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Two-thirds of EPA hearing speakers in favor of RFS

By Anna Simet | December 05, 2013

Hundreds of attendees were present at the U.S. EPA’s public hearing on the renewable fuel standard (RFS) renewable volume obligation proposal, which began Dec. 5 at 9 a.m. in Crystal City, Va.

Out of 144 speakers were signed up to give testimony throughout the day, more than 100 speakers were in support of the RFS, according to Renewable Fuels Association President Bob Dinneen. “The RFS was not passed to accommodate ExxonMobil,” Dinneen said at the hearing. “It was passed to drive investment in biofuels production and innovation in biofuels marketing.  The whole point of a 36 billion gallon RFS was to move biofuels like ethanol beyond being just a blend component in gasoline, to encourage E85 and mid-level blends like E15. Congress never intended the RFS to be limited by a blendwall created by oil company intransigence.  But the vision of the RFS will not be realized if EPA undermines the effectiveness of the credit program by devaluing RINs to the point that they will not serve as a motivator for marketplace change. “

Growth Energy’s Director of Regulatory Affairs Chris Bliley testified, highlighting the resounding success RFS and also outline why the EPA’s 2014 proposal to reduce the statutory renewable volume obligations would eviscerate the RFS, thereby causing severe harm to farmers, the biofuels industry and the nation’s economy.  “The oil industry has used its considerable power to delay, litigate, and undercut the RFS,” Bliley said. He added that the proposed volume cuts fundamentally ignore the Congressional intent of the RFS as well. “The program was designed to spur investment in renewable fuels, not to punish those who have invested while rewarding those who have impeded development.”

BIO Executive Vice President Brent Erickson said the RFS was designed by Congress to provide a supportive environment for private companies to develop new technologies, new production infrastructure, and new energy crop supply chains. “Our companies have acted on this, investing billions of dollars in private capital in conjunction with federal and state grants to launch this new industry.  This proposed rule, signaling the market for biofuels will be frozen at a small percentage of transportation fuels, will strand existing investments in advanced biofuels, significantly curtails any further investment and development of future facilities, and put hundreds of thousands of existing and future jobs at risk.  It will undercut the commercialization of other biotechnology research and development, such as the burgeoning renewable chemicals industry, that are following on to the growth of biorefinery platforms encouraged by the RFS.”

 Brooke Coleman, Executive Director of the Advanced Ethanol Council pointed out that the clear congressional intent with regard to the RFS was more renewable fuel use to drive new fuels into a petroleum dominated marketplace. “EPA's proposal turns this congressional directive on its head,” he said. “It proposes to reward oil industry refusal to comply with the law and strands investment in advanced biofuels. We fully expect the Obama Administration to come to its senses and reverse course in the final rule.”

Mark Borer, general manager at POET Biorefining, said if the administration moves forward with the proposal, every American and every Ohio driver will feel more pain at the pump. “The intent of the RFS is to give consumers more choice at the gas pump and to put renewable fuels on a level-playing field with the oil industry. Any movement away from this intent is not what consumers are looking for and it will prevent the next round of advanced biofuels, including cellulosic ethanol, from coming to states like Ohio…This change of direction will have a direct and immediate impact on the industry and will put at risk approximately $1 billion in capital investment made in Ohio since 2007 to meet established and legislated RFS obligations. Ultimately, the EPA’s renewable fuels commitment reversal risks all of Ohio’s 300-plus direct employees and more than 1500 indirect jobs.”

Advanced Biofuel Association President Michael McAdams also testified at the hearing. Find his comments here.

 

 

2 Responses

  1. James Rust

    2013-12-06

    1

    The EPA has put out a proposal to reduce the amount of ethanol mixed with gasoline to be reduced in 2014 by 3 billion gallons from the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) mandate of 18 billion gallons. The renewable fuel industry is asking their members to write to the EPA asking the original mandate be kept. This lobbying will be very intense. Ethanol from corn reminds me of the sonnet by Elizabeth Barrett Browning "How do I love thee? Let me count the ways." The re-write for ethanol from corn is "How bad is ethanol from corn? Let me count the ways." One could write a book about negative features of ethanol from corn. It take more energy to produce it than contained in the product. Ethanol has two-thirds the energy content of gasoline; so you get two-thirds the mileage using ethanol as a fuel. Ethanol absorbs water which makes it a corrosive material for storage in metal containers. For this reason ethanol or ethanol-gasoline blends are not transported in pipelines. Ethanol is transported in tankers or rail tank cars. Now there is concern about ethanol blends causing corrosion in underground storage tanks (UTS) with environmental problems from leaks. Organizations demanding EPA concerns are discussed in this paper. Because diesel fuel is involved in all aspects of ethanol from corn production and transportation is a big reason it requires more energy to make ethanol than the product contains. The energy balance has to go from the corn field to the gas tank. Diesel fuel is involved with tilling, planting, harvesting, and transporting corn to a refinery. A lot of energy is expended in converting corn to ethanol. Pipelines are the most energy efficient means of transporting fuels; however, ethanol has to be transported by diesel-fueled tankers. Corn is a debilitating crop that requires much water and fertilizer for its growth. A Purdue University study < http://www.extension.purdue.edu/extmedia/NCH/NCH-40.html > claimed 18 inches of rainfall is necessary for a thriving corn crop. With a corn yield of 150 bushels per acre and 2.4 gallons of ethanol per bushel of corn, this requires 1360 gallons of water for plant growth per gallon of ethanol. Add in 200 gallons of water to process corn into ethanol yields a water requirement of 1560 gallons of water per gallon of ethanol. The 2014 EPA proposed 13 billion gallons of ethanol from corn mandate requires 20 trillion gallons of water annually. This is more water than 320 million Americans use for all activities. The 20-40 billion gallons of water used annually by the oil and gas industry for hydraulic fracturing (fracking) pale in comparison to ethanol requirements. Proponents of ethanol say water requirements are unimportant because most of it is rainfall. This argument is specious because the water could be used for something more important like growing food for consumption. Another factor is irrigation is widely used in corn production--especially in times of drought like the summer of 2012. Withdrawals from the Ogallala Aquifer are seriously depleting this major water resource in the Great Plains. Due to political maneuvers in corn states, the country is saddled with an industry that produces 13 billion gallons of ethanol annually. This requires over 5 billion bushels of corn grown on more than 36 million acres. The vast land requirement led to a devastating article < http://finance.yahoo.com/news/secret-dirty-cost-obamas-green-power-push-051337237.html > on environmental problems producing ethanol from corn "The secret, dirty cost of Obama's green power push" by AP writers Dina Capiello and Matt Apuzzo on November 12, 2013. Millions of acres of wet and grass lands were cleared for corn crops and runoff of fertilizer from corn fields has helped create 6000 square miles of a dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico at the Mississippi River mouth. Vehicles running on ethanol generate higher concentrations of ozone than those using gasoline, especially in the winter, Stanford < http://news.stanford.edu/news/2009/december14/ozone-ethanol-health-121409.html > researchers have found. That could create new health concerns in areas where ozone hasn't been a significant problem before. A report < http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=13105&page=R1 > by the National Academy of Sciences also confirmed ozone producing problems using ethanol as a fuel. Ethanol is damaging to fuel lines, carburetors, and other parts of older engines. Increasing ethanol use above the ten percent mixture of ethanol and gasoline (E-10) is expected to ruin cars older than 2001 and all two-cycle engines used in lawnmowers, chain saws, weed eaters, leaf blowers, and a host of other small motor applications. With 13 billion gallons of ethanol being used at this time, the "blend wall" is reached in which all gasoline produced in the United States is mixed with 13 billion gallons of ethanol results in E-10 mixtures. The renewable fuel industry frequently claims ethanol from corn lowers the price of transportation fuels. This claim is patently false. The Department of Energy recently published the "2012 Renewable Energy Data Book" < http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy14osti/60197.pdf > which gives the average 2012 ethanol price of $4.48 per gallon of gasoline equivalent and the average 2012 price of gasoline of $3.29. The 35 percent higher price for ethanol also existed for prices from 2000 to 2011. Due to the great corn demand for producing ethanol, the price of corn has escalated from about $2 a bushel in 2005 to as high as $8 a bushel in 2012. Corn is a mainstay food crop for the world. It is not only food for humans; but a major source of feed for poultry, pigs, and cattle. Higher food prices in poor nations has produced life threatening problems for the poor living in those countries. The Arab Spring that swept across North Africa in 2011 is reported to be partially due to higher corn prices. "U.S. biofuel expansion has cost developing countries $6.6 billion in higher food costs", estimates Tufts University economist Timothy A. Wise in Fueling the Food Crisis, a report published by ActionAid. A 10-minute video interview with Wise about his research is available here. This is a short list of reasons to encourage the EPA to stay with the proposed 2014 ethanol mandate of 13 billion gallons. Much pressure from the renewable fuels industry will be exerted to stay with the EISA mandate of 14.5 billion gallons. Lawsuits are being proposed.

  2. Phil

    2013-12-07

    2

    Wow Mr Rust- somebody must of paid you to say that mouthful because there is nothing in that diatribe that could come from anywhere but the oil industry or big food. Nice try.

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