Iowa Congressional Delegation Presses Biden to Include Biofuels in Infrastructure Plans

Source: By Todd Neeley, DTN Staff Reporter • Posted: Tuesday, May 25, 2021

 
Members of Congress from Iowa asked President Joe Biden to include biofuels in any infrastructure legislation signed into law. (DTN file photo by Nick Scalise)
Members of Congress from Iowa asked President Joe Biden to include biofuels in any infrastructure legislation signed into law. (DTN file photo by Nick Scalise)

Members of Congress from Iowa asked President Joe Biden to include biofuels in any infrastructure package signed into law, in a letter sent to Biden on Tuesday.

Iowa Republican Sens. Charles Grassley and Joni Ernst, along with Republican Reps. Randy Feenstra and Ashley Hinson, expressed concern at the direction the new administration is going.

“Biofuels are a proven climate solution that can provide a cost-effective way to lower greenhouse gas emissions while providing good jobs for rural America,” the lawmakers said.

“While campaigning in our state, we heard you promise to ‘promote and advance renewable energy, ethanol, and other biofuels to help rural America and our nation’s farmers.’ Yet, while unveiling your American jobs plan, you failed to include any investments in biofuels which play a vital role in our nation’s transportation sector.”

In particular, the Biden administration has been out front in its support of electric vehicles as a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The lawmakers said today’s biofuels are low-carbon and advancements in crop production, carbon capture technologies, and “innovative production processes” will only further drive down the carbon emissions of biofuels.

“In fact, advancements in biofuels can drive biofuels towards being carbon neutral or even carbon negative — something electric vehicles cannot achieve,” the letter said.

“If provided a level playing field from the government, biofuels can and will compete in the low carbon transportation marketplace. According to the Energy Information Administration by 2050, 79% of new vehicle sales will still be gas powered or flex-fuel. Just this past year, electric cars made up 2.2% of the U.S. auto market. While it is likely our country will continue to produce more electric vehicles, it is clear that American consumers are not sold on them.

“Instead, your plan focuses on subsidizing expensive electric vehicles to the tune of $174 billion. Your plan includes the installation of electric vehicle chargers, calls for the electrification of the federal vehicle fleet, and provides tax incentives and consumer rebates for the wealthy to purchase electric vehicles. Consumers who purchase Teslas which make up more than 70% of the electric car market have average incomes at more than $300,000.”The lawmakers said they hope the administration will “come to the table” to include biofuels as a solution.

The letter also calls on the administration to complete “strong” renewable volume obligations in the Renewable Fuel Standard for 2021 and 2022. A recent press report suggests Biden’s EPA may leave RFS volumes at the current levels.

“You made a promise to Iowans that you would support biofuels, yet the American jobs plan falls well short for our state,” the letter said.

“Biofuels provide an immediate solution to help decarbonize our transportation sector while supporting rural America and providing a low-carbon, cost-effective choice to consumers. Biofuels should not be treated as a transition fuel but prioritized as a fuel of the future.”

Read the letter here: https://www.ernst.senate.gov/…

BIODIESEL CREDIT EXTENSION

Also on Tuesday, Grassley and Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., introduced a bill to extend the biodiesel tax credit through 2025.

“The biodiesel tax credit has proven to work by reducing our dependence on foreign oil and lowering greenhouse gas emissions,” Grassley said in a press statement.

“Many Iowans, farmers and processors alike, work hard to provide clean, renewable energy. The biodiesel industry employs more than 60,000 Americans, including thousands of Iowans.”

Joining Grassley and Cantwell as original cosponsors are Ernst, Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.; Roger Marshall, R-Kan.; Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H.; Deb Fischer, R-Neb.; Mike Rounds, R-S.D.; Patty Murray, D-Wash.; Tina Smith, D-Minn.; and Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii.

Kurt Kovarik, National Biodiesel Board vice president of federal affairs, said the industry is in a position to grow.

“Biodiesel and renewable diesel production is poised for growth, ready today to meet the nation’s needs for clean fuel while creating jobs and economic opportunities for many Midwest states,” he said in a statement.

“These better, cleaner fuels support 13% of the value of every bushel of U.S. soybeans and about $17 billion in economic activity across the country.”

Also on Tuesday, Sens. Fischer and Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., introduced the Renewable Fuel Standard Integrity Act of 2021. The measure addresses the timing and transparency issues associated with the small-refinery exemption program in the RFS. Companion legislation was introduced in the House earlier this year.

Todd Neeley can be reached at todd.neeley@dtn.com

 

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