KCGA: EPA Ethanol Announcement Falls Short

Dec. 7, 2021–The Kansas Corn Growers Association responded today to EPA’s announced ethanol volumes. After months of delays, EPA released the proposed biofuel blending volumes for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) in its Renewable Volume Obligation (RVO) proposal. The statutory level for conventional ethanol is 15 billion gallons per year. Today’s proposal was a mixed bag in which EPA set the 2022 volume level at 15 billion gallons for 2022, but set the 2021 RVO at 13.32 billion gallons. Then, in an unprecedented move, EPA revised the finalized 2020 RVO level of 15 billion gallons, reducing it to 12.5 billion gallons. The RVO sets the yearly level for renewable fuels required by the RFS, the mechanism that provides market access to renewable fuels. Over the three years, EPA reduced demand for over 4 billion gallons of ethanol.

“Cuts in the ethanol RVO mean cuts in corn demand. EPA’s volume levels for conventional ethanol over those three years destroy demand for over 1.5 billion bushels of corn,” KCGA CEO Greg Krissek said. “We do appreciate EPA meeting the statutory level for ethanol in 2022. But we see a cut in 2021 volumes, and we are alarmed that they would reopen the 2020 RVO, a rule that was already finalized.”

EPA said the retroactive 2020 cut was based on reduced fuel consumption. However, the RFS is already designed to respond to reductions in demand.

Kansas Corn was pleased with the announcement of $100 million toward ethanol infrastructure projects from USDA, also announced today. Kansas Corn has been a leader in utilizing previous USDA funds for adding infrastructure to help retailers offer higher ethanol blends. KCGA was also pleased that EPA agreed to deny the 65 pending small refinery exemption requests.

KCGA President Brent Rogers of Hoxie said the Biden Administration should not lower ethanol levels because ethanol plays a major role in meeting climate goals.

“EPA should increase, not decrease ethanol volumes. Ethanol is the fuel that is being used nationwide today that is actually achieving climate goals in a big way,” Rogers said. “When you’re looking at achieving carbon goals, ethanol continues to be the answer. It is already blended in 96 percent of our nation’s gasoline supply and ethanol continues to have the greatest impact on lowering greenhouse gas emissions. Plus, it’s renewable, domestic and lowers fuel costs for consumers.”

The Kansas Corn Growers Association represents its members in legislative and regulatory issues and promotes Kansas corn and its products.