EPA establishes standard for grain-based fuels

The Colorado Corn Growers Association is pleased with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

That’s because the EPA last week released its final rule for next year on conventional renewable volume obligations under its renewable fuel standards.

The federal agency decided to stick closely with the standard set in 2007 for conventional renewable fuels, which largely involved grain-based ethanol. Much of that is made from corn.

The standard was set at 15 billion gallons for 2017, instead of the 14.8 billion gallons it was considering. This year, the EPA had set that volume at 14.5 billion gallons.

“Several years ago, the renewable fuel standard was put into law based on the commonsense approach of diversifying our nation’s fuel sources, lessening U.S. dependence on foreign oil, and also on the sound science that shows the reduced overall toxicity of ethanol emissions compared to gasoline,” said Mark Sponsler, chief executive officer of the Greeley-based association.

“The ethanol industry and corn producers have done their part for several years in achieving each of those objectives, and then some, and the EPA’s decision to put the new renewable volume obligations back on track with the original standard statue helps them in continuing their vital mission.”

Over the summer, the association launched a campaign to encourage the EPA to maintain the higher standard, eventually getting help from U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., and other U.S. senators.

Sponsler said despite some misconceptions, the standard is not a federal subsidy because it has no impact on the federal budget or tax revenues.

The association said it’s simply a program designed to promote a market for lower-carbon, domestic renewable fuels, which generally is blended by petroleum companies with traditional fossil fuels.

“Although we believe the EPA did not have the authority to reduce the ethanol numbers in the first place, we are pleased to see the renewable volume obligation finally back on track,” said Wesley Spurlock, president of the National Corn Growers Association. “Moving forward, we call on the EPA to continue following the law and keeping the standard on track. Doing so will bring much-needed stability to the marketplace, providing greater certainty for farmers and the industry while also spurring increased investment in renewable fuels.”


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