EPA’s delay on RFS decision is a mixed bag for Wisconsin consumers

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The Environmental Protection Agency said on Friday (Nov. 21) that it would not be finalizing the Renewable Fuel Standards’ renewable fuel volume obligations before the end of the year. Wisconsin farmers and ethanol industry experts are pleased with the delayed decision, but worry that it might further complicate the success of the Wisconsin corn industry and the future of renewable fuel use and technology.

The RFS was a bipartisan effort by Congress to provide cleaner fuel choices for consumers and help reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil. When the EPA proposed cuts to Big Oil’s obligations on blending renewable fuels it jeopardizes American farmers and consumers.

And that was apparent to many farmers, renewable fuel advocates, and concerned citizens all across America. Nearly 200,000 people filed public comments with the EPA regarding the proposed cut.

Though the EPA has pushed back their decision, many worry that it signals declining support for the renewable fuels sector, which depends on the volume obligations to plan production. The EPA should reconsider its proposed changes to the RVO after such substantial grassroots feedback from American consumers. But this inability of the EPA to stand up to Big Oil and set the standards as they were intended creates uncertainty in the marketplace that should have been avoided, especially because the RFS is America’s biggest policy driver for renewable fuels.

Since it’s passing the RFS has created $184.5 billion in economic impact and supported 852,056 jobs, particularly in hard-hit rural America. Wisconsin’s nine ethanol plants produce more than 470 million gallons of ethanol annually. With a $4.2 billion economic impact, Wisconsin’s ethanol industry supports 19,080 jobs totaling $982 million in wages.

The EPA heard us, loud and clear: Don’t mess with the RFS. What remains to be seen is if they will give either American consumers or Big Oil what they want.

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