IFB submits comments on RFS

Letter argues for more, not fewer, gallons of biomass-based diesel.

By Deana Stroisch

Scott Pruitt, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency administrator, has vowed to “act consistent with the text and the spirit” of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

“I take seriously my responsibility to do so in an open and transparent manner that advances the full potential of this program as envisioned by Congress, rural America and the president of the United States,” Pruitt wrote recently in a letter to seven senators – all Republicans representing states won last November by President Donald Trump.

The letter came after a closed-door meeting between the Midwest senators and Pruitt – and at the end of a comment period on a proposal to lower volume targets for biomass diesel for 2018 and 2019.

Illinois Farm Bureau submitted comments to Pruitt on the matter. Adam Nielsen, IFB’s director of national legislation and policy development, thanked Pruitt for keeping President Donald Trump’s promise to blend 15 billion gallons of conventional ethanol in 2018. He urged Pruitt’s staff to read an economic and policy analysis on the waiver authority for biomass-based diesel (BBD) completed by Jonathan Coppess and Scott Irwin of the University of Illinois’ Department of Agriculture and Consumer Economics.

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The analysis, Nielsen wrote, concludes that a limited BBD waiver applies only in cases where there’s a significant disruption in feedstock or other market circumstances that would cause a significant increase in BBD prices.

“Illinois Farm Bureau strongly agrees with the authors that the price impact of the long-expired tax credit, the minimal impact of restricting BBD imports from Argentina and Indonesia, and the agency’s conclusion that increasing BBD imports flies in the face of the RFS goal of ‘greater energy independence and security’ are ultimately deeply flawed arguments,” Nielsen wrote. “RFS is indeed a market forcing policy. IFB suggests the only legally defensible solution is more – not fewer gallons of BBD.”

Pruitt’s letter brought relief to biofuels supporters.

In the two-page letter, he detailed his plans to deny a pending petition to move the “point of obligation” from refiners and importers to blenders. He said he directed his staff to finalize the decision within 30 days.

He also announced plans to finalize the Renewable Volume Obligation (RVO) rule by Nov. 30, as required by the statute.

“While the process for determining the final RVO rule is ongoing, it would not be appropriate for the agency to prejudge the outcome of the rulemaking process,” Pruitt wrote. “Nevertheless, preliminary analysis suggests that all of the final RVOs should be set at amounts that are equal to or greater than the proposed amounts, including the 2.1 billion gallons for biomass-based diesel in 2018 and 2019.”

Related: Pruitt abandons proposal to reduce RFS required volumes. Click here.

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