Reprieve for Ethanol? EPA Extends Comment Period on Biofuels

Ethanol and biodiesel industry groups reacted quite differently to EPA’s decision to extend public comment period on the Renewable Fuel Standard.


The Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday said it was extending the comment period on a draft rule that aims to cut the greenhouse gases emitted by biofuels. The proposed changes to the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard, known as RFS-2, are an attempt to make the production of corn-based ethanol more efficient and increase the output of advanced biofuels.

Ethanol industry welcomes comment period extension

“They only had a 60 day beginning comment period and this is between 1000 and 2000 pages of scientific and technical data,” said Tom Buis, CEO of ethanol industry group, Growth Energy. Buis, who said he was not surprised by the action added: “You don’t want to get a bad rule because people didn’t have the time to thoroughly analyze it.”

One of the major sticking points for the ethanol industry in the RFS have been the international land use provisions that are being incorporated into lifecycle greenhouse gas analyses required by the RFS.

In a letter written to House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson last week, Bob Dinneen, President of the Renewable Fuels Association wrote that EPA’s proposed rule “failed a basic test that government regulation be based upon science that is transparent, reliable and verifiable. The science of market-mediated, secondary international land use impacts is nascent, at best, and clearly needs time for scientific consensus to develop and less reliance on unproven assumptions,” wrote Dinneen.

Biodiesel industry concerned about impact of delaying final rule

Biodiesel industry representatives fear that the extended comment period would provide additional hardship to the U.S. biodiesel industry.

“RFS-2 was supposed to be in place at the beginning of this year, and extension of the comment period could further delay the implementation of the program,” the National Biodiesel Board said in a statement.

RFS-2 requires the use of 500 million gallons of biomass-based diesel in 2009. And biodiesel industry representatives say it may be the only fuel currently available in the market to meet that requirement. “Given the extension of the RFS-2 comment period, it is only appropriate that EPA take immediate steps to ensure that the 2009 volume goals provided for in statute are met,” said the NBB statement.

The comment period on the rule will now end on September 25 instead of July 27.

Image via jurvetson under a Creative Commons license

Timothy B. Hurst

is the founder of ecopolitology and the executive editor at LiveOAK Media, a media network about the politics of energy and the environment, green business, cleantech, and green living. When not reading, writing, thinking or talking about environmental politics with anyone who will listen, Tim spends his time skiing in Colorado's high country, hiking with his dog, and getting dirty in his vegetable garden.