17 lawmakers urge EPA to boost 2017 RFS targets

Source: Marc Heller, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, July 15, 2016

Congressional advocates for renewable fuels urged U.S. EPA yesterday to boost its proposal for biofuel levels in 2017.

Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) led a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy with other members of the House Biofuels Caucus.

In their letter, the lawmakers said the U.S. biofuels industry can meet the fuel levels mandated in the renewable fuels standard law, despite EPA proposing volumes less than required.

The law gives EPA authority to waive the mandated levels based on market conditions. Biofuel advocates say the agency overstepped that authority.

“Given the proven track record of innovation and capacity for development in the renewable fuels market, we believe that a final rule that falls short of the conventional biofuel cap will do nothing to assuage critics of the program, while missing an opportunity to refocus on addressing the pressing issues needed to fully realize the potential renewable fuels can make for our economy and energy security,” they wrote.

Seventeen lawmakers, Democrats and Republicans, signed the letter. Peterson is the ranking Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee.

They wrote as the agency considers changes to the RFS proposal it published in May, which included 18.8 billion gallons of renewable fuel. That is 200 million gallons short of the mandate in the RFS law, which was written in 2005 and updated in 2007. A final rule could come later this year.

The agency faces pressure from ethanol critics, as well. They say the proposed levels would lead to more fuel blends of greater than 10 percent ethanol, which may damage certain types of smaller engines.

The lawmakers said the RFS law has created a “dynamic market” that can produce and consume the alternative fuel volumes mandated by Congress, and increased volumes of advanced biofuels.