OPIS Biofuels Headlines
November 20, 2013
White House, Biofuel Groups Meeting Today
Less than a week after the Obama administration proposed a first-of-its kind cut to the conventional ethanol requirement under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2), the White House met with a handful of biofuel-related groups this afternoon, OPIS has confirmed.
According to several sources, the one-hour White House meeting, which began at
1:30 p.m., included representatives from the Advanced Ethanol Council, Archer Daniels Midland, POET, the National Corn Growers Association, the Advanced Biofuels Association, Growth Energy, Monsanto, Novozymes (which also represented the Biotechnology Industry Organization) and the Renewable Fuels Association.
Representing the administration were: USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack; former interim chief of staff and current counselor to President Obama Peter Rouse, who also is a former chief of staff to Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) and an ardent biofuels supporter; Dan Utech, who just succeeded Heather Zichal as the president's top climate and energy advisor; and two EPA officials.
Late last week, EPA released its long-awaited 2014 RFS2 proposal. Mandated biofuels blending would see nearly across-the-board reductions under the proposal. Specifically, EPA is proposing 13.01 billion gal of conventional biofuel (mostly comprised of corn- based ethanol), down from 14.4 billion gal as originally envisioned.
According to one source at the meeting, "it was a pretty tough conversation," with biofuel groups reiterating that the current RFS proposal would "be devastating and would kill investment." Administration officials listened to the biofuel groups' comments, but did not respond, other than to say it planned to continue to hold an open dialogue moving forward, the source added.
As a second source at the meeting explained, "the administration's view of the market is ethanol was constrained by the lack of infrastructure. If they can be shown that the market can and will work, especially if the RFS runs its course, there may be some opportunities moving forward."
"The administration is beginning to fully grasp the far reaching effect of this proposal -- it's not just a change to corn, it's a body blow to the biofuels world. That message was really driven home today," the second source added.
A White House spokesperson confirmed this afternoon's meeting, but did not provide any further details.
Meanwhile, the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) met separately with Utech on Tuesday, NBB spokesman Ben Evans confirmed to OPIS. "We again shared our concerns about the RFS proposal and the impact it would have on U.S. biodiesel production," he said. Under the 2014 RFS proposal, EPA is calling for 1.28 billion gal of biomass-based diesel target for both 2014 and 2015 -- above the statutory requirement of at least 1 billion gal, but below the industry's annualized production rate from the last few months of approximately 2 billion gal.
Once EPA's 2014 RFS proposal is published in the Federal Register, a 60-day comment period will begin, with the agency anticipating a final rule published in the spring of 2014.
--Rachel Gantz, firstname.lastname@example.org
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