EPA seeks input on Renewable Fuel Standard

Posted December 11, 2013 at 9:19 pm

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has officially published the proposed 2014 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) in the Federal Register that starts a 60-day public comment period that runs until Jan. 28, 2014. The EPA is seeking public input on what the 2014 volume requirements should be for motor vehicles, and Iowa’s petroleum marketers encourage consumers to contact the EPA as it considers changes to the RFS.

“It’s imperative that Iowans take this opportunity to exercise their voice and demand a market driven economy that will benefit consumers and allow for continued choice in the types of fuel they put into their motor vehicles, including non-ethanol and ethanol-blended fuels,” said Dawn Carlson, president and CEO of the Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Stores of Iowa (PMCI).

Iowa’s petroleum marketers support a diverse fuel supply for Iowa’s consumers. A fuel supply that is driven by the economics of basic supply and demand rather than an artificial market driven by government-dictated mandate levels, which ultimately will drive prices up. Iowa’s retail marketers’ priority is to provide consumers with the lowest possible cost for fuel, costs that are at risk by unattainable and unnecessary mandates.

In an American Automobile Association (AAA) news release in late October, AAA president Bob Darbelnet’s comments echoed PMCI’s ‘consumers first’ position. “It is just not possible to blend the amount of ethanol required by current law given recent declines in fuel consumption, and it is time for public policy to acknowledge this reality. Corn-based ethanol can support the economy and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. It is great news to hear that the EPA is considering an RFS proposal that would support this home-grown alternative while acknowledging the inability to achieve an outdated mandate.”

Iowa’s petroleum marketers have long supported the ethanol industry in Iowa and contributed to the industry’s growth. However, petroleum marketers have opposed unattainable ethanol mandates; citing that these mandates take away choices for consumers, bring fair market competition to a halt, and unnecessarily drive market prices upward. Providing customers with fuel choices at a competitive price is a cornerstone to Iowa’s economic vitality and quality of life. Government intervention and bad public policy has the potential to harm consumers and put Iowa’s economy at risk.

Petroleum marketers in Iowa first began marketing renewable fuels 40 years ago, long before there was a national RFS obligating oil companies to use renewable fuels. PMCI members were instrumental in passage of the state’s Right to Blend law, which has a significant positive impact on the biofuel industry in Iowa. Because of the law, independently owned petroleum marketers can buy clear gasoline and diesel from refiners and blend those products with ethanol and biodiesel manufactured in Iowa. Without the law, blended gasoline could come solely from non-Iowa resources. This law has measurably contributed to the growth of the ethanol industry in Iowa.

“Regardless of the outcome of the proposed changes to the renewable fuel mandate levels, Iowa’s petroleum marketers will continue to offer consumers a choice of fuels that complement Iowa’s dedication to agriculture and ethanol production. Reducing dependence on foreign oil is a concept that nearly all Iowans support, and Iowa’s petroleum marketers share in this support. That is why we have supported the inclusion of ethanol in our fuel supply for many decades,” Carlson said.

Iowa’s petroleum marketers are adamant that consumers must have a choice. Mandates eliminate consumer choice, competition and drive prices up. Consumers will purchase the fuel type they want and what is best for their motor vehicles. Giving them a choice keeps market supply and demand in balance and keeps prices at the pump lower.

The EPA is better suited to evaluate the concerns of all stakeholders along with environmental implications and come up with the right balance of reason on the RFS versus having Congress be pulled into a lobbying war of special interest groups, which could ultimately end up in a rewrite of federal law with significant changes to the RFS that potentially could be detrimental to consumers, petroleum marketers and Iowa’s renewable fuel producers.

The proposed rulemaking was published in the Federal Register on Nov. 29, 2013, and the comment period is open for 60 days. Instructions for commenting can be found at https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2013/11/29/2013-28155/2014-standards-for-the-renewable-fuel-standard-program.

About the Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Stores of Iowa (PMCI): PMCI is a non-profit state trade association serving the needs of nearly 2,000 independently owned and operated petroleum distributors, gasoline retailers and convenience store businesses throughout the state of Iowa.

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