Keep building support

An effort is under way to encourage comments on the request to the U.S. EPA to waive the renewable fuel standard.
By Susanne Retka Schill | September 10, 2012

An effort is under way to encourage comments on the request to the U.S. EPA to waive the renewable fuel standard. Instructions on how to comment are available in the Federal Register listing.

At EPM, we’ve been covering the efforts as we learn about them, both the governors who sent in petitions or letters of support for a waiver and supporters of the RFS. The advanced biofuels industry has been holding conference-call news conferences getting advanced biofuel developers in front of reporters.

If you take a look at the columns in the October issue of Ethanol Producer Magazine, which should be posted online in the next couple of days and be mailed shortly after, every single one but the Business Matters column touches on the current furor, marshaling the best arguments in defense of the RFS and ethanol.

We’re seeing ethanol plant managers who are interviewed by their local press on the drought and the waiver request and others who respond to stories with letters to the editor, such as this one which ICM’s Dave Vander Griend shared with us.

We’d encourage all our readers in the ethanol industry to join in the effort, not only by making comments to the EPA yourself, but by encouraging others as well. Everybody making ethanol from corn is making distillers grains that are being used by local feeders, as well as being dried and shipped to more distant customers. Would those feeders talk about their use of distillers grain? Many rural communities have seen a real economic boost from the ethanol plant on the edge of town. Perhaps community leaders would be willing to comment on the impact the RFS has had in their backyard.

Many are expecting that the EPA will not grant the waiver – that the harm in waiving the RFS would outweigh or cancel out any expected benefits, plus the system is showing it has the needed flexibility with RINs offering a cushion. Yet, how the EPA responds to this waiver request will lay precedence for any future requests. It is important to the industry to lay its arguments out well. And, given that there may just be an attempt in Congress to amend the RFS, this is an opportunity for the ethanol industry to begin building the grassroots support that will be needed to meet that challenge.