Dinneen was talking to a sympathetic audience. Iowa has 42 ethanol refineries and leads the nation in ethanol production, making about 30% of the U.S. supply. Ethanol is made mostly from corn, and Iowa is the leading corn producer. The state is also the top biodiesel manufacturer with 12 plants producing the diesel fuel additive from multiple sources—soybean oil, animal fats, industrial corn oil and recycled restaurant cooking oil.
Consumers have as much at stake as farmers do, in this pending EPA decision
Over 15,000 comments were sent to EPA during the public comment period which closed January 28, regarding EPA's RFS proposal.
At the IRFA summit, Wallaces Farmer asked Dinneen what consumers and farmers should do now that the comment period has closed. "Consumers should recognize while farmers have a lot at stake in this decision EPA will make, consumers have a lot at stake as well. Because, without the RFS the price of gasoline goes up. Consumers need to realize they have as much at stake in all of this as the ethanol industry itself."
Dinneen says he doesn't know for certain what will happen when EPA decides on the final rule for RFS, but he says a decision probably won't come from the agency until April or May. He says it is possible EPA will backtrack and return to the previous RFS levels or choose a compromise number between the previous RFS levels for 2014 and the lower ones it is now proposing.
What biofuel supporters will need to decide is whether to challenge any new RFS decision in court, essentially arguing the law doesn't give EPA the ability to change the RFS volume figures based on the so-called "blend wall" or other distribution issues. Instead, the law only gives EPA power to change the figures based on whether the renewable fuels industry can supply the needed amounts of biofuel to meet the RFS volume requirements.