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State agriculture chief opposes ethanol reduction in EPA’s proposed Renewable Fuel Standards

From Illinois Business Journal news services

SPRINGFIELD – State Agriculture Director Philip Nelson is calling on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to reconsider reducing ethanol volumes as part of the proposed Renewable Fuel Standards obligations laid out this spring.

The action comes as several partner states, such as Iowa and Missouri, testified recently in opposition of the proposal at the USEPA hearing on the standards.

“This proposal is in direct violation of the 2007 law (Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007) on the Renewable Fuel Standards, which mandates corn-based ethanol blends at 15 billion gallons for 2015 and 2016,” Nelson said. “It is fundamentally unfair to suddenly change the rules on Illinois farmers.”

In May, USEPA released the proposed RFS volume obligations for 2014, 2015 and 2016. The proposed standards decrease volume levels to 13.4 billion gallons for 2015 and 14 billion gallons for 2016. The public comment period for the proposed rules is open until July 27, 2015. Rules are to be finalized by USEPA by Nov. 30.

“This announcement comes at the heels of a drop in corn prices and projected farm income,” said Nelson. “Farmers are locked into their planting decisions for the year and these proposed rules have real implications on the industry.”

Illinois is the third-leading producer of biofuels (which includes biodiesel and ethanol) and is the home to 14 ethanol plants. Illinois ethanol plants provide 4,000 direct jobs for Illinois citizens. Additionally, 6.25 million tons of distillers dried grains and solubles for livestock feed are produced, valued at $1.375 billion. The ethanol industry has a $37 million impact in state or local revenue, Nelson’s office said in a statement.

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