37 senators issue letter in support of a strong RFS

By Erin Voegele | April 24, 2015

A bipartisan group of 37 senators have send a letter to the U.S. EPA urging the agency to reverse course from the 2014 proposed rule and maintain a strong renewable fuel standard (RFS) to drive innovation and growth in America’s economy while helping reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

In the letter, the senators ask EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to reverse course from the 2014 proposed RFS rule and craft targets for domestic biofuels that reflect Congress’s intended goals for the program. In the proposed 2014 rule, the EPA limited biofuels volume requirements based on available existing infrastructure, a condition the senators say falls outside of the EPA’s clearly defined waiver authority provided by Congress in the RFS.

“The RFS has already proven to be an effective driver of alternative fuels and economic development,” said the senators in the letter. “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.”

The bipartisan group of senators is led by 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. The letter was also signed by Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis.; Michael Bennet, D-Colo.; Roy Blunt, R-Mo.; Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.; Sherrod Brown , D-Ohio; Maria Cantwell, D-Wash.; Dan Coats, R-Ind.; Joe Donnelly, D-Ind.; Joni Ernst, R-Iowa; Deb Fischer, R-Neb.; Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.; Martin Heinrich, D-N.M.; Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D.; Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii; John Hoeven, R-N.D.; Ed Markey, D-Mass.; Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.; Jeff Merkley, D-Ore.; Patty Murray, D-Wash.; Bill Nelson, D-Fla.;, Gary Peters, D-Mich.; Jack Reed, D-R.I.; Pat Roberts, R-Kan.; Mike Rounds, R-S.D.; Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii; Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H.; Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.; Jon Tester, D-Mont.; Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.; Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I.; and Ron Wyden, D-Ore.

On April 10, the EPA announced that it will re-propose 2014 RFS volume requirements by June 1, along with proposed volume requirements for 2016 and 2017 and biomass-based diesel requirements for 2018. All four standards are scheduled to be final by Nov. 30.

Growth Energy has issued a statement in response to the senators’ letter, stressing the importance of a strong RFS. “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,” said Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy. “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,” he said. 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,” Buis continued. “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.”

Brian Jennings, executive vice president of the American Coalition for Ethanol, has also spoken out in support of the letter. “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,” he said. “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 10 percent of gasoline consumption.”