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Ethanol supporters wanted higher mandates

Biofuel supporters say the newly released and long-awaited Renewable Fuel Standards mandates, though a step in the right direction, are too low. The Environmental Protection Agency on Monday set the ethanol requirement for next year at 14.5 billi...

Policy and politics
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Biofuel supporters say the newly released and long-awaited Renewable Fuel Standards mandates, though a step in the right direction, are too low.

The Environmental Protection Agency on Monday set the ethanol requirement for next year at 14.5 billion gallons, more than what the agency proposed in May. That will boost the amount of corn-based ethanol and other renewable fuels in the U.S. gasoline supply - but to a level far less than the 22.25 billion gallons in 2016 envisioned by a 2007 law.

“After years of delays, the EPA has finally lived up to its obligation to set biofuels blend levels and give producers and biofuels workers the certainty they need to go to work,” Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., says in a new release.

“This rule still doesn’t give us the ambitious targets we need or that Congress intended, but at least there is some progress as - after I pressed EPA to set bolder targets - the agency increased its targets from those proposed in May. Unfortunately, these levels still fall far short of what Congress set out,” she says.

Noah Hultgren, a Raymond, Minn., farmer and president of his state Corn Growers Association, says the new mandates are too low.

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“While MCGA is pleased to see the EPA revised its original proposal, today’s announcement remains a step backward in American energy policy,” he says in a news release. “The RFS was working exactly as Congress intended it to work. There was no reason to cut it.”

Chip Bowling, a Newburg, Md., farmer, and president of the National Corn Growers Association, also says the new mandates aren’t high enough.

“In light of the EPA’s decision, we are evaluating our options,” he says. “We will fight to protect the rights of farmers and consumers and hold the EPA accountable.”

Critics, including oil groups, opposed increasing the amount of biofuels in the U.S. gasoline supply.

The EPA has been dealing with both ethanol producers, who want higher mandates, and the petroleum and refining industries, which say using more biofuels in the fuel supply isn’t feasible.

Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., also is critical of the lower mandates.

“The Renewable Fuel Standard doesn’t just support homegrown jobs and homegrown energy: it enhances national security, reduces dependence on foreign oil, cuts our carbon footprint and increases demand for local farm products,” he says in a news release.

“Scaling back the RFS targets is the wrong decision, plain and simple,” he says. “For years, I have been pressing the Obama Administration to keep the RFS as strong as possible, and while I’m glad they raised levels from what was proposed, these final numbers just don’t cut it - especially for ethanol.”

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