US biofuel industry responds to RVOs announcement

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Major US biofuel trade associations have responded to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) announcement on final required volume obligations (RVOs) under the Renewable Fuel Standard.

EPA has set a total renewable fuel blending obligation of 19.29 gallons, of which 4.29 billion gallons should be advanced biofuels including 288 million gallons of cellulosic biofuel, and the remaining 15 billion gallons conventional biofuel. A biomass-based diesel blending target of 2.1 billion gallons has been set for 2019.


Harm to Americans

“EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has disappointed the biodiesel industry for failing to respond to our 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, CEO of the National Biodiesel Board

“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.”


Standing up to attempts at destabilisation

Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy, the trade association for producers and supporters of ethanol, had a more optimistic take on the announcement.

“We applaud the administration for standing up against efforts to destabilise the Renewable Fuel Standard,” Skor said.

“The EPA’s on-time announcement upholds the statutory targets for conventional biofuels, which will provide much-needed certainty for hard-pressed rural communities.”

Like the NBB however, Skor made it clear that the target blending levels were not as high as she’d hoped.

“We would like to have seen a boost to the target blending levels for cellulosic biofuels, and we will continue to work with the administration to advance the RFS goal of further stimulating growth and showing US leadership in 21st century fuels,” she said.

“The RFS remains America’s single most successful energy policy and continually works to save consumers money, protect the environment, drive rural growth, and secure U.S. energy independence. To keep this momentum strong, the EPA must take bold steps toward growth, as outlined by President Trump. We urge the agency to act quickly on the administrator’s promise of a long-overdue fix to Reid Vapor Pressure rules that needlessly limit sales of E15 during summer months,” Skor continued.


‘A decrease from the 2017 cellulosic biofuel level’

Brian Jennings, CEO of the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE), applauded the blending obligations for conventional biofuels such as corn ethanol. However, he also questioned the ambition of the targets set by EPA.

“ACE members are very pleased that the statutory 15-billion-gallon volume for conventional biofuel will be maintained in 2018 and that EPA is increasing the advanced biofuel volume to 4.29 billion gallons.  This represents a modest step in the right direction for the RFS in 2018.  Beyond sending a generally positive signal to the rural economy, increased blending targets also reassure retailers that it makes sense to offer E15 and flex fuels to their customers,” said Jennings.

“While the 288 million gallons of cellulosic biofuel EPA is calling for in 2018 is a small increase from the volume proposed earlier this year, it is disappointing the 2018 volume represents a decrease from the 2017 cellulosic biofuel level of 311 million gallons.  We firmly believe the technology exists to increase cellulosic biofuel targets.

“Finally, more can and should be done to overcome regulatory hurdles which prevent market access to higher ethanol blends and ACE remains committed to working with EPA to address those hurdles.”


What’s your opinion on the EPA’s recently announced RVOs for 2018? Have your say on the Biofuels International LinkedIn Group