June 24, 2016
WASHINGTON, DC - Today, U.S. Senators Amy Kkobuchar (D-MN) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) led a bipartisan group of 39 senators in calling for a strong Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) works toward finalizing its proposed rule on biofuels volume requirements for 2017 under the RFS. In a letter to the EPA, the senators urged the agency for a strong RFS that will support U.S. jobs and the economy, reduce the environmental impact of the transportation and energy sectors, and decrease dependence on foreign oil.
"The biofuel industry supports hundreds of thousands of jobs throughout the country, reduces the environmental impact of our transportation and energy sectors, and cuts our reliance on foreign oil," the lawmakers wrote. "We urge you to ensure that the final rule promote growth in the U.S. biofuel sector and capture economic opportunity rather than drive investment overseas."
The bipartisan letter to the EPA was also signed by Senators John Thune (R-SD), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Mark Kirk (R-IL), Al Franken (D-MN), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), John Hoeven (R-ND), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Pat Roberts (R-KA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Marie Hirone (D-HI), Jerry Moran (R-KA), ROn Wyden (D-OR), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Gary Peters (D-MI), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Jack Reed (D-RI), Patty Murray (D-WA), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Ed Markey (D-MA), Jon Tester (D-MT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Tom Udall (D-NM) and Richard Bluementhal (D-CT).
Last October, the senators met with White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough to pus for the release of a strong final RFS rule that supports homegrown ethanol production.
The senators pointed out that when Congress adopted the RFS in 2005, and expanded it in 2007, "it intended to put in place a stable, forward-looking policy to drive innovation and investments in biorefining capacity and distribution infrastructure to bring biofuels to American consumers."The letter describes the enormous industry growth, including investment and job creation, and the development of new types of renewable fuels, thanks to stable policy. However, the senators wrote, the EPA has undermined those gains in recent years by relying on concerns that the distribution infrastructure needed to transport renewable fuels is lacking. As a result, "biofuel investment has fallen and projects are moving overseas," the senators wrote.
The oil industry uses the distribution infrastructure argument in opposition to higher blending levels, but biofuels producers disagree.
The EPA still has time to change its proposed rule for the better. It has dones so before. The EPA's final rule for 2014, 2015 and 2016 was somewhat higher than the proposed rule because Grassley, Klobuchar, their fellow senators, and farmers and fuel producers at the grass roots weighed in heavily with the EPA. The agency revised the levels higher but they were still lower than what ethanol producers anticipated they could produce.