Though supportive of several aspects of EPA’s proposed volume standards for renewable fuels for 2020, the American Farm Bureau Federation cautioned that the agency’s failure to address its overuse of small refinery waivers diminishes the likelihood the volume targets will be met.
“EPA’s excessive use [of small refinery waivers] will undermine the goals that were set by Congress to create a more robust renewable fuels industry and greater energy independence,” AFBF said in recent comments to EPA. The organization said EPA’s use of waivers “essentially solidifies nearly 4 billion gallons of lost demand.”
EPA’s proposed renewable fuels volume standards for 2020 would maintain the statutory requirement for conventional renewable fuel at 15 billion gallons, increase cellulosic fuels to 0.54 billion gallons, and bump up total advanced biofuels to 5.04 billion gallons. It would also increase biomass-based diesel to 2.43 billion gallons for 2021.
Farm Bureau touted the Renewable Fuel Standard’s many successes, including the growth it spurred within the agriculture sector as corn and soybean farmers expanded their crop production to meet demand for corn- and soybean-based biofuels.
Beyond the boost to rural America, the RFS2 is intended to give consumers more choices at the pump, reduce gas prices and enhance the country’s energy security. In addition, the program is designed to spur investment in cleaner, domestic fuels and the infrastructure necessary to accommodate higher biofuel blends.
However, EPA’s use of small refinery waivers fails to send the signal that greater infrastructure investment is necessary and meaningful marketplace changes need to occur. Each waiver erodes the Renewable Fuel Standard, cutting biofuels from the market and eliminating the incentive to offer lower-cost options at the pump.
Farm Bureau also emphasized that the petroleum industry’s unwillingness to offer higher blends of biofuels should not be taken as evidence that the RFS2 is unworkable.
“Rather, it is evidence that they are unwilling to adapt to policies enunciated by Congress. But making space in the market for alternative fuels that contribute to energy independence, environmental improvement, and economic development is exactly the point of RFS2.”