OUR OPINION: EPA needs to hold hearing on RFS in Iowa

Posted: Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Before it makes a final decision on a plan to lower Renewable Fuel Standard requirements, the Environmental Protection Agency needs to get out of Washington, D.C., and come to Iowa.

Created in 2005, the federal RFS requires transportation fuel sold in the U.S. be blended with a minimum volume of renewable fuels. Under a proposal announced last month, the EPA would reduce the requirement for 2014 by three billion gallons.

As we have said before, we believe biofuels should remain a key component in national energy policy, not simply for the good of states like Iowa, but for America as a whole. In the name of achieving energy independence for the country, we in principle are comfortable with the idea of federal support for all forms of energy, including renewable fuels. What we don’t wish to see is cherrypicking of who gets federal support and who doesn’t.

Arguably, no one state would suffer the impact of the EPA’s misguided RFS proposal more than Iowa, which ranks first in the nation for ethanol production and third for biodiesel production.

In a letter to President Obama, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, members of Iowa’s congressional delegation, Gov. Terry Branstad, Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds and Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey requested the EPA hold a field hearing about the RFS proposal in Iowa.

We couldn’t agree more with the request. In our view, the EPA owes Iowans a convenient, face-to-face opportunity to speak to the importance of renewable fuels, the need for and value of the RFS and the negative impact the EPA plan would have on our state.

We urge our federal and state leaders to keep up the pressure for this field hearing.

It would be helpful if former Iowa Gov. Vilsack would use his not-insignificant clout within the Obama administration to advocate for the same.