IRFA to EPA: Don’t Leave RFS Resting on Shifting Sand

Contact: Cassidy Walter

JOHNSTON, IOWA – Today EPA held a virtual public hearing on the agency’s proposed Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) blend levels for 2020, 2021, and 2022. During his comments, Iowa Renewable Fuels Association Executive Director Monte Shaw emphasized the dangerous precedent it would set for EPA to retroactively adjust the finalized 2020 blend levels.

Today remarks were limited to three minutes, but IRFA will also submit comprehensive written comments by the February 4 comment period deadline. Click here to view IRFA’s initial comments when the proposal was first released.

Shaw’s Full Remarks:

“Thank you for the opportunity to make brief comments today. I am Monte Shaw, executive director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association.

I’d be remiss if I did not begin my remarks by saying how pleased IRFA is that the proposed rule includes the first of two installments designed to finally, after over 5 years of waiting, restore the 500 million gallons of conventional biofuels that were illegally cut from the 2016 RFS rule. IRFA has probably brought up this issue more than anyone over the years.

Why? Well, 500 million gallons is nothing to take lightly. But the importance of this issue runs much deeper – to the very integrity of the RFS. To be blunt, the Obama Administration blatantly and purposefully perverted the RFS statute in the 2016 rule to do what they wanted to do – cut the RFS – not what the law clearly required them to do. If allowed to stand, then the RFS law wasn’t worth the parchment it was written on.

Thankfully, the DC Circuit Court agreed and ordered the agency to give back the 500 million gallons stolen from 2016. However, this court decision came down in the early days of the Trump Administration. And despite numerous opportunities over four years, the Trump EPA simply thumbed their nose at the court. Not only was the integrity of the RFS at stake, but quite frankly the separation of powers and rule of law on which our nation was founded was being flouted.

So, to have the Biden Administration, in their very first RFS rule, propose to comply with the Court order and restore the 2016 gallons is very gratifying on many distinct levels. IRFA thanks you and urges you not to turn from this obviously correct course.

But I must say, this very action makes the proposal to reopen the finalized 2020 RFS rule all the more difficult to swallow. On one hand the proposed rule restores integrity of the RFS law itself, while on the other hand, the proposal would leave the annual RFS rules on shifting sand, unable to be trusted.

Some say I should focus on how the proposed rule gets the RFS back on track for 2022. Really? How would I know? Under the precedent proposed today, this rule, which will be “finalized” in a few months, could be reopened in a year or two by the EPA and the RFS levels could be reduced citing “reset” or “set” or some other authority. If I can have no confidence in the 2020 final rule, why should I put any confidence in the proposed 2022 numbers?

Over the holidays my family was fortunate enough to spend a few days near the ocean. One day while my two kids played in the water, I noticed a pretty impressive sandcastle nearby. Over time, as the tide rose, the waves came closer and closer and started wicking away at the foundation of the castle. First the moat. Then the wall. Next the outer towers. And finally, the main keep. All swept away. Over the course of an hour the impressive castle was erased from the face of the Earth.

That image comes to mind as I think of the proposal to reopen the finalized 2020 rule. Doing so would make the RFS nothing more than a sandcastle waiting for the next high tide to wash it away. While the 2016 rule undermined the RFS law itself, this rule would undermine RFS implementation by placing each and every RFS rule on a foundation of sand.

In closing, please reconsider this possibly illegal action. You have the ability to set the RFS on a solid foundation going forward. Restoring the 2016 gallons is a positive step in that direction. But reopening the 2020 rule would rip apart the credibility of the RFS just like the 2016 rule. Please do not leave the RFS resting on shifting sand as the tide begins to come in.”


The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association represents the state’s liquid renewable fuels industry and works to foster its growth. Iowa is the nation’s leader in renewable fuels production with 42 ethanol refineries capable of producing 4.5 billion gallons annually – including 34 million gallons of annual cellulosic ethanol production capacity – and 11 biodiesel facilities with the capacity to produce 410 million gallons annually. For more information, visit the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association website at: