Grassley, Klobuchar, 17 Other Senators Urge EPA to Set a High Blending Target Under the Renewable Fuel Standard

Source: By AJ Taylor, KIOW • Posted: Thursday, March 24, 2016

Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and 17 other senators  urged the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to set high blending targets under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) for 2017, in keeping with congressional intent and to follow through on agency commitments to get the RFS back on track.  The senators noted that the EPA’s last target was lower than it should have been because the agency relied on concerns about distribution infrastructure, which Congress explicitly rejected as a reason to justify lower blending targets.

“A strong RFS makes our country more energy secure, increases competition and consumer choice in our transportation sector, and ultimately strengthens our economy,” the senators wrote to Administrator Gina McCarthy.  “We need a strong RFS, and we need more biofuels.  We expect that you will get the program ‘back on track,’ and we look forward to seeing a proposed rule released on time that removes the distribution waiver and re-establishes the United States as a leader in the biofuel sector.”

The senators’ letter noted that the EPA’s last rule setting blending targets did not get the program back on track and failed to provide the necessary incentive to drive growth in the development of renewable fuels, particularly cellulosic ethanol.

“Since the proposal was first leaked in the fall of 2013, not a single new cellulosic project has broken ground in the United States and many planned or previously announced projects have been halted.  In the meantime, new investments in cellulosic projects continue to emerge in China, Europe, and Brazil.  The final rule for 2014, 2015, and 2016 did not change this trend,” the senators wrote.

The EPA’s final rule for 2014, 2015, and 2016 was somewhat higher than the proposed rule because Grassley, Klobuchar, their fellow senators, and farmers and fuel producers at the grass roots weighed in heavily with the EPA.  The agency revised the levels higher but they were still lower than what ethanol producers anticipated they could produce.

Joining Grassley and Klobuchar in the letter are Sens. John Thune, Richard J. Durbin, Mark Kirk, Al Franken, Joni Ernst, Heidi Heitkamp, Deb Fischer, Martin Heinrich, M. Michael Rounds, Claire McCaskill, Roy Blunt, Debbie Stabenow, John Hoeven, Tammy Baldwin, Sherrod Brown, Gary Peters and Joe Donnelly.