(Updates with enzyme research in 10th paragraph.)
Nov. 4 (Bloomberg) -- Companies that make biofuels from corn husks, soy and other materials are mounting a last-ditch lobbying campaign to prevent a weakening of the U.S. renewable- fuel mandate, saying a lower requirement would set back an industry that is ready to blossom.
The Environmental Protection Agency, responding to complaints from refiners and fossil-fuel oil producers, has proposed a reduction in the amount of renewable fuels that refiners must blend into gasoline and diesel next year, according to a draft obtained by Bloomberg on Oct. 10.
The proposal, which may be released this week, has been sent to the Office of Management and Budget for review. The agency has held 22 separate meetings with outside groups about the 2014 mandates since Sept. 23, according to its records. Seventeen have been since the draft emerged -- 11 with renewable fuel makers such as DuPont Co. and Abengoa SA trying to fend off the reductions.
"The worst thing that the Obama administration would be doing is creating uncertainty for the industry," Javier Garoz, chief executive of Abengoa Bioenergy, said in an interview. "You would be killing the industry for no reason."
The mandates affect a wide range of industries. Refiners, fast-food restaurants, ethanol producers and motorboat makers all say the EPA’s decision is crucial to their industries. The catch is that what each wants is very different.
The leaked EPA draft would cut the renewable fuel mandate to 15.21 billion gallons for 2014 instead of the 18.15 billion gallons established by a 2007 law. News that the agency was exploring that cut sent stocks for producers such as Archer- Daniels-Midland Co. falling, while boosting refiners such as Valero Energy Corp. and Tesoro Corp. The draft called for the use of 13 billion gallons of conventional corn-based ethanol and 2.21 billion gallons of advanced biofuels such as biodiesel, down from 13.8 billion gallons and 2.75 billion gallons respectively this year.
Makers of corn-based ethanol and advanced renewable fuels say the cutbacks would curb investments in their fuels and undercut the industry just as it is set to take off. In the meetings at the White House, company executives and lobbyists are urging the administration to change course before the plan is officially released.