This week Michigan farmer Russell Braun provided testimony on behalf of National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) during an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hearing on the agency’s proposed biofuel targets for 2019.
Braun encouraged EPA to maintain a strong, equitable Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and stressed the need to follow Congressional intent and level the playing field for America’s farmers by using the annual volume rule to repair the damage from extensive refinery exemptions.
“With corn prices low, EPA’s decisions have a greater impact on my livelihood and other farmers’ as well. We believe EPA should use the Renewable Fuel Standard volume rule to remedy the harm caused by the extensive retroactive exemptions given to refineries over the past year and ensure future exemptions are accounted for,” he said. “These refinery exemptions decrease ethanol blending and reduce demand and profits for my corn crop. Every gallon of renewable fuel blending waived by EPA reduces the consumer benefits of the RFS.”
EPA’s proposal supports some growth in the RFS volumes and continues to propose an implied 15-billion-gallon volume for conventional ethanol. However, the proposed rule allows for retroactive refinery exemptions, without reallocating those waived gallons, undercutting the volume targets and rendering the proposed blending levels meaningless. In the past year, EPA has retroactively waived 2.25 billion ethanol equivalent-gallons from the 2016 and 2017 volumes through 48 refinery exemptions, many of which went to refineries owned by large, profitable companies.