EPA Lag in Cellulosic Ethanol Approvals Hurting Rural America

EPA Lag in Cellulosic Ethanol Approvals Hurting Rural America

In comments filed to the EPA August 17 on the 2019 proposed volumes for the renewable fuel standard, BIO urged the agency to “seize the opportunity afforded by the RFS program to promote the type of innovation that will help grow advanced and cellulosic biofuels, create good paying jobs, and help revitalize rural America by strengthening our world-leading biobased economy.”

Specifically, BIO comments are with regards to the low number of approvals the EPA has issued for advanced and cellulosic ethanol.

As Marc Heller reports for E&E News, “EPA is sharply underestimating the amount of cellulosic ethanol that U.S. companies could produce — and its own administrative lag is partly to blame, industry sources say.”

Because yearly cellulosic ethanol volumes mandated under the RFS are determined by the number of cellulosic facilities already registered, and the number of facilities officials believe will come on line during the year, the lack of approvals by EPA significantly hinders the growth of the cellulosic ethanol industry.

As a result, biotechnology companies like Edeniq have several applications pending. Brian Thome, president and CEO of Edeniq, noted to Heller that this means cellulosic ethanol production is not reaching its full potential.

With approvals in place, the industry could provide as much as 50 million gallons more than that, Edeniq said in comments submitted to the agency. Thome told E&E News that as much as 100 million gallons of the biofuel could be at stake.

Thome later goes on to add, “This is real volume and growth that appear to be sitting still now.”

In its comments, BIO noted that EPA’s lag in approving cellulosic ethanol applications is particularly hurting rural America. In sections of the country where farmers grow the corn that is turned into cellulosic ethanol and where biorefineries are headquartered, countless good paying jobs are at stake. In a time when farmers and businesses in rural America are grappling with low crop prices and trade uncertainty, the EPA should work diligently on its backlog of applications to help grow cellulosic ethanol production, thus helping corn growers and biorefinery’s across America’s heartland.

After all, as Brian Thome notes to Heller, “the pipeline [for approving cellulosic ethanol applications] wasn’t always so slow.”

To read BIO’s comments on the 2019 proposed RFS volumes click here. To read BIO’s press release on its comments, click here.

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