Iowa’s biofuel leaders and lawmakers last week vowed to continue their fight to restore ethanol and biodiesel levels in the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) despite their bitter disappointment over the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) move late last year to lower them for 2015 and 2016.
The biofuel backers want to make sure that the EPA keeps biofuel requirements at levels set by Congress for 2017 and beyond. They promised to keep up pressure on the agency and continue to fend off attacks to reduce biofuel requirements from the petroleum industry.
“What we are saying is, hey, next time get it right,” said Monte Shaw, executive director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, which held its 10th annual Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit Jan. 19 in Altoona. “We need to get the RFS back on track.”
The EPA, Shaw said, is currently working on plans for ethanol and biofuel requirements for 2017 and 2018. And it’s important for biofuel advocates to find ways to make their case, he said.
Iowa lawmakers agreed and released a letter they sent last week to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy urging her to stick with the biofuel levels written in the enacted RFS.
“We have been saying consistently and persistently that the RFS is in statute, follow it,” said Rep. Steve King. “And we need to keep the intensity up.”
Rep. Dave Loebsack said: “On supporting the RFS, it’s a complete no brainer. We need to work together because it’s about our economy, it’s about our farmers and it’s about our nation being independent from foreign oil.”
Keeping the RFS viable is more important today than ever because the drop in commodity prices is driving down farm income, said Rep. David Young. “This is a really big deal now for the Iowa economy, for the environment and having a diversity of energy sources,” he said.
Earlier during the Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad said the EPA’s “misguided action” to reduce biofuel requirements created uncertainty in markets that helped drop the price of corn below the cost of production.
“It’s important that we all do everything we can to correct the misinformation that is out there about biofuels,” Branstad said. “It’s also critical that we establish new leadership in the White House that will encourage the EPA to do the right thing and restore the original vision of the Congress for a robust RFS.”
Shaw said he’s optimistic that biofuel backers will be able to restore the ethanol and biodiesel levels in the RFS for 2017 and beyond.
“I know the renewable fuels industry will not waiver or retreat or surrender,” he said. “It will continue to battle for market access and to tear down the bogus blend wall. I know this because the renewable fuels industry has fought the odds for 35 years — and won. I know this because it simply is not in a farmer’s DNA to quit.”
Several presidential candidates — Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum and Donald Trump — spoke at the Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit and offered their support for biofuels.
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