Chain restaurants say biofuel levels for 2019 require 'reset' of Renewable Fuel Standard program

"It's high time for the mandate to go away."

NCCR Executive Director David French

WASHINGTON – The National Council of Chain Restaurants today called on the Environmental Protection Agency to completely review biofuel levels under the federal Renewable Fuel Standard, saying increased levels announced for 2019 meet requirements for a “reset” of the program.

“Now that the reset provision has been triggered, the EPA will have the opportunity to ramp down the annual volume levels set forth in the statute over a decade ago,” NCCR Executive Director David French said. “Not only are those old levels wildly unrealistic for advanced fuels, the levels required for last-generation, conventional corn ethanol are unnecessary and run counter to the law’s environmental goals. Corn ethanol is flatly bad for the environment and consumers alike, and it’s high time for the mandate to go away.”

“It’s puzzling that the EPA is going all in on the RFS mandate at a time when it’s so obviously out of sync with market realities,” French said. “The EPA clearly caved to pressure from the ethanol industry once again.”

The EPA announced today that fuel companies will be required to blend 19.92 billion gallons of biofuel into the nation’s gasoline supply in 2019. That’s a 3.3 percent increase from this year and also higher than the 19.88 billion gallons proposed in June. While the amount of biofuel from corn ethanol is already maxed out at the 15 billion gallons allowed under the program, the amount from advanced biofuels like biodiesel, cellulosic ethanol and other niche fuels will increase to 4.92 billion gallons, up 14.7 percent from this year.

Those numbers are high enough to set in motion a reset of the RFS program required by law when levels deviate more than 20 percent from those allowed under the RFS statute for two consecutive years. The reset means the EPA is required to conduct a complete review biofuel levels under the program, which could lead to lower levels being set.

Enacted in 2005, the RFS has created an artificial demand for corn and soybeans, driving up food prices for consumers and introducing market volatility that makes it harder for restaurants and food retailers to forecast costs and make long-term business decisions. NCCR has repeatedly asked Congress to repeal the program.

About NCCR
NCCR is the leading trade association exclusively representing chain restaurant companies. For more than 40 years, NCCR has worked to advance sound public policy that best serves the interests of restaurant businesses and the millions of people they employ. NCCR members include the country's most-respected quick-service and table-service chains. NCCR is a division of the National Retail Federation, the world's largest retail trade group.