By DOUG SCHMITZ
ELLISVILLE, Mo. – The EPA recently finalized the rule setting Renewable Fuel Standard blending levels for 2023 through 2025, cutting the proposed blending levels for ethanol in 2024 and 2025, while increasing biodiesel blending levels well below current use.
The EPA’s final rule includes conventional renewable fuel requirements of 15 billion gallons for both 2024 and 2025, down from the proposed volumes of 15.25 billion for both years.
Geoff Cooper, Renewable Fuels Association president and CEO, called the reductions “inexplicable and unwarranted.”
“The Renewable Fuel Standard was intended to drive continual growth in all categories of renewable fuels well beyond 2022,” he said. “Instead, today’s final rule flatlines conventional renewable fuels at 15 billion gallons and misses a valuable opportunity to accelerate the energy sector’s transition to low- and zero-carbon fuels.
“By removing half a billion gallons of lower-carbon, lower-cost fuel, today’s rule needlessly forfeits an opportunity to further enhance U.S. energy security, and provide more affordable options at the pump for American drivers,” Cooper said.
Despite the rule’s failure to finalize the strong proposed conventional renewable fuel volumes, Cooper said the action “includes solid volumes for other renewable fuel categories, and brings some stability and predictability to the marketplace for the next two and a half years.”
The EPA’s final rule includes a total volume obligation of 20.94 billion gallons for 2023, of which 15 billion gallons will come from conventional renewable fuels like corn ethanol. The rule also includes a supplemental volume requirement for 250 million gallons in 2023 to make up for “illegally-waived volumes in 2016.”
Over the 2023 to 2025 timeframe, biomass-based diesel blending levels were increased a cumulative 550 million gallons, but the U.S. Energy Information Administration is projecting annual increases of 800 to 900 million gallons.
The EPA finalized total volumes of 21.54 billion and 22.33 billion gallons in 2024 and 2025, respectively, with conventional renewable fuel requirements of 15 billion gallons for each of those two years.
According to a June 23 statement obtained by Farm World, “The Indiana Corn Growers Association and the Indiana Soybean Alliance’s Membership & Policy Committee were disappointed by the EPA’s biofuel blending targets in its final Renewable Volume Obligations through 2025 under the Renewable Fuel Standard.
“The 2023 finalized rule made zero increases to this year’s volume of ethanol and biodiesel,” the Indianapolis, Ind.-based groups said. “The 2024 and 2025 rules only included modest gains. These targets do not reflect the potential for biofuels growth in our state.
“Indiana is a major producer of both biodiesel and ethanol,” the statement concluded. “Expansion of this market not only helps Hoosier soybean and corn farmers, but also spurs the state’s economy. The final rule limits the emission reductions and cost-saving benefits that higher biofuel volumes would provide our environment, economy, and communities.”
Matt Rush, Illinois Corn Growers Association president and Fairfield, Ill., farmer, said, “While the Illinois Corn Growers Association is pleased that the EPA removed any proposals about eRINs (a new kind of renewable identification number obligated parties could obtain to meet their renewable volume obligations and comply with the Renewable Fuel Standard program) in this final rule, we’re very disappointed that they reduced the volumes of conventional ethanol for 2024 and 2025.
“In total, the reduction for corn-based ethanol equals approximately 167 million bushels of lost corn demand over both years, which will hurt American corn farmers,” he added.
As the nation’s number one biofuels producer, Iowa’s corn farmers are extremely disappointed to hear the EPA is reducing the Renewable Fuel Standard volumes, said Denny Friest, Iowa Corn Growers Association president and Radcliffe, Iowa, farmer
“This proposal fails on all fronts in promoting sustainable fuel options available to American consumers,” he said. “The EPA needs to stop disgracing Iowa farmers and their renewable homegrown, more affordable, clean-burning fuels that are readily available today. It’s time the EPA is held to a higher standard, and restore the intent and strength of the Renewable Fuel Standard.”