37 US Senators call on EPA to stand tough on Renewable Fuel Standard

US-capitolBig jump in “Defend the RFS” ranks as 37 Senators press EPA to set a big target for biofuels in 2015-16

In Washington, 37 Senators wrote EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy urging the agency to set strong biofuel volume requirements for 2014 and beyond that are consistent with the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), John Thune (R-SD), Al Franken (D-MN), and Mark Kirk (R-IL) led the bipartisan group of senators in calling for a strong RFS. The EPA’s latest proposal would create uncertainty for ethanol and biodiesel producers and undermine job creation. In a letter to the EPA, the senators urged the agency to reverse course from the 2014 proposed rule and maintain a strong RFS to drive innovation and growth in America’s economy while helping reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

The EPA recently stated it will finalize the biofuels volumes for 2014, 2015, and 2016 by November 30, 2015, but it has not indicated what the volume levels will be. Once the EPA finalizes the required 2014 level, refineries will be able to determine whether they met last year’s biofuels requirements or need to purchase additional renewable fuel credits in order to come into compliance. Moving forward, the senators are calling on the EPA to ensure that the RFS continues to drive further adoption of biofuels.

Last year, the senators met with EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and sent a letter to McCarthy with 25 other colleagues to urge changes to the administration’s proposed 2014 RFS rule, which would hurt the nation’s agriculture economy and energy security.

The complete text

Dear Administrator McCarthy:

As you work toward finalizing the proposed rule on biofuels volume requirements for 2014 and subsequent years under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), we urge you to take this opportunity to reverse course from the 2014 proposed rule and craft targets for domestic biofuels that reflect Congress’ intended goals for the RFS.

The RFS has already proven to be an effective driver of alternative fuels and economic development. It has strengthened agriculture markets and created hundreds of thousands of jobs in the new energy economy, many of which are in rural areas. Setting strong biofuels volume requirements for 2014 and beyond will ensure this progress continues. A stable RFS will also provide the certainty needed to unlock future investments in renewable fuels and necessary infrastructure, reduce our nation’s dependence on foreign sources of energy, and drive innovation and progress toward cellulosic, biodiesel, recycled-waste, algal, and other advanced biofuels.

When Congress passed the RFS and it was enacted into law, the intent was a forward-looking policy that drives future investments in both biofuels production and the infrastructure necessary to bring these biofuels to market. With its harmful 2014 proposed rule, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency limited biofuels volume requirements based on available existing infrastructure, a condition that falls outside of the EPA’s clearly defined waiver authority provided by Congress in the RFS.

The biofuels volume requirements for 2014 and beyond have serious implications for our economy and energy security. We encourage you to ensure a final proposal continues to work toward achieving the RFS’s long-term economic and renewable energy goals.

Reaction from stakeholders:

Brent Erickson, executive vice president of BIO’s Industrial & Environmental Section

“We thank Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), John Thune (R-SD), Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Al Franken (D-MN) for their bipartisan leadership in initiating this letter in support of the RFS. And we thank the 31 Senators who joined in asking EPA to issue RFS rules that are consistent with Congressional intent.

“The changes EPA proposed in 2013 to the RFS and the delay in taking final action on the rule have chilled investment in advanced biofuels, even as the first companies began to successfully prove this technology at commercial scale. To continue making visible progress in commercializing advanced biofuels, our industry needs strong, stable policy from EPA.”

Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy

“This letter is a clear message to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – that we must have a strong, a robust Renewable Fuel Standard to help move our nation forwards in terms of alternative energy development. In no uncertain terms this strong bipartisan coalition of Senators have indicated that they are closely watching the EPA as they seek to finalize this rule and that any changes which would undercut the congressional intent or role of the RFS will be met with intense scrutiny and strong objection.

“Furthermore, these Senators have outlined the importance the RFS plays in creating jobs, strengthening rural America and reducing our dangerous addiction to foreign oil. They have outlined the critical role that the RFS plays in securing energy independence and that its continued success is essential to ensuring the certainty necessary for continued progress in alternative fuel development as well as the necessary infrastructure to be able to make these fuels commercially available.

“Not only is this a clear message to the EPA, but to Congress as well. This broad coalition has signaled their unwavering support for the RFS making it clear that any attempts at repeal or reform will be met with resolute resistance and ultimately fail.”

American Coalition for Ethanol Executive Vice President Brian Jennings

“Convincing Senators to sign the RFS to Administrator McCarthy was a key part of our grassroots fly-in last month so we’re glad ACE members could play such an instrumental role in securing so many signatures,” said ACE Executive Vice President Brian Jennings.  “We are also grateful for the strong bipartisan support conveyed by Senators that EPA must get the RFS back on track for implementation by reversing course from their ill-advised proposal which would have limited renewable fuel use at ten percent of gasoline consumption.”

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