Interest groups to speak out on US renewable fuel standards

09 June 2009 15:16  [Source: ICIS news]

Groups to speak out on fuel standardsHOUSTON (ICIS news)--Renewable fuel advocates, environmentalists and lawmakers were preparing to testify on Tuesday on the merits and pitfalls of proposed renewable fuels standards (RFS) that could make or break many US biofuels companies, sources said.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials will listen to testimony on Tuesday relating to its proposal that 36bn gal of biofuels be blended into the nation’s fuel supply by 2022.

Bob Dinneen, president of the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), said ethanol producers mostly agreed with the RFS as written, but wanted the EPA to remove requirements that they account for exactly where they obtained their raw material.

The EPA included the regulation to ensure ethanol producers do not clear new tracks of land to grow their feedstocks.

“The likelihood that any of our plants would be getting feedstock from anywhere but existing cropland is very low,” Dinneen said. “The ability to track back to exactly to what farmland the crop came from is just not possible.”

The biodiesel industry in particular has a great deal at stake in seeing the RFS implemented. Many producers got into the market expecting the RFS to call for 500m gal of their product to be blended into the fuel supply by 2022.

Producers were struggling to survive in the wake of collapsed world credit markets, EU tariffs on imported US biodiesel and decreased fuel demand in the US.

Producers said their future could look bleaker if the EPA continues with its plans to include indirect land use measurements in the RFS. Those provisions measure how much greenhouse gas grain-based biodiesel emits throughout its lifetime, from growing the feedstock crops to refining the fuel. 

The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) has been fighting against the indirect land use provisions, which it said would force the closure of many biodiesel plants, preventing the country from meeting the proposed biodiesel blending benchmarks.

“There are a number of flaws, specifically in the indirect land usage parts. The more noise the EPA gets from interested parties, the better,” NBB spokesman Michael Frohlich said.

The EPA said the measurements are needed to judge biodiesel’s true environmental impact.

US Representative Collin Peterson (Democrat-Minnesota) introduced a bill last month that would strip the indirect land use language from the RFS. That bill was stalled in the House energy and commerce committee.

Bookmark Simon Robinson’s Big Biofuels Blog for some independent thinking on biofuels
For more information on ethanol and biodiesel, visit ICIS chemical intelligence
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By: Ben Lefebvre
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