Ag Policy Blog
Chris Clayton DTN Ag Policy Editor

Wednesday 04/09/14

Everyone is Lobbying on the RFS

All sides are working to influence EPA on the Renewable Fuels Standard.

Several groups are making their position known through time with EPA officials, congressional hearings or events set up exclusively for press.

Earlier this week, biofuel supporters got to offer testimony before the Senate Agriculture Committee in a hearing seeking to tout the prospects of advanced biofuels. They stressed the need for EPA to keep the 2014 volume levels for biofuels at the numbers set in the legislation. EPA's proposal would set the 2014 blend requirements for all renewable fuels at 15.2 billion gallons, a reduction of 3 billion gallons from the standard set in the RFS. Petroleum companies would have to use 2.2 billion gallons of advanced fuels, which is scaled back from 3.75 billion that had been mandated under the RFS. The proposal reduces cellulosic ethanol projections from 1.7 billion gallons down to 17 million.

Several farm and renewable-energy groups got some face time Wednesday with and EPA official in the office of Air and Radiation. According to the group 25x25, "The groups stressed the economic, environmental, national security and human health benefits of biofuels, urging EPA to stay the course and drop its proposal to reduce RFS blending targets."

25x25 added that Carol Werner, executive director of the Environmental and Energy Study Institute, cited a lifecycle analysis done by researchers at DOE's Argonne National Laboratory. The study found corn ethanol produced in 2008-2012 reduced greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 34 percent compared to gasoline, even after factoring in hypothetical indirect land use change.

"We urge EPA not to take any steps that would compromise efforts to reduce emissions that contribute to a changing climate," Werner said. "We ask you to ensure that the full potential of biofuels can be realized."

On Thursday, opponents of the RFS are going to explain their push to cut renewable fuels for 2014 and beyond. The National Council of Chain Restaurants and Environmental Working Group will be part of that event. Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., will speak. Welch has complained about the RFS driving up feed prices for dairy producers. The fast-food restaurants have seen declining profits because of higher protein costs.

A group of well-known folks opposed to doing anything about climate change also held an event Wednesday morning at the National Press Club. The Heartland Institute had a handful of researchers explaining that that the planet isn't warming, but if it were warming it would be good for the planet anyway. When asked what should be done since climate change is a scientific falsehood, Heartland Institute's Joe Bast immediately said, "We need to stop subsidizing ethanol."

This relationship between ethanol, climate change and agriculture is indeed one of strange bedfellows.

As a side note, the American Petroleum Institute indicated last month the group had 205 House members willing to repeal or change the RFS. That was before the lastest Supreme Court ruling on campaign finances allowing wealthy donors more opportunities to write big checks. I wonder how the needle has moved?

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Posted at 7:56PM CDT 04/09/14 by Chris Clayton
Comments (9)
Good reporting Chris ; Please report what Nascar Childress had to say also. Thanks
Posted by melvin meister at 9:42AM CDT 04/10/14
Chris: Humph! In this rangeland operator's book, the RFS was our government's way of dealing with the extensive negative consequences of the formerly incredible annual pile of subsidized feed grains destroying domestic and world markets. RFS was necessary political fix to raise "market prices" for corn upwards so as not to be guilty of distorting subsidies under WTO. The tremendous rise in livestock prices over the past few years is absolute proof that grossly excessive overproduction of corn kept all commodity prices down, and that would include the economic value of rangeland. Subsidies are evil beyond evil. I well remember the annual arrogant threat by cattle buyers: "We can feed them cheaper than we can graze them." So, quite un-naturally, the need for grazing land was diminished and thus great numbers of ranches were converted to ranchettes and worse. While some farmers thrived others went broke. There are ALWAYS two sides to every equation. Producer price subsidies were a primary cause of excess corn market distortions. Direct payments were a secondary direct cause, and RFS is a disgusting tertiary interference with market forces, designed entirely to mitigate all the negative effects of the first two abominations. H. Clay Daulton
Posted by H. Clay Daulton at 11:57AM CDT 04/10/14
The only way the government scheme of ethanol use survives is with government blending mandates. Without this and who know how many billions of ethanol subsidies corn ethanol would not see the light of day.
Posted by T Kuster at 12:53PM CDT 04/10/14
Kuster I suppose you would like a 5 billion bu. carry over and 5 doller gas.
Posted by melvin meister at 9:05PM CDT 04/10/14
We need to also look at upgrading our transportation system whether it be railroads, hiways, pipelines. We are producing more of everything and now finding bottle necks in getting commodities shipped. The next thing that will happen will be some kind of shipping tax put on this crap ethanol. Ethanol has little to do with keeping gas from 5 dollars.
Posted by GWL 61 at 8:38AM CDT 04/11/14
I believe ethanol is at present the only safe oxygenate we have to put in our gas for some areas of the country to achieve air quality standards. We could go back to MTBE which goes into the soil and never goes away. Or city folks could just park their cars. Good luck with that.
Posted by GORDON KEYES at 9:17AM CDT 04/11/14
I get that we needed the RFS to incubate the ETOH industry. The industry is mature. It is not going away. Time for the RFS to exit stage left.
Posted by Unknown at 6:25PM CDT 04/11/14
RFS is just another big government disaster. See http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesconca/2014/04/20/its-final-corn-ethanol-is-of-no-use/
Posted by T Kuster at 6:54AM CDT 04/21/14
Dear GWL 36.5 mpg across Minn. and WI. does not sound like [crap ethanol]to me .Think before you make dumb statments.
Posted by melvin meister at 9:35PM CDT 04/30/14
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