The top leadership of the National Corn Growers Association, along with representatives of several state corn groups, renewables groups and ethanol production plants were on hand Thursday in Kansas City, Kan., to provide feedback on the agency's proposed changes to the 2014-16 Renewable Fuel Standard renewable volume obligations.
The RVOs, proposed in May, represent requirements and associated percentage standards that would apply under the RFS program through 2016 and the volume requirement for biomass-based diesel for 2017.
NCGA organized a series of bus stops throughout the Midwest to bring ethanol supporters to the hearing, which began at 9 a.m. and continued throughout the day with a total of 43 planned panels.
Panels featured citizens, energy producers, small engine groups, environmental representatives and oil marketers. Also making an appearance were Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey and Missouri Ag Director Richard Fordyce.
On the fifth panel, NCGA President Chip Bowling of Maryland and Chairman Martin Barbre were featured with representatives from the Iowa Corn Growers Association.
According to NCGA, EPA's proposal would cut nearly 4 billion gallons of ethanol from the RFS through 2016, representing nearly a billion and a half bushels in lost corn demand.
"We simply cannot afford – and will not tolerate – efforts to cut the demand for corn, and that's exactly what your proposal will do," Bowling told the EPA. "We cannot let this stand. We've done our part, and our allies in the ethanol industry have done their part. It's time the EPA sided with those of us supporting a domestic, renewable fuel that's better for the environment."
Bowling said the response from ethanol supporters and corn farmers would continue.
"We have never before seen so much grassroots interest in a particular issue," he said. "The many who came here today had to set aside important work back home, with delayed planting or other important field work. They are here because they know what's at stake."
In his testimony, Barbre spotlighted the importance of the Renewable Fuel Standard and questioned the EPA's methodology.
"We are extremely concerned about the methodology behind EPA's decision," he said. "The EPA only has the authority to issue a waiver when reviewing the RVOs if either the RFS would cause 'severe economic harm' to the economy or the environment, or if there is an inadequate domestic supply."
Representatives of Fuels America also attended the hearing and rally, pushing a change.org petition to retain a strong RFS.
Despite the significant pressure in support of the RFS, the hearing also was attended by those concerned by the RFS policy, including the National Marine Manufacturers Association, the American Petroleum Institute and the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers.