American Coalition for Ethanol says EPA’s proposed ethanol rule is a tough pill to swallow

Ethanol or E-15 logo

A proposed biofuels rule from the EPA is getting criticism from ethanol supporters.

The part of the rule ethanol supporters like would address E-15 labeling and infrastructure requirements and not act on 66 petitions for Small Refinery Exemptions.

Growth Energy’s Chris Bliley tells Brownfield EPA’s proposed rule is in the middle between good and bad.  “We understand the compliance push. We’d rather, again, I think we’d rather see a shorter time frame. We want to see the annual volumes met in a more predictable way, but again, I think most importantly is that they do not unjustly grant these exemptions.”

Bliley supports the proposed change for E15. “We view that certainly as a positive. You know, they’re proposing to potentially remove the label that we found onerous and to provide a little bit of regulatory easing on the infrastructure compatibility requirements.”

Brian Jennings from the American Coalition for Ethanol tells Brownfield the proposed rule does give the industry the E15 changes it’s looking for, but, “It’s a poison pill, you know, wrapped inside something good for us.”

Jennings says EPA will take separate comments on the E15 changes and oil refiner petitions for a blanket waiver that would potentially allow all refiners to skip 2019 and 2020 blending requirements based on recent economic harm…something the industry is strongly opposed to. “Our job will be to keep these proposals separate to kill the proposed RFS waivers, and to move forward on sort of removing these unnecessary barriers to E15 in the market.”

Geoff Cooper with the Renewable Fuels Association also supports the E15 changes but says the petition for a blanket waiver is one last desperate attempt by refiners to undermine the RFS and protect their chokehold on the nation’s fuel markets.  Cooper says the EPA has no authority to waive RFS volumes unless petitioners show the RFS itself is the cause of their severe economic harm, which he says would be impossible.

Iowa Renewable Fuels Association Executive Director Monte Shaw also calls the proposal a “mixed bag” and says it appears to rule out granting further exemptions, but his group will remain vigilant. 

Jennings says the ethanol industry will work with farmers and ag organizations to submit comments to the EPA.