Opinions divided on 2018 U.S. renewable fuel requirements

04.12.2017

Opinions were divided on levels the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) set for usage of renewable fuel in 2018 under the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) program. Some groups applauded the government for keeping the total growing while others said it didn’t grow nearly enough.

The EPA’s requirements were only slightly higher than 2017 for most fuel types, and decreased for cellulosic ethanol. The volume requirements are 19.29 billion gallons for renewable fuel, up from the 19.28 billion gallons; 2.1 billion gallons for biomass-based diesel, up from 2 billion gallons; and 4.29 billion gallons for cellulosic ethanol, up from 4.28 billion gallons. Cellulosic ethanol requirements decreased to 288 million gallons from 311 million.

“Maintaining the renewable fuel standard at current levels ensures stability in the marketplace and follows through with my commitment to meet the statutory deadlines and lead the Agency by upholding the rule of law,” said Scott Pruitt, administrator for the EPA.

The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) said it was pleased the EPA kept the RFS on track in regard to conventional ethanol and that the agency “has also improved on the proposed rule by correctly growing the total 2018 volume from the 2017 level as intended in the RFS.”

“This year’s corn crop is bigger than anyone anticipated, resulting in the largest carryover supply in 30 years,” said Kevin Skunes, president of the NCGA and a farmer from North Dakota. “Farmers want to rely on the marketplace for their income, and ethanol has been critical in our effort to increase profitable demand for U.S. corn.”

He added the association is concerned that the cellulosic ethanol level was not set higher than the 2017 requirement but it was pleased the level was higher than the EPA’s July proposal.

“Moving forward, we ask EPA to revisit the growth in cellulosic fuel production, particularly as first-generation ethanol producers expand cellulosic gallons made from feedstocks such as corn kernel fiber,” Skunes said.

The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) said it was disappointed in the EPA’s levels and its failure to respond to repeated calls for growth.

“These flat volumes will harm Americans across several job-creating sectors — be they farmers, grease collectors, crushers, biodiesel producers or truckers — as well as consumers,” said Doug Whitehead, chief operating officer for the NBB. “Nevertheless, we can’t thank our members and our biodiesel champions at the state and federal levels enough for their tireless advocacy and education efforts. We’ll continue to work with the administration to right this wrong for future volumes.”

The biodiesel industry has consistently exceeded the EPA’s standards — despite the agency underestimating the volumes each year, the NBB said.

“These volumes are important for setting a baseline — and our industry will again surpass these low expectations — but the failure to increase volumes will inhibit continued growth and investments,” the association said.


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