Supporters of renewable fuels in Iowa say they are pleased with the announcement by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that they delaying their decision on a proposal that would have dramatically cut the amount of renewable fuels required to be used in the country.
Iowa Renewable Fuels Association executive director, Monte Shaw, has been fighting the decision on the federal Renewable Fuel Standard or RFS since it was announced.
“Well at this stage, I’m not sure what would surprise us,” Shaw. Shaw says he was at a rally with the governor and members of the congressional delegation to defend the RFS in Nevada at this time last year.
“And here we are one year later and they’re deciding they need more time to decide. So, I think the signs are clear that they’ve understood that this proposal isn’t going to fly that has been out there and they are going to redo it and get it right. So, I am going to be cautiously optimistic,” Shaw says.
The EPA proposal would cut the amount of ethanol required in the RFS by 3 billion gallons. Shaw says there is some good news in the decision to take more time. “If they wanted to just finalize the draft proposal, they had 365 days to do it and they didn’t,” Shaw says. “So that tells me that clearly they got a message that they need to get back to having the RFS do what it was supposed to do — which is help consumers get access to the higher ethanol blends, biodiesel blends and cellulosic ethanol.”
Shaw says ethanol has continued to show its importance as a fuel. “Ethanol is still the cheapest source of fuel on the planet, not just octane, but it’s still cheaper than gasoline. So, the more ethanol we get in our fuel supply, the cheaper it is going to be,” Shaw says. “Part of the reason that they had originally put our the draft rule that would have gutted the RFS is they were concerned about gas prices. And that you wouldn’t be able to use enough ethanol and that would cause gas prices to go up.”
He says those fears were unfounded. “I think the market over the last 12 months has shown that that was a misplaced fear, that that was a big oil talking point, that unfortunately the administration bought into for some time,” Shaw says. Shaw isn’t ready to say the RFS fight is over, but he is happy with the EPA’s latest move. “Again, I’m going to be optimistic that this is the administration saying we need to hit the reset button on this proposal. We need to go back and get the numbers right, get the methodology right and get back to having the RFS do what it was supposed to, which is to crack the monopoly that oil has,” according to Shaw.
Governor Terry Branstad, Iowa’s Ag Secretary, Senators Tom Harkin and Chuck Grassley, all issued statements praising the decision to delay the action on the EPA renewable fuels proposal.