The Colorado Corn Growers Association and other representatives of the grain and biofuels industries this week expressed appreciation toward the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for its proposal that would again increase ethanol’s Renewable Volume Obligation (RVO) under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), but were also disappointed in that the EPA continues to set numbers below the original RFS statute.
In its proposal, the EPA calls for a 2017 total RVO of 18.8 billion gallons, up from 18.11 billion gallons this year, but well short of the 24 billion gallons of renewable fuels that the 2007 RFS statute called for being blended with conventional fuels by 2017.
Of the 18.8 billion gallons of total renewable fuels in the EPA’s new proposal, the agency requested capping grain-based ethanol volumes at 14.8 billion gallons in 2017, which is above the 2016 RVO of 14.5 billion gallons, but below the 15 billion gallons set by statute under the RFS nine years ago.
The EPA has cited a lack of fuel infrastructure as one reason for setting numbers short of statute. However, over the past year, farmers and the ethanol industry have invested millions of dollars along with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership to accelerate public and private investment in new ethanol pumps and fuel infrastructure.
The public comment period regarding the EPA’s proposed RVOs will be open until July 11. The rule is expected to be finalized by Nov. 30.
“America’s corn farmers and the ethanol industry have done their job and are calling on the EPA to follow the law, and raise the ethanol volume to statute, ” said Colorado Corn Executive Director Mark Sponsler. “Any reduction in the statutory amount for ethanol takes America backward.”
“Ethanol is clearly working for America,” Sponsler continued. “It is widely regarded as the best additive to oxygenate gasoline, and in 2015 it was credited with lowering CO2-equivalent greenhouse gas emissions from transportation by 41.2 million metric tons – akin to removing 8.7 million cars from the road.
“Domestically produced ethanol in 2015 also lowered net U.S. import oil dependence to 25 percent, which otherwise would have been 32 percent, and ethanol supported 85,967 direct jobs, added $44 billion to our GDP, and increased household income by $24 billion last year.
“Furthermore, the increase in overall fuel supplies with domestically produced ethanol being blended with gasoline helps lower fuel prices at the pump for consumers; food prices haven’t skyrocketed with corn going to ethanol; ethanol production has a positive energy balance, not negative, as is often portrayed; and ethanol not only is safe for many engines, it’s a higher-octane fuel that actually improves engine performance, which is why E15 – a blend of 15 percent ethanol, 85 percent gas – is the most used fuel in NASCAR.”
Colorado Corn, based in Greeley, is made up of the Colorado Corn Growers Association and Colorado Corn Administrative Committee. The Colorado Corn Growers Association is comprised of dues-paying members who are politically active, focusing on policy that impacts corn producers and agriculture in general. The Colorado Corn Administrative Committee oversees how Colorado’s corn check-off dollars (one penny per bushel of corn produced in the state) are spent on research, market development, outreach, education and other various endeavors. See more about the work of the two organizations at www.coloradocorn.com.