Biofuels groups differ on Renewable Fuel Standard overhaul

Biofuels groups differ on Renewable Fuel Standard overhaul

Proposal from Advanced Biofuels Association for legislative fix on Renewable Fuel Standard not ideal, Growth Energy says

At the first day of the 2015 Advanced Bioeconomy Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, the Advanced Biofuels Association's Michael McAdams said the RFS needs a legislative overhaul.

Related: Commercial cellulosic ethanol on the map in 2014

"Eight years after its passage, it is easy to see that the RFS may be working for some, but it is only minimally helpful to advance the promise and potential of next-generation renewable fuels," McAdams said in his opening remarks.

"We need to acknowledge the simple fact: that the RFS is not equally helpful to all sectors of the biofuels industry."

ABFA's McAdams discusses proposal for legislative fix on Renewable Fuel Standard. (ABFA photo)

ABFA, which represents makers of advanced and cellulosic biofuels, has supported the RFS, but remains concerned at the EPA's limits on advanced biofuels. The group says that it is the "ultimate prize" of the RFS to foster the development next-generation biofuels produced with non-food feedstocks.

Biodiesel and corn ethanol, he said, are now "established technology" that uses traditional feedstocks and has already built more production capacity than required under the RFS statute.

Related: Senators' bill cuts corn ethanol from Renewable Fuel Standard

Cutting-edge technology, he argued, isn't favored under the RFS. He urged Congress to pass legislative fixes that solve three problems: EPA's missed RFS deadlines, long-term RFS uncertainty and inequities in the cellulosic waiver credit process.

Specifically, the group suggested a minimum RIN value – indexed to the price of oil – for cellulosic fuels to spur commercialization, official support for the RFS past 2022, and requiring oil companies to purchase what is produced by removing waiver credit loopholes.

"We believe that if Congress enacts these changes, then the investment community will have the certainty necessary to finance continued development of the advanced and cellulosic industry," McAdams said.

Related: Biodiesel industry says RFS uncertainty a reason for lower 2014 production

RFS and ethanol proponent Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy, disagreed. He suggested opening the RFS up to legislative changes is likely to "open a can of worms" that will create further uncertainty for the biofuels industry.

"This is a shortsighted proposal that would set the entire renewable fuels industry on the path to a rollback of the RFS," he said in a statement. "The simple fact is that first generation fuels, such as corn based ethanol, and cellulosic ethanol are inextricably linked."

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