Feenstra: Here’s how EPA Administrator Regan can help bolster biofuels

Source: By Randy Feenstra, Ames Tribune • Posted: Tuesday, May 4, 2021

I am pleased to see the new head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Michael Regan, is making an effort to see what Iowa has to offer by holding a roundtable with ag producers in the 4th District. I believe we can work together to empower producers, increase efficiency, and maintain clean water, soil, and air.

Supporting biofuels, including ethanol, biodiesel, and biogas, would be a great place to start. There are many steps Administrator Regan can take immediately to support the biofuels industry — beginning with ensuring biofuels are included in any infrastructure and climate discussions. Right now, the Biden administration’s $2 trillion proposal would spend $174 billion to subsidize electric vehicles while hardly even mentioning the biofuel industry.

This proposal ignores the fact that biofuels can provide immediate carbon reduction when it comes to our transportation sector. A recent study from Harvard University and Tufts University found that ethanol reduces greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 46%. It is estimated that biofuels use has already reduced emissions by nearly one billion metric tons, according to a separate study conducted by Life Cycle Associates. In other words, further emission reductions can be achieved by bolstering the production of biofuels, as opposed to moving in the opposite direction and incentivizing electric-powered vehicles.

The EPA can further show they are committed to supporting the biofuels industry by continuing to deny small refinery exemptions (SREs). Allowing SREs to go through could cause a significant decrease in demand for biofuels, and I applaud the actions the EPA has already taken on this front. Additionally, the EPA should continue promoting a strong Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and work towards blending higher levels of biofuels moving forward. Come 2023, there will no longer be a statutory RFS requirement, and the EPA will begin setting the standard. Committing to a strong RFS would send a clear message that biofuels are here to stay and will play a critical role in decarbonization efforts and in the future of energy production.

Finally, I have co-sponsored a bill, the Adopt GREET Act, which would require the EPA to adopt new greenhouse gas modeling for biofuels. This modeling takes into account the latest practices being utilized by farmers to be good stewards of their land and to increase their efficiency. The EPA should use the latest methodology to accurately determine greenhouse gas emissions of biofuels. Additionally, as we look to the future of the biofuels industry, it is imperative that the EPA approve new pathways for renewable fuels so we can continue advancing biofuels technology and infrastructure.

I will continue making biofuels a top priority in Congress and ensure Iowa biofuels producers have a seat at the table. I look forward to working with Administrator Regan and Secretary Vilsack to promote biofuels production as an excellent source of clean energy.

Randy Feenstra was born and raised in Hull, Iowa, where he has served as City Administrator, Sioux County Treasurer, and Iowa state Senator. In January, he began serving his first term in Congress, representing Iowa’s 4th Congressional District.