MANKATO - Minnesota Corn Growers Association (MSGA) officials and other corn ethanol and biofuels advocates urged public comment on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposal to reduce corn ethanol under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) Thursday at the Minnesota Ag EXPO in the Verizon Wireless Center.
The EPA proposed a 1.4 billion-gallon reduction in how much corn ethanol will be required under the RFS, the federal law that helps get domestic, renewable, cleaner-burning corn ethanol blended into the nation's fuel supply. The reduction would impact already low corn prices and negatively affect 2014 planting decisions, according to the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA).
The NGGA maintained that according to Louisiana State University research, cutting ethanol use by 1.4 billion gallons would increase gasoline prices by 5. 7 cents a gallon and lead to a $10.3 billion windfall for big oil companies.
The organization urged public comments, specifically urging the EPA to maintain the corn ethanol RFS at 14.4 billion gallons. The EPA is accepting proposal comments until 11:59 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014. Comments can be submitted at MNCORN.ORG
Meanwhile, the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association (MSGA) distributed pre-written letters to the EPA supporting modest, reasonable biodiesel growth under the RFS next year and that the EPA's initial proposal for 1.28 billion gallons in 2014 and 2015 would result in an immediate and dramatic drop in U.S. biodiesel production, leading to plant closures and layoffs.
"EPA tier 3 policies loom large," said Tim Vinney of the National Biodiesel Board.
A corn and soybean producer at the event said he burns E30 gasoline in non-flex-fuel vehicles and B100 biodiesel in his tractors without any problems. "Tractor's don't mind what fuel we use," he said.
"It's about air quality and big oil companies needing an octane boost to clean up fuel," said Tim Radniecki of the Minnesota Biofuels Association. "Don't get trapped in the (fuel) blend law. Push to make the RFS goal. Ethanol doesn't affect food prices. They affect oil barrel prices. Food prices are tied to oil prices, not ethanol. Only the starch of corn is used to make ethanol."
He urged producers to ask their county commissioners to pass resolutions against reducing corn ethanol under the RFS.
The Sioux Falls, S.D.-based American Coalition for Ethanol handed out brochures stating that ethanol tax credits ended in 2011 and ethanol is less costly than gasoline, while oil companies book record profits, clinging to more than $4 billion in taxpayer support, while ethanol is still less expensive than gasoline.
The American Lung Association distributed a Minnesota Flex-fuel and E15 Pump Directory. For more information, visit www.CleanAirChoice.org
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) distributed information on keeping storm water clean by directing downspouts onto grass to soak up rain, sweep, rake and pick up to keep yard waste off streets and by not dumping waste in storm drains. For more information, visit www.pca.state.mn.us
(Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at email@example.com).