Keep Looking Forward

t rudnicki

By Tim Rudnicki, Esq.

Every runner has a set of tactics (or survival skills) they use to propel themselves across the
finish line. For me, when I’m running a marathon, one of my tactics is to keep looking forward.
The aim is to get far away from the starting line by putting my energy and focus on moving
toward and crossing the finish line up ahead. Many of us think the U.S. EPA should do the same
with respect to the Renewable Fuel Standard - Keep Looking Forward!

We are half way into the biofuel marathon and the U.S. EPA has proposed that we slow down
and then go backwards. What do I mean by this? Just as we are making progress in moving
toward the use of more biofuels (E85 for Flex Fuel Vehicles and E15 for all 2001 and newer
vehicles) the EPA has proposed a substantial reduction in the amount of biofuel to be used by
consumers in 2014.

The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), however, is a law that is intended to be a paced and ramped
up implementation of biofuel usage through the year 2022. Specifically, for 2014, Congress
directed that at least 18.15 billion gallons of biofuels (14.4 billion gallons from renewable fuel
such as ethanol) be used in the United States. That is a very clear mile post that has been known
by the petroleum industry, biofuel producers and the EPA for at least seven years!

The petroleum industry likes to say they can’t comply with the law because the amount of
gasoline being consumed is going down. Basic math and, according to the Energy Information
Administration, the total actual and projected fuel consumption in the United States tells us
otherwise. Just because the petroleum industry is comfortable with the E10 status quo, this is no
time for the EPA to look backwards, retreat and accept defeat. In fact, under the law, the Agency
has a clear duty to keep looking forward and to push even harder to reach the 2014 biofuel mile
post as well as the next one.

How can one conclude the EPA has a duty to “push” for the use of more biofuels? The law
explicitly requires the EPA to “ensure that transportation fuel sold or introduced into commerce
in the United States (except in noncontiguous States or territories), on an annual average basis,
contains at least the applicable volume of renewable fuel, advanced biofuel, cellulosic biofuel,
and biomass-based diesel, determined in accordance with” the Energy Independence and Security
Act of 2007. In other words, it is not an option for the EPA to capitulate to the petroleum
industry by reducing the amount of biofuel to be used in 2014. Instead, the EPA should accept
the renewable volume requirements in law and take proactive steps to ensure consumers have
greater access to more biofuels as intended by Congress.

Minnesota biofuel producers are doing their part to comply with the RFS, so to should the
petroleum industry and the EPA. Biofuel producers in Minnesota have made, and continue to
make, significant investments in their operations to meet the RFS requirements. This translates
into more clean, renewable biofuels that can and should be made available to consumers through
the petroleum infrastructure.

Any retreat the EPA makes from the gallon volume requirements of the black letter law will have
adverse environmental and economic impacts. Biofuels have lower carbon footprints compared
to petroleum gasoline. If the EPA proposal to reduce the amount of biofuels for 2014 moves
forward, more gasoline will be used instead of biofuels. The unintended consequence will be a
boost in greenhouse gas emissions. This situation is especially troubling as more highly carbon
intensive tar sands from the boreal forest in Alberta are used for fuel in the United States.
Biofuels also save consumers money at the pump. The Center for Agricultural and Rural
Development found biofuels, in the Midwest, held down the price of gasoline by approximately
$1.69 per gallon. If the EPA fails to comply with the law and slows down the pace of biofuel
usage, environmental and consumer benefits will be lost.

Will the EPA and White House listen to your voice? Thanks to many of you, thousands of
messages in support of biofuels and the RFS were sent to the Minnesota Congressional
Delegation, U.S. EPA and the White House. If the EPA heard you, the Agency will continue to
keep looking forward and implement the RFS as signed into law. With the EPA implementation
of the RFS as written, the economic, consumer and environmental benefits will move us, as a
Nation, closer to the next renewable fuel mile post. This will put us, as a Nation, well on the
path toward winning the biofuel marathon and a better environmental quality.

As always, I look forward to your This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..