A proposal by the Environmental Protection Agency to reduce the 2014 renewable fuels standard drew mixed reaction Friday afternoon from industry stakeholders.

EPA proposes to reduce 2014 renewable fuels targetAccording to EPA, the proposal will put the Renewable Fuels Standard program on a “steady path forward.”

The proposal, which will be open for a 60-day comment period once it is published in the Federal Register, would lower the 2014 renewable biofuel mandate from 18.15 billion gallons to a range of 15 billion to 15.52 billion gallons added to the U.S. fuel supply. EPA’s recommended target is 15.21 billion gallons within the proposed range.

EPA also proposed changes for cellulosic biofuels, with a range between 8 million and 30 million and a recommended target of 17 million gallons, and advanced biofuels, with a range of 2.0 billion to 2.51 billion gallons and a recommended target of 2.20 billion gallons. 

On a stakeholder call hosted by the American Petroleum Institute that included representatives from the livestock industry, the American Meat Institute’s Mark Dopp welcomed the proposal but urged congressional action. AMI supports legislation pending in the U.S. House of Representatives to eliminate the corn-based ethanol mandate, reduce cellulosic and advanced biofuels requirements and put a 10 percent cap on the amount of ethanol that can be blended into gasoline.

 “EPA’s decision to reduce the ethanol mandate is long overdue,” said Dopp. “While this is a positive step, the fact remains the RFS is a flawed policy that requires Congressional action.  Even with a record corn crop expected this year, the damaging ripple effect of this defective policy has moved through the meat and poultry complex for the past several years.  The time for Congressional action is now.”

EPA said while renewable fuel production has ramped up in recent years, gasoline consumption in the United States has dropped. As a result, EPA’s release said we are now at the “E10 blend wall,” the point at which the E10 fuel pool is saturated with ethanol.

The National Farmers Union’s Roger Johnson disagrees and says the blend wall argument is a fictitious product from the oil industry.

“We are deeply disappointed in EPA’s apparent willingness to reduce total renewable fuel requirements based on the oil industry’s fictitious ‘blend wall’ argument. Big oil has determined that biofuels are taking their market share, so they have prevented increased amounts of biofuel to be sold at gas stations,” Johnson said.

Johnson said the lower mandate will also further reduce corn prices, eliminate jobs and hurt rural economies. The American Farm Bureau Federation also expressed disappointment with the proposed rule.

EPA hopes to finalize the rule by spring 2014.