As the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) works toward finalizing its proposed rule on biofuels volume requirements for 2014 and subsequent years under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), a bipartisan group of 37 U.S. senators has sent a letter to the agency calling for a ‘strong RFS.’
U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.; Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa; Dick Durbin, D-Ill.; John Thune, R-S.D.; Al Franken, D-Minn.; and Mark Kirk, R-Ill., are leading the effort.
The legislators say the EPA's latest proposal would create uncertainty for ethanol and biodiesel producers and undermine job creation. In their joint letter, the senators urge the agency to reverse course from the 2014 proposed rule and maintain a strong RFS to drive innovation and growth in the U.S. economy while helping reduce the country's dependence on foreign oil.
“The RFS has already proven to be an effective driver of alternative fuels and economic development,” the senators write. “It has strengthened agriculture markets and created hundreds of thousands of jobs in the new energy economy, many of which are in rural areas. 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' long-term economic and renewable energy goals.”
As the senators explain, the RFS requires that transportation fuel sold in the U.S. contain an increasing amount of renewable fuel each year through 2022. While the volume of biofuels that transportation fuel must contain each year has already been set by Congress, the senators say the EPA proposed a lower level than Congress intended for 2014.
The senators add that the EPA recently stated it will finalize the biofuels volumes for 2014, 2015 and 2016 by Nov. 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.
The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) thanks the senators for this bipartisan effort.
In a statement, Brent Erickson, executive vice president of BIO's industrial and environmental section, says, “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.”
The full text of the letter, as well as a list of the senators who signed it, can be found here.