Ethanol supply up for 27 percent cut as biofuel supporters meet with EPA over RFS concerns

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Updated Oct 17, 2017

Corngaspic 1Biofuel proponents, including two U.S. senators, will be meeting with EPA head Scott Pruitt tomorrow in the hopes of convincing him to back off the notion of reducing the biofuel content in the nation’s fuel supply.

The EPA has concerned biofuel advocates–especially ethanol supporters including Iowa Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst–after proposing to drop biofuel levels for the 2018 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Grassley and Ernst are among a group of biofuel advocates meeting with Pruitt Tuesday.

Pruitt was appointed administrator of the EPA by President Donald Trump who has repeatedly spoken in favor of biofuels, both during his campaign and following the election.

“By the way, we’re saving your ethanol industries in the state of Iowa just like I promised I would do in my campaign,” Trump said during a speech he gave in Cedar Rapids in June, according to “Believe me they are under siege, folks. I don’t know if you know it, but they are under siege.”

And they are seemingly under siege by the EPA, which in the latest 2018 RFS proposal has suggested lowering the nation’s ethanol content by 27 percent.

“This seems like a bait-and-switch,” U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) announced last week on the Senate floor. “Big Oil and oil refineries are prevailing, despite assurances to the contrary.”

Pruitt has proposed lowering the RFS requirement for cellulosic ethanol for the first time to 238 million gallons next year, a drop of 73 million gallons from the RFS requirement set in 2017. Advanced biofuel (namely renewable diesel) may also get chopped in 2018 to 4.24 billion gallons, a slight decrease from 4.28 billion gallons in 2017.

Not all the fuels were hit with proposed cuts. Biomass-based diesel (biodiesel) has a suggested RFS uptick from 2 billion gallons in 2017 to 2.1 billion gallons in 2018.

Grassley announced on Twitter in late August that President Trump intended to stand by his campaign promise to protect ethanol.

Michael McAdams, president of the Advanced Biofuels Association, said Pruitt has gone “rogue” and needs to stand by the president’s promise to protect biofuels.

“His job is to implement the vision of the president who says he supports biofuels,” McAdams told The Washington Post. 

The EPA’s proposed RFS requirements for 2018. The table below it, shows RFS requirements for prior years.

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