for the damage inflicted on farmers and rural communities by the exemptions. In the organization’s comments, NFU President Roger Johnson echoed earlier misgivings and again urged EPA to address both issues in the finalized rule:
“Today’s agricultural community is facing a great number of challenges: a prolonged downturn in the farm economy, the erosion of international export markets due to escalating trade tensions, climate change-related weather extremes, and declining populations and job opportunities in rural areas.
“By expanding the market for home-grown biofuels, the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) can play an important role in addressing all of these issues. It develops new markets for American farm products, which in turn buoys commodity prices and farm incomes. It reduces the emission of greenhouse gases that drive climate change. It creates good, stable jobs for rural Americans and stimulates local economies. On top of all that, RFS also offers benefits to American consumers and the country as a whole. Incorporating biofuels into the U.S. fuel supply lowers pump prices, improves air quality, and reduces dependence on foreign energy sources.
“Considering the RFS’s significant potential for good, it is disappointing that time and time again, EPA has chosen undermine the policy’s purpose and integrity — and this proposal is just the latest example of that. Not only does it fail to account for the immense harm inflicted by the abuse of small refinery exemptions, but it also slashes the statutory volumes for advanced biofuels that Congress set in 2007 to ensure the continued growth of the biofuels industry.
“We strongly urge EPA to reverse course in order to guarantee that the intent of the RFS is upheld – the agency must offset all 4 billion gallons lost to the waivers, it must enforce the volume requirements for conventional biofuels, and it must increase volumes for advanced biofuels.”