The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its final targets for using renewable fuels in the next two years under what’s called the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The final numbers for biodiesel and ethanol are below the original numbers called for in the law. The ethanol numbers do not please Iowa Renewable Fuels Association executive director Monte Shaw.
“The statute was very clear that in ’15 and ’16 the number was supposed to be 15 BILLION gallons. And they did not have in our view a legal justification for reducing those numbers under the law,” Shaw says. “They came up with a very convoluted — in my opinion — reasoning on why they had that justification.”
The E-P-A is calling for use of just more than 14 billion gallons of ethanol for 2015 and 14-point-five billion gallons for 2016. Shaw says the E-P-A used the mythical “blend wall” or maximum amount of ethanol that can be used in the place of gasoline to justify its lowering of the R-F-S levels.
“They unfortunately adopted the oil company’s way of thinking in that. And really when you do that, what you ‘ve done is you’ve taken the whole purpose of the R-F-S and you’ve turned it upside down,” Shaw says. “The purpose for the R-F-S was to get these renewable fuels in front of consumers so the consumers could make choices. And what the E-P-A essentially said today is: ‘well oil companies aren’t letting consumers have access to these fuels, so we can’t raise the number’.”
Shaw says the ruling goes against everything that was intended in setting the levels for renewable fuels.
“You know, this was supposed to be for free markets and consumer choice. Instead we are left with a near monopoly on our gasoline supply by the oil industry. Very, very disappointing,” according to Shaw.
He expects everyone in the renewable fuels industry to read the final ruling and then to take action.
“I think there’s a strong likelihood that you will see legal action to try to reign in E-P-A and how they ignored the statute, and even legislative intent,” Shaw says.
He says it’s unfortunate things have to move that way. Shaw says if it goes to court it will be a one to two year process “and in the mean time this is what we have to live with.”
Iowa is the nation’s leader in renewable fuels production. Iowa has 43 ethanol refineries capable of producing three-point-nine billion gallons of ethanol annually. Iowa also has 12 biodiesel facilities with the capacity to produce nearly 315 million gallons annually. (Story courtesy of Radio Iowa)