September 12, 2012
Growth Energy Pushing Congress to Support RFS
Published in DTN
OMAHA (DTN) -- The public will have an additional 15 days to comment on a requested waiver of the Renewable Fuels Standard, EPA announced Monday, according to a notice filed in the federal register.
The announcement came after ethanol advocates from Growth Energy spent the past several days in Washington, D.C., pushing federal lawmakers to support the RFS going forward.
"EPA has received several requests for an extension of the comment period and, in response, has decided to allow an additional 15 days, to Oct. 11, 2012, for the submission of public comment," the notice said.
Once an official waiver request was filed by multiple state governors, EPA was then required to decide on the petition within 90 days.
A number of governors and a group of more than 150 members of Congress led by Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., Steve Womack, R-Ark., and Mike McIntyre, D-N.C., have asked EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to waive the 2012 RFS.
During a press conference Wednesday, Growth Energy Chief Executive Officer Tom Buis said although the public comment extension probably wasn't necessary, the ethanol industry already has made its case for keeping the RFS in place. It is the same message more than 100 members of Growth Energy brought to Congress.
"Our message on the Hill is directed towards everyone," Buis said. "The message is the same. We talk about the value of the Renewable Fuels Standard to all of America. It's not a partisan issue. We'll work with anyone and spread that message far and wide.
"We are trying to coalesce with a lot of people who have a stake in the Renewable Fuels Standard going forward. The RFS didn't fail, Mother Nature shut off the rain."
So far EPA has received nearly 300 public comments about the proposed waiver. Buis said he believes EPA will side with the ethanol industry on the request.
"We think we have the data to oppose the waiver," he said. "I think the administration has been very supporting of the RFS. They see this as good for America.
"The only indication we have of how EPA will rule is the precedence we have from 2008 when Gov. Rick Perry of Texas filed a waiver. They rejected that waiver and the bar is set high to show harm."
Jeff Lautt, chief executive officer of the nation's largest ethanol producer, Sioux Falls, S.D.-based Poet, said his company is drawing closer to launching commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol production in the next two years.
The plant that will use corn cobs and other biomass in Emmetsburg, Iowa, wouldn't have happened without the RFS, he said.
"The RFS was important to creating investment," Lautt said. "We're already seeing an economic benefit. Once the technology is proven we plan to expand to other plants.
"The RFS is working as it was intended to spur investment," Lautt said.
FARM BILL SUPPORT
Buis indicated that Growth Energy members would be joining ongoing rallies in Washington, D.C., Wednesday that are pushing for the passage of a farm bill in what is a short Congressional window before recess for the November election.
During visits with members of Congress, he said he came away convinced that a farm bill will not be passed during the short session.
"The farm bill came up in every meeting and most comments are that it is not going to happen before Sept. 30," Buis said.
"We are supporting the Senate version of the farm bill that contains an energy title and is adequately funded. It's unfortunate for all participants in farm programs not knowing what programs will be."