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Giving EPA the benefit of the doubt on rumor and wishful thinking  

Thursday, October 10, 2013

By Michael McAdams, President, Advanced Biofuels Association

Washington is a town that sometimes runs on rumor and wishful thinking. Both are apparently behind a published report speculating that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will drastically cut its 2014 target for advanced biofuels.

An article published yesterday by Greenwire, a policy-insider publication that doggedly covers the energy and environment space, reported that EPA might take a huge step backwards from its consistent support for the developing advanced biofuels industry by setting the 2014 renewable volume obligation (RVO) for advanced biofuel at 2.2 billion ethanol-equivalent gallons.  That target would represent a 500 million gallon cut from this year’s advanced biofuel RVO and a 1.5 billion gallon reduction from the volume contemplated by the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

If true, the proposal would be a devastating blow to dozens of companies working today to fulfill the promise of the RFS by raising capital, building manufacturing facilities and producing advanced biofuels with at least 50% lower greenhouse gas emissions compared to gasoline.

This speculation certainly sounds like wishful thinking on the part of groups opposed to the RFS, because it is tough to imagine that EPA would actually propose such a woefully inadequate target. The agency recognizes that our country requires a diverse and secure energy future that includes advanced biofuels. I trust that EPA also realizes how damaging a 2.2 billion gallon RVO would be to the nascent advanced biofuel sector. To support an industry that’s both here today and investing for tomorrow, EPA should be increasing the advanced biofuel targets from year to year – not cutting them by 20 percent!

With more than 90 percent of its employees furloughed due to the government shutdown, EPA is not currently staffed to address the rumors and set the record straight. I look forward to commenting on the agency’s proposal and trust it will come soon after the government reopens. And I certainly hope the final number will be a lot higher than the low-ball speculation making the rounds in DC this week.

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