Biofuel stakeholders speak out at hearing on 2018 RFS proposal

By Erin Voegele, Ethanol Producer Magazine.

The U.S. EPA held a hearing Aug. 1 on its proposed rule to set 2018 renewable volume obligations (RVOs) under the Renewable Fuel Standard, along with the 2019 RVO for biomass-based diesel. Those representing the biofuel industry commended the agency for issuing an on-time proposal and maintaining the statutory 15 billion RVO for conventional biofuels, but criticized reduced RVOs for advanced and cellulosic fuels.

Prior to the hearing, Fuels America hosted press call during which Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, and several others shared their opinions of the EPA’s 2018 RFS proposal.

Brooke Coleman, executive director of the Advanced Biofuels Business Council, opened the call by noting it’s never been more important for the biofuels industry to makes is voices heard on the RFS. “EPA is proposing to hold strong on the conventional biofuel standard, but it appears to be less committed on the advanced biofuel side,” he said.

According to Coleman, cellulosic biofuels are poised to drive the next great wave of manufacturing investments across the heartland of the U.S. “For the administration to succeed in rebuilding the rural economy, the EPA must set forward-looking targets for cellulosic production,” he said. “Any retreat sends an unmistakable signal to investors that the U.S. is no longer fertile ground for innovation.”

Ricketts stressed how important ethanol is to the U.S, noting that it provides a less expensive, cleaner, safer alternative to fossil fuels. He also commended the EPA for its on-time proposal. “The importance of creating certainty and stability in the marketplace can’t be overstated,” he said. “The worst thing for business is uncertainty.” By releasing the volume proposals in a timely manner, the EPA is allowing businesses to plan and creating stability in the marketplace, he added.

While he offered support for the EPA’s 15 billion gallon target for conventional biofuels, he stressed it is a mistake to go backwards with regard to the advanced biofuel targets. When you set the targets high, he said, the industry will meet those goals.