Updated with comments from former ASA chairman on biodiesel.
The Environmental Protection Agency must protect the Renewable Fuel Standard as Congress originally defined it nearly a decade ago, Iowa farmer Randy Caviness told the EPA at a public hearing June 9. He testified on behalf of Iowa Farm Bureau and the American Farm Bureau Federation.
The public hearing on the proposed RFS standards for 2017 and biomass-based diesel volume standard for 2018 was in Kansas City, Missouri. The EPA released the volume requirements in May, calling for targets that are lower than in statue, but higher than 2016 requirements. The proposed requirement for corn-based ethanol is 200 million fewer gallons than the 15 billion gallons in statue.
“EPA’s decision not to follow the intent of Congress in the 2007 RFS is highly disappointing to all of agriculture,” said Caviness, who also serves as a member of AFBF Issue’s Advisory Committee on Energy. “This decision strikes a blow to conventional ethanol production and dampens the prospects for the further development of advanced biofuels.”
"Just a year ago we were in a room similar to this, walking through many of the same points being reviewed today," noted Missouri Corn Growers Association President Morris Heitman of Mound City during his testimony. "It is unfortunate that once again I, and many other corn growers, had to take a day away from the farm to remind the EPA they are once again, ignoring the law with regard to the proposed corn-based ethanol blending targets."
American success story
Caviness is a firm believer in clean energy, and his farm is proof of it. He has farmed for 28 years without energy-intensive tilling and leads initiatives to install wind turbines in his home county of Adair and neighboring Cass County.
Caviness told EPA that renewable fuels are an American success story and critical to keeping our nation moving forward in reducing dependence on foreign oil and providing well-paying jobs in rural America. EPA’s proposal to reduce the RFS would hurt agriculture and rural economies at a time when farmers are already struggling with a down-turned economy.
“Our nation’s farmers can grow more bushels of corn and soybeans on fewer acres to feed and fuel the world,” Caviness said. “But if these reduced volumes are finalized, this decision will stall growth and progress in renewable fuels as well as the broader agricultural economy.”
"Consumers are demanding options at the pump and by not enforcing the statutory levels set by Congress, Big Oil will continue its stranglehold on the marketplace," Missouri Corn board member Gary Porter of Mercer said during his testimony. "Today I ask that you reconsider this proposal and follow the law established by the Renewable Fuel Standard. Renewable fuels help revitalize our rural communities, decrease our dependence on oil and gives consumers more options at the pump."
Iowa soybean farmer and former American Soybean Association chairman Ray Gaesser said the proposed rule should contain a more aggressive biomass-based diesel program.
“We think EPA should enthusiastically support more aggressive, but easily achievable, volume targets for biodiesel," Gaesser said. "We see no reason why EPA should not, at a minimum, support biomass-based diesel volumes of 2.5 billion gallons for 2018.”
By not increasing biomass-based diesel levels, Gaesser said “the EPA and Administration are missing an easy opportunity to help the ag and rural economy while at the same time achieving greater greenhouse gas emission reductions – a high priority for EPA and this administration.”
People who could not testify at the hearing may submit comments to the EPA by July 11, when regulators will begin drafting a final rule.
Sources: AFBF, Missouri Corn Growers Association, ASA