By Jarrett Renshaw
Dec 7 (Reuters) - President Joe Biden's administration sought to thread the needle on biofuel policy on Tuesday, scaling back biofuel blending mandates while moving to block exemptions favored by dozens of refineries but opposed by biofuel producers.
The administration also doled out hundreds of millions of dollars in pandemic aid to biofuel producers.
The moves drew mixed reactions from both Big Oil and Big Agriculture, underscoring the challenges of trying to manage U.S. biofuel policy.
Here are some reactions:
Senator Joni Ernst, Republican of Iowa:
"This decision is an about-face by President Joe Biden who campaigned on his supposed support for renewable fuels. These RVOs will slash demand for biofuel and have devastating, long-lasting consequences for Iowa farmers and producers. While President Biden may have forgotten his promise to Iowans, Iowa farmers and producers and I sure haven’t, and we will work together to fight back against this harmful policy.”
Geoff Cooper, president of the Renewable Fuel Association:
"While we are pleased to see that EPA’s proposal for 2022 is consistent with Congressional intent to require 15 billion gallons of conventional renewable fuels like corn ethanol, it would be completely unprecedented—and contrary to EPA’s past policies and practices—for the agency to go back in time and revise the 2020 RFS requirements."
Congresswoman Sheri Bustos, a Democrat from Illinois:
“After four years of broken promises from an administration hell-bent on cozying up to big oil at the expense of our family farmers, today’s announcement takes a big step toward getting our biofuels industry back on track. While I would have liked to see stronger 2020 renewable volume obligations, between commitments made by the previous USDA and EPA leadership and an overall decrease in demand for fuel due to the global pandemic, the current administration's hands were unfortunately tied."
Chet Thompson, CEO of American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers:
“So much for the Biden administration being concerned about rising energy costs. The 2022 proposal would needlessly increase already record-breaking RFS compliance costs which, in turn, will raise the cost of producing gasoline and diesel for U.S. consumers.
Joint statement by Co-Chairs of the House Biofuels Caucus Cindy Axne, an Iowa Democrat; Angie Craig, a Minnesota Democrat; Mark Pocan and Ron Kind, both Wisconsin Democrats.
“After months of unnecessary delay, we are glad that the EPA has released the long-overdue Renewable Volume Obligations. The 2022 number sets the biofuels industry on the right path moving forward...However, the proposed decision to retroactively lower the 2020 RVO target does not reflect a sufficient commitment to renewable fuels and family farmers."
Scott Irwin, agricultural economist at the University of Illinois, on Twitter:
"Any gallon less than 15 billion for the conventional mandate in any year as the target will end up in court as soon as it is finalized. And (I) think Ag will win in court, but with delays they lose. Rinse repeat"
Joshua Shields, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs and Communications at POET, a leading U.S. ethanol producer:
"The Biden Administration should fulfill the president’s campaign promises to support the Renewable Fuel Standard, which will continue to affordably decarbonize the nation’s existing vehicle fleet, create clean energy jobs and support American farmers. We urge the EPA to consider the consequences of reducing biofuel volumes, reinstate robust blending targets and, as the President said, ‘Get the RFS back on track’ before the rule is finalized.” (Reporting By Jarrett Renshaw; Editing by David Gregorio)