A group of U.S. Representatives is ramping up support of the Renewable Fuels Standard just days ahead of the deadline to submit comments to the Environmental Protection Agency regarding changes to the policy.
In a letter sent Thursday to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, 30 House members said the proposed lower renewable fuel volume obligations are a bad idea.
"By reducing the amount of renewable fuel blended into gasoline lower than in 2013, this rule could hurt rural economies, jeopardize American jobs, raise prices at the pump and deter investment in biofuels and biofuel infrastructure," the legislators wrote.
The EPA in November proposed lower volumes, suggesting a 1.4 billion gallon reduction in how much corn ethanol will be required under the RFS – from 16.5 billion gallons in 2013 to 15.2 in 2014.
The EPA said that the decision was based on a concern about the "blend wall" – the point at which there will be too much renewable fuel to be absorbed by E10 demand. But that justification didn't sit well with the Representatives, according to the letter.
"We are further concerned that the rationale used by the EPA is inconsistent with the current statute and could jeopardize the future of the renewable fuel industry," the letter said.
Previous plans for the RFS involved consistently rising volumes of renewable fuels, banking on a rising demand for the fuel and steady petroleum consumption overall.
That consumption, however, has actually dropped. But supporters of the RFS argue that the EPA should stick to the intended plan – by backtracking, they say, interest in biofuels investments will wane, and the rural economy will suffer.
"It's critical that our growers and all those concerned about the rural economy stand up for corn ethanol and urge the EPA to keep the volume obligations as they are now written in the law," National Corn Growers President Martin Barbre said Friday.
Barbre said that if enacted, the proposal could lead to lower corn prices and will "negatively affect planting decisions in 2014." Barbre added that impacts of the proposal will ripple throughout communities where America's family farmers live, shop and do business.
"Rural America cannot afford this and neither can the environment," he said.
Comments both for and against the proposal will be accepted until Jan. 28 via the Federal Register, docket EPA-HQ-OAR-2013-0479. As of Friday, more than 1,800 comments had been submitted.