EPA nixes RFS for 2014; industry reactions mixed

by Erica Shaffer
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WASHINGTON – The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said it will not be finalizing 2014 volume standards under the Renewable Fuels Standard program before the end of 2014.

"The proposed rule, issued in November 2013, generated a significant number of comments, particularly on the proposal's ability to ensure continued progress toward achieving the law's renewable fuel targets," EPA said in a statement. "Due to the delay in finalizing the standards for 2014, and given ongoing consideration of the issues presented by the commenters, the agency intends to take action on the 2014 standards rule in 2015."

Chip Bowling, president of the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), said corn growers are frustrated by uncertainty and delays surrounding the RFS, but NCGA members would continue to defend the RFS.

"Today's announcement by EPA shows the Administration recognizes the proposed rule was inherently flawed and based on an unworkable methodology," Bowling said in a statement. We will continue to work with EPA to ensure that the 2014 and 2015 renewable fuel requirements are consistent with what Congress set forth in the Renewable Fuel Standard.

"Congress created the RFS to help reduce our dependence on foreign oil and to provide cleaner fuel choices for consumers," he added. We will continue working to defend the interests of corn farmers and consumers by holding EPA accountable for implementing the law as enacted by Congress."

The National Chicken Council (NCC) also was less than enthusiastic with the EPA's decision, but for different reasons. Mike Brown, NCC president, said the EPA's decision to delay setting the 2014 standards "irresponsible and discriminatory".

"This seesaw process by which the EPA proposes an up-and-down, now-and-later moving target as the compliance year unfolds leaves poultry and livestock producers unable to plan and budget effectively," Brown said in a statement. "While corn prices have moderated, volatility and uncertainty are the true business-killers.

"On top of all of this, we believed at one time that the original RFS included a workable provision that provided for an 'off ramp' in times of economic crisis," he added. "On at least two major occasions — in 2008 and 2012 during catastrophic weather events — that belief has proven false."

Brown said that despite a record corn harvest, the US chicken industry "is just one drought, flood or freeze away from having to face higher feed prices — and consumers facing even higher food prices" because of the amount of corn mandated for use in ethanol production.

Meanwhile, EPA said one of the agency's objectives is to return to the annual statutory timeline by addressing 2014, 2015, and 2016 standards in the next calendar year.
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