WASHINGTON – Opponents and proponents of the Federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) urged the Environmental Protection Agency to review volume standards for 2014. The National Chicken Council wants EPA to freeze the RFS at 2014 levels, while the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) warned that cuts to RFS levels could negatively impact consumers and the environment.

On May 29, EPA proposed lowering the amount of renewable fuel that must be blended in fuel sold in the United States. The agency proposed lowering the blend level to 17.4 billion gallons of renewable fuels in 2016, down from the 22.3 billion gallon target set by Congress. For 2015, EPA set blend levels at 16.3 billion gallons, down from 20.5 billion gallons. The comment period on the proposed changes ends July 27.

“Last time, we were very clear to EPA about what we wanted,” NCGA President Chip Bowling said. “It is simple: EPA should follow the statute. For farmers and others in rural America, this new EPA proposal means low corn prices and ethanol plant and industry cutbacks. And for everyone, it means higher gas prices and dirtier air.”

But in comments to the EPA, NCC President Mike Brown said the organization would support “further reductions in the target level for conventional biofuels for 2015 and 2016 to account for the distorting effects the RFS has on the market for corn, substitute feed products, chicken prices, and food prices in general.”

Brown explained that the RFS diverted more corn from the feed market. He wrote that ethanol exports are on pace to exceed 900 million gallons, which represents 320 million bushels of corn diverted from the feed market in addition to corn diverted for supplies of domestic ethanol.

“EPA’s implementation of the RFS to date has resulted in a program that has departed from the underpinning statutory purposes,” Brown continued in his comments. “It is now all the more critical that EPA adopt appropriate standards in the present proposed rulemaking.

“NCC recommends a significant reduction in the 2016 required volume obligations sufficient to bring the conventional corn ethanol volume below the 10 percent blend wall.”