June 17, 2024

The Zipline: Fueling a greener future

Farmers are no strangers to providing the fuel that keeps our bodies moving. And for nearly 20 years, we’ve stepped up to help provide the fuel that keeps our vehicles moving, too.

The Renewable Fuel Standard has played an important role in reducing America’s dependence on foreign oil, has helped reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provided a steady market for crops grown by America’s farmers.

Renewable fuels are a critical part of an “all of the above” energy strategy that considers gas, diesel, renewable fuels and much more.

And while there is a lot of talk about the potential for electric vehicles to reduce emissions, ethanol and biodiesel have been doing that for decades.

The infrastructure for renewable fuels is already in place, and nearly every car on the road can use these fuels today.

The RFS has spurred private investment in communities across the country while providing critical environmental and security benefits.

The benefit of using e renewable fuels today is equal to taking 17 million cars off the road annually. On top of that, we have a more diverse fuel supply.

Congress requires the Environmental Protection Agency to determine how many gallons of renewable fuels must be blended into fossil fuels each year — known as Renewable Volume Obligations, or RVOs.

Just a couple of months ago, the agency proposed the required levels for 2023 through 2025, and it was a mixed bag.

On the one hand, the agency increased the levels for renewable fuels like ethanol, closely mirroring the increasing capacity for U.S. ethanol plants to produce this emission-reducing fuel.

EPA is also proposing, for the first time ever, a pathway for electricity made from renewable biomass and used as a transportation fuel to qualify under the RFS.

This could create new opportunities for livestock producers who utilize methane-reducing technologies like digesters.

This will hopefully provide new opportunities in agriculture as we start seeing more electric vehicles on the road.

On the other hand, the agency’s requirements for biomass-based diesel and advanced biofuels fall far short.

For many years, Congress has encouraged private businesses to invest in increasing the amount of biodiesel, renewable diesel and sustainable aviation fuel we can produce — and the industry has answered the call.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that we can currently produce 4 billion gallons of renewable diesel each year. And the government has already supported projects that will increase that production by another 1 billion gallons each year.

Farm Bureau was disappointed when the EPA set the requirements for renewable diesel at around 2.8 billion gallons, less than 75% of what we can produce.

The deficiency in the proposed rule will significantly slow growth in the renewable diesel sector and potentially undermine the significant investments currently being made, costing jobs, reducing demand for crops like soybeans and weakening the purpose of the RFS.

We are working hard to make sure the voices of our grassroots members are heard encouraging the EPA to reconsider its proposal before setting the final RVOs this summer.

The RFS is a great American success story. It’s positively changed our energy landscape while supporting America’s farmers and rural communities.

However, the recent EPA proposal for biomass-based diesel and advanced biofuels RVOs raises concerns and threatens the progress we’ve made.

We must continue to support and invest in the growth of all renewable fuels to ensure a sustainable future for our planet and economy.

That’s how this administration can demonstrate a genuine commitment to a cleaner, more secure future, fueled by the hard work of America’s farmers.

Zippy Duvall

Zippy Duvall

Zippy Duvall, a poultry, cattle and hay producer from Georgia, is the president of the American Farm Bureau Federation.