Lawmakers call on Biden, McCarthy to reject reductions to RFS RVO

By Erin Voegele | September 28, 2021

A group of 15 democratic lawmakers representing seven states on Sept. 28 sent a letter to President Joe Biden and National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy expressing concern over reports that the upcoming Renewable Fuel Standard rulemaking will be damaging to the U.S. biofuels sector.

“Specifically, we have strong reservations about the potential for the administration to destroy over 5 billion gallons of biofuel volume from the 2020, 2021, and 2022 [renewable volume obligations (RVOs)],” they wrote. “This action would directly undermine your commitment to address climate change and restore integrity to the [RFS].”

“The RFS was designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the vehicle transportation sector, diversify our fuel supply, strengthen our national security, and drive economic opportunity,” they continued. “When allowed to function as Congress intended, the RFS has delivered on these goals while serving as the economic engine behind a burgeoning biobased manufacturing sector across rural America and a biofuel industry with a 100-percent U.S. supply chain and a higher union density than the national average.”

The letter cites various studies from academic institutions, federal agencies and national laboratories that have confirmed biofuels are less carbon intensive than petroleum-based fuels. “Reducing biofuel blending requirements will increase greenhouse gas emissions,” the lawmakers wrote.

They also note that congress clearly intended the RFS to be a forward-looking policy to drive investments in biofuel production. Rather than lowering blend obligations, the lawmakers are urging the administration to provide additional clarity and stability to the renewable fuels marketplace by issuing strong RVOs for 2021 and 2022, and declining to remand any gallons from the 2020 RVO.

The letter is signed by Reps. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill.; Cindy Axne, D- Iowa; Angie Craig, D-Minn.; Mark Pogan, D-Wisc.; Bobby Rush, D-Ill.; Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill.; Tim Ryan, D-Ohio; Ron Kind, D-Wisc.; and David Scott, D-Ga., and Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.; Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc.; Tina Smith, D-Minn.; Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill.; Richard Durbin, D-Ill.; and Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.

The Renewable Fuels Association is thanking the 15 lawmakers for calling on the administration to reject any reduction in biofuel blending requirements.

“We thank these congressional champions for their strong support and reaching out to the administration at this crucial time,” said Geoff Cooper, president and CEO of the RFA. “As the U.S. EPA prepares to roll out proposed renewable volume obligations for 2021 and 2022, rumors are circulating about massive cuts that will even reach back to 2020’s volumes, which were settled back in 2019 and automatically adjusted based on lower volumes during the pandemic. If true, these reduced volumes will be devasting for the ethanol industry and rural America—and slow down the goal of significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions as low-carbon biofuels are replaced by more fossil fuels. In fact, the new, lower volumes, if true, would increase GHG emissions by up to 15.3 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent.”

A full copy of the letter can be downloaded from Axne’s website