Editor’s note: Ag and biofuel groups were represented at an EPA hearing on the Renewable Fuel Standard July 31. Following are portions of the testimony.

By the National Corn Growers Association

The National Corn Growers Association today reiterated its call on the Environmental Protection Agency to keep the Renewable Fuel Standard whole by accounting for waived ethanol gallons as the agency considers proposed biofuel targets for 2020. In testimony at an EPA hearing in Ypsilanti, Mich., NCGA Board Member and Ohio farmer John Linder pressed the agency to move forward with a stronger RFS rule that supports America’s farmers, their rural communities and consumers.

“The proposed rule we are discussing today allows retroactive refinery exemptions to continue to destroy demand for renewable fuels. In addition, the proposal ignores the D.C. Circuit Court’s decision that EPA improperly waived 500 million gallons in 2016,” Linder said.

For 2020, EPA proposes to increase total renewable fuel blending by 120 million gallons and maintain an implied conventional ethanol requirement of 15 billion gallons. The proposal does not take into account EPA’s ongoing practice of providing RFS waivers to big oil companies. These waivers have reduced RFS requirements by 2.61 billion ethanol-equivalent gallons, with 38 more exemptions pending.

“These volumes are meaningless amid EPA’s massive expansion of retroactive refinery waivers. Farmers have no confidence EPA will ensure these volumes are met — which the law requires — because EPA fails to account for projected waivers in this proposal,” Linder said.

By Growth Energy

Today, Growth Energy Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Chris Bliley testified before U.S. EPA officials at the hearing on the agency’s proposed 2020 Renewable Volume Obligations (RVO) under the Renewable Fuel Standard. Bliley spoke on behalf of the 100 ethanol plants and 91 innovative businesses Growth Energy represents, condemning the agency for providing no avenue to offset refinery exemptions that consistently undercut federal blending goals, disrespecting the court’s decision on the 2016 RVO, and failing to approve pathways for millions of gallons of current cellulosic biofuel production from kernel fiber technology.

In his testimony, Bliley reiterated the industry’s frustrations with the agency’s failure to correct its course on refinery exemptions through annual blending targets: “If EPA is going to waive billions of gallons, it must properly account for those gallons in the RVO calculation, so that demand-loss is not borne by biofuel producers and America’s farmers.”

Bliley also blasted the EPA’s choice to flout the 2017 court ruling requiring the agency to revisit 500 million gallons of biofuel that were inappropriately waived.

“Ethanol plants have closed, employees have been laid off, trade has been cut, all on top of farmers’ crops being devastated — and EPA claims it is too difficult for refiners to blend 500 million gallons of biofuel as the law requires,” said Bliley. “What kind of signal does that send to farmers? What message does that send to companies seeking to invest in American biofuels? It speaks volumes.”

By the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association

Iowa Renewable Fuels Association Executive Director Monte Shaw made clear if EPA blatantly ignores a court order to restore 500 million gallons illegally cut from the 2016 RFS blend levels, American farmers and biofuels producers will lose all faith in the Trump EPA to act fairly.

In 2016 EPA illegally lowered the RFS blend levels against the clear letter of the RFS law as passed by Congress. Biofuels interests sued the EPA, and the U.S. D.C. Circuit Court ordered EPA to restore the 500 million gallons. In its recently proposed RFS rule for 2020, EPA said it does not intend to follow this court order.

“The EPA should not effectively thumb its nose at the other two branches of our federal government,” Shaw said. “Quite frankly, it’s hard to fathom such a blatant disregard of the Administration’s constitutional duties. If the EPA is so cowed by the petroleum industry that biofuels cannot get a square deal on an issue so completely black and white as the 2016 remand, then no farmer in America should ever again expect to get fair treatment from the Trump EPA. If this stands, I have no faith the EPA will be a fair and neutral arbiter on the more complex issues, such as annual blend levels, refinery exemptions, and the pending RFS reset rule.”

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