Ethanol industry reacts to EPA’s proposed biofuel targets for 2020

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Earlier this month, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its proposed biofuel targets for 2020, eliciting strong condemnation from industry players, including Growth Energy and the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE).

The EPA’s proposed Renewable Volume Obligations (RVOs) under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) fails to include a mechanism to offset refinery exemptions that currently undercut federal biofuel blending goals.

The proposal additionally fails to approve millions of gallons of current cellulosic biofuel production from kernel fibre technology.

In an announcement, the EPA proposed a total renewable fuel volume of 20.04 billion gallons, of which 5.04 billion are advanced biofuels, which includes 540 million gallons of cellulosic biofuel.

These figures leave a 15 billion gallon requirement for conventional renewable fuels such as corn ethanol, which remains unchanged from 2019’s levels.

Biodiesel targets were proposed at 2.43 billion gallons for 2021, as these are set two years in advance.

‘Another year of lost opportunity’

Strongly condemning the proposed targets, Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor said: “It’s unconscionable that EPA continues to undermine the president’s commitment to a strong rural America. The 2020 RVOs are a drop in the bucket compared to the demand lost due to a flood of refinery exemptions. Unless EPA restores demand destroyed through secret handouts to oil giants like Exxon and Chevron, these targets offer nothing but another year of lost opportunity and rural hardship.

“Making matters worse, EPA chose to flout the 2017 court ruling requiring the agency to revisit 500 million gallons of biofuel that were inappropriately waived. Today’s proposal is a slap in the face to the farmers dealing with the toughest years on record.”

Brian Jennings, CEO of ACE, also slammed the proposal, adding: “While EPA says it is proposing to maintain the 15-billion-gallon conventional biofuel blending target for 2020, refinery exemptions without reallocation of waived volumes have effectively reduced the RFS by more than 2 billion gallons below statutory volumes.

“President Trump asked EPA to remedy this issue following his trip to Iowa a few weeks ago and this proposal is a missed opportunity to reallocate the 2.61 billion gallons waived through Small Refinery Exemptions (SREs).”

Jennings continued: “EPA continues to disregard President Trump’s campaign promise that ‘the EPA should ensure that biofuel blend levels match the statutory level set by Congress under the RFS.’ Like the 2019 blending targets, the 2020 proposed RVOs reinforce our challenge to certain SREs in Court and petition for EPA to account for lost volumes of renewable fuel resulting from the unprecedented number of retroactive SREs that continue to be granted by the agency.

“A strong rural economy depends upon growing the use of renewable fuels. We expect the administration to follow through on the promise that EPA and USDA [US Department of Agriculture] will review the expanded use of refinery waivers and deliver a satisfactory remedy.”

The EPA’s proposal for 2020 can be viewed here.