ACE, AEC, Novozymes disappointed in proposed 2014 RVO

By Susanne Retka Schill | November 15, 2013

The U.S. EPA’s proposed 2014 renewable volume obligations (RVO) for the renewable fuels standard (RFS) generated quick response from stakeholders. The American Coalition for Ethanol, the Advanced Ethanol Council and Novozymes all expressed disappointment in the proposal.

ACE called the EPA proposal for the 2014 volumes a betrayal of the agency’s commitment to renewable fuels in that the proposed RVOs, if finalized, would cut ethanol use below levels called for in the law. “There is nothing positive that can be said about EPA’s proposal to unnecessarily restrict sales of ethanol-blended fuel in 2014,” said Brian Jennings, ACE executive vice president.  “This proposed rule will increase pump prices, drain billions of dollars from consumer pocketbooks, and transfer billions more to oil company profit statements.” The administration needs to better understand the role E15 and E85 can play in meeting the original RFS, he added. “Using the E10 ‘blend wall’ as an excuse to reduce ethanol use rewards oil companies for doing nothing to comply with the RFS or, inevitability, of higher ethanol blends, and sets a dangerous precedent by taking the teeth out of the most consequential policy Congress has ever enacted to reduce greenhouse gas emissions of transportation fuel.”

The Advanced Ethanol Council said while the EPA was in the ballpark for cellulosic biofuels, “bigger picture issues must be resolved in the final rule, because advanced biofuel investors also pay attention to the big picture.” Brooke Coleman, executive director of the AEC pointed to unnecessary reductions to the advanced biofuel pool, unfounded concern about imaginary blend walls, and not enough faith in the mechanics of the RFS program among certain Administration officials as the primary issues that need to be resolved during the comment period.

“What we’re seeing is the oil industry taking one last run at trying to convince administrators of the RFS to relieve the legal obligation on them to blend more biofuel based on clever arguments meant to disguise the fact that oil companies just don’t want to blend more biofuel. The RFS is designed to bust the oil monopoly. It’s not going to be easy,” added Coleman.

In its statement following the EPA announcement, Novozymes said, “The proposal would cut conventional biofuel to 13 billion gallons per year from 14.4 and cellulosic biofuels to 17 million from 1.75 billion. This move essentially asks America’s renewable fuel industry to produce less domestic fuel.  It also negatively impacts America’s ability to reduce gas prices, protect the climate, attract private investment and create jobs.” Adam Monroe, Novozymes president for the Americas, went on to say, “The RFS was designed as a two-part strategy: Companies like ours would bring breakthrough renewable fuel technology to market, which we’ve done. Oil companies were then required to blend it into the nation’s fuel mix – which they’ve naturally fought at every turn.”

Novozymes pointed to its own $200 million private investment in a new enzyme plant that opened on May 2012 at Blair, Neb. “Novozymes chose the United States for the plant’s location over other international locations because of the RFS.” The company citied other advanced biofuels with steel in the ground “driven by the RFS” including Poet’s Project Liberty in Iowa, DuPont’s cellulosic facility in Nevada, Iowa, Fiberight’s existing trash-to-fuel plant in Virginia and its newest plant in Blairstown, Iowa, Abengoa’s cellulosic facility in Hugoton, Kan., KiOR’s biomass facility in Mississippi, and Ineos Bio’s Indian River BioEnergy Center in Florida.