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Acting EPA Administrator Wheeler Approves Sorghum Oil Pathways Under RFS

New Feedstock Provides Added Flexibility and Diversity

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WASHINGTON  — Today, as a part of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a final notice approving a variety of pathways for renewable fuel derived from sorghum, including biodiesel. EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler signed the final pathway alongside Sens. Jerry Moran and Deb Fisher, Rep. Roger Marshall, the National Sorghum Producers, and the American Farm Bureau Federation. 

“Today’s approval sets the stage for more homegrown fuels under the Renewable Fuel Standard and adds diversity to our mix of biofuels in the U.S.,” said EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “This is a win for American sorghum farmers and biofuel producers alike.”

“USDA welcomes this decision by EPA that biofuel made from sorghum oil qualifies for advanced biofuel and biomass-based diesel designation under the RFS,” U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said. “This decision recognizes the environmental benefits of home-grown renewable energy and will create new markets for agricultural commodities.” 

“Kansas farmers are hurting – low commodity prices and falling farm revenue have made it increasingly difficult for producers to make ends meet,” said Senator Jerry Moran (KS). “Approving the pathway is long past due, and I applaud Administrator Wheeler for acting quickly to finalize the pathway after assuming leadership of the agency. It is critical for EPA to recognize the challenges faced by farmers and ranchers and to make certain it pursues biofuel policies that will benefit rural America.”

“More and more farmers are growing sorghum in Nebraska, and it’s an important commodity in our state. EPA’s approval of a sorghum oil fuel pathway under the RFS is good news for Nebraska ag producers and rural America. I look forward to continuing to work with the administration to provide opportunities for Nebraska farmers,” said Senator Deb Fischer (NE).

“This announcement is big for our producers back home. This pathway has been a top issue for our office since I came to Washington.  Kansas is the top sorghum producing state in the country; I am elated the EPA has finalized the long-awaited biofuels pathway for Grain Sorghum Oil. This pathway is crucial to not only our sorghum producers, but also our biofuels plants, and our rural economy. Farmers can use all the relief they can get in the midst of growing uncertainty in global markets,” said Representative Roger Marshal (KS-1)l.

“With this decision, EPA is creating an opportunity for sorghum producers to support a new fuel source stream for biofuel production,” said EPA Region 7 Administrator Jim Gulliford. “This is a good news story in helping meet America’s renewable fuels needs while protecting public health and the environment.”

“This is a great day for U.S. sorghum farmers and our partners in the ethanol and biodiesel industries,” said National Sorghum Producers Chairman Don Bloss, a sorghum farmer from Pawnee City, Nebraska. “NSP has worked tirelessly for over two years to make this happen. A pathway for sorghum oil opens new markets for ethanol plants extracting oil from sorghum and ultimately adds value to the grain farmers produce. We thank Acting Administrator Wheeler for taking the step to finalize this pathway and everyone involved in the process that lead to this achievement.”

“Farm Bureau applauds EPA’s approval of an RFS pathway for sorghum biofuel production. At a time when sorghum farmers — like many in U.S. agriculture — are facing tough economic times and uncertainty in key markets, new opportunities like this can go a long way in supporting their bottom line. This new pathway will create an important opportunity for rural America and our farm economy, while strengthening and diversifying U.S. homegrown energy sources,” said American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall.

“Kansas produces more sorghum than any other state in the nation,” said Kansas Farm Bureau President Rich Felts. “The oppor tunity to add value to those bushels is critical to our farmers and could not be more timely as we seek any and all methods to balance the books in a tough agricultural climate.”

“Nebraska Farm Bureau supports efforts to expanded market opportunities for Nebraska agricultural commodities, including grain sorghum. EPA’s announcement that sorghum-based biofuel meets emission requirements allowing it to be recognized as an advanced biofuel under the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) is a win for Nebraska grain sorghum producers,” said Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson.

“We are very pleased the EPA has finalized the RFS pathway for grain sorghum oil biofuel production. This pathway provides a great opportunity for farmers to market their crops and achieve better returns by producing ethanol from grain sorghum. Texas Farm Bureau sincerely thanks Acting EPA Administrator Wheeler and Congressional leaders who made this possible. We look forward to seeing the positive effect this pathway will have on hardworking farm families in Texas and the U.S.,” said Texas Farm Bureau President Russell Boening.

The newly approved pathways include biodiesel, heating oil, jet fuel, heating oil, and liquified petroleum gas produced from sorghum oil, a by-product of ethanol produced from using grain sorghum as a primary feedstock. These pathways meet the greenhouse gas emissions reductions requirements to qualify to generate credits or Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) for biomass-based diesel and advanced biofuels under the RFS program.  

This new feedstock is estimated to produce around 21 million gallons providing flexibility in meeting volume standards of the RFS program. It also adds diversity to the biofuel mix in the country.

The RFS program was created by Congress as a national policy to increase volumes of renewable fuel to replace or reduce the consumption of petroleum-based transportation fuel, heating oil, or jet fuel. EPA implements the program in consultation with U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Energy. 

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