Chuck Grassley

United States Senator from Iowa

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As EPA Finalizes Rule, Grassley, Klobuchar Lead Bipartisan Group of 39 Senators in Calling for a Strong Renewable Fuel Standard for 2017

Jun 24, 2016

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is working to finalize the proposed rule on biofuels volume requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard for 2017; in a bipartisan letter to the EPA the senators urged the agency for a strong RFS that will support U.S. jobs and economy, reduce the environmental impact of our transportation and energy sectors, and decrease dependence on foreign oil

WASHINGTON -- As the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) works toward finalizing its proposed rule on biofuels volume requirements for 2017 under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), U.S. Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) today led a bipartisan group of 39 senators in calling for a strong 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), Mazie Hirono (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 Blumenthal (D-CT).

Last October, the senators met with White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough to push 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 done 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.

The full text of the letter is below.  A signed copy of the letter is available here.

Dear Administrator McCarthy:
 
We are writing regarding the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed rule setting blending targets under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) for 2017.  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.
 
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 stability of the policy has led to hundreds of millions of dollars of investment in the biofuels sector.  America’s production capacity has expanded more than threefold since 2005 with fuels such as biodiesel, cellulosic, recycled-waste, algal and other advanced biofuels.  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.
 
As a result of the Agency’s consideration of distribution infrastructure when setting the Renewable Volume Obligation (RVO) for 2014, 2015, and 2016, contrary to the clearly defined waiver authority provided by Congress, biofuel investment has fallen and projects are moving overseas.
 
We cannot afford to cede our leadership position in the world.  A strong RFS, and more biofuels, make our country more secure.  It increases competition and choice, strengthening our economy.  We urge you to take the opportunity to get the program back on track by setting blending targets where Congress intended and by removing the distribution waiver.
 
Sincerely,
 
 

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