By NOAH HULTGREN, Guest columnist
On Nov. 30, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized renewable volume obligations (RVO) under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) for 2016. EPA’s final 2016 RVO number cuts the amount of homegrown corn ethanol blended into our fuel supply by 500 million gallons below what Congress originally called for when passing the RFS in 2007.
The RFS is legislation that sets annual targets for the amount of cleaner-burning biofuels like corn ethanol blended into our fuel supply.
While MCGA is pleased to see the EPA revised its original proposal, the Nov. 30 announcement remains a step backward in American energy policy. The RFS was working exactly as Congress intended it to work. There was no reason to cut it.
A recent analysis from California-based Life Cycle Associates concluded that homegrown biofuels consumed under the RFS have reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 354 million metric tons of CO2-equivalent since 2008. The RFS is also responsible for significantly reducing our dependence on foreign oil and loosening Big Oil’s monopoly on the fuel market.
As the Obama Administration participates in this week’s global climate talks in Paris, we should be talking about increasing the amount of clean, renewable and homegrown ethanol used in our nation’s fuel supply, not cutting it. This decision jeopardizes America’s goal of being viewed as a leader on energy and climate issues by the rest of the world.
EPA has cited the fictional “10 percent blend wall” as a reason for cutting the RFS. The agency claims that the market is not capable of handling more than 10 percent ethanol in the fuel supply. Here in Minnesota, consumers have proven that claim false by purchasing enough higher blends of ethanol to reach 12.2 percent in our market.
When given a less expensive, cleaner-burning, homegrown choice like ethanol, consumers will choose it over regular gasoline. The “blend wall” exists because the oil industry has resisted, and in some cases actively blocked, installing infrastructure to comply with the RFS as Congress originally intended. Instead of holding Big Oil accountable, the EPA has chosen to cave into its demands by cutting the RFS.
Minnesota’s corn farmers will continue working to provide Minnesotans with cleaner-burning choices at the pump. Over the last two years, we’ve been part of a broad coalition that has installed over 120 flex-fuel pumps in our state. In the near future, we expect to add up to 620 more.
Minnesota’s corn farmers are proud to grow food, feed, fiber and fuel for the entire world. EPA might have taken a wrong turn on the road to reducing carbon pollution in the transportation sector, but it remains a top priority for farmers.
Noah Hultgren is the president of Minnesota Corn Growers Association and is a farmer in Raymond.