40 senators press EPA to turn up the volume in final rule

Source: Marc Heller, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, July 22, 2016

Forty senators called on U.S. EPA today to boost biodiesel volumes as the agency revises its latest renewable fuels proposal.

In a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, the lawmakers said the biodiesel levels proposed fall short of production capacity, meaning the industry could meet a more ambitious target if the agency required it.

“We urge you to increase these volumes in the final rule,” wrote the lawmakers, led by Sens. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.). A final rule could come this fall.

The senators asked EPA to set the biodiesel volume at 2.5 billion gallons in 2018, or 400 million gallons more than the level set for 2017. The agency’s proposal called for 100 million more gallons in 2018 than in 2017.

The biodiesel industry, which supplies most of the United States’ advanced biofuels, has exceeded Congress’ expectations from when the RFS law was written in 2005, the lawmakers said.

In setting renewable fuel volumes, EPA cited challenges in distributing biodiesel to some areas of the country, adding that in some regions, retailers cut down on biodiesel offerings in the winter because it’s more prone to jell in cold weather.

The National Biodiesel Board, which represents the industry, distributed the letter to reporters and praised the lawmakers in a news release.

“We need to embrace growth in our cleanest fuels, and the EPA proposal as it stands falls short of that,” the Biodiesel Board’s vice president of public affairs, Anne Steckel, said in the release.