June 19, 2024

REG plant manager testifies for biofuels

Abels one of more than 200 to go before EPA

Not everyone gets to testify on behalf of their industry before a group of major government decision makers.

That’s what Newton REG plant manager Phil Abels was permitted to do Thursday when he was in Kansas City, Kan., testifying in an EPA hearing on Renewable Fuel Standard proposals.

“I was a little nervous,” Abels said by phone Thursday. “But for the importance of what I had to say, it was worth a little nervousness.”

More than 200 people are scheduled to testify in the hearing, and even more promised to show up to a related rally in support of renewable fuels. The EPA delayed its most recent announcement about renewable standards and target numbers more than once before recently announcing standards that didn’t please many who support biofuels.

The overall Advanced Biofuel standard would rise to 3.4 billion ethanol equivalent gallons in 2016. REG was represented by Abels and REG cooperate Vice President of Sales and Marketing Gary Haer, along with a long list of biofuel supports that included representatives of the National Corn Growers Association and Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad.

The transcript of Abels’ comments to the EPA show the support for high RFS targets that are common across the biofuel industries. He only said about 500 words, so after briefly explaining Newton’s history with Maytag, he quickly mentioned several statistics that show how many jobs and livelihoods are impacted by his industry.

“All this activity supports hundreds of companies and thousands of working families in the energy, agriculture, transportation and logistics industries — among others,” Abels said. “These numbers will improve under the new proposal and grow even more with larger increases of the 2016 and 2017 biomass-based diesel RVOs (renewable volume obligations).”

Haer made similar, more general statements to the agency in support of high RFS targets.

“Biomass-based diesel is not just proof that the RFS is working,” Haer told the EPA. “It is a shining example of just how good public policy can and should work — creating jobs and economic growth while protecting our environment and enhancing energy security.”

Abels said he’s spoken on behalf of his employer and his industry before, but speaking before the EPA is somewhat unique. He said the 25 employees he supervises remind him all the time how important the biofuel industry is to the Iowa economy.

“I”ve been in Newton since 2006,” Abels said in the phone interview. “And I could have testified on any day since then about how important biofuels are to jobs around in Newton and communities that are like it.”

Contact Jason W. Brooks at 641-792-3121 ext. 6532 or jbrooks@newtondailynews.com