WASHINGTON – The US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed volume requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program for the years 2014, 2015 and 2016, and its proposed volume requirements for biomass-based diesel for 2017 brought a swift response from the National Chicken Council (NCC). EPA said the proposal would boost renewable fuel production and provide for ambitious yet responsible growth over multiple years, supporting future expansion of the biofuels industry.

"These are clear and continued signs that the RFS, and its implementation, are broken beyond repair," said NCC President Mike Brown in regard to the May 29 announcement.

EPA proposes setting the biomass-based diesel volumes at the following levels:

• 2014 – 1.63 billion gallons of biomass-based diesel, 2.68 billion gallons of advanced biofuels.
• 2015 – 1.7 billion gallons of biomass-based diesel, 2.9 billion gallons of advanced biofuels.
• 2016 – 1.8 billion gallons of biomass-based diesel, 3.4 billion gallons of advanced biofuels.
• 2017 – 1.9 billion gallons of biomass-based diesel.

“EPA has mandated the use of approximately 10 billion bushels of corn over the next two years exacerbating the food versus fuel conflict," Brown said. “America’s chicken producers are just another drought, freeze or flood away from another crippling year of high feed prices. To date, the RFS has cost the chicken industry more than $50 billion in higher feed costs.”

NCC also said EPA reissued RFS required volume obligations 18 months after they were to be final, and that the initial 2015 standards are also just now being proposed more than five months after they were to be finalized. The EPA has not met its statutory deadlines to set the biofuels volumes under the RFS since 2009, NCC noted.

“Fortunately, legislation has been introduced in both the House and the Senate this year to repeal the RFS corn-ethanol mandate, with broad bipartisan support. Congress should immediately take up this legislation and send it to the president,” Brown said.

US Sen. Debbie Stabenow, Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, said in a statement that while tremendous progress is being made toward commercial-scale production of advanced biofuels that are creating home-grown American energy, the announcement falls short of accomplishing the goals laid out in the RFS.

“These proposed figures only extend uncertainty in America’s renewable fuels sector, which creates hundreds of thousands of jobs across the country,” she said. “While EPA’s proposal does allow for modest growth in the industry over time, these standards do nothing to stop Big Oil’s unfair advantage at the gas pump. I will continue to fight against RFS targets that keep American biofuel producers from being able to fairly compete.”

American Soybean Association (ASA) President Wade Cowan noted that ASA believes the EPA and the Obama Administration could do more to capitalize on additional benefits that could be achieved with more robust biomass-based diesel volumes. But welcomed the proposed rule and expressed the association’s hope that this action is a further sign of a return to schedule on the implementation of the RFS.

“Again, we are glad to see the volumes for biomass-based diesel increased above the previous proposal,” Cowan said in a statement. “Biodiesel provides significant economic and environmental benefits and we have the capacity to do more. The administration wants to address climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and biodiesel – a domestically produced, renewable fuel that is proven to achieve emissions reductions up to 86 percent better than petroleum diesel – can contribute more to that effort.”

There will be a 60-day public comment period and EPA intends to finalize the rule by Nov. 30.