ASA Questions EPA Priorities on Renewable Fuel Standard
ASA and industry partners at the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) called attention earlier this week to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) poorly timed announcement they will approve an application allowing Argentina to streamline their Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) eligibility and compliance, opening the U.S. market to a potential flood of Argentinian biodiesel.ASA and NBB voiced their confusion and frustration regarding the announcement and EPA’s complete lack of a coherent and coordinated RFS program.“Today’s decision issued by EPA on Argentinian biodiesel shows a lack of coordination and alarming tone-deafness regarding the purposes of the Renewable Fuels Standard,” said ASA President and Brownfield, Texas, farmer Wade Cowan. “EPA has put the interests of our foreign competitors above those of soybean farmers here in the U.S. At this point, we can only scratch our heads and wonder what EPA’s priorities are when it comes to the domestic renewable fuels industry.”EPA’s announcement followed a December notice that the agency would postpone setting biofuels volume requirements for 2014 until early in 2015. EPA has not set volume requirements for 2014—which has already passed—or for 2015, which we’re already a month into. Despite the fact that obligated parties and stakeholders in the biodiesel supply chain are in limbo, awaiting their long-delinquent action on these decisions, EPA has chosen instead to act on an application to allow greater access to imported biodiesel. In doing so, EPA seems to have lost sight of the fact that one of the purposes of this program is to increase domestic energy independence.ASA wrote to EPA in March 2014 with questions and a request that the Argentine application be subject to a formal public comment period, given the potential ramifications and the numerous factors involved and impacts that go beyond EPA’s domain. EPA did not provide a public comment period before it approved the Argentine application and there was no requirement or deadline for EPA to act on the application.Along with NBB, ASA will continue to communicate to Congress and the Administration our perspectives and frustrations regarding implementation of the RFS with a goal of prompting EPA and the White House to get a coherent policy and provide better direction.Argentina has the capacity to produce large volumes of biodiesel and, because of their trade distorting Differential Export Tax (DET) scheme, can flood foreign markets at lower costs than domestic producers. Argentina has been the world’s top biodiesel exporter, with most of it going to European Union (EU) countries. However, the EU imposed anti-dumping duties ranging from 6.8 percent to 10.6 percent on Argentine biodiesel imports, citing the Argentine subsidies, trade distorting policies and prices.CARBIO, the trade association representing Argentine biodiesel producers, submitted an application to EPA to allow them eligibility and a streamlined approach to demonstrating their compliance with the RFS requirements for eligible biomass. The approval of the CARBIO application will have wide ranging impacts on the RFS, the U.S. biodiesel industry, U.S. soybean farmers, U.S. jobs, international trade and the environment. The ASA believes that the far reaching impacts of this issue required an exhaustive review by EPA to include a public comment period and input from the various stakeholders as well as other government agencies, such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.