Bipartisan senators push increase in RFS blending targets

Source: Marc Heller, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, March 25, 2016

A bipartisan group of 19 senators yesterday urged U.S. EPA to aim high on its next blending targets for the renewable fuel standard.

In a letter to the agency, Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and 17 others said the last RFS targets, set late last year, didn’t provide enough incentive for alternative fuels, particularly cellulosic ethanol.

“A strong RFS makes our country more energy secure, increases competition and consumer choice in our transportation sector, and ultimately strengthens our economy,” the lawmakers wrote.

No cellulosic plants have opened since 2013, and some have closed or been halted in planning, they said.

The senators also criticized EPA for taking into account distribution infrastructure in setting blending targets, when the agency used its waiver authority to set levels lower than what Congress had mandated.

The RFS law doesn’t allow the agency to weigh distribution infrastructure in waiving mandates, the senators said. They added that they expect EPA to drop the distribution waiver in its next blend announcement.

EPA officials have told lawmakers at recent hearings that they intend to announce the blending targets for 2017 on time, in contrast to the late and retroactive announcement for three years — 2014, 2015 and 2016 — made late last year.