After more than a year of waiting on final 2014 Renewable Fuel Standard volumes from the U.S. EPA, farm groups on Friday issued mixed reactions on news that the volumes will continue to be delayed until at least next year.
The 2014 RFS volumes – which will indicate the amount of renewable fuel that must be blended into the U.S. fuel supply for the year – were due Nov. 30, 2013.
Now, after a public comment process and a review with the White House Office of Management and Budget, EPA said in a pre-published Federal Register notice Friday that a large number of comments on the proposal will force the agency to postpone the final RFS volumes' release.
The news was welcome for some farm groups, which viewed EPA's proposed volumes negatively because they were lower than the RFS statute.
Iowa Renewable Fuels Association Executive Director Monte Shaw said the delay on the volumes "proves the initial proposal was severely flawed and unworkable."
"It is our hope that this delay signals that the Administration is discarding the illegal infrastructure waiver criteria as they move forward, providing the opportunity to get the RFS back on track with the correct numbers and methodology," Shaw added.
His comments were echoed by National Corn Growers Association President Chip Bowling, who called the proposal "inherently flawed" and pledged to work with the EPA to ensure future renewable volume obligations are "consistent with what Congress set forth in the Renewable Fuel Standard."
Despite optimism that the proposed lower RFS levels may be scrapped, many groups and legislators were critical of the uncertainty created by the policy's delay.
Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., suggested that the EPA devote more time towards providing long-term solutions in a new rule in 2015.
"I urge the administration to make this a priority and take a hard look at how this could seriously set back growth at a crucial time when tremendous progress is being made toward commercial-scale production of advanced biofuels that are creating home-grown American energy," she said in a statement.
The American Farm Bureau said the delays also create uncertainty in the marketplace, and even though EPA "took the appropriate course" in reconsidering the proposal, the group said it continues to believe that "adhering to the framework of the RFS2 remains the best approach."
The National Chicken Council, however, was displeased with the EPA's consistently slow release of final RFS RVOs.
This seesaw process by which the EPA proposes an up-and-down, now-and-later moving target as the compliance year unfolds leaves poultry and livestock producers unable to plan and budget effectively," said Mike Brown, NCC President. "While corn prices have moderated, volatility and uncertainty are the true business-killers."
According to the EPA, the 2014 may be released "prior to or in conjunction with" action on the 2015 standards rule, but would not be before the end of the year.