In its proposed 2014 renewable fuels standard (RFS), the EPA proposed a conventional fuels mandate for corn-based ethanol of 13 billion gallons in 2014, back from the 14.4bn gallons originally proposed and lower than the 13.8bn gallons produced this year. It also proposed a reduction in the total renewable fuels requirement, inviting comments on a range of 15-15.52bn gallons.
Congress sets the US renewable fuels volume mandates, but the EPA can lower the requirements in certain situations. The Agency said it was able to lower the overall ethanol-blending requirement from the prior year’s target using two waiver authorities in the Clean Air Act. The EPA said it was seeking comment on petitions for a waiver of the RFS that would apply in 2014.
The proposal has been welcomed by US farmers and processors, which have been calling for a waiver of the RFS due to the impact of the mandate on feed prices and availability.
A coalition of livestock and poultry groups released a joint statement on the proposal stating: “We appreciate this action as it acknowledges a problem exists with the current policy. The inflexible RFS mandate continues to have a detrimental impact on the economy and makes feeding animals risky because our industries are not competing on a level playing field.
“Today is a step in the right direction, but it is the responsibility of the Congress to find a lasting solution to this rigid, inflexible program and put livestock and poultry producers back on equal standing in the marketplace.”
The National Chicken Council (NCC) also called for congressional action, pointing out that since the RFS was escalated in 2007, average annual feed costs had increased by $8.8bn for poultry producers.
“Last year, the average US family of four faced a $2,000 increase in food costs due to higher corn prices, brought on largely by the RFS. We know all too well from last year that corn crop projections and inventories can be erased by Mother Nature’s wrath,” said NCC president Mike Brown.
The EPA said it was seeking comment on petitions for a waiver of the RFS that would apply in 2014.