A team of 25x'25 value chain partners met with Janet McCabe, Acting EPA Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation, to outline concerns over the agency's proposal to reduce biofuel blending requirements this year under the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).
Participants in the meeting coordinated by 25x'25 included representatives of the American Soybean Association, Croplife America, National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD), National Corn Growers Association, American Council On Renewable Energy (ACORE), Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) and the agricultural equipment manufacturing firm CNH.
The groups stressed the economic, environmental, national security and human health benefits of biofuels, urging EPA to stay the course and drop its proposal to reduce RFS blending targets.
Other topics discussed during the meeting included emerging conversion technologies that will allow the significant amount of biomass feedstocks available in the United States to produce as much as 80-100 billion gallons annually, with much of that supply produced on marginal or underutilized land.
John Larson, NACD CEO, said a reduction in the amount of biofuels to be blended into the nation's transportation fuel supply will reduce revenues earned by farmers that can be used, in part, to pay for conservation measures.
"Any reduction in farm income will, in turn, diminish a producer's ability to implement the kinds of conservation practices that we have seen generate significant environmental benefits," Larson said.
Carol Werner, executive director of the Environmental and Energy Study Institute, told the EPA official that her organization "look(s) at everything through a climate lens, and biofuels provide important solution sets for dealing with the impacts of climate change."
She cited a lifecycle analysis done by researchers at DOE's Argonne National Laboratory that found corn ethanol produced in 2008-2012 reduced greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 34 percent compared to gasoline, even after factoring in hypothetical indirect land use change.
"We urge EPA not to take any steps that would compromise efforts to reduce emissions that contribute to a changing climate," she said. "We ask you to ensure that the full potential of biofuels can be realized."
McCabe told the group that EPA understands the multiple and valuable benefits of biofuels and that the agency understands need for policy certainty. She said EPA continues to examine data in pursuit of a viable RFS rule, which the agency is expected to announce in June, and pledged the agency will carefully review all comments submitted on the proposal.