Get the testing done and let's move forward. That's the message Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis had for the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy Friday. While the waiver process requires a decision within 270 days, Buis noted it's now been more than a year since Growth Energy submitted its Green Jobs Waiver asking the EPA to raise the amount of ethanol than can be blended with gasoline from 10% to 15%. EPA notified Growth Energy in December that they would not meet their deadline but promised to have a decision by June. The decision is now further delayed due to delays in Department of Energy testing and the addition of more tests.
"We find that unacceptable," Buis said. "We feel we submitted enough data to support the waiver going up to E15 for all vehicles."
EPA suggests tests on model year 2007 and newer vehicles will not be completed until late September, with tests on model year 2001 and newer completed in late November. Buis says Growth Energy will explore all avenues to expedite testing including legal and legislative options. He says the group also wants to know why additional tests are needed and why the delay has occurred. Buis says a letter to Energy Secretary Steven Chu asks for a full explanation as well as a letter to President Obama.
Buis says the longer this decision is delayed the more difficult it becomes to signal investment in next generation biofuels like cellulosic ethanol. He says the industry is already bumping up against the so-called blend wall and investors won't invest without a marketplace.
Ultimately according to Buis, moving forward with this is about much more than the ethanol industry.
"This is important for America," Buis said. "If we're going to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and we can, in fact this waiver request going from E10 to E15 is the equivalent of reducing our imports by seven billion gallons. It's important to our economy. This would create 136,000 new jobs right here in America that can't be outsourced and obviously it's better for our environment."
Buis says the EPA must make decisions that are based on science. He says the hold-up is a delay in getting that science. But he is confident the Energy Department's testing will validate the data Growth Energy provided in its original waiver request and E15 will be approved.