Iowa lawmakers request RFS hearing in the heart of ethanol country

Source: Amanda Peterka, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, December 13, 2013

Iowa’s entire congressional delegation, as well as the state’s leadership, yesterday urged the Obama administration to hold a field hearing in the Midwest on U.S. EPA’s recent proposal to roll back the ethanol mandate next year.

The lawmakers said that farmers, business leaders and citizens from Midwestern states should be able to express their opposition to the renewable fuel standard proposal. They called on the agency to hold a hearing in Iowa, the nation’s top ethanol-producing state.

“A reduction in the RFS will disproportionately affect rural America and will leave thousands unemployed; Weakening the RFS would increase prices at the pump and negatively impact air quality across the country,” the Iowans wrote. “We believe the hard-working men and women in Iowa and across the Midwest deserve the opportunity to make the case heard at a hearing in the Heartland.”

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R), Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds and Secretary of Agriculture and Land Stewardship Bill Northey led the effort. Iowa Sens. Chuck Grassley (R) and Tom Harkin (D), as well as Reps. Steve King (R), Dave Loebsack (D), Bruce Braley (D) and Tom Latham (R), also signed the letter.

EPA’s proposal would require refiners to blend 15.21 billion gallons of renewable fuels into petroleum-based gasoline and diesel next year, a reduction of 2.94 billion gallons from the target set by the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act. The agency has proposed to use its authority under the statute and avert issues related to the “blend wall,” the name given to the physical limit to the amount of ethanol that can be blended into gasoline.

More than 130 speakers attended a listening session last week in Virginia, many of whom — including Branstad — spoke out against the proposal (Greenwire, Dec. 5)

But the Iowa lawmakers say many more individuals from the Midwest wanted to make the trip but were unable to on such short notice; a hearing in Iowa would give them a chance to voice their opinion. EPA representatives should visit a biofuel facility while they’re in the state, the lawmakers added.

“Iowans, Midwesterners and American consumers deserve an honest debate that is not clouded by the politics of Washington, D.C.,” they wrote.