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EPA Announces the Rule for 2014 is No Rule At All

More than a year after announcing a plan to lower the ethanol mandate for 2014, the Environmental Protection Agency has decided that the policy is so broken, it is easier to give up than announce a final rule.

EPA said the agency will “take action on the 2014 standards rule in 2015 prior to or in conjunction with action on the 2015 standards rule.” The deadline for 2013 compliance with the rule will take place in 2015, EPA’s notice says.

See how others are reacting to the EPA’s decision and check back for more responses:

Environmental Working Group’s policy analyst Mike Lavender says:

Today's announcement is further evidence that Congress must reform our badly broken food-to-fuel policies. By failing to reduce the amount of corn ethanol blended into gasoline, the Obama administration today missed an opportunity to immediately reduce greenhouse gas emissions. If we hope to reverse climate change, we need greenhouse gas reductions now, not in 2025, and reducing the amount of corn ethanol in gasoline is among the most effective tools at the administration’s disposal. We urge the administration to quickly finalize a RVO that paves the way for truly “green” biofuels."

National Chicken Council President Mike Brown says:

“This seesaw process by which the EPA proposes an up-and-down, now-and-later moving target as the compliance year unfolds leaves poultry and livestock producers unable to plan and budget effectively. While corn prices have moderated, volatility and uncertainty are the true business-killers. On top of all of this, we believed at one time that the original RFS included a workable provision that provided for an ‘off ramp’ in times of economic crisis.  On at least two major occasions – in 2008 and 2012 during catastrophic weather events – that belief has proven false. What more evidence does the administration and Congress need to prove the RFS — and the administration of it — is broken beyond repair? Albert Einstein is said to have observed, ‘Insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting different results.’  Today’s announcement is further evidence that our current renewable fuel policy is not only broken, it’s insane.”

House Energy and Commerce Committee's Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), Ed Whitfield (R-KY) and John Shimkus (R-IL) say:

“Businesses and consumers have been waiting a year now for clarity and guidance from EPA, but this decision to completely abandon the 2014 targets only adds to the growing uncertainty and frustration. EPA cannot just choose to arbitrarily ignore the law and the deadlines established by Congress. This unexpected announcement highlights that there are still significant challenges facing the RFS and underscores the need to come together and find a practical, bipartisan solution.”

American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturer’s President Charles T. Drevna says:

“The Obama Administration’s decision to further delay issuing the 2014 Renewable Volume Obligations (RVO) is a gross dereliction of responsibility that leaves fuel refiners and the biofuels industry alike to navigate a course of ambiguity. Today’s announcement indicates that the Administration plans to continuously mismanage this program in a manner that equates to playing Russian roulette with the nation’s fuel supply at the American consumer’s ultimate expense. The Administration’s inaction demonstrates once again that the non-functioning Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program is irreparably broken. AFPM calls upon Congress to expeditiously resume work on repealing or significantly reforming the RFS. In the meantime, AFPM will seek legal intervention. For three years in a row, the Administration has thumbed its nose at Congress and ignored a crystal clear statutory deadline to issue RVOs by November 30 of the preceding year. For this reason, AFPM today filed a notice of intent to sue EPA over its failure to issue the 2014 RFS regulations, which has languished at the White House Office of Management and Budget since August 22, 2014.”

The National Council of Chain Restaurants’ Executive Director Rob Green says:

“By backtracking on their initial recommendation on the ethanol mandate quota, the White House and EPA have chosen to accommodate a small group of ethanol lobbyists at the expense of American consumers and diners, the nation’s small business restaurant owners and all businesses that support and sustain the food supply chain. This unbelievable non-announcement demonstrates once and for all that the EPA, because of statutory and political considerations, cannot fix the failure of the RFS. Members of Congress should take note. The federal RFS ethanol mandate is irrevocably broken and needs to be repealed immediately. It is time that Congress take the RFS ‘off the menu’ once and for all.”

ActionAid USA’s Director of Policy and Campaigns Kristin Sundell says:

As the Administration stands by this failed policy, today’s decision to leave biofuels targets unchecked means corn for fuel tanks will be prioritized over food for hungry people around the world. It will also make prices for foods such as corn and soya more unstable, hitting poor people in the US and abroad hardest. Poor people around the world should not have to go hungry to produce fuel for our cars and trucks. Congress must act to reform its biofuel mandates.”

A Most Disappointing First Anniversary

It’s official: one year ago, the Environmental Protection Agency acknowledged reality and proposed lowering the 2014 ethanol mandate to avoid reaching the blend wall and a spike in gas prices. You may remember, our partners were pretty thrilled.

Unfortunately, in the 365 days since, exactly zero progress has been made. With only 47 days left in the year, corn farmers, livestock producers, restaurateurs, refiners and the American public are still waiting for the final ethanol mandate numbers to be set for this year.

While their desired outcomes vary, refiners, Congressmen and ethanol producers have all urged the White House for a decision. No matter who wins, everyone agrees that the delay is costly for everyday Americans.

The RFS isn't a policy that we can depend on. Tell Congress today that we need them to fix a policy that's so broken it can't even be implemented on time.

Friday RFS Roundup – 11/14

As the Office of Management and Budget continues to sit on the 2014 ethanol mandate, which is more than 10 months late, advance biofuels sweetheart KiOR files for bankruptcy and EWG and AAA expose the problems with corn ethanol.

More from this week:

Corn Ethanol Clips Your Car's MPG:

In Short: “From year to year, EPA tweaks the maximum amount of ethanol required in vehicle fuel, based on U.S. fuel consumption. If EPA bumps up that number, it will exacerbate problems corn ethanol already poses to consumers…But the damage won’t be limited to engines. An EPA decision to increase the amount of corn ethanol in gasoline could lead to more pollution in air and water.”

RIP KiOR: The Khosla-backed biofuel company finally files for bankruptcy:

In Short: “Biofuel startups looking to produce next-generation fuels using plant waste (instead of corn and soybeans) have proven to be incredibly difficult to scale up. Almost none have survived the so-called ‘valley of death’ from small scale production to large scale commercialization at the low price point needed to compete with oil.”

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Legislative Updates will be coming soon.

A Coalition Against Bad Policy

We’ve said it once, and we’ll say it again… the ethanol mandate is everyone’s problem.

Oil refiners do oppose the ethanol mandate (primarily because of the looming blend wall), but they are hardly the only ones who take issue with the policy. Environmentalists, taxpayers, food producers, consumer protection groups of all types, anti-hunger advocates and even farmers have all spoken out against the RFS.

This year alone, our coalition has joined arms with even more poultry farmers who are struggling to feed their flocks due to the skyrocketing price of feed; gasoline retailers forced to stock a fuel that consumers neither know about nor want; and outdoor equipment groups grappling to find fuel that won’t damage their small engines.

On Thursday, April 10, Congressman Pete Welch (D-VT), Scott Faber of the Environmental Working Group, Rob Green of the National Council of Chain Restaurants and others will discuss how the ethanol mandate is impacting all Americans in an event hosted by The Hill Magazine in Washington, DC. You can watch the event on The Hill’s website or join the conversation on Twitter using #TheHillLive and #RFS2014.

The price you pay

NBC Nightly News shone a light this week on rising food prices that are impacting consumers across the United States.

While Brian Williams and the gang focused on the drought in California, it is important to note that these recent price increases are part of a longer-term trend.  Beef, poultry, milk and cheese prices have all been on the rise for nearly a decade—in fact, food prices are up 17.8 percent.

With the introduction of the Renewable Fuel Standard in 2005, the demand for ethanol increased making it more and more difficult for ranchers to feed their herds. By increasing the competition for and price of corn, the ethanol mandate has unintentionally been driving up the cost at the grocery store. By 2022, the RFS will increase food costs for Americans by $3 billion—annually—according to the Congressional Research Service.

And now the drought, which has been affecting various parts of the country since 2012, is making what is already bad, worse.

We can’t change the weather, but we can make changes to this failing policy. Tell Congress it’s time for a real solution.

Ghosts of Ethanol Past, Present and Future

In the holiday classic A Christmas Carol, the cold-hearted, greedy Ebenezer Scrooge is given a glimpse at his Christmas past, present and future. In our version of the story, we’re going to let you peek at ethanol’s ghosts.

Ethanol Past

While opposition to the Renewable Fuel Standard (the government’s ethanol mandates policy)is growing today, some have been wary of diverting food to fuel for decades. An article published by Nicholas Wade in 1979 reveals some of the early concerns:

“The rule of thumb in Iowa is that a 1 percent decrease in corn supply raises corn prices by 2 percent.”

Yet today, we divert more than 40 percent of our corn crops to ethanol, and we’ve felt the results in corn prices from the butcher to the baker.

Further, government has been subsidizing “gasohol” for years. In 1979, the going rate was 40 cents per gallon of E10 (a fuel blend containing ten percent ethanol).

And the final lesson from the ghost of ethanol past is this: we’ve been hoping for cellulosic biofuels forever. More on that later…

Ethanol Present

Unfortunately, the realities of today’s ethanol mandate (the RFS) are no better. Refiners, environmentalists, ranchers, world hunger groups, wildlife advocates, journalists and even the Environmental Protection Agency all take issue with one part of the policy or another.

Ethanol Future

All wounds heal with time, right? Actually, no, according to Energy Information Administration. Despite   the ethanol lobby promising that cellulosic (non-corn) biofuels are “just around the corner,” the U.S. government’s Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) annual American Energy Outlook report tells us that even by 2040, it is unlikely that we’ll be anywhere close to the mandated level of cellulosics.

This means decades more subsidies for the industry and continued reliance on corn to meet the ethanol mandate.

Just like Scrooge, it’s time for Congress to see the error in its ways.

Tell your Congressman to reform the Renewable Fuel Standard.

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Smarter Fuel Future Advocates’ Ethanol Warning Labels

From Barbara T.



From Bill S.



From Bradford T.



From David A.



From Dudley D.



From Edward G.



From Franklin M.



From Howard S.



From Linda R.



From Lisa W.



From Lucinda S.



From Marilyn L.



From Mary O.



From Mike R.



From Patricia C.



Phillip R.



From Tom K.



From Walter E.



From William T.
 

 

Comparing the Ethanol Mandate with Projected Ethanol Demand

Consumer Price Index Since Ethanol Mandate

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Friday RFS Roundup – 11/7

Now that the midterm elections have passed, consumers are looking to politicians and policymakers to carry out their word to amend the ethanol mandate. This week legislators and taxpayers discussed the future of the post-election American economy as the White House Office of Management and Budget reviews the EPA’s ethanol proposal.

More from this week:

U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey sees 'huge opportunity' with incoming GOP Senate majority:

In Short: “U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa. said he's going to be focusing on a ‘pro-growth agenda’ — ‘agenda that will help encourage economic growth in Pennsylvania.’ That entails, Toomey said, approving the Keystone XL pipeline, approving the exporting of liquefied natural gas, and a ‘rollback’ of ‘the ethanol mandate.’"

For Cellulosic Ethanol Makers, The Road Ahead Is Still Uphill:

In Short: “For the Environmental Working Group’s Craig Cox, the economic and policy complications raise important questions for both the industry and policymakers. ‘I think it raises the larger question,’ Cox said. ‘Are we on the right biofuel road?’ If we could wipe the slate clean, and sit down and say, ‘OK, we want a biofuel that could make a substantial contribution to reducing fossil fuels, and would actually reduce greenhouse gases from liquid transportation, and was good for the environment, good for the air, good for soil, good for water — would we have picked corn ethanol?’ he said. ‘I think the answer is clearly no.’”

Enough of big ethanol bullying consumers:

In Short: “For taxpayers, Big Ethanol’s attempt at manipulating the market is also economically damaging. The increased costs for equipment upgrades and compliance credits on fuel suppliers will contribute to higher gas prices. Just this year, the Congressional Budget Office found that the RFS will raise the price of regular E10 gasoline by as much as 26 cents per gallon. It’s no wonder consumers have demonstrated no interest in consuming any more ethanol than they already do.”

Friday RFS Roundup – 10/24

Discussion this week focused on the diversity in challenges and consequences facing the ethanol mandate from environmental damage to low consumer demand for biofuels.

More from this week:

Will Biofuels Be Better For Plastics Than For Vehicle Fuel?:

In Short: “Increased ethanol production is required to meet government mandates, but low demand for the fuel from consumers is leading companies now in production to seek out other uses for their alcohol fuel.”

EPA’s Sleight of Hand on Cellulosic Fuel Rule Change:

In Short: “Unfortunately, the EPA, which was created to protect the nation’s land, water, and air from pollution, has become a politicized propaganda instrument for the administration’s biofuels agenda, and is intent on pushing an RFS policy that is undermining its institutional mandates in addition to harming Americans more directly.”

Corn Belt Pollution: Louisiana Shrimp And Oysters Pay The Price:

In Short: “Nitrogen run-off from the nation’s booming Corn Belt is the single largest source of nutrient pollution in the Mississippi River basin, which drains a stunning 41 percent of the waterways in the contiguous United States. Massive amounts of water, sediment and nutrients wash off cornfields from as far away as Minnesota, enter the Mississippi River system, and eventually reach the Gulf. The problem may worsen if the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) raises the ethanol mandate for blended gasoline next month—despite earlier commitments to reduce it. Fully one-third of corn grown in the U.S. already goes to ethanol refiners today, and that number could climb.”

Corn Ethanol is Not a Renewable Fuel

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EPA Announces the Rule for 2014 is No Rule At All

More than a year after announcing a plan to lower the ethanol mandate for 2014, the Environmental Protection Agency has decided that the policy is so broken, it is easier to give up than announce a final rule.

EPA said the agency will “take action on the 2014 standards rule in 2015 prior to or in conjunction with action on the 2015 standards rule.” The deadline for 2013 compliance with the rule will take place in 2015, EPA’s notice says.

See how others are reacting to the EPA’s decision and check back for more responses:

Environmental Working Group’s policy analyst Mike Lavender says:

Today's announcement is further evidence that Congress must reform our badly broken food-to-fuel policies. By failing to reduce the amount of corn ethanol blended into gasoline, the Obama administration today missed an opportunity to immediately reduce greenhouse gas emissions. If we hope to reverse climate change, we need greenhouse gas reductions now, not in 2025, and reducing the amount of corn ethanol in gasoline is among the most effective tools at the administration’s disposal. We urge the administration to quickly finalize a RVO that paves the way for truly “green” biofuels."

National Chicken Council President Mike Brown says:

“This seesaw process by which the EPA proposes an up-and-down, now-and-later moving target as the compliance year unfolds leaves poultry and livestock producers unable to plan and budget effectively. While corn prices have moderated, volatility and uncertainty are the true business-killers. On top of all of this, we believed at one time that the original RFS included a workable provision that provided for an ‘off ramp’ in times of economic crisis.  On at least two major occasions – in 2008 and 2012 during catastrophic weather events – that belief has proven false. What more evidence does the administration and Congress need to prove the RFS — and the administration of it — is broken beyond repair? Albert Einstein is said to have observed, ‘Insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting different results.’  Today’s announcement is further evidence that our current renewable fuel policy is not only broken, it’s insane.”

House Energy and Commerce Committee's Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), Ed Whitfield (R-KY) and John Shimkus (R-IL) say:

“Businesses and consumers have been waiting a year now for clarity and guidance from EPA, but this decision to completely abandon the 2014 targets only adds to the growing uncertainty and frustration. EPA cannot just choose to arbitrarily ignore the law and the deadlines established by Congress. This unexpected announcement highlights that there are still significant challenges facing the RFS and underscores the need to come together and find a practical, bipartisan solution.”

American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturer’s President Charles T. Drevna says:

“The Obama Administration’s decision to further delay issuing the 2014 Renewable Volume Obligations (RVO) is a gross dereliction of responsibility that leaves fuel refiners and the biofuels industry alike to navigate a course of ambiguity. Today’s announcement indicates that the Administration plans to continuously mismanage this program in a manner that equates to playing Russian roulette with the nation’s fuel supply at the American consumer’s ultimate expense. The Administration’s inaction demonstrates once again that the non-functioning Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program is irreparably broken. AFPM calls upon Congress to expeditiously resume work on repealing or significantly reforming the RFS. In the meantime, AFPM will seek legal intervention. For three years in a row, the Administration has thumbed its nose at Congress and ignored a crystal clear statutory deadline to issue RVOs by November 30 of the preceding year. For this reason, AFPM today filed a notice of intent to sue EPA over its failure to issue the 2014 RFS regulations, which has languished at the White House Office of Management and Budget since August 22, 2014.”

The National Council of Chain Restaurants’ Executive Director Rob Green says:

“By backtracking on their initial recommendation on the ethanol mandate quota, the White House and EPA have chosen to accommodate a small group of ethanol lobbyists at the expense of American consumers and diners, the nation’s small business restaurant owners and all businesses that support and sustain the food supply chain. This unbelievable non-announcement demonstrates once and for all that the EPA, because of statutory and political considerations, cannot fix the failure of the RFS. Members of Congress should take note. The federal RFS ethanol mandate is irrevocably broken and needs to be repealed immediately. It is time that Congress take the RFS ‘off the menu’ once and for all.”

ActionAid USA’s Director of Policy and Campaigns Kristin Sundell says:

As the Administration stands by this failed policy, today’s decision to leave biofuels targets unchecked means corn for fuel tanks will be prioritized over food for hungry people around the world. It will also make prices for foods such as corn and soya more unstable, hitting poor people in the US and abroad hardest. Poor people around the world should not have to go hungry to produce fuel for our cars and trucks. Congress must act to reform its biofuel mandates.”

A Most Disappointing First Anniversary

It’s official: one year ago, the Environmental Protection Agency acknowledged reality and proposed lowering the 2014 ethanol mandate to avoid reaching the blend wall and a spike in gas prices. You may remember, our partners were pretty thrilled.

Unfortunately, in the 365 days since, exactly zero progress has been made. With only 47 days left in the year, corn farmers, livestock producers, restaurateurs, refiners and the American public are still waiting for the final ethanol mandate numbers to be set for this year.

While their desired outcomes vary, refiners, Congressmen and ethanol producers have all urged the White House for a decision. No matter who wins, everyone agrees that the delay is costly for everyday Americans.

The RFS isn't a policy that we can depend on. Tell Congress today that we need them to fix a policy that's so broken it can't even be implemented on time.

Friday RFS Roundup – 11/14

As the Office of Management and Budget continues to sit on the 2014 ethanol mandate, which is more than 10 months late, advance biofuels sweetheart KiOR files for bankruptcy and EWG and AAA expose the problems with corn ethanol.

More from this week:

Corn Ethanol Clips Your Car's MPG:

In Short: “From year to year, EPA tweaks the maximum amount of ethanol required in vehicle fuel, based on U.S. fuel consumption. If EPA bumps up that number, it will exacerbate problems corn ethanol already poses to consumers…But the damage won’t be limited to engines. An EPA decision to increase the amount of corn ethanol in gasoline could lead to more pollution in air and water.”

RIP KiOR: The Khosla-backed biofuel company finally files for bankruptcy:

In Short: “Biofuel startups looking to produce next-generation fuels using plant waste (instead of corn and soybeans) have proven to be incredibly difficult to scale up. Almost none have survived the so-called ‘valley of death’ from small scale production to large scale commercialization at the low price point needed to compete with oil.”

Show More