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Agriculture

Ethanol Advocates Fight for Renewable Fuel Standard

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Amy Mayer/IPR file photo
DuPont is sourcing corn stover from a wide radius around its Nevada cellulosic ethanol plant, expected to come on-line this year.

Ethanol advocates made the case for preserving the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) on Tuesday in front of the Senate Agriculture Committee.

Without the RFS, advocates say, the ethanol industry will be quashed – and corn farmers and rural communities will pay the price. But many agricultural economists argue that lowering the ethanol mandate won’t be a huge blow to the rural economy.

There’s no denying that the RFS spurred, and supported, companies looking to create new biofuels. Chemical giant DuPont is currently building a cellulosic ethanol plant in Iowa and Jan Koninckx, the company’s director of global business for biorefineries, told senators at the hearing that the RFS played a big role in the plant’s development.

“The bottom line here is, driven by the RFS we have completely reinvented how we fuel our vehicles using renewable fuels,” Koninckx said. “And we do so without adding additional CO2 into the atmosphere.”

The EPA, which proposed making cuts to the ethanol mandate, is slated to make its final decision in June, about seven months after it was supposed to deliver its verdict.

Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley said the lack of clarity in RFS targets is “scaring off future investments in this industry.” A coalition of oil industry groups is challenging the 2013 RFS targets, because of EPA’s lengthy delays.