Proposed Renewable Volume Obligations disappoint corn farmers

As part of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released proposed 2020 Renewable Volume Obligations (RVO) last week. While the proposed rule maintains 15 billion gallons for conventional ethanol, it did not reallocate or account for the billions of gallons of renewable fuels lost due to refinery exemptions.

The minimum amount of renewable fuels that must be supplied to the market in 2020 was 20.04 billion gallons. Conventional biofuels will remain at 15 billion gallons of that total next year. Advanced and cellulosic biofuels, often made from dried distillers grains (DDGS) and corn residue, was set at 5.04 billion gallons in 2020.

A major concern for the nation’s corn farmers, the EPA once again maintained that any refinery exemptions granted after the 2020 rule is final will not be reallocated to other obligated parties. Furthermore, the EPA stated it would not open this policy or any other aspect of the renewable fuel volume formula in RFS regulations for comment.

The statement means any refinery exemptions issued for 2020 RFS obligations will result in the volumes announced today will not be met. Since 2018, the EPA has granted 53 exemptions totaling 2.61 billion ethanol-equivalent gallons of renewable fuel.

“As long as the EPA refuses to account for waived gallons due to refinery exemptions, we have no reason to believe volumes outlined in the RVO will be met, making them meaningless,” Minnesota Corn Growers Association President Brian Thalmann said. “The failure by the EPA to protect one of our most important markets is very disappointing to corn farmers, who continue to face challenging economic times.”Ethanol will be a major topic of discussion next week, as MCGA grower leaders travel to Washington, D.C., to meet with members of Minnesota’s congressional delegation, agriculture committee leadership, and key agencies like the EPA. MCGA will also continue to work with its national biofuel partners to address waiver exemptions and protect the RFS.

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