DES MOINES — Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig and 10 other elected Commissioners of Agriculture from around the country recently raised concerns with the Environmental Protection Agency about the biomass-based diesel volumes in the proposed Renewable Fuel Standard rulemaking for 2023 through 2025.
The coalition, led by Naig, also includes the elected commissioners from Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Carolina, Texas, and West Virginia, according to a Department of Agriculture news release. They highlighted their concerns in a joint letter to EPA Administrator Michael Regan.
“Since its inception, the RFS has uplifted the agriculture economy and rural communities across the U.S. and has stimulated critical growth in biofuel markets, diversifying our available supply of critical liquid transportation fuels that drive our nation’s economic success,” wrote the coalition.
“However, EPA’s proposed rule fails to consider the key investments that our farmers and biofuel producers have made in recent years and ignores the historic level of biofuel and feedstock processing capacity expansion that is planned and underway, thereby restricting the opportunity for clean, homegrown biofuels to meet our nation’s energy independence and carbon reduction goals.”
A summary of concerns raised by the coalition included the following:
- While the U.S. is expecting to see more than 5 billion gallons of renewable diesel come online by 2025, the EPA’s proposed biomass-based diesel (BBD) volumes are significantly lower than current production and usage levels of biodiesel and renewable diesel. If this rule is finalized, it will hurt future advancements in feedstock and biofuel production as well as reduce supply in the diesel market.
- While conventional biofuel levels in the proposed rule appear to be sufficient in and of themselves, there is great concern over the potential cannibalization that could occur in this category due to the woefully inadequate BBD levels. Higher ethanol blends such as E15 and E85 provide consumer savings at the pump and emission reductions for the air, and the RFS should be harnessed to accelerate — not hinder — the use and availability of these homegrown, lower carbon fuel choices.
- In its final rule, the EPA is strongly encouraged to increase the proposed volumes for BBD — along with corresponding increases to the total advanced biofuel and total renewable fuel obligation levels — to account for the significant growth in investments and production capacity in the renewable diesel and biodiesel space.
Without considering the increases in newly available feedstocks, crush capacity and biofuel production, the EPA will be hurting investments and impacting supply of critical fuels in the diesel market. Biofuels offer the most immediate and affordable path to both reducing greenhouse gas emissions and enhancing U.S. energy security.
The EPA and Biden Administration are expected to finalize and announce the RFS volumes later this year.