Source: Newton Daily News

By Jason W. Brooks

Iowa’s Congressional delegation seemed pleased with the Environmental Protection Agency’s April 10 announcement about an upcoming timeline for national renewal fuel standards volume obligations, but are frustrated it is taking so long to get standards released.

Also, federal lawmakers who are proponents of ethanol are calling for the EPA to maintain high, strong standards for biofuel production.

Under a court settlement with the oil industry, the EPA announced April 10 it will propose the 2015 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) renewable volume obligations by June 1, 2015, and issue the final 2014 and 2015 RFS blending targets by Nov. 30. In addition, EPA will also release the proposed 2016 RFS renewable volumes by June 1. The 2016 numbers will be finalized by Nov. 30.

“This consent agreement is a good start,” Renewable Fuels Association president and CEO Bob Dinneen told the agricultural website “We are particularly pleased that the agency has committed to addressing the 2016 RVO in the same time frame even though that is outside the scope of the consent agreement.”

Iowa corn helped produce a nation-best 3.9 billion gallons of ethanol last year, or about 27 percent of U.S. production. About 28 states now have at least one ethanol plant.

The state’s senior senator, Republican Chuck Grassley, was one of several senators to sign a recent letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, encouraging high standards. Minnesota Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) was also among the senators to sign the letter. Grassley is on the Senate’s on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee.

“The RFS has already proven to be an effective driver of alternative fuels and economic development,” the letter states. “It has strengthened agriculture markets and created hundreds of thousands of jobs in the new energy economy, many of which are in rural areas.”

The letter calls for McCarthy and the EPA to maintain the intent of the fuel standard, fist signed into law by President George W. Bush after Congress passed it in 2005. The senators encourage the EPA to switch course from proposed rule and craft standards announced last year; the biofuel industry has already surpassed those goals in capacity.

“A stable RFS will also provide the certainty needed to unlock future investments in renewable fuels and necessary infrastructure, reduce our nation’s dependence on foreign sources of energy and drive innovation and progress toward cellulosic, biodiesel, recycled-waste, algal, and other advanced biofuels,” the letter states.

The state’s junior senator, Joni Ernst, in a news release, said renewable energy standards must come along more quickly.

“While I am thankful to finally see a path forward on RFS, it is unacceptable the EPA has failed to act for so long,” Ernst said. “Farmers and the entire renewable fuel sector in Iowa need a strong and long-term RFS to conduct and grow their businesses.”

Ernst, also a Republican, is, like Grassley, on the Senate’s Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee. The first-year senator is on three subcommittees, and is the chair of the Subcommittee on Jobs, Rural Economic Growth and Energy Innovation.


# # #